Collected but in our humble opinion highly under rated!
When I purchased my first bullet vase it brought back forgotten childhood memories of my Great Grandfather’s house – I knew I’d held one before but had not expected such a tactile emotion in holding one of these vases again after so many years. They are a good weight with a smooth rim and the lens design catches light fantastically so they make for great display items as well as being very durable pieces.
That was my first one, a purchase from ebay about seven years ago, in a light turquoise, and I’ve been hooked since!
Designed in 1955 by Rudolf Schrotter for the Rosice Glassworks, who became part of the Sklo Union group formed in 1965, and produced over a number of years, these are a classic piece of Czechoslovakian pressed glass. Often called both bullet vases and lens vases, the later for obvious reasons, I generally refer to them as the former though despite barely any connection to the design!
These were pattern number 914 and can be seen in the Mark Hill book Hi Sklo Lo Sklo on page 97 as well as page 54 of Sklo Union: Art Before Industry by Marcus Newhall. They come in two sizes, 15 cm / 6″ and 20 cm / 7 3/4″, the smaller being the more common, and a large number of colours. Often these will be seen with a generic foil label for Bohemia Glass although many will have been long washed off.
Another strong characteristic of this pressed glass vase, as with many Rosice pieces, is the bird bath base with ground rim.
The colours we’ve either seen or heard of thus far are flint/clear, pale yellow, deep yellow, amber, salmon/peach, dark green, mid green, apple/light green, kingfisher, light blue, turquoise, dark blue/cobalt, aubergine, pale lilac, olive and more recently red, although we’ve never seen a red example ourselves.
Many more shades may come to light over time as there are numerous in between colours from many years of production inconsistencies in colour strengths.
There is no particular reason why any colour in particular should be rarer than any other, without having the factory output records of course, but it has been suggested that possibly distributors in various countries opted to take stock of colours that may have been popular within their territory. In the UK these were sold in Woolworths among other stores, although we do not know who the distributor or importer at the time was.
We can only assume, although do not know for sure, that all colours were available in both sizes. Personally I’ve seen all of the colours in the smaller version but only a handful in the larger. Certainly a side of our collection we’d like to expand, currently owning just the one larger vase, in dark green.
These do have a very similar cousin in the waisted vase by Jan Schmidt, pattern 1032, designed in the 50s/60s, which came in the same colours, so make great collecting partners. (A lot of the design output by the factory in that period shared the same colours making great scope for collectors).
This one available at Retro Mojo
Value wise smaller vases can fetch from £15-25 with larger £30-40. Sets of colours tend to sell for more and some ‘rarer’ colours are a bit harder to find than others and price often reflects that. Good examples are easy to find but beware water staining as many were used for practical purposes and the staining is very hard, sometimes impossible, to remove.
Most of the below colours are from our own collection, a couple of images have been kindly supplied by others and these are credited at the base of this post.
This one’s currently for sale at Retro Mojo!
And lastly we found this fantastic homage to the bullet vase in a ceramic version!
Click here to read an infosheet on Rosice Glassworks.
Thank you to one reader who sent in this image of a very deep and dark version!