• FA-111829 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-113811 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-113812 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-113827 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-113817 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-113823 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-113824 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-113830
Collection Area
Production Technology
Glass and Ceramics
1800 - 1849
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Sample board: Set glass jewellery, Bohemia, c 1837

Real or make-believe; genuine or fake – that is the question here. People adorn themselves not just with fake hair or false teeth, but also with fake jewellery – in this instance, made of glass.

In the 19th century glass fluxes, also known as glass paste or composition glass, became increasingly popular as imitation gemstones. In its colourless state the leaded glass imitates rough diamonds and, in its polished form, cut diamonds. These imitations made of clear glass are also known as ‘strass’ (or rhinestone, paste, or diamante), regardless of who first invented them: the Frenchman Georges Fréderic Strass (Stras) or Vienna’s own Josef Strasser. Rhinestones have a high light refraction index, so in this respect they come close at least to uncut diamonds, the hardest of all gemstones. Similarly, all other gemstones such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds can be imitated by colouring the glass flux with metal oxides. Manufacturing imitation gemstones involves pouring the molten glass, or flux, into moulds and then polishing it.

In the 19th century the main centres for glass jewellery manufacture were northern Bohemia and Venice. By 1840 a vast industrial sector had established itself around the ‘glass composition factory’ of Ferdinand Unger in Liebenau (Hodkovice nad Mohelkou, Bohemia). The report on the 1841 trade exhibition in Graz states: ‘3 glassworks [...] 19 firing or composition works deliver the pastes or glass fluxes [...] for the imitation gemstones [...] 180 polishing mills [...] these activities, i.e. the polishing, mounting, setting, painting and gilding of the aforementioned items, provide employment for 4,500 to 5,000 people.’

The Technisches Museum’s sample board with set glass jewellery bears the designation Gürtler Arbeit, which refers to the work of decorative metal workers who, as brass metal workers, made arts and crafts objects such as buckles and links for belts (Gürtel). So here a decorative metal worker, or Gürtler, has set the gemstone imitations made by Ferdinand Unger in brass, turning the glass stones into paste jewellery.

Manufacturer: Ferdinand Unger, Liebenau (Hodkovice nad Mohelkou), Bohemia
Production date: c 1837

Inv.Nr. 36761
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