Val Saint Lambert - Biography

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The Verreries et Établissements du Val Saint-Lambert were founded by François Kemlin and Auguste Lelièvre in 1826 on the site of the former abbey of Saint Lambert in Seraing in Belgium.  At the beginning the products were not original, Val-Saint-Lambert produced bottles then glasses.
During the 1850's sales increased again. New techniques were introduced with the arrival of a new director Jules Deprez in 1863, for example acid etching.

The Paris universal exhibition of 1878 encouraged an artistic revival. Jules Deprez travelled widely promoting Val Saint Lambert. In 1880 Val Saint Lambert employed 2800 people producing 120,000 pieces a day around five million per year.


      
                                                  
 
After the death of Jules Deprez in 1889, Henri Lepersonne became director followed in 1894 by Georges Deprez, the son of Jules. The company continued to be at the forefront of technology with electric lighting, exhibition rooms and gas powered furnaces.

At the beginning of the 20th century the factory employed 5000 people and more than 160,000 items were produced each day, 90% of the production was exported. Acid etching was being practiced and in 1904 the catalogue contained 192 table service models.




Val Saint Lambert exported 75% of its products to other countries, for a significant part to Russian Tsars. Towards the 1900s Val Saint Lambert had created a worldwide sales network.

The Wall Street crash and subsequent depression seriously affected the export market. Mechanisation and automation made it very difficult to compete against mass produced articles.




In 1930, Val-Saint-Lambert, to fight against the worldwide competition, starts the LUXVAL collection. This has nothing to do with the cut crystal, considered too expensive and a bit dated. The LUXVAL it is glass-crystal or crystal molded semi-less finished. He has often small defects (bubbles, mold hairlines, etc. ..) typical of the early production VSL LUXVAL. It was only some years later that the quality has improved.
 These new Art Deco pieces are much more relevant. Val-Saint-Lambert destroyed the molds, so that these objects are particularly sought after by collectors and they will be more in the future.

The Val Saint Lambert factory was bombed in 1945; this led to a period of operational stagnation and financial uncertainty.
Due to the growing demand for common household items in the 1950’s Val Saint Lambert recovered economically.








Financial troubles led to bankruptcy in 2002. The Belgian government saved the company by buying a large part of the Val Saint Lambert stocks, which it again sold to a new owner, Sylvie Henquin. She, and her husband Marc Féard, seemed to have some initial success by bringing Val Saint Lambert to the stock market and opening a new luxurious boutique in Paris. But in 2008 the company again faced a bankruptcy, this time due to increased prices for raw material and failure to find a commercial partner.

The name of Val Saint Lambert was bought by the Belgian government , while the factory was taken over by the Onclin family, which is currently trying to define a new identity using a more modern style of design. The factory holds a museum and has a guided tour with demonstrations of glass blowing. 







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