• Germany's news in English

Classy glass from the past

Sally McGrane · 13 Sep 2011, 11:12

Published: 13 Sep 2011 11:12 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

From luxury cars to precision machinery, “Made in Germany” still means quality craftsmanship around the world. But the Teutonic attention to detail goes far beyond engineering. This series features a diverse array of products from both well-known German brands and less famous firms. But no matter big or small, all of them are focused on being the best at what they do.

The Jenaer Glas story starts in 1884, when Otto Schott, a glass chemist, and his partners Ernst Abbe and Carl Zeiss founded the “Glass technical laboratory Schott and Partners” in Jena, Thuringia. What they produced wasn’t just any ordinary glass: They were working hard to develop a new kind of material that would withstand chemicals and heat.

By 1887, they had made a major breakthrough, developing a borosilicate glass that was the forerunner of the Pyrex glass we know today. This new material was immediately put to use to produce thermometers, laboratory test tubes, and the glass cylinders used in the era’s gas lights. By 1918, the company was making glass jars, baby bottles, and dishes for cooking and baking. With the growing popularity of the Bauhaus designs, the glass company teamed up with Bauhaus designers Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Gerhard Marcks, Heinrich Löffelhardt, Bruno Mauder, Ilse Decho and Hans Merz in the 1930s. Together with these leading contemporary artists, they produced some of the earliest examples of modern industrial design products.

After the post-war division of Germany, the company also split into two, with the glass production company in Jena continuing to function under state ownership, and a second company, Schott and Partners, established in 1952 in the western city of Mainz. Communist East Germany found the glass from Jena was a popular export article. In the West, Schott and Partners likewise continued producing high-quality glasswares.

After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Schott Mainz took control of the company in Jena, and in 1994 the brand was relaunched as Jenaer Glas. This company, in turn was taken over by Zwiesel Kristallglas – a firm with which the Jenaer glassworks had a long history. Back in 1927, the group in Jena had acquired a majority stake in the Zwiesel glassworks. In 1945, when US troops sent more than forty of Jenaer Glas’s high-level employees to construct a new optical glass manufacturing plant in Zwiesel in Bavaria, the transfer of qualified managers from the headquarters allowed the Bavarian glassworks to regroup. In the 1970’s, the Zwiesel glassworks produced housewares under the name “Jenaer Glas,” but were forced to stop after a brand name dispute. After the two companies joined forces once again, production was moved from Jena to Zwiesel in 2005.

Story continues below…

Today, Jenaer Glas specialities include a re-issue of Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s classic Bauhaus tea service from 1931. The teapot, still on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, costs about €140, retail.

“It’s our goal to expand the product portfolio we presently have for food and lifestyle trends,” said Nora Michelson, Product Manager of Jenaer Glas. “We’ll take the continuously changing demands of gastronomy – and the consumer – into account.”

Sally McGrane (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Ex-chancellor Schröder to mediate in supermarket row
Gerhard Schröder. Photo: DPA

Can Gerhard Schröder bring an end to the Kaiser's Tengelmann saga?

Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd