Franz Welz - Klostergrab

by Craig Orkney

Who is Franz Welz, and why the interest?

A good question which will likely be asked by many visitors to the site......... So, a brief background history is in order here...

Most of the glass I am referring to in this Welz study is glass produced between WWI and WWII. A portion of the production may be pre WWI. Unfortunately, without factory records to rely on, most of the dating of the work is based on provenance marks, shapes, and artistic styles and colors as related to this period of Czech glass production.

As I studied Bohemian glass through the years I started to notice items that were being attributed to Kralik, that to me appeared to be similar to Kralik, but not exactly the same. Just different enough to make me wonder if they really were. For quite a while I wrote my observations off to my own inexperience. Over time, as I learned more about the glass, the feelings regarding this family of products grew stronger.

At one point in the very early stages of designing this website, I was looking through huge libraries of images which had been provided to me by several different sources. Amongst those images was a piece of glass identified as Franz Welz and having the remnants of a label which was attributed to Franz Welz Klostergrab. The shape of the label was the same as a complete Franz Welz label I had seen on another piece of glass. As I continued to go through the libraries of images I had at my disposal, I started to notice some other pieces of glass which bore strong resemblances to the piece with the partial label. I had the feeling that these pieces may be from the same glass house.

As a result of this feeling, I started to keep a file of these pieces and over time, the group of pieces began to take on an artistic look of their own. Additionally, utilizing the handful of pieces of Welz displayed in the Passau, I was able to start some groups of other pieces based on decors and shapes. Some of the groups were similar in many ways to Kralik production, but yet different enough that I knew they were not Kralik.

One day, in the process of receiving images from a major image contributor with a large collection of Czech glass, I received an image of which was sent to me described as a Kralik “Face Vase” with a label reading FWK. This style of vase is also referred to by some as a knuckle vase due to the protrusions on the pieces created by using the tongs to push out patterns on the sides of the vases. This style of vase has been systematically attributed to Kralik for many years. Many examples are in decors which are without a doubt Kralik production.

Having seen the label before I knew immediately that the piece I was receiving pictures of was not Kralik, but in fact was a Franz Welz vase. In addition, I also received images of a couple of pieces with labels which read “Royal Art Glass” and exhibiting decors which I had suspected to be Welz production. Both of these labels are attributed by the Glasmarken Lexicon to be Franz Welz labels.

Through the use of these labeled pieces, and some others I had collected images of, I was able to connect a variety of shapes and decors to Welz. In many cases these pieces are product which I have no doubt would normally be attributed to Kralik.

As a result of additional research utilizing the Butler Brothers Catalogs, a connection was made through line drawings and décor matches to a variety of Welz production being imported to the US by Butler. Not only was there a large quantity of Kralik output shown in the ads, but there are also a wide variety of what I now believe to be Welz products.

I am confident that we have identified several decors by Welz. We are also of the strong belief that by being able to provide Butler Brothers with a stream of exportable goods, the output of the Welz factory in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s is likely greater than was previously thought. The quantities of these pieces in some major collections in the East part of the US also supports the belief that Butler imported quantities of Welz product in addition to large amounts of Kralik. The presence of provenance marks on many of these pieces indicating country of origin supports the believed importation of the products, as opposed to the glass being domestic European product which were brought over from Europe at later dates.

I am of the opinion that the output of the Welz factory during the post WWI period was fairly strong, and that a portion of their work has either been attributed to Kralik, or has not been attributed at all. I have taken a great interest in attempting to attribute at least of portion of their work, a line of product I find to have a strikingly unique use of color combinations and artistic details, unlike any other recognized company.

If you have any pieces in your collection which resemble any of the works shown here, I would be very interested in seeing images of the pieces. I can be emailed through the “Contact Info” page.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the images of what I believe to be their product, contained in this section of the website.