The products made in Huta Niemen are known all over the world. They were exported at the beginning of the 20th century to Western Europe, America, Africa, and the Middle East.
Huta Niemen a producer of utility glass, hand-cut crystal products, with a history that dates back to the 19th century.
The first references to the Niemen glassworks originated in 1883, when Zenon Łęski founded a bottle glass factory in Ustroń near Nowogródek. Not long afterwards, Juliusz Stolle – who came from a Czech glassmaking family – together with Wilhelm Krajewski leased the glassworks and started to develop it. Business was expanding dynamically. The owners not only took over local factories, but also built their own. Among them was the one in Brzozówka, the so-called “Nowa Huta”. As it turned out later, it proved to be the most important.
Before the war, the plant employed 1600 workers. It was proud to produce more than 1500 models of cups, jugs, glasses and other types of table glass every day.
In the interwar period, the glassworks “Niemen” was the biggest producer and exporter of pressed and blown glass. The factory’s products were exported to many countries in the world. It was possible to find them on the European market, among others in the Netherlands and France. In North America, glass from ‘Niemen’ was shipped to Canada, and in South America to Argentina. The plant also exported its goods to Africa and the Middle East, namely Palestine and Syria.
The year 1923 was marked by the transformation of the glassworks into a joint stock company. In the following years it produced elegant lamps, sugar bowls and ashtrays.
In 1927 the news of Juliusz Stolle’s death spread around Brzozówka. The front pages of the newspapers emphasised that he had left behind not only a family of glassworkers, but also an impressive institution – “cultural, national and industrial”.
Juliusz’s sons then managed it and shared the responsibilities. Bronislaw and Feliks led to the complete – at that time operating under the name of “Niemna” – prosperity. Real masterpieces were created there, matted, pressed and polished. Colourful decorations, floral motifs
and geometric shapes became an object of desire among housewives. The offer also included a glass coffee machine. In addition, the new owners continued their father’s passion for social work. They built a kindergarten, an education centre and a mother and child care station.
The glassworks was a model company in the interwar period. In 1929 the plant was visited by the contemporary president Ignacy Mościcki.
The 1930s were another time of splendour. The company’s products accounted for 2.9% to 3.9% of domestic production calculated in tons. In the foreign turnover of the Polish glass industry the company’s share was 21% in 1930, 20% in 1931 and 19.7% in 1932 with the monopoly on glassware maintained.
The glassworks could be proud of many types of products. The greatest source of pride for the employees, was a lamp made of five-layer coloured glass with an image of the Royal Castle and the Sigismund’s Column, as well as an urn made of blue glass in which the heart of Józef Piłsudski was laid. Nowadays, the vases can be admired in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw, and the salad bowls with plates in the collection of the National Museum in Cracow.
It is interesting to note that during the Second World War the factory prospered and the glass produced there was used for the needs of the Nazi Germany. After the geo-political transformations of the 1960s, the glassworks experienced another boom and began to produce utility glass again. Folk patterns and characteristic glass threads were introduced, as well as decorated lead glass called crystal.
Today, the products are ideal for those who appreciate quality and uniqueness.