Bogardus’ Glass Balls – Stolberger Glashutten A.G.

Provenance: Ex: Ralph Finch Collection, American Glass Gallery

When compared to the other Bogardus target balls in our museum, this exceptional moss green example may be the rarest and most different looking of the group. It is one of six that was dug outside of a castle, near Paris, France.

The 2-¾” diameter, 2-piece mold ball has thirteen concentric vertical rings with embossing around the perimeter. On one side it reads BOGARDUS’ GLASS BALLS. On the opposite side, it reads STOLBERGER GLASHUTTEN A.G. It has a rough sheared mouth.

The embossed copy is in reference to Captain Adam Henry Bogardus who was a world champion trap shooter who invented the first practical glass ball trap in 1877 and patented various designs of glass target balls. Stolberger is an industrial German city. Glashutten means glass factory or glass works. AG is an abbreviation of Aktiengesellschaft, which is a German term for a public limited company.

In January of 2007, Ralph Finch, the eminent target ball collector, and researcher in the United States received an email from a man in France that practically knocked him off his chair. Accompanying the email were two photos of an incredible German ball that was a bright moss-green and embossed “Bogardus Glass Balls / Stolberger Glashutten A.G.” The ball had a 13 vertical line embossing, with the words in a semi-circle on one of the rings. It ultimately came to American for $1,500, but Ralph valued it at $15,000 if mint! Six balls were dug at a French castle; three came to the States, but one broke during cleaning; the other three were kept by the castle owner. Ralph has no idea of when and why this ball was made.

See other Bogardus target balls in the Virtual Museum:

Bogardus’ Glass Ball Pat’d Apr 10 1877 Target Ball

Bogardus ‘D’ Glass Ball Patd Apr 10th 1877

Bogardus Glass Ball – 8 (Within Diamond Panel)

Bogardus’ Glass Ball (Without Patent Date)

Stolberg is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It has a long history as an industrial town and belongs to the district Aachen and the lower district court of Eschweiler. Stolberg is first mentioned in documents from the 12th century as it became an important center of brass production when Protestant brass producers resettled to Stolberg from Aachen around 1600 to escape religious persecution and economic restrictions. The nickname of Stolberg, Die Kupferstadt (the Copper City), thus derives not from copper but from brass, “yellow copper”. The Kupferhöfe (copper yards) where brass was originally produced and the brass manufacturers built their mansions remain as reminders of the brass manufacturers that dominated Stolberg and its economy.  

The industrialization of Stolberg is based on a wide variety of natural resources including rich deposits of local ore (zinc, lead, iron) as well as coal. Roasting of sulphuric ores yielded sulphuric acid, which, together with locally exploited limestone, served as a bae for the production of soda. At those times, soda was a key product needed in large quantities in the process of making glass, for the production of detergents and in the textile industry.

As noted above, we are not sure who or why the glass target ball was made.

Stolberger Glasshutten A.G. may be a reference to a window glass factory that was built in 1860 by the company Stolberger Glashüttengesellschaft Emil Rabe & Co. that was located at a cutting mill below Stolberg. In 1861, a merger with a glassworks in Nievelstein near Herzogenrath occurred. In 1864 the company had to liquidate as the glass works had large debts with a chemical factory Rhenania. The company was then taken over by the latter from the bankruptcy estate for 150,000 francs and continued with certain results until 1890, where it passed into the possession of the Siegwart family. The glass works closed in 1928.

There is also a Museum of industrial, economical and social history “Zinkhütter Hof” in Stolberg that is housed in a former glass factory which was erected in the 1830s. The authenticity and completeness of the well-restored ensemble make the Zinkhütter Hof a very rare example of an architecture, commonly and typically used in the early phase of industrialization. The buildings are grouped around an inner court yard and consist of a former glass factory an administration building and an additional building for the production of crucibles (melting pots), which were filled with sand, finely ground limestone and a fluxing agent (for making the molten glass more fluid). In the second half of the 19th century, production was closed down and shifted to a bigger, more modern plant built in the immediate neighborhood.

See other German target balls in our Virtual museum like the Sophienhütte In – Ilmenau (Thür) target ball or the Grafl Zu Solms Glasfab Andreashutte ball.

Primary Image: Lot 769: “BOGARDUS’ GLASS BALLS – STOLBERGER GLASHUTTEN A. G.” Target Ball, Germany, 1875 – 1900. Moss-green coloration, concentric rings on both sides with embossing around perimeter, 2-piece mold, rough sheared mouth, dia. 2 ¾”, near mint; (just a couple of light patches of minor stain, otherwise excellent!) Among the rarest of all the Bogardus target balls. One of only four known that were dug outside of a castle, near Paris, France. Exceptional! – The Ralph Finch Collection of Target Balls, Traps and Shooting Ephemera, An Absentee Auction in Six Parts – 2017-2019, John Pastor and American Glass Gallery

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The Target Balls gallery is still under development. Stay tuned!

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