Monday, January 19, 2009

A Friend and a Revelation

Call it fate. Call it luck. No matter what you want to call it, unexpectedly, good things happen. Peter Vermeulen is not only a good thing that happened to me, he is also a friend.

It started with an Ebay auction for three small netted Norwegian floats. When I saw the auction, I was amazed at the beautiful netting on the floats-netted in styles that I had not seen. The description said that all were marked, and all were small 2.5" to 3" diameter Euros. Those small Euros were something new and unknown to me back then.

The price was fair, and with the cost of postage from Europe, if no one else overbid the starting price, they were affordable. So, I bid, and as luck or fate would have it, no one bid against me.

As soon as I won the auction, I emailed Peter, and introduced myself, and my passion for glass floats, particularly European floats. Peter not only quickly responded, but also told me about himself, and attached a terrific piece of writing he had done, titled, "Some dates on European Fishing Floats."

Peter is one of the foremost collectors of Case Gin bottles in the world. His writings about historical glass are wonderfully researched, and full of hard-to-find historical facts. The glass float article that he had written was just such an article. One fact that jumped out at me, was the information about the German "Kleeblatt," or Clover Leaf float that was made by the Glasfabrik Hermann Heye.

Eureka! At last! There was a company behind a marking.

The very first European glass float that I found was a 5" beautiful light green ball with the cachet, "Made in Germany," over a clover with a rectangular base. It was first seen as my wife and I were driving on a sunny Sunday afternoon down the Blackwood Clementon Road in Southern New Jersey.

We had just finished an enjoyable afternoon searching through the offerings at a local auction and flea market. As we drove somewhat slowly in the afternoon traffic, I spied that ball shining in the sun atop a lawn table in someone's yardsale. Quickly, I found a parking place, walked over, slowly advanced to the ball, picked it up and the owner and I got down to business:

"What is this thing?"
"Oh it's a crystal ball."
Laughter, followed by,
"Come on, this is no crystal ball."
"What do you think it is?"
"I don't know."
"Where did you get it?"
"It was in a box of stuff I picked up at an auction."

I thought for sure that it was a glass ball, but had never seen a mark like that, having only been familiar with Japanese glass floats that I had been beachcombing back at our Washington home. The next inevitable question was:

"Do you want to bargain a bit?"
"Make me an offer."
"I like it, but don't want to spend that much on it(the sticker price was $8.00)."
Well, what do you want to spend?"
"How about $3.00?' 'I'll take a chance on it, just because I'm curious, and kind of like it."
Deal done!

Months later, after returning to our Washington Coast home, we attended the 1st. Ocean Shores Beachcomber's Show, and there I met Amos Wood. He was sitting at a table in front of a pile of his books. We began to talk, and after buying an autographed copy of Beachcombing for Japanese Glass Floats, I returned with that float together with a few of my favorite finds.

Mr. Wood was so kind to this neophyte float collector, and knew exactly what I had found. He told me that particular float was a European float, and that it was the first one that he had seen with both the Kleeblatt and the wording. My first Euro, and now, thanks to Peter, I know which glass company made it.

From the website, www.obernkirchen-infode/gerrverbe.htm

Milestones of history

comes this timeline of the company from it's beginning until the WWII years:

Historical View from the beginnings of the Heye Glass Factory

1799 Establishment of the glass factory in Obernkirchen by Johann Conrad Storm.
1823 Caspar Hermann Heye is a shareholder in the glass factory
1842 Caspar Hermann Heye is the sole owner of the glass factory, which from now bears the name of Hermann Heye.
1847 Establishment of the support fund for needy Heye employees and their relatives
1855 Acquisition of the glass factory in height Wendt Stadthagen (production until 1932)
1859 Acquisition of the glass factory near Hanover Stein (production until 1932)
1871 Construction of the `Heye" between glass factory in Nienburg (aside 1931 as a result of the global economic crisis)
1884 1884 Acquisition of the glass factory Annahütte, Niederlausitz, production of glass up to the turn of 1945-1990 as a socially owned VEB operation in the former GDR)

1888 Heye works Annahütte lignite (brown coal mining until 1945)
1906 The first Owens-automated production machines will be put into operation
1913 Purchase of a glass factory in Flensburg (production until 1939)
1942 Establishment of the Association of Support Activities Association Heye'schen by the company owner Elisabeth Heye. The support association now pays pensions to about 900 retirees and widows from.

In 2001, the name Herman Heye Glasfabrik was changed to Heye Glass International, which is in operation today.

There is also another excellent article titled, "The Dating Game: Herman Heye Glasfabrik," by Bill Lockhart, Carol Serr, and Bill Lindsey
It can be found on the website, Bottles and Extras. This site deals with bottles, but the history of the Herman Heye Glassworks, is excellently done, and definitely worth a read. There is also an excellent photo of the base of a Heye glass bottle showing the clover with the rectangular base.

The two gentlemen in the photo above are, Juergen on the left, and Peter on the right. The photo above Juergen and Peter, is a wonderful piece of visual proof of the company name next to its logo.

Peter has been an excellent email friend, and teacher. Through him, I have learned much about the history of European glass makers. He has pointed me in the right direction more than once, always been there with an answer to my questions if the answer was available, and has put me in touch with some of the most wonderful and knowledgeable European glass collectors and friends that I could ever hope for. My glass float collection has grown in quality because of Peter, Juergen and Olaf's generosity, and this post is dedicated to them and most of all, to our mutual friend, Peter.