Hot on the heels of our piece on an early 20th century trinket box which was a fusion of glass and metal from the workshops of Legras and Orivit, here’s another later example of the same two materials appearing in harmony.


This particular synthesis – of wrought iron and cased clear crystal – comes from source which has not proved to be held in quite such high esteem in the long run, in spite of enjoying huge popularity in the 1920’s and 30’s. David Guéron is the gentleman in question, of Spanish/Turkish extraction and who was invalided out of the Foreign Legion before setting up a glass works in North East France – Cristalleries De Compiègne.

Perhaps most kindly described as a copyist, Guéron quickly took notice of the success enjoyed by the established big names of the art glass fraternity – Daum, Galle, the Muller brothers and, most notably, the Schneiders. He relocated to Paris and renamed his business Verrerie d’Art Degué – a contraction of his own name, and also a common surname in the region where he had set up his first company.


He opened a retail outlet in the city, which prompted an almost immediate reaction by Schneider, incensed by the upstart’s temerity, who sued him for plagiarising their work. The trial dragged on for six years and was left unresolved, but an out of court settlement almost ruined Guéron (and the trial costs proved almost as crippling for Schneiders’)

As is often the case in such instances, the ongoing litigation proved to be, perversely, something of a godsend for the Degué company who perhaps sensing that whatever the verdict, they would be impelled to rethink their business plan, sought to produce some less contentious and wholly original designs. They began to produce ever-more substantial domestic wares, decorative pieces and lighting (including chandeliers) with much of the innovation coming courtesy of a fellow by the name of Éduard Cazaux – a former arcanist who’s innate feeling for working with opaque materials proved to be invaluable. This trend towards almost architectural pieces ultimately lead to the company earning its most prestigious and rewarding contract – the task of fitting out the luxury liner Normandie with thousands of panels and friezes to decorate the prestigious cabins.


Unfortunately, on the verge of genuine greatness – and under their own steam rather than as the curator of other companies’ ideas – Degué foundered under the onset of the Great Depression and the consequent unrest which brought down the French government. The fruits of their finest labours were also lost – Normandie caught fire and sank in the Hudson River in 1942 whilst undergoing refitting, and the Degué legacy was deprived of what should have been its enduring showcase.


Guéron himself had fled Europe for the United States and died during the course of the war; with both its founding father and most of its signature works gone, the company’s star faded rapidly from the Art Glass firmament, but it can still be rekindled by discerning collectors who come across once-feted relics of a far brighter past.