Daum Frères

The Daum family from Lorraine had moved from Bitche to Nancy after the Franco-German war. Jean Daum took over the Avril & Bertrand glassworks in 1878. The factory had specialised in watch glass and glassware. He succeeded in keeping the glassworks afloat with the help of a technician. His son Auguste (1853 – 1909) joined him in 1879 and worked his way into the manufactory. With the addition of the younger brother Antonin (1864 – 1930) in 1887, a wind of change was noticeable. The engineer had a feeling for trends and took over the artistic direction while Auguste remained responsible for the commercial aspects of the factory.

Influenced by the works by Emile Gallé at the Paris World Fair in 1889, the brothers decided to add decorative glass to their every day glassware ('Gobeleterie). When they presented the first works at the Chicago World Fair in 1893 they were an instant success. This resulted in the factory having 300 employees at twelve glass melting pots and two glass kilns in the 1890s.

Daum Frères experimented with different colours, shapes and techniques and found the models for their décors in nature. Thus, they were in direct competition with Emile Gallé. The controversy only ended when the rivals founded the Ecole de Nancy together with Louis Majorelle, renowned mostly for his cabinetmaking.

Daum Frères succeeded in tying the most innovative glass artists of their time to their cause. Thus, they found a multi-talented art director in Henri Bergé who was able to produce faithful reproductions of nature and, on the other hand, occupied himself, together with Amalric Walter, with the re-discovered 'Pâte de verre'-technique. Antonin's old friend, Louis Majorelle, contributed lamp bases, bases and fittings for the glass works of art. Moreover, with Eugène Gall, the manufactory had a capable master smelter who also created lots of new designs.

1909 Jean Daum took over the business together with his brother Paul. The focus wasn't any longer on the faithful reproduction of nature but new décors, most of them etched, sometimes highlighted with colour, dominated the production.

Daum Frères were one of only a few factories that lived through the world economic crisis of 1929 almost unscathed returning to the production of glassware. In 1935, the factory was commissioned to provide the total glassware of crystal glass for the luxury liner 'Normandie'. In the Second World War, the factory was shut down temporarily. In 1945, the operations were resumed by the remaining family. In the Sixties Daum was transformed into a stock company.

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