ANTONIN RÜCKL & SONS 1919-1939
Including WILHELM KRALIK & SONS Czech Glass
This is a page meant to examine why A. Ruckl was not as documented by anyone, that were quite willing to provide information about the other Bohemian and Czech decorative glass companies between 1900 to 1940, if they could.
This is my opinion based on the political events which affected the country during this period, in large part the role Germany had and it's consequences, who shared most of Bohemia's Western and Northern borders, and also had a large contingent of Ethnic German glass workers and owners working in that area of Bohemia/Czechoslovakia. A German business man created the Bohemian Glass Passau Museum, and amassed the biggest collection there is of this type of glass. He also published many books, based on this own glass collection and written by other experts in this glass category.
If you understand reference material, the core of a publication that is based on one person's perception and subjective views is not highly viewed or deemed completely accurate, because no matter who it is, there will be some glass that is favored more than other's based on that person's taste and predilections. Then we have the poor accumulation of where the glass was acquired and any other pertinent facts, such as other decorative type of museum practice with their acquisition, in London and Paris. That is what we are finding out now, with more documentation available today, that the Passau has many areas of faulty identification and attribution. It also contains glass that is not Bohemian but German, meaning the glass plant was located in Germany's Bavaria region and not Czechoslovakia for example.
An area was called Sundetenland in the Bohemia section of the country know as Czecho, and was annexed by Germany before the declaration of war in 1939. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about this event:
"The Sudetenland (/suːˈdeɪtənlænd/ ( [About this sound] listen); German: [zuˈdeːtn̩ˌlant]; Czech and Slovak: Sudety; Polish: Kraj Sudecki) is the name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia from the time of the Austrian Empire.
The word "Sudetenland" did not come into existence until the early 20th century and did not come to prominence until after the First World War, when the German-dominated Austria-Hungary was dismembered and the Sudeten Germans found themselves living in the new country ofCzechoslovakia. The Sudeten crisis of 1938 was provoked by the Pan-Germanist demands of Nazi Germany that the Sudetenland be annexed to Germany, which in fact took place after the later infamous Munich Agreement. Part of the borderland was invaded and annexed by Poland. When Czechoslovakia was reconstituted after the Second World War, the Sudeten Germans were largely expelled, and the region today is inhabited almost exclusively by Czech speakers.
Sudetenland is a compound word where Land means "country" and Sudeten is the German name of the Sudetes mountains, which run along the northern Czech border and Lower Silesia (now in Poland), although the Sudetenland encompassed areas well beyond those mountains.
Parts of the current Czech regions of Karlovy Vary, Liberec, Olomouc, Moravia-Silesia, and Ústí nad Labem are situated within the former Sudetenland."
Currently visitors to the Czech Republic report that there is still much animosity against the Germans, and their disruption of the Czech glass industries as well as their aggressive parcelling of the country to their benefit, starting in 1938 and ending in 1945. This was closely followed by the Russian state occupation, which would last for another 46 years. The Novy Bor or Haida Glass Museum, businesses and schools were in the Northern Sudetenland section and this may have affected their choices or their role as representatives of the region's glass production and it's pieces, perhaps with an emphasis on their German compatriots products.
By 1940, all of the population in Czechoslovakia, was under Germany's control. The valuable glass businesses were approached quite differently depending on who owned them, it seems. Pro-German families such as the Kralik's had decided to join their older brother Wilhem, in Germany since 1903, and retire close to their relatives since they were ageing and their glass businesses were closed. Von Maria Wilhem Kralik had married the eldest daughter of Franz Welz, the coal plant owner and potential glass plant business owner, also located near Tepliz.
The Jewish owned glass companies did not fare so well, detailed information is scarce about this, but there are tales of bad treatment and expulsion to the camps, as happened in Poland, Austria and France to their Jewish business owners.
A. Ruckl was an independent concern, as they did not inter marry with the other main glass plant owners, they were Catholic and purveyor to their churches, they seemed to be neither protected nor mishandled and lived in central Bohemia near Prague, out of the German majority areas. They stayed and survived the German years in their two locations, and where still in operation when the Russians invaded the country at the end of WWII. They became part of one of the amalgamated regional glass production entities created to pursue the glass fabrication and exports owned by the USSR state. The plants left at this point (see map), were producing cut crystal decorative wares in Nizbor, and the other became part of the more traditional Czech colored glass production group, at the Svelnicka plant in the South-East section.
The Ruckl glass that was produced, it's existence and identification was in limbo for a long time, between the better known and documented companies, because they were not affiliated with powerful contacts or status by marriage or by business arrangements. Yet they managed to prevail in spite of that. One way of achieving this was to destroy their own company's long term archives, and any documentation that existed and could fall into the wrong hands, causing them more conflict to deal with. The little they still have is shown on my site's pages, Home, History and Geography (see bottom links), used with their descendants and current Ruckl owners' permission. The Truitt's Bohemian Glass Volume II book also provides examples of their utilitarian lamp catalog pages from the late 1920s, with a decor page.
Since the Czech Republic Tango Sklo exhibits of 2011-2013, when they finally gave A. Ruckl & Sons it's place as an important glass producer during the 1920-1940 period. Because of this, we who collect and care about Ruckl decorative glass, have a lot more to work with for study and attributions. Did that circumstance have anything to do with Ruckl's high profile, long standing and respected role in the country's glass and crystal manufacture and community, probably. Jiri Ruckl became involved in the new government as soon as the new Czech Republic was created, and he was elected as a senator for the region of Beroun where Nizbor is located, for several terms. He also re-claimed the family glass plant business in Nizbor, to pursue their special glass heritage and their economic contribution for the Czech Republic.