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J. Schreiber & Neffen

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It was in the second half of the 19th century while the glass industry in Moravia’s territory was booming when the enterprise began to change and Josef Schreiber jumped at the chance. Soon his firm occupied one of the leading positions within all the Austrian-Hungarian group of states. Josef Schreiber Snr., the firm’s founder, came from a farmer, publican and butcher’s family living in the Moravian village of Dub. He received training in glass cutting, and from 1844 he ran his own glass shop in Vienna. He was prospering thus he soon took on his nephew Josef to help him, also later Josef’s cousins, Eduard and Maxmilián Göpferts. While a “Viennese Uncle”, this is how was Josef Schreiber Snr. called, was running the successful business, his young namesake was acquiring knowledge of production technologies and glass refining from around the world. Having returned from his travels, he was staying in the town of Loukov for a while where he married Terezia, a daughter of his employer, glass-master Gerhardt.

Schreiber’s first glassworks was Rapotín in the Lichteinstein’s country estate Velké Losiny. The rental contract was signed on the 27th of May 1857, and Josef Schreiber Jnr. became its director. First, the glass-works especially manufactured sheet glass, but soon it broadened its range with crystal and colour glass, which was exported also into England and the States. Although others glassworks were added over the following years, it was Rapotín that remained the main one during the whole of the firm’s existence. Demand for glassware was growing thus Schreiber rented glassworks in the Moravia-Slovak borderland, Sv. Sidonie (St. Sidonie) and Sv. Štěpán (St. Stephen). The original local production of sheet glass and the so-called green glass was rebuilt into kerosene lampshades and chimneys manufacture. The same year Josef Schreiber requested at the Moravian pro consulate to be granted a formal provintial’s factory entitlement. He based his request on the rent of the glass-works mentioned above, and on the successful running of the glassworks in Rapotín. The Chamber in Olomouc expressed their complete satisfaction with the quality of the products and the owner’s abilities, thus Schreiber was granted the requested entitlement on the 24th of January 1860.

The glass-works in Čejč and Na Posekanci in Bohemia (Marienwald Glass-Works) were added to the glassworks in Vlárský průsmyk. At the beginning of the 1860s, the Schreibers bought the building of the former paper-works close to Světlá nad Sázavou and had it re-built into a glass cutting plant called Josefodol. Later, they also bought the glass cutting plants Karlov and Františkodol where they manufactured luxury cut crystal sets.

In 1865, Josef Schreiber Snr. handed the management of the business over to his nephew, Josef, and the brothers Göpferts (Eduard and Maxmilián); this is how the firm “J. Schreiber & Neffen” whose headquarters were in Vienna arose. The firm’s success depended on the quality of the goods as well as on the abilities of the sales representatives who were in charge of the chief subsidiary in Liechtensteinstrasse 22/24, Vienna, (and a subdivision in Tegetthoffstrasse 3), but they worked in all important centres of European and overseas trade too. The complete range was marketed in Budapest, Paris, Prague, Berlin, Hamburg, London, Bucharest, Alexandria, Cairo and many other locations. Being represented at both domestic and international exhibitions, the Schreibers’ traditional glassware as well as hot novelties were awarded a range of prizes. The Honourable Mention, the company “J. Schreiber & Neffen” was awarded at the World Exhibition in London, 1862, was followed by many awards in the years 1867, 1872 and 1873.  

The firm’s dynamic progress continued in the 1870s and the 1880s. In Hungary, the Schreibers rented the glassworks Karolinenthal (1873), and soon they built a factory in close by Uhrovec (1874) too. Its products were refined by cutting, mat treatment, etching or engraving. In addition to crystal glass, lighting glass especially was manufactured there, which underwent a huge boom due to the development of kerosene, gas and afterwards electric lights. Another glassworks arose by the rebuilding of the former sugar refinery in the south-Moravian village of Jaroňovice (1875); because there were brown coal mines there and their deposits were used for the heating of the furnace fires. There was also a large cutting plant in operation. The new source for heating was used in “Maxova huť” (Max’s Glass-Works) and “Jindřichova huť” (Henry’s Glass-Works) situated at Dubňany and Lužice nearby Hodonín. It was both business interests and favourable customs conditions that moved the Schreibers to expand beyond the country’s borders too. At the close of the year 1879 they bought a glassworks in Fürstenberg, Prussia, and a few years later a close by glassworks in Briesen (1899), finally also a works in Polish Zabkowice (Zombkowice) (1883).        

In 1882, the Schreibers celebrated the 25th anniversary of their activity in Rapotín, together with the jubilee of the firm. To review their a quarter-hundred year existence, it was excellent: according to J. Bárta, the company owned fifteen glass-works and refineries, it employed two thousand workers, a hundred clerks, and marketed over three thousand products of varied design. The firm's final expansion was  in 1890 when Josef Schreiber Jnr. bought a large estate in Lednické Rovne near Trenčín (Slovakia). A glassworks that supplied the domestic and foreign markets with fine set glassware decorated with cutting, engraving, etching or pantograph, lamp chimneys, bottles and pressed glassware was built there within two years.

The firm’s development required considerable investments that the Schreibers extended family began to lack more and more. In the late 1890s (1897), the absence of capital resulted in the founding a new joint-stock company called Glashüttenwerke vormals J. Schreiber & Neffen / Glass-Works, formerly J. Schreiber & Nephews, with it’s seat in Vienna. The shareholders were solving the deficiency of money by selling their shares to strange shareholders who were gradually becoming their sole owners (dr. Kreidl, K. Rosenzweig/Rosen, etc.). The last glassworks to remain in the family’s ownership was that in Lednické Rovne, which remained Josef Schreiber Jnr.’s exclusive property. However two years after his death it was finally sold as well (1909). After the company had been bought out by new owners, only two members of Schreiber’s family continued in the firm: Alfréd Schreiber, a son of Josef Schreiber Jnr., and his brother Rupert, who worked in the glassworks in Lednické Rovne as a director until 1911.This is how an over fifty-year history of one glass business dynasty finished, however the firm “Glass-Works, formerly J. Schreiber and Nephews” carried on developing Schreibers’ heritage and reputation.