ANTONIN RÜCKL & SONS 1919-1939
Including WILHELM KRALIK & SONS Czech Glass
A summarized version of the history of the Anton Rückl family branch, it's glass production plants and businesses starting in the mid 19th century in Bohemia to today's Czech Republic.
The ancestry can be traced back to 1704, with the documented presence of a master glassblower called Sebastian Rückl, who worked in a glass smelter near the Sumava mountain range in the Western part of Bohemia.
Jan Rückl, several generations later, also became a glass master, and founded his glass smelter in 1846, in Cyranuv Wostrov, now a town called Ostrava on the Eastern Central border of Slovakia. Image 1 and 2 show Jan's portrait and a drawing of the first glass operation. (See Geography page - under this one)
Antonin Rückl, son of Jan Rückl, founded his own glass works first in Vcelnicka, near Jindrichuv Hradec in 1875. Then, a second glasswork facility in Skalice near Ceske Lipy, south of Novy Bor in 1893. A third glasswork plant was establisihed in 1903 in the village of Nizbor, region of Beroun, slightly South-West of the capital Prague.
Image 3 is a portrait of Antonin Rückl. Image 4 is the original design of the Ruckl Crest Trademark representing the ANTONIN RUCKL & SYNOVY S.R.O. company, submitted for registration to the Prague government in 1901.
Post World War One, Bohemia now called Czechoslovakia, is no longer part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1923, Antonin Rückl built a wholesale warehouse in Prague. This was the best economical period for glass exports of all kinds. The railway system was an important transportation system in this mountainous country, taking goods from all three glass plants to Prague.
It is the time the company changed to a 'family joint stock' enterprise, the shareholders of which were solely Rückl family members.
This may be a good point to acknowledge that the Rückl family descendants were numerous. A few did build some short lived glass facilities of their own at end of the 19th and the early 20th centuries, which were not part of the Antonin Rückl & Sons business enterprises.
During the interwar period, which is of particular interest to our website's focus, the plants produced virtually the entire range of home and decorative glassware, either fine crystal-glass and lead crystal, clear and colored, cut, polished or painted. The glassworks products had a very good reputation locally and abroad.
The company hired renowned glass designers such as Professor Joseph Drahonovsky (1877-1938), and Ludvika Smrckova (1903-1991).
Sadly, Czechoslovakia was annexed by Germany in 1939 till 1944. The Allied Russian forces during the Second World War were the liberating military component who fought in the German occupied Czechoslovakia, which then became part of the Soviet Block until the end of the 1980s.
Under Soviet rules, all major glasswork companies were nationalized and controlled as government entities. They were grouped together based on location under one brand name. For A. Rückl & Sons, this seemed to mean that Vcelnicka was the main plant considered and grouped with the 'Bohemia Glass' brand headquarters in Podebrady in the South West quarter of Czechoslovakia.
Once the country was able to form it's own democratic government, under the name the Czech Republic in early 1990s, it was possible for Jiri Rückl, direct descendant of Antonin Rückl, as his great-grand-son, was able to apply for and buy back the Nizbor glass facilities.
In 1998, he created a new company with the name RÜCKL CRYSTAL A.S., adding several new trademarks over the following years. The Rückl Nizbor location glassworks were rebuilt and modernized. Ing. Jiri Rückl was also involved in politics as a senator representing the Beroun area from 1996 to 2004.
Today, Jiri Rückl has retired and his two daughters Marketta and Simona are the top executives at the Nizbor company headquarters.
I am grateful for their permission to use the family owned historical documents, images and information posted on the ruckl.cz company website.
The color photos, images 5, 6, 7 and 8 represent recent views of the Skalice village, the Nizbor village and the old Nizbor glass factory wall with family crest still visible. Last image is an aerial view of the whole Nizbor plant area.