Saturday, December 19, 2009
OLAF'S GREAT FIND
In the beginning of November, I received the following email from a glass float collecting friend and trading partner Olaf, who lives in Norway:
Thank you for your mails today.
Here is the story:
There lived a fisherman, born around 1850, on an island in the Oslofjord, located only 500 meters from Hovik Verk (Hovik glassworks).
The fisherman had 3 sons, and they divided the island in 3 equal parts.
They were all fishermen. One of the 3, was the great grandfather to the man I met today. This great grandson wanted to dispose of all the nets, cork, floats, etc., due to rebuilding the boathouse. I was lucky to buy the 5 enclosed small floats from him.
They are all unmarked, but he could tell me that they are all from Hovik Glasswork, which according to him, didn't mark their products until later. These 5 must have been used as glassfloats on floating nets. I also purchased the stones which were used on the bottom of the net for weight, and some corks.
In addition, he had 30 glass floats used by his great grandfather, and interesting enough, they were all the same size: abt 3-3.5", clear and green. Twelve were marked PCF, 8 were L dotted, one was an I dotted by three dots and the rest were unmarkt.
Most of the unmarked were clear/colourless, and the same type of glass as the small ones. No doubt also from Hovik Glasworks, in the early 1870's.
The H floats, which I have 3 different kinds of-light green and dark green with same size H, and the aqua H which is larger, are not from Hovik Verk.
The H floats are Hestviken glassworks (westcoast) and Holmen glassworks (north).
Holmen closed down 1840, but my guess (which you have thee same assumptions written in your email for Schimmelmann) is that Holmen produced floats before it was officially known, or credited to Faye/Berg in 1842-1843."
What a day!!!"
After reading Olaf's email, and seeing the photos of the floats that he had found and purchased, I was amazed, incredulous and happy for my friend's good fortune.
Prior to Olaf's photos, I had seen this style of float in a photo sent by Roger and Maria the previous spring. The photo of that net full of beauties (shown above) is from the Smogen Museum.
There was also a very curious bullet-shaped netted float, which sold for almost $1,000.00 on a Norwegian auction site. It was impossible to see the float within the capnet, but the shape and size lead me to believe that float was one of the Hoviks.
David from Sweden, found a similarly-shaped Knobbed Egg a few summers ago. That float's glass was aqua. Now, not only had Olaf come across a handful, he also was able to purchase them for his amazing glassfloat and commercial fishing gear collection.
Immediately, we began exchanging emails about his wonderful find. An idea popped into my head, and I wrote: "Hmm. Maybe that "..." float I have, will be worth trading for one of the Hoviks, if you want to trade one?" The next day, Olaf wrote back, and we began to discuss possibilities and availabilities.
For two weeks we talked trade, discussing floats that I had which he did not, and trying to formulate a trade that would also be worthy of the cost for postage from Norway to New Jersey. The cost from Norway to send a single float is very expensive, whereas a box with 3 or 4 floats, costs very little more. Putting together a sizeable trade added another degree of difficulty.
I have not been able to entice Olaf to go American, or Asian. He has one of, if not the finest, Norwegian float collections, and is also interested in Euros. The problem is-he has just about every Norwegian float known to collectors, and his Euro collection is first rate too. There were some gems in the collection, and it was possible to part with three of them. I had enjoyed the floats for many years, and felt it was time to share their beauty with another collector. In return, new and exciting floats would join the collection.
The trade was put together, culminating in both of us having had a good time during the negotiations, and an equally good time waiting for our packages to arrive, then opening them. Thanks to my trading pal, I now have one of the Hovik style of floats, as well as a beautiful small and colorless Swedish Dog Float.
I look at both of those floats everyday, and there still remains another trade in the works for the shorter and fatter style of Hovik. We're working on it, but with the holidays, etc., we are dickering at a slower pace.
The story has continued. More information from the seller of the Hoviks and his family has surfaced, as well as additional information came to Olaf through other Norwegian glass collectors, and research exchanged between us in later emails. Olaf put a story together for all of us to read, and today his email story arrived to be shared.
"Subject: VS: glass floats
Here is the family history of the man who sold me the Hovik floats:
THE FISHERMAN IN OSLOFJORD
If you are visiting Oslo, the capital of Norway on a cruise-ship, you will at the end of the journey, pass the Swedish West coasts prior to entering into the Oslofjord. From there it is about 1 hour's sailing to Oslo. The Oslofjord has always been rich in fishing resources.
There lived a fisherman, born around 1850, on an island in the Oslofjord. The island is located only 1500 meters from Hovik Glassworks. Hovik Verks was a glass factory constructed for the production of glass bottles (and fishing glass floats) in 1871. However, a large fire in 1875 made a stop for further production of glass bottles - and likely also fishing glass floats.
The fisherman had three children. One son-who became a fisherman, and two daughters who married two brothers - both fisherman. They all settled on another small island nearby. One of the 3 fishermen was the great grand father to the seller's wife. The descedants of the fisherman still live on the island today.
In 1865, the old fisherman-Nils Pedersen, is registered as living on an island called Snaroya, just outside Christiania. The capital city's name-Christiania, was changed to Oslo in 1924. He was married to Berte Evensdaughter, and had 4 registered children, Pauline born 1856, Evdard born 1859, Nicoline born 1861 and Mathilde born 1862. His son Edvard also became a fisherman as well as the two brothers Peder and Kristian Kristiansen, who married two of Nil's daughters.
Kristian Kristiansen born 1852, was married to Mathilde-Nils Pedersen's daughter, and they had the two sons Oskar born 1884, and Wilhelm born 1887.
In 1886, Nils and his two sons-in-law bought two small islands outside Snaroya in the Oslofjord - the price was nok 999.999 - and the family settled there.
In the year 1900, four families lived at these two islands. They were all fisherman.
It was an hour's rowing to Christiania, were they sold the fish and bought necessary equipment and food to survive at the island; and it was an hour's rowing to Hovik Church every sunday. The Hovik church was located very close to Hovik Glassworks.
According to glassworks literature' a company called Christiania Magasin established sale of their glass products in Christiania from 1857. In 1868, glassbottles and glassfloats were sent from Biri Glassworks by railway, from Eidsvoll, and sold by Christiania. Biri Glassworks marked their glass floats with BV, but we also know that Christiania Magasin marked glass floats with CM, likely after 1898.
Another family who lived on the island was Andreas Jansen, from Bygdoy, a place closer to the Oslo. One son, Henrik died as a fisherman in Oslofjord year 1900. The other son Fredrik, emigrated to U.S.A., where he lived 16 years before coming home to continue with fishing. Andreaas Jansen also settled down on one of these islands.
In 1881, Andreas Jansen and Godtlieb Hendriksen made a contract with the manager of one of the king's residences - Bygdoy Kongsgaard - which allowed him to fish along the coastline at Bygdoy for eel. The yearly contract fee was NOK 32 and that remained until 1925. The small oblong glass floats were used on the net leading the eels to the the eel-pot. Today, the decendants of the fishermen's family still live on the islands in Oslofjord.
One day in autumn 2009, whilst renovating their boathouse, the great grandson found the fishing equipment, nets and glass floats, of the old fisherman.
A few CM's, a few PCF's, and a few dotted L's,-all the same size of about 3/3.5"-all likely purchased in Chirstiania, when the great grandfather was there to sell fish. In another box were the small Knobbed Egg glass floats, about 12 cm long and about 3.5/4 cm wide, most likely purchased in the 1879's from Hovik Glassworks, by Nils Pedersen.
Olaf continued writing with a history of Hovik Glassworks
Hovik Glasverks was founded in 1855, by an Englishman named Thomas Graham Smyth, for bottle production. The business was difficult in the beginning due to the poor quality of the bottles being produced.
In 1862 the glassworks was taken over by the same company behind Hadeland/Hurdal/Biiri glassworks, and in 1898 by Christiania Glasmagasin. Also Drammen Glassworks became part of this group in 1898.
In 1871, they constructed a new Hovik Glasverks, with Swedish glassblowers who produced beer, wine and mineral water bottles, and a relatively large production of fishing glass floats. At that time Norway was in union with Sweden."
In an email written to Olaf prior to receiving this story, I asked Olaf if he thought that the glassblowers at Hovik might have been Swedish or been trained by a Swedish glassblower? There are definite similarities between the glass in the Hoviks when compared with other colorless Swedish floats. It appeared to me as if the same glass mixture had been used. It was good to read that my guess was right. This helps to confirm the thoughts of myself and others, that it is possible to look at glassfloats, and determine the country of origin, or the nationality of the glassblowers and/or mixers. Not foolproof, but as difficult as it is to find out who the makers were, it's nice to have a touchstone now and then. Olaf continues:
"In 1875, Hovik Glassworks was engulfed by a fire, which stopped the production of bottles and glass floats. 16 buildings burned down, together with all equipments and stores. The owners did not give up, and built a new glashütte a year later. They employed glassblowers from Hadeland. Mr Berg-the owner, established a lamp factory.
The new paraffine oil lamps were a success from the beginning, and Hovik Glassworks became a world leader in the market.
In the late 1870's, the factory exported a lot of lamp products to Sweden, until new export laws stopped the exporting to Sweden in 1897. The sale of oil lamps stagnated towards the end of 1890's due to the importing of electric lamps and better gas lamps.
Hovik Glasworks made products for Christiania Glasmaagasin (CM). After 1898, Christiania Glasmaagasin purchased Hovik Glassworks. The Hovik factory was shut down in 1971/1972, and they moved the production to Halden, a city close to the Swedish boarder. The company was named Hovik Lamps."
Have a good day,
Olaf's story of the seller's family history is quite interesting. The layers of generations, their marriages, land purchases and the fishing tradition evolved through the years, until one day, Olaf answered the advertisement to purchase fishing gear from an old boathouse. On that day, he became the proud owner of rare Hovik Knobbed Eggs. And thanks to Olaf, we all benefit from his research and sharing of the story behind the floats. The story continued for Olaf and me.
This post was started before the Christmas holidays. Since the first purchase, Olaf was able to buy a few more of the Hoviks from the great grandson, who did keep two of them to remember his family by. The two of us have just completed a trade for the second variation of the floats. This morning we both went to the post office in our homelands, and started the Atlantic crossing of two wonderful glass floats.
I traded Olaf a rare AT float purchased from England a couple of years ago. Olaf is excited, and so am I. There is a spot on the top shelf of my display cabinet just waiting for the tiny Hovik Knobbed Egg. It will sit there in front of the colored Made In Czechoslovakia floats in a line consisting of the Selkie Knobbed Egg, its Hovik mate and Per's Aalesund beauty. I can't wait!
The photos above:
1. Smogen Museum display showing the net with the Hovik Knobbed Eggs from Roger &
2. From the website devoted to Norwegian paintings: The photograph of the painting
shown above, was done by Gude. He felt that this was one of his major works.
Acquired by the National Museum in Stockholm, it is a representation of fjord
scenery in south-eastern Norway. The view across the water at Sandviken,shows
the smoke of Høvik Glassworks rising on the distant shore;
3. the Primus Stove;
4. Olaf's original purchase and
5. the author's Hovik Knobbed Egg