Daum

The history of the famous glassworks "Daum" starts with the notary Jean Daum (1825-1885). During French-Prussian War it was inevitable that he, and many other Alsace people, had to flee for the rapidly upcoming German army. After some rampling around the Daum family settled themselves in Nancy. Here Jean came in contact with a group industrialists, who wanted to start a glassworks called "Verrerie Sainte Catherine" (1875) and he was persuaded to become a cofinancer. The glassworks produced glass for watches, mirrors and services. Very fast (1876) the factory came in financial problems and Jean decided to withdraw from the sinking ship. His copartners however couldn’t pay him back his share. So in the end Jean chose to take over the complete works of his compagnons by buying them out. He altered the name of the factory to "Verrerie the Nancy". But also Jean lacked the skill to manage this Verrerie successfully and for some time it looked like the factory would inglorious fade into history. The world than would be a less colourful place, without those stunning Daum vases, or magnifisent lamps and other beautiful objects.


daum vase
Daum cameo art nouveau vase
ca. 1905

In 1879, the oldest son of Jean, Auguste (1853-1909), rounded up his study of law and came to assist his father in the glassworks. Auguste had a strong financial insight and presses for a more refined production of service glass. However it would take till 1887 before the Daum factory overcame it’s financial malaise. In 1883 Auguste married with Jeanne Constantin, a woman from a respected glass family. But when father Jean dies in 1885, the newely wed family awaits a delicate inheritance. The discomfort will last ontill the moment that the eleven years younger brother of Auguste, the artistically gifted Antonin (1864-1931), joins the glassworks. The tasks in the Daum factory are allocated to knowledge. Auguste Daum becomes commercial and financial director and Antonin Daum leads the production proces.


Up to 1894 they had the only glassworks in Nancy. In that same year, on 31 May, a new glass empire started with the opening of the glassworks of Emile Gallé, who became worldfamous and reached his apotheosis with the founding of the “École de Nancy” (a group of brilliant and skilled artists, who would bring their work to a solitary altitude, especially within the Art Nouveau). Emile Gallé was the catalyst, the magnet within the "École the Nancy". Since the Parisian World Fair of 1889 (where Gallé won a gold medal for his glass, a gold medal for his pottery and silver medal for his furnitures) Gallé had an enormous influence on the young Antonin Daum. As from 1890 the emphasis of the Daum works changed to the production of art objects and the testing of new techniques. Many new artistic employees were commissioned and the outlet was increased.


Antonin showed an excessively interest in the application of electricity. Already in 1898, he devised some particular, wonderful tablelamps, with two lightbulbs, one under the glass hood and one in the slim foot. This would cause an illumination of colours which where shone through several layers of cameo glass. He achieved a huge success on the Parisian World Fair of 1900 with these fairytale-like objects and won the "Grand Prix" there. An important acid etcher at Daum was Jacques Gruber, who later on would develop into one of Frances most important stained glass and furniture designers. Other wellknown designers were Charles Schneider, Eugène Gallé, Emile Wirts and many years later Salvador Dalí. After 1900 the Daum glassworks could increase production with more than 300 employees. The "Verrerie the Nancy" became the epitomize in the art glass industry with its revolutionary techniques.It Included working with colour powders, with acids, with enamel and with fluorine hydrogen. The Daum laboratory was very inventively in this époque.


daum

Daum cameo vase
ca. 1895

They took no pleasure in hiring half-hearted employees. They demanded the very best. And in this way it could happen that the famous artist Edgar Brandt was attracted to look after the wrought ironwork of the Daum factory. During the first World War Daum closed it’s art department. One of the sons of Auguste, Jean, who also was operative in the firm, lost his life at the “Battle of Verdun”, and with him a lot of other employees. During the war the factory manufactured medical glass. In the interbellum another son of Auguste, Paul Daum, takes care of the artistic production and qualifies excels in the design of Art Deco glass. Under his supervision the Daum glassworks delivered the glass for the steam ship "Le Normandie", a wellknown ship which was put on posters by the painter and graphic designer Cassandre (pseudonym for Adolphe Mouron).



Daum art deco vase
ca. 1930

Unfortunately Paul Daum met the same fate as his brother and died in the second World War in a concentration camp. The wars seemed very fateful for the zons of Auguste. But the factory still produces glass and is still in the hands of the heirs of the founder Jean Daum. However, must be said that the heydays were when the factory was in the competent hands of Auguste and especially of Antonin and of Paul Daum, the period 1890 up to 1930.

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