• FA-114850 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-114852 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
1800 - 1849
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Sugar bowl with lid, decorative cast iron, 1821

Innovations in technology gave rise to decorative cast iron, ‘the iron and steel industry’s most beautiful offshoot’. It reached its heyday in the first half of the 19th century, when it enjoyed a veritable boom.

The production of decorative cast iron was, by and large, in the hands of the aristocracy. It was produced by the Counts of Wrbna in Horschowitz (Hořovice, Bohemia) as well as the Counts of Salm in Blansko (Moravia) and the Landgraves of Fürstenberg in Neu-Joachimsthal (Nový Jáchymov, Bohemia). Other leading companies included the imperial & royal iron casting works in Mariazell (Styria) and, outside the realm of the Habsburg monarchy, the royal iron foundry in Prussia with sites in Berlin, Gleiwitz (Gliwice, Silesia) and Sayn (Rhineland-Palatinate). One iron foundry not owned by the aristocracy was that of Joseph Glanz in Vienna.

This was all made possible by new cupola ovens (small furnaces). In these ovens the pig iron could be re-melted directly at the casting plant, independently of the production site. This paved the way not only for casting furnaces, machine parts or cannons, but also for fine iron casting. The product range was vast: busts and statues, reliefs and medallions, crucifixes and candelabras, writing implements and paperweights, flower dishes and vases, bowls and plates, baskets and boxes, filigree jewellery, and lots more. One of the most productive Bohemian iron foundries in the first half of the 19th century was the foundry owned by the Counts of Wrbna. The sugar bowl enamelled on the inside, complete with lid, exhibited at the Technisches Museum Wien is a typical example of the sort of decorative cast objects manufactured by this particular company.

The decorative cast iron was manufactured in three phases: moulding, casting, and aftertreatment. The iron was cast into sand moulds, the manufacture of which required a high level of skilled craftsmanship. After the casting, the blanks were removed from the moulds and cleaned; any lugs or casting seams were deburred; and the black to bluish-grey pieces finally blackened, usually using linseed oil varnish.

Manufacturer: Count of Wrbna in Horschowitz (Hořovice, Bohemia)
Production date: 1821

Inv.Nr. 5578/1
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