Daum Freres of Nancy, France – A History
The success of the Daum glass company is directly a result of its excellent management and entrepreneurial spirit.
The accidental founder of the company was Jean Daum (1825-1885). He was a financier of the company when it was known as the Verrerie Sainte Catherine. This company quickly hit hard times and it was Jean Daum who took control of it before it failed. Daum was not an artist by trade. He was a notary and industrialist. This new venture was a trial by fire.
The first glass produced by Daum is collectible, but it was not art glass. They made mostly clear glass with gold rims to be used while dining. It wasn’t until the 1890s that Daum began producing what we think of today as “Daum Nancy” glass.
Daum glass is thought to be made by the Daum Freres (brothers). This was not accurate when the company first began operating. It was Jean Daum and his son Auguste Daum (1853-1909) who laid the ground work for Auguste and his brother Antonin Daum (1864-1930) to lead the company in the early 20th century.
All Daum glass is handmade, but that certainly shouldn’t lead the reader to believe that Daum was a mom and pop operation. At the company’s height of production 400 workers were at the factory in Nancy, France. In fact Daum hired and employed some great artists who would later be famous for their own works, namely the Schneider Brothers. Henri Berge, Bernard Gruber, Eugene Gall, and Amalric Walter were key designers at Daum.
It took winning the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900 for Daum to really move out of the shadow of fellow Nancy glass maker, Emile Galle. In 1904 Galle died, and that is when Daum really took over the glass industry. Daum’s dominance only lasted for about a decade. In 1914 World War I began in France and the Daum factory was shut down and turned into a hospital. In 1918 the plant reopened, but things were not the same. Antonin Daum was leading the company, but the craftsmanship and innovation of the past twenty years was not present.
The golden age for Daum Nancy was likely between 1895 and 1914. This period saw Daum register patents and experiment successfully with construction and decoration techniques that makes their art so unique and highly desirable today.
The Daum glass factory is still open today. They currently make crystal art. We are mostly interested in purchasing authentic Daum Nancy glass from the Art Nouveau period. Please contact us and tell us what you have.