The record of Venetian is over 1000 years, Bohemian is somewhat later.
Venice is known for its canals, picturesque gondolas and pretentious buildings. It is also where glass as an art began.
But the early glass factories, due to the extremely high heat needed for manufacture, also had a history of major conflagration. The Senate of Venice ordered all glass factories moved to a less dangerous location, onto the island of Murano.
On this small isle the secret of glass manufacture was protected from the prying eyes of foreign emissaries who sought this valued knowledge.
Quality Venetian glassware, with its jewel like appearance, was renowned world wide and its secrets were well guarded. The formulas remained with the Master Glass Makers and no one else. Time consuming care and skill by hand were and are one of the secrets to quality products such as this famed glass.
Evolution of centuries.
The evolution of centuries have insured the superiority of Venetian and Bohemian glass. Some is even enhanced with the discriminating use of pure silver and gold ornamentation.
Bohemia has also produced glass for centuries. From Bohemia has come cut, engraved, etched, flashed on color and overlay, and colored glass wares of the highest quality that have been sold world wide.
The term “Bohemian Glass” brings to mind richly engraved and cut ruby-red decanters.
These decanters are exquisite from the very top. The stoppers have deep clear cut circles, and a perfectly cut angled top. Around the neck are often these same round clear deep cut circles and stripes. On its sides of the bottle are diverse deep clear cut scenes, animals and flora. The design may include grape vines and leaves, stag and forest, or gondola and water floats. Many of these specific designs are readily called Bohemian.
From Bohemia, now a part of the Czech Republic, the secrets of glass blowing spread into the northern countries despite the attempts by Venetian glass masters to secret the processes. By 1500 the Venetian secrets were known.
The first glass made by Bohemian craftsmen was clear, later they experimented with colored wares and diverse forms of decoration.
As is true of many factors in human endeavors glass cutting and engraving developed simultaneously in other nearby areas of Europe.
As the timber for charcoal diminished in certain localities, the glass houses moved to new sources of fuel. Many times the basic glass wares were taken to nearby towns to be engraved, etched and enameled before returning the articles to be further fired.
Although Bohemia and Germany were excellent in cutting and etching glass wares, Germany excelled in enameling.
In the 1600’s Bohemian craftsmen perfected and developed the ruby red glass they are so famous for.
Producing not only the decanters and table wares made by Venetians, Bohemian glass artists were the first to excel in the manufacture of glass panes for windows imported into Britain. The employment for window glass was restricted to ecclesiastical buildings. Its use for glazed windows in domestic edifices was limited until well into the 1700s.
In the year 1567, the glass casements of Alnurick Castle were only put in when the lordly proprietor was present and were removed and placed in a secure area when he was absent.
Records indicate that glass windows were first introduced in gentlemen’s dwellings during the reign of Henry VIII in England, and into farm houses during the time of James I. Scotland still employed greased paper, horn and other like material for windows in 1661.
Well into the 18th century glass remained an importance and valuable possession for the royal and the wealthy.