By Mary T. McCarthy
Finding a miniature glass animal on the beach is a dream come true for many beachcombers. Last year at the 2017 North American Sea Glass Association festival, a tiny green glass frog rose to victory, leaping above hundreds of entries to claim the Grand Prize. But where do these tiny glass creatures originate?
A great history lies behind the small town of Gablonz and these tiny Czech glass animals, created in the region formerly known as North Bohemia, a glass manufacturing empire since the 13th century. Small workshops produced ornate beads and buttons before costume jewelry became fashionable and used pressed glass molds for mass production. After World War II, the state-run Jablonex factory produced the glass.
The glass animal charms were popular jewelry items for export to the United Kingdom, France, and the U.S. in the second half of the 19th century and remained popular into the 1930s. Brass fittings like collars served as attachments for the charms. According to SandysVintageCharms.com, the glass animals were not originally created for use as Christmas cracker prizes in the United Kingdom, but were often used this way as a toy prize, and the black cat is the most commonly found variation.
Main image courtesy of SandysVintageCharms.com