Sophienhütte In – Ilmenau (Thür)

Provenance: Ex: Ralph Finch Collection, American Glass Gallery

To understand this German target ball you must translate SOPHIENHÜTTE IN ILMENAU (THÜR) which is embossed around the center band of the glass ball.

Sophienhütte means the specific site where the glass target ball was made. In this case, a building for a woman named Sophia or Sophienhütte glass factory or glass works. Ilmenau means the town of Ilmenau. Thür is for Thuringia, a district known for glass, porcelain, and gun making. The target ball was made in Germany from 1875 to 1900 according to the auction catalog description.

Our 2-5/8″ diameter deep blue-violet target ball has a strong embossing with a quilted diamond pattern above and below the center band. It is a 2-piece mold with a rough sheared mouth and is in mint condition. It is not an easy target ball to find, especially in this deep violet coloration.

This is one of perhaps seven Sophienhütte In – Ilmenau (Thür) target balls found a few years ago in what was East Germany. The others were medium orange amber, cobalt blue and aqua. Of note, the owner of the amber and aqua balls says the amber is a three-piece mold and the aqua a two-piece mold.

German glass production and glass-blowing centers in Thuringia, where the workers and their forefathers for many generations obtained their technical training. The glass industry was introduced into Germany from Venice and Bohemia during the Middle Ages. It was established in the forest region of Thuringia because suitable fuel and the necessary raw materials were close by. The Thuringian forest furnished wood used to fire the flass furnaces and the charcoal for the blowers’ lamps. The other materials used in the manufacture of glass, such as sand, lime, and soda, also were obtained in the vicinity.

The Sophienhütte was the first successfully operated glassworks that existed in Ilmenau in the Thuringian forest from 1852 to 1891. For a long time, it was the largest of the Ilmenau glassworks. It’s opening also initiated the industrialization of the city and the tradition of the Ilmenau glass industry, which continues to this day.

Support: Painting of Sophienhütte, The Halberschmidt family. In 1951 this painting was made by Heinrich Lacroix for the dining room of the Sophienhütte. An engraving from 1860 served as a model. It shows the first hut building. The heirs of the former owners provided the Ilmenau painting on loan. It now hangs in the town hall. The photo of the picture comes from the 2006 home calendar. Published with the kind permission of Bernd Frankenberger

Support: Lot 732: “SOPHIENHUTTE IN – ILMENAU (THUR)” Target Ball, Germany, 1875 – 1900. Deep violet coloration, quilted diamond pattern above and below center band, 2-piece mold, rough sheared mouth, dia. 2 5/8”, mint. Blown at the Sophienhutte Glassworks, in the town of Limenau, in the district of Thuringian, an area famous for glass, porcelain, and gun making. Not an easy target ball to find, especially in this deep violet coloration. – 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

Support: Lot: 148 “Sophienhutte In” – “Ilmenau (Thur)” Target Ball, two piece mold construction, Germany, 1875-1900. Spherical with quilted diamond pattern above and below center band with embossed lettering, vibrant orange amber, rough sheared mouth, dia. 2 5/8 inches. Bold embossing and a beautiful bright color. Fine condition. Cindy Gaffney collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

Support: Lot: 139 “Sophienhutte In” – “Ilmenau (Thur)” Target Ball, two piece mold construction, Germany, 1875-1900. Spherical with quilted diamond pattern above and below center band with embossed lettering, deep cobalt blue, rough sheared mouth, dia. 2 5/8 inches. Wonderful rich blue color and bold embossing. Fine condition. Cindy Gaffney collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company

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