Our featured museum pieces this month come from an extremely rare collection of crystal stemware produced by Baccarat. The Czar pattern features elongated stems, intricate cuts, and jewel-tone colors, and was produced sometime around 1896. There are significant and unusual design characteristics associated with the Czar pattern. The water goblet stands 14” tall, the claret wine and sherbet champagne stems both stand 11” tall. These are very unusual heights for these piece types, but it is obvious that the design of this pattern was influenced by the ostentation that the ill-fated Romanov Czars (the ultimate beau monde) were known for. The selection of colors, jewel facets, and shapes could very well have been inspired by the crowning of the last Czar of Russia, Nicholas II, 1896. The last known value for the goblet in this set was $1,200.00. Each piece is extraordinary, and the painstaking artistry employed to produce them is very evident.
Baccarat began as a small town of 600 in France situated 250 miles east of Paris. In 1764, slightly prior to the French Revolution, Monseigneur de Montmorency-Laval, the Bishop of Metz, petitioned King Louis XV to allow him to open a glassworks factory on the banks of the River Meurthe. The reason for the Bishop’s interest in opening a glassworks factory was that he owned thousands of acres of old growth forests. In order to turn a profit from these forests, the Bishop needed to find an industry that would consume lots of firewood. King Louis XV granted the charter and in 1765 the Compaigne des Cristalleries de Baccarat was established.
Prior to the French Revolution (1789-1799), Baccarat employed an extraordinary concept in factory management. Workers employed by Baccarat and their families were housed on the grounds of the Baccarat complex. The company concerned itself with the welfare of its employees during a time when French aristocracy dismissed with indifference the poverty of the masses. In 1838, a manager at Baccarat discovered a way to produce full-lead crystal that could be colored. The formula was one of the company’s most closely guarded trade secrets. However, the information was leaked to Bohemians living in the area who produced similar works to those of Baccarat. There was no competition between Baccarat and the Bohemians however, as the Bohemian interest was purely artistic and they philosophically were not interested in making a profit. The factory continued to grow in prestige throughout the remainder of the 19th century. By the latter half of the 19th century, Baccarat’s product adorned the tables of the world’s most prestigious monarchs including the Czar and Czarina of Russia, the Emperor of Japan, the Sultan of Turkey, the King of Siam, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the last three kings of France, Aga Khan, the President of the Republic of Chile, the King of Portugal, the former King of Spain, the King of Greece, the King of Egypt, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Wilhelm II of Germany, and Pope Benedict XV.
Today, Baccarat is still one of the most sought after crystal manufacturers in the world. We’d love to have you come to our facility to see these incredible museum pieces, as well a huge selection of Baccarat crystal that is available for purchase! Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days (except holidays). The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!