The Beginnings de

Chapter Zero - the Beginnings

In 1831, after two years of negotiations, the two French glassworks  Baccarat and  St. Louis agreed to have their products distributed by a Paris wholesale company, Barbier, Launay et Cie. In the same year, the glassworks of Choisy-Le-Roi joined the union and Bercy followed two years later. The company was renamed into Launay Hautin et Cie. in 1833. After its dissolution in the 1850's the association ended, and Baccarat and St. Louis bought the premises in 30, rue de Paradis-Poissonnière and established showrooms in the old building.

To promote sales, there may have been catalogues from the beginning. The first one known, however, dates from August 1834. Three of these catalogues - graphically excellent -  of a later date were accessible to me; one in the Berliner Kunstbibliothek (Berlin Art Library) and two as photo-copies from the originals purchased by Mr. Geiselberger (now in the Corning Museum of Glass). The assortment of pressed glass is considerable. There are thousands of objects of glass for the bourgeois table from candlesticks to salt dishes. Plates, footed bowls, glasses are offered in up to seven sizes, most pieces come in different designs which imitate elements of gothic architecture or ornaments of the Renascence, the Baroque or Rococo periods.

The stippled ground ("fond sablé") on which the decoration appears in relief is typical of these early pieces. Most likely it was used to cover faults in the glass due to the problems of the new technology of pressing. 

The three catalogues mentioned from around 1840 are the instruments of orientation for the following "Zero" section and justify in some way the first date in the title of my website. Both the catalogues and the "Zero"-pieces are incunabula of modern glass pressing.

Nevertheless, one can never be absolutely sure about the age or the origins of these pieces (and later ones as well). Many forms or designs have been produced for years and even decades; moulds have been sold to other glassworks; designs have been copied exactly or with slight alterations; reproductions have been offered, etc. etc.

Please also read the text on a new edition of the “Nullserie” in 2007: Vonêche and Beyond


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