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Bimini Glass: from
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Bimini Glass: A short explanation:

Bimini Glass was set up in Vienna in 1923 by Fritz Lampl together with his brothers-in-law Artur and Josef Berger, who were architects. Bimini made very fine pieces in a style sometimes mistaken for 1950's Murano glass, with filigree opaque swirling stripes, little figures and animals. However, Bimini glass is much lighter and more delicate than most Italian glass. It was usually marked with labels, which are often missing now. The Bimini logo is shown at the top of this page.

The name Bimini was taken from a poem by Heinrich Heine dated 1852 which describes Bimini as a miracle island with the spring water of eternal youth. Fritz Lampl was a poet and publisher before he began Bimini. Fortunately Bimini glass was an immediate success.

Bimini Glass won international prizes and exhibited their work around the world. But when Nazi Germany annexed Austria c. 1938 the Lampl family, because they were Jewish, were banned from owning a business in Vienna and had to flee, leaving behind their workshops, their homes, and the stock of their creations. Fritz and his brother-in-law Josef Berger settled in war-time London with their wives and started from scratch to re-establish their studios and their lives.

They were welcomed as celebrities to London, but that did not save them from the ignominy of temporary internment as foreign aliens. The Bimini name was incorporated as a UK limited company in May 1941 and the London Bimini workshop operated under war-time restrictions making beautiful "utilitarian" glass items like jugs and glasses and glass buttons. The brass backs to their buttons were marked Bimini Ltd with a little flower pot logo and the words "Made in England". Many of their button designs were based on museum items such as ancient coins and medallions. They were a huge success in the fashion industry in the UK and overseas and were frequently featured in design and fashion magazines.

After the war, from 1945 onwards, the market situation for glass buttons changed and European imports started to trickle back into Britain, soon becoming a flood. Lampl's small hand-made operation could not compete with mass-produced glass from countries such as Czechoslovakia and Bimini Glass found it very difficult to survive. An argument arose between Fritz Lampl and his business partner Georg Schenker who wanted to compete by introducing automated machinery to making their buttons. Fritz would not hear of such a plan, and they closed down the company. The Bimini name was discontinued and a new name, Orplid Glass, was selected by Fritz Lampl and registered in 1948. He set up a new workshop in the basement of his house and had success with his Orplid buttons and brooches although on a smaller scale. Lucie Rei, the world famous potter, continued to make ceramic components for some of Fritz's buttons. The competition became increasingly difficult and the company struggled on until Lampl's death in 1955.

Researching the history of Fritz Lampl's family and their glass for the past several decades, I have learned so much about about the problems faced by Jewish families in Vienna during the 1930s and in London in the 1940s. Their wonderful Bimini glass became world famous but because they were Jewish they had to flee. Neverthless they re-established the Bimini glass workshop in London only to see it destroyed completely by a German bomb. Yet through all this, their beautiful glass retained its vibrancy and its fame and is a legacy still with us today.

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References and Further Reading

This first part of a Trilogy on London Lampworkers gives an overview of glass by Pirelli, Bimini, and Komaromy. If you are interested in Bimini glass you are sure to enjoy this one.
It is available as a paperback book or as a downloadable Kindle.

London Lampworkers Book

INFORMATION about Pirelli Glass!

Angela's book on Pirelli Glass.

Pirelli Glass Book

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