300 Years of Glassmaking in 11 Photos

Tucked among the rugged mountains where the Czech Republic borders Poland and Germany, Novosad & Syn ranks among the world’s oldest glassmakers. More than 300 years old, the company that once belonged to the noble Harrach family managed to survive several fires, the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, two world wars and half a century of Communism. Photographs by Martin Divisek/Bloomberg

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    The artisans at Novosad & Syn use age-old glass-blowing methods, needing many workers to produce a single piece.

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    It gets hot on the factory floor, but the company knows how to take care of its staff: the glass blowers get free beer from the adjacent brewery. 

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    Today, the artisans still use the traditional methods of glass-blowing and pouring molten glass into beechwood molds to produce their wares.

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    Looking back at the company's 300 year history - by the second half of the 18th century, Harrachov glass was sold in a number of places from Portugal to England to the Ottoman Empire.

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    Once the bowl of the glass has been blown, the pipe is passed to another glass maker, who then uses a piece of hot glass to produce the stem...

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    ...and then on to another to add the foot - the production of a single glass typically requires a team of five or more.

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    Glassmaking at Harrachov was interrupted after Nazi Germany annexed parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and the Czech inhabitants were expelled.

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    The company uses dozens of designs, from simple tumblers to elegant twisted and colourful crystal wine glasses, tableware and chandeliers.

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    Novosad & Syn lost most of its "western" customers in the second half of the 20th century under Czechoslovakia's Communist regime.

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    At the height of its prosperity at the end of the 19th century, the glassmaker employed about 400 people.

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    The company's glass was awarded a gold medal at the 1851 World Exhibition in London - the only gold medal won by the Austro-Hungarian Empire that year.