The Story of the Glass Manufacturor Holmegaard
Count Christian Danneskiold-Samsoee sent an application to the Danish king in 1823, pleading with the king to allow a glass work in the Holmegaard bog. However, the count died before the king had the opportunity to send his reply. Henriette Danneskiold-Samsoe (HDS), his widow, decided to fulfil the life plans of her late husband, and got the king's approval. Thus, it was the mother of seven, who founded the first industrial glass work in Denmark.
On November 5th 2000 it was 175 years ago, that the ovens of Holmegaard Glassworks were lit for the first time.
In 1823 Count Christian Danneskiold-Samsoee sent an application to the Danish king pleading with the king to allow a glassworks in the Holmegaard bog. However, the count died before the king had the opportunity to send his reply. Henriette Danneskiold-Samsoee (HDS), his widow, decided to fulfil the life plans of her late husband, and she got the king's approval. Thus, it was the mother of seven, that founded the first industrial glassworks in Denmark. The work was placed in the bog as this was where the natural peat-deposits were found. Polish women were brought in as peat workers, to dig and roll the peat.
After having lost Norway - Denmark was in great need of glass. Earlier all glass-production had taken place in Sweden and Norway, as the riches of forest in these countries had supplied fuel for the big glass-ovens. The Norwegian glassmaker Christian Wendt was employed, and the local schoolmaster was engaged as foreman.
Chr. Wendt and his son built the first glass hut -around the glass-oven, in the bog of Holmegaard. Starting out the production exclusively included green bottles. After the attempt to produce window glass failed, hut 2 was rebuilt to produce "white glass". The production of clear glass was HDS highly prioritized goal. This being the expertise of Bohemian glassmakers, employees were found in Bohemia, and finally the production of wine glasses and carafees a.o. took off.
In 1835 Bernhard Friehling was engaged as the new manager of the glassworks, and thanks to him Holmegaard became the leading Danish glassworks. A glassworks like Holmegaard, was in those days a unique community. Adults as well as children participated in the hut tasks. Buildings were built to house the foreign glassworkers, and the first employees even had some of their wages as provisions, for instance rye or barley from one of the farms in Fensmark. Furthermore each family had the right to a cow, which could graze on the farm. Later a school, a church, an inn and a grocery shop were built. The community even had a music society and a ball club. The South German glassworkers, being catholic, had their own chapel, giving mass once a month. The children worked as "Hut-boys" or "-girls". However, most often the girls were sent to work on the surrounding farms when they were very young. The children ran forth and back helping out. For example carrying the glass away for cooling. The children took turns attending school in the morning and in the afternoon, to make sure that children would always be available to help in the production. This stopped in 1910, when the school was moved to Fensmark. The heat in these "huts" was extreme, and the glass-workers hardly wore any clothes at all. The huts were filled with smoke as well as dust, and everything was incredibly dirty.
Henriette Danneskiold-Samsoee passed away in 1843 and the glassworks was inherited by her son C.C.S. Danneskiold-Samsoee. After recommendations from Bernhard Friehling, he established Kastrup Glassworks in the Copenhagen area. The aim was to get closer to the water, in order for ships with coal to get immediate access and to come closer to the Copenhagen trade. Production included only glass bottles. By 1857 the Kastrup Works expanded, and the last bottle-makers were moved from Holmegaard to Kastrup. The Holmegaard works now solely produced fine glasses (drinking glasses, carafees, bowls etc.) By 1906 the first design series of wine glasses at Holmegaard, was made by the designer Svend Hammershoei. It was named "The Margrethe series" and it was produced for forty years.
During World War I all Danish glassworks were in great difficulties, as was Holmegaard, barely managing on reduced operations. In 1918 experiments were made in the attempt to produce heavy crystal, and for a short period the glassworks was permitted to copy the Belgian crystal glasses, which were sold in their shop in Nyhavn 12.
A contract was signed in 1923 between The Royal Porcelain Factory and The Holmegaard Glassworks, commissioning Holmegaard to produce glasses following designs supplied by The Royal Porcelain Factory. The first commissioned glass, designed by Oluf Jensen, was given the name "Knipling".
Soon after Orla Juuhl Nielsen was hired as the first permanently employed artist at The Royal Porcelain Factory. By 1927 he was succeeded by the architect Jacob E. Bang. Hereby the line of artist designed glasses began in Denmark.
During World War II all the ovens at Holmegaard were adjusted to function by generators operating on peat-gas. Succeeding Jacob Bang, Per Lütken was engaged on May 1st 1942. Per Lütken is considered to be synonymous with Danish Glass. No other artist has had such a tremendous significance to Danish glass during the 20th century.
The Holmegaard and The Kastrup Glassworks merged in July 1965, hereafter it was called Kastrup & Holmegaard Glassworks A/S. The major shareholders are The Carlsberg Breweries, The United Breweries (Tuborg) and Mrs. Elisabeth Lassen, born Danneskiold-Samsoe (inherited Holmegaard Glassworks in 1945 from her father Count Aage Danneskiold-Samsoe).
In December 1970 a new shop was opened in Oestergade 15, Copenhagen. Holmegaard now had two shops down-town Copenhagen. The shop in Nyhavn was closed by September 1973.
Holmegaard´s 150 years anniversary was celebrated on November 5th 1975.
The Kastrup Glassworks was closed in 1977, and the name changed to "Holmegaard Glassworks A/S". By October 1st 1990 the company is split in two: "Holmegaard Glassworks A/S" and "Holmegaard Emballage A/S" 25% of the shares in "Holmegaard Emballage" was sold to the Swedish packing-company PLM in 1997. At the general assembly on December 10th 1997, Royal Copenhagen presented their new Holding Company Royal Scandinavia A/S, simultaneously announcing the buy up of the controlling share in the Swedish Orrefors Kosta Boda AB as well as the Venetian Artglass Company Venini, and the take over of the share capital in BodaNova-Höganäs Ceramics AB.
PLM AB took over the remaining shares in Holmegaard Emballage in April 1999, and the name changed to PLM Holmegaard.
November 5th 2000 Holmegaard was ready to celebrate its 175 years anniversary. Development and experiments have always been supported with open minds at Holmegaard - an experience you can learn for yourself in the development workshop at Holmegaard Glassworks, where new ideas and techniques are tested. The glassworks has been setting trends for service- and art-glass articles in Danish society and culture through the years. Special things to be mentioned could be e.g. the glug bottle, the Harmony vases, the Provence bowl, Ideelle glasses etc. The tea light holders in blown glass is almost invented by Holmegaard, and finding a Danish home without any of their tealight holders is not very likely. Holmegaard´s imaginative and competent artists and glassmakers have the ability to renew and improve Danish glass.
Holmegaards brand name and products was sold to Rosendahl in 2008. At that time is was the intention that the products should still be produced on the Holmegaard Glassworks, but unfortunately it went bankrupt right after. Today all the Holmegaard products are manufactured on other factories - with supervision of Rosendahl.
Holmegaard engages some of Denmark's finest designers. This makes it possible for Holmegaard to constantly enrich their customers with new fascinating products.
Although new shapes and colours are introduced, every piece is created with great respect for the proud Holmegaard tradition.
Obvious examples of this is seen in the Light Bottle candlesticks, inspired by the kerosene lamps produced by Holmegaard many years ago. Also, the new hyacinth glasses which are an re-introduction of the hyacinth glasses produced in earlier times.
Holmegaard has in this way been able to introduce products that will look good in any home decor - be it a modern or traditional look.