"Dresden Ornaments"

- Variations from Abroad

In addition to the German Dresdner Pappe manufacturers, there were also manufacturers abroad who tried to produce similar pieces. One company that has become well known in collector circles was "Fürth" in Budweis, Czech Republic. Since there were at least two companies with the name Fürth in Budweis, it is unfortunately not entirely clear who made the cardboard items. Ultimately, both could have produced or used such pieces. The two companies are the chocolate factory of Veit Fürth & Son, which was founded around 1861[i] and the company of Emanuel Fürth, which was founded in 1863 as a factory to produce papier-mâché, toys, and haberdashery. [ii]

Example of a packaging box made by company Fürth

The objects with the manufacturer's name Fürth are easy to recognise. The embossing is coarser, they are mostly golden and sometimes have the embossed inscription "Déposé FÜRTH". Another distinguishing feature from the classic Dresden ornament is the frequently encountered cardboard holder, which is always attached to the top of the object. A closer look at the pieces from Fürth reveals that many of them were originally intended as bonbonnieres and were only converted into Christmas tree decorations by their later owners. [iii] Unfortunately, it was not possible to find out when and for how long such pieces were manufactured. Both companies, which could have been producers, still existed after the First World War.[iv] Mrs. Wiltrud Elbert writes in her book Kostbarkeiten aus Karton. Dresdner Christbaumschmuck 1870–1920 that the objects were not produced until after 1920 because of their coarser design.[v] This is contradicted by the fact that both companies existed long before the First World War. Why then should a company like Fürth not have followed the general fashion at the end of the 19th century and produce Attrappen and bonbonnieres as packaging? To put it bluntly, they would have been pretty stupid not to meet the great demand on the European market. I therefore suspect that the pieces from the Fürth production were already made before the First World War and that they, like the German manufacturers of Dresden ornaments, stopped their production at the beginning of the First World War.

On the left picture you can see the embossing "Déposé FÜRTH".

In addition to Fürth, there were a few other foreign manufacturers who attempted to produce a wide variety of decorative objects from cardboard or paperboard. In Theresienstadt (Bohemia), for example, there was the 'Cartonagerie' Wilhelm Fuder, which produced bonbonnieres and Attrappen for Christmas trees. The walnut embossed from cardboard comes from a hitherto unknown Austrian manufacturer.

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Japanese-made suitcase with spelling mistakes.

There also exist objects manufactured in Japan. German manufacturers even suspected that there must have been industrial espionage carried out by Japan in the Sonneberg district, where many Attrappen were produced. The Japanese products and production methods were suspiciously similar to the German pieces.[vi]

Other international manufacturers wanted to participate in the great success of German luxury paper goods. One or more of them were based in Russia. Unfortunately, little is known about these Russian producers. Looking at the choice of motifs for the early Russian pieces, it is clear that they modelled them on Dresden ornaments produced in Germany. This is not surprising when one considers that in wealthy circles of the Tsarist Empire, Dresden ornaments were well known and popular. They were referred to by Russian customers as foreign or splendid cardboard. Below you can see five examples of Russian copying attempts. On the left the original Russian version and on the right the original German version.

You can easily see the difference in these examples. The embossing of the Russian pieces is coarser, and the colours more garish. There are more Russian variants, which collectors are erroneously deeming to be Dresden ornaments. Again, on the left the Russian and on the right the original German version:


There are other Russian objects that are always attributed to be Dresden ornaments. These are among others:

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In Russia, the tradition of making Christmas tree decorations out of cardboard seems to have continued until about 1970. However, these pieces can no longer be compared with Dresden ornaments. Over time, the Russian objects became flatter, simpler in design and often painted with garish colours. Late pieces of such embossed cardboard ornaments show, among other things, depictions of Russian space travel in addition to animal motifs.

[i] See Wiener Zeitung from 8th of October 1861, p. 3656. Around 1870, the company Veith, (Ignaz and Viktor) Fürth & Sohn k. und k. Hoflieferant in Budweis, produced liqueur, vinegar, sweets, and candied fruits. They were awarded a medal at the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873. For their liqueurs they received the distinction of the Austrian imperial court 'Hoflieferant'.

[ii] Cf: Gerichtshalle, 7th Jg. (1863), No. 62 (5th of November), p. 521.

[iii] They are usually firmly attached to each other but could usually be unfolded. Later owners then tied them together at the eyelet or glued them together altogether. Whereby the gluing was often poorly executed, and the pieces became crooked as a result.

[iv] Manuel Fürth had died, and the company traded as: Em. Fürth's Witwe & Sohn.

[v] Elbert, Wiltrud: Kostbarkeiten aus Karton. Dresdner Christbaumschmuck 1870-1920, Selbstverlag 2016, p. 14.

[vi] Stephan, A.: Der Absatz der deutschen Spielwarenindustrie unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Verhältnisse in der Nachkriegszeit, Dissertation Halle 1924, p. 80.