- Ludwig Moser, opened the first of three factories in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia in 1857.
- The innovative process of using potash-lime in making Moser glass was perfect for intricate engraving and also more environmentally friendly than producing lead crystal.
- Most Moser pieces are not marked, but there are some exceptions. The hinged box shown here is faintly marked amid the intricate design.
- Many types of glass look similar to Moser pieces, but don’t have the same high quality in comparison. Before you pay a high price for what is represented as Moser, make sure you examine it carefully, and seek the help of a glassware expert if you’re not sure.
Collecting by Name Association
Sometimes it’s fun to collect things that have an association with a family name. Take one of my collecting friends as an example. She collects vintage costume jewelry made by Emmons, a sister company to Sarah Coventry, because it’s meaningful to her as a family name.
Moser, a name associated with a branch of my own family tree, intrigued my mother many moons ago when she discovered there was a type of antique Bohemian glass that shared its moniker with our clan. Mom discovered through word of mouth and library research, since there was no Internet back then, that the glassware associated with this familiar name was quite old and also could be quite expensive.
Searching for Elusive Glass
Since my mother didn’t collect all types of glass, but favored cranberry colored wares, that made finding a piece of Moser for her own collection a little more difficult. That didn’t stop her from looking, however, and eventually she found a piece through an antique dealer friend and purchased it. It sat proudly amid her fine porcelain for many years.
The hinged box I’m speaking of, shown with this article, turned out to be very characteristic of Moser’s work. It has a heavy enameled gold leaf pattern of butterflies and flowers completely covering the beautiful cranberry glass. Unlike most pieces, this one happens to be faintly marked amid the detailed design.
Hinged boxes like mom’s don’t come up for sale often these days, and when they do they are usually fairly pricey. An early piece like this one would probably sell in the $800-1,000 range now, far more than she paid for it 30 years ago. Having a mark present makes it more marketable and adds value as well.
The Glass of Kings: Company History and Designs
According to the company’s Web site, kings, queens, presidents, shahs and popes have all owned Moser’s stemware at one time or another, giving it the nickname “The Glass of Kings.” You'll also find a link below to Moser glass owned by famed pianist Liberace as displayed in his Las Vegas museum, which was copied from Queen Elizabeth's own pattern.
The glass was not only beautiful and popular with aristocracy; it was also innovative since it was produced without using lead. The potash-lime used for Moser’s glass production was perfect for intricate engraving and also more environmentally friendly than lead crystal.
The founder of the company that produced this gorgeous glass, Ludwig Moser, opened the first of three factories in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia in 1857. Schroeder’s Antiques Price Guide states that the styles developed there were entirely his own. There’s no evidence that Moser ever copied other artists, which is quite impressive considering the intricate and lovely work decorating his glass.
Some of the original designs created by Moser include grapes with trailing vines and acorns with oak leaves used in much the same way the gold butterflies and flowers are applied to my mother’s hinged box. Sometimes faux jewels were added to the designs to make Moser’s wares even more decadent in appearance.
Moser also used the same type of enameling, only without the gold leaf covering it, in a number of pleasing patterns to decorate glass of various colors. His enameled animal scenes display careful attention to detail and feature birds in flight, stalking tigers and stately elephants, among other themes. These can be quite hard to find today.
Pappa Moser died in 1916, but his sons kept the company going after his death. The boys had been personally trained by their father to carry on the family business. Moser Glassworks is still working in Karlsbad, West Czech Republic. You can see some of their modern works on their Web site, which is linked below.
Hints for Buying Older Moser Glass
When shopping for older Moser glass, Schroeder’s suggests looking for superior clarity in the glass; deeply carved, continuous engravings; perfect coloration; finely applied enameling (often covered with gold leaf) and well-polished pontils on the bottoms of the pieces.
As a side note, in case you didn’t know, a pontil is the area where a glass blowers tool was attached to the bottom of the piece while it was being blown. Higher quality glass usually has a more finely finished pontil. All Moser glass was, and still is, finely mouth blown.