This stunning piece was designed by Sven Palmqvist at Orrefors Glassworks in Sweden. It has a classic jardiniere shape, but it's not meant to grow plants in. Instead, enjoy it as an objet d'art, or perhaps to hold a few special correspondences. The base has two signings: the first says, "Orrefors Palmqvist Expo SP" and the second says, "Expo 1173". The Expo mark means it was made for an exposition or as a sample for possible production and not included in the catalogs. The initials indicate it was copper-wheel engraved by Sten Petersson, who worked at Orrefors from 1922 to 1969. From the second signing, I can determine that the motif was designed in 1949, using a published source.
The vase has a fair number of small scratches - a testament to a life well-lived. When I acquired it, someone had used a black wax pencil on the scratches in the engraving - likely to mark them. (See photo.) I have cleaned them carefully, and though not perfect, they no longer stand out. This is a big piece - it weighs just over 6 pounds and it is 4" wide, 10" long, and 5" high.
The Orrefors story began in 1726, when an ironworks and smith was built near “the beautiful river that flows into Lake Orranäs” in the Swedish countryside. It was given the name Orrefors, which means “the Orre waterfall.” ("Orre" is the Swedish name for the black grouse, which is the bird seen on their iconic labels.) The foundry was converted to a glassworks in 1898, as the demand for iron decreased. By the mid-1920s, Orrefors was celebrated for the quality and beauty of its glass.
Orrefors employed master artists and craftsmen, some of whom worked their whole careers of 40, 50, or more years with the company. Sven Palmqvist (1906-1984) was born in the glass district of southern Sweden and started his career with Orrefors in 1928, where he remained until 1972. In those years, he designed hundreds of engraved glass motifs. According to his daughter, to whom I am connected through an online glass group, he had a particular fondness for portraying people and animals. Palmqvist is known not only for his graceful and functional designs, but he is also known for his innovative techniques in glass production.
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