Model of a glass grinding shop, early 20th century

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Foto: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Glass and Ceramics
1900 - 1909

‘All grinding wheels stand still if that’s the transmission’s will!’ That, certainly, was the motto when all machinery was still belt-driven from a central location, prior to the invention of the electrically-powered individual drive.

Every machine needs some sort of system to drive it, whether it’s a waterwheel or a windmill, a turbine, a steam engine, or a electric motor. A system of drive shafts and leather belts can be used to drive, and therefore operate, any number of machines simultaneously from a central power source. The term ‘transmission’ used to designate such a system is derived from the Latin transmittere (= to send across, to translate). A centrally generated force is thus transmitted to a number of decentralised machines. And it was only in the course of the 20th century that individual drives in the form of electric motors began to establish themselves.

In the model on show here at the Technisches Museum Wien a whole series of grinding wheels are transmission-operated. Glass grinding is an ablative, i.e. material-removing, manufacturing process used for glass finishing. Unlike the freer designs achieved with engraving, grinding patterns are usually geometric. As a rule the work stages involve marking out and scoring the pattern, grinding, and polishing. The grinding wheels used are made of different materials such as iron, stone or wood.

Anyone interested in experiencing the glass grinding process close-up should definitely make their way to the Czech glassworks at Sklárna Novosad & Syn, Nový Svět, Harrachov. The glassworks once owned by the Counts of Harrach were first mentioned in an official document in 1712. Today, glass is still manufactured on the site of the former factory premises and finished in a vintage transmission-driven glass grinding shop dating from 1895. Sadly, many of the workplaces arrayed in long rows inside the vast workshop now stand empty, but it is still possible to watch glass grinders at work as they give glasses their final polish.

Manufacturer: Unknown
Production date: early 20th century

Inv.Nr. 11695

Member of