It is only in the last two years that the history of Boom has begun to emerge in print, and many questions remain unanswered.
The 2005 Exhibition provided the answers to some.
De Rupel glassworks started production in 1925 in Boom, a small village between Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium. The increasing success of the Val-St-Lambert factory was encouraging, and orders for hand-blown and semi-automatic-made beer glasses were enough to keep the small factory busy. They were the producers of the distinctive and iconic Duvel beer-glass.
Theo Struppe became technical director in 1938, but it was only after the end of the war that he had the opportunity to build the range and output of the factory into a substantial business. The factory produced glassware for retailers which was cheap and popular. Although small in number, the Boom team could produce glass to any design that a customer could show or draw, and often kept the moulds for the 'exclusive' use of the customer so that retailers could put their own label on a unique product.
In 1954 Louis Wieme (1910-1970) took over as General Manager and managed to develop new and profitable markets for lampshades and lighting. Designer F.A. van Ransbeeck joined in 1956 to lead the decorating department. In the following years the factory and equipment for handblown moulded-glass was upgraded and extended and workers were brought in from Spain to boost the workforce. When the company tried to return to production of pressed glass in the sixties they no longer had the skills nor plant to succeed.
Competition from new factories like Arques (FR) and Ivisc-Milaan (IT), the oil crisis and devaluation of the english currency caused tremendous problems in the late 60's, and the remaining Belgian factories (de Rupel/Boom, Doyen/Havré, Boussu, Verre Nouvelle Manage,) merged under the name Manubelver. The rescue plans failed and the Manubelver bubble was burst. Val-St-Lambert (near Citeaux) has been the only handblown producer since 1973, .
|Boom (1925 - 1972)
The 2004 book published by EMABB contains over 200 pages of products. Some of it was also displayed at the Boom Exhibition in 2005.
The factory made it's day-to-day cash by producing pressed glass for torches, The factory produced opaline and vases and stemware, light-shades, vanity sets, rosebowls and pots pourri, and a series of popular brands in glassware including Artver, Artlux, Boom, Arlecchino, Bel'arte, Cristal'arte, Cristaloc, Alabasta, as well as Cascade (based on Verboeket's Carnival range for Maastricht). The work is sometimes painted or gilded or engraved.
Similar styles may be found in the ranges of other Belgian factories (e.g. VAB in Boussu, Doyen in Havré-Ville), and it is likely that the migration of glassworkers to and from Bohemia during the war years may have resulted in further 'sharing' of designs. (Try our challenge at the bottom of the page!)
There is good reason to believe that the Boom factory produced various lines for Lothé (Paris) amongst other retailers.
Collectors often also attribute a popular series of purple (and turquoise) vases with horizontal ribs which were retailed throughout Flanders and the south of The Netherlands, although these were not documented in the archives at Boom. The Boom factory also produced 'blanks' of their shapes which were later hand-painted by the Laken factory where they applied gold bands and other effects. The problems in identification may result in the fact that there is little documentation available for the other, smaller Flemish factories, and further evidence is being eagerly sought.
Daniel Lombarrts is one of the leading experts on the factory, and admits "Identification of Booms glass is often tricky because at the time there were up to thirty other glassworks in French-speaking Belgium and they watched each other closely, sometimes resulting in strikingly similar products. The vast majority of Boom patterns are documented in the 'Booms Glas' book, and that's about all the documentation that exists. Typically Boom chose somewhat softer colours than Boussu and Laeken, but often small differences in size are the only way to distinguish the factories."