I first became aware of Inge-Glas® ornaments when I first saw the Old World Christmas line in the 1980s. At that time, OWC had all of it’s line manufactured by Inge-Glas®. There isn’t a way to distinguish between the two on vintage ornaments since all had the trademark star cap. (In 1990 OWC established it’s own factory in China and no longer has the star tops). Inge-Glas® is a family operated business that has been handcrafting glass ornaments with skills that have been passed on for generations. The trademark the exclusive 5-Point Star Crown™ suspension ring caps every one of their heirloom ornaments and is the symbol of the company’s superior quality and 410 years of dedicated craftsmanship. Using the same mould composition as those ornament moulds created over 100 years ago, Inge-Glas® has successfully kept the spirit of the glass cottage industry alive.
In the late 1500s in Lauscha, Germany, the Müller family of glassblowers worked diligently to produce mouth blown glassware of the highest quality for their countrymen and later for others all over the world to enjoy. Beginning in the 1860s, the Müller family specifically customized their craft for creating Christmas ornaments. As generations followed, each would take great care to share their expertise with the next.
Glassblowing was a cottage industry in which every family had their own specialty. One family may have perfected ornaments of churches, while another family might create replicas of pine cones. The Müller family was renown for their bird ornaments. These small creatures not only provided much companionship for the glassblowers during Germany’s long, gray winters, but they also became a source of inspiration. Inge-Glas®, as it is known today, has more styles of birds than any other company and remains highly regarded for their artistry in the creation of their bird ornaments. Over 700 antique bird moulds are included in their collection. These glass-blown ornaments were crafted by Inge-Glas® in the same workshops in Lauscha, Germany until 1951. At this time, the Russian occupation of Lauscha led 13th generation descendent Heinz Müller-Blech to cross the border to seek out a new life in West Germany. He managed to smuggle several glassblowing moulds out as he made his journey. After settling down in Neustadt by Coburg, Heinz Müller-Blech began to actively search for antique ornament moulds. His family in East Germany would send packages to him containing only halves of the moulds so that the authorities would not confiscate them. Heinz’ formal reestablishment of the company to Neustadt in 1953 began as a small workshop with three employees. For years, Heinz and his wife, Inge, continued the tradition of their forefathers and spent many happy hours together making hand-crafted Christmas ornaments.
In the 1960s, young Klaus Müller-Blech, a 14th generation descendent, spent countless hours in the glass workshops of his grandparents and parents learning various aspects of the profession. In 1992, during the Golden Glow of Christmas Past convention, Klaus met Birgit Eichhorn-Jeremias-Sohn. Birgit also came from a family of glassblowers in Neustadt, Germany. Both Klaus and Birgit attended the convention of antique Christmas ornament collectors to search for ornaments of their families’ past. Klaus and Birgit soon fell in love and were married. The families joined forces and combined their traditions and skills. Together their collection includes more than 6,000 antique ornament moulds dating from the 1850s. In 1987, the exclusive five-pointed Star Crown™ suspension ring was trademarked and caps these heirloom quality ornaments. Determined to stand out from other glass lines, Inge-Glas® created the Star Crown™ so that from a distance all would be able to recognize ornaments from the Müller-Blech family workshops.