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Glass: Ajeko
 
 

Figural - Non-figural - Treetops - Look-a-likes

 

During my collecting days I very often came across glass ornaments, rather heavy, often the molding rather poor because of the thick glass, and with a glass hanging hook. These, all the dealers told me, were the very first ornaments made. I was very doubtful as I could not find them in any of the then available books and articles on Christmas ornaments. And this is what my story is about.

First I want to mention that in the various documentation on the Ajeko Christmas ornaments the spelling of the family name is mostly "Jezelin", while I now notice that in the latest website, "Alfred Jecelin", March 2014, by Hugo Smet, a relation by his mother in law, it is written "Jecelin".

Some years ago I was thrilled that there was a Christmas exhibition in Belgium, in the toy museum in Mechelen, and on the first occasion there I went. Enjoyed myself thoroughly and was amazed of the wonderful Christmas things they had on view. A special display was an exhibition of “Ajeko” ornaments, and to my amazement there they were; all glass ornaments, round, oval, animals, flowers, people. And a book was available, by Mrs. Christiana Van den Bosch, in which a whole chapter on these Ajeko ornaments.The Jezelin family, born in Germany, were from a family of glass blowers. They wanted to emigrate, and finally ended up, to my surprise in Schelle (this is the village where I grew up !!!). According to an article in the newspaper “De Dag” April 2, 1938, it was the smallest glass blowing factory in Belgium. They manufactured various glass objects, but the main production were for laboratories. Mr. Alfred Jezelin became quite an authority in the glass blowing field. For expansion reasons the factory moved to a nearby village, Hemiksem.The second world war came and the story goes that Mrs. Jezelin, and I imagine she was not the only one, was regularly aggravated by the metal cap and hook, which often came loose, or was lost. This, together with the interrupted import of German Christmas ornaments due to the war, was the incentive to produce ornaments with a glass hook.

Patent dates from 1943, and a photo, showing a display of boxes Ajeko Christmas ornaments in a school in Hemiksem dates from 1946-47. At the time these ornaments were sold in Belgium and exported to The Netherlands, France, Germany, Australia and Brazil. After 1952 Mr. Jezelin left Belgium.

This information I have been able to communicate thanks to the book “U sijt Wellecome” Kerstsfeer van weleer – Noël d’antan” (You are welcome” Christmas from times gone by”) by Christiana Van den Bosch.
A second book has been published “Het Glazen Oogje, Belgische Kerstballen” (The Glass  Eyelet, Belgian Christmas Ornaments), 2009, and in the meantime a revised edition in Dutch, English and French, March 2015, is now available.

Other interesting information on Ajeko is here: Alfred Jecelin and a Dutch site about Ajeko Ornaments and on facebook https://www.facebook.com/ajeko.hemiksem

According to information from Margot Befort, Administration communale de Grevenmacher in Luxemburg, Alfred Jezelin moved to Grevenmacher in 1952, where he founded the glass blowing factory “Verrerie – Glasfabrik Gremoglas” in the 12 rue Schaffmill (Atelier communal, Greenmacher/Moselle, for the production of glass decorations for Christmas trees, crystal ashtrays, etc...
Due to reasons unknown at present, the production stopped in 1953/54, and moved to Euskirchen, Germany, the 23rd July 1954.  Here the factory was described as Individual trade (Einzelgewerbe) for the manufacture of raw glass (rohrglas) and Christmas decorations by Alfred JEZELIN in Euskirchen, Germany.
See website http://www.industrie.lu/gremoglas.html.

Although it was the impression that Ajeko style Christmas ornaments ceased after the move to Luxemburg, personally I feel that more investigation is required. The patent was in the name of Alfred Jezelin and it would surprise me if he did not continue the production in Luxemburg and Germany.

Additional information, also on the continuation of Ajeko outside Belgium, is available on the site:
http://www.christmas-past.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=218&Itemid=107
en http://www.oudekerstversiering.nl/ajeko.htm

The photos are ornaments from my collection, but there are still other designs (see “Het Glazen Oogje”). In my opinion some of them are not as finely molded as the German ornaments, but this is probably due to the thicker glass, but they are much more durable and some of the colors are very attractive.
Sorry for the pictures, but I find it very difficult to get them right because of the reflection.

This is part of an Ajeko box. I only realised that when I saw the complete box here

Figural ornaments
Animals

Cat in a shoe
 

Dog: color variations; the most right has a hint of green


Fish: a few variations


Squirrel, I have seen them in blue and fuchsia only, but a collector
has let me know that he has one with a red squirrel; and yellow one.


Parrots or cockatoos: typical for Ajeko is the heavy spring

Clips used on the parrots; the clip on the right is on all the parrots with the blue back and yellow wings, 4 pieces, so these clips are original and have been used at some time and are not a later replacement (second from the right);
there is also a Santa and a tree with such a clip.

Typical of this type is the glass stem used to fix it in the spring


 

People

Snowman in an igloo !

Baby Jesus in a crib
 

This figure is generally known as "Hansel" from the story "Hansel and Gretel". I have not seen Gretel in Ajeko production.

In Belgium this figure is called a clown, but I feel it compares well with the figure called a "bowling pin man". Shown are color variations; they are all the same at the back.

Mushroom men, different colors of the top of the head
Santa's:
Face in a pine cone; Santa variations in color, with and without glitter;Santa on clip

Seem to be all the same mold, about 5,5cm high, not counting the pike, but slight variations in color and decoration:
going from hardly any to all red with white on all the "edges"

The two first are the same size as the previous ones, about 5,5cm high, but yellow and the red one's head is missing his red cap and looks like a "bald-headed" Santa; a blue one also exists;
the third one is about 7,3cm high. The fourth one is a different figure, the most apparent differences, besides 8cm high, being the pointed cap, less detailed face, shorter beard and the lapels of his coat are different. Next photo for detail.


Was my parent's, so presume Ajeko, as they had other Ajeko models as well. Detail of the clip, a completely different model.

Other clips used on the Santa's above.

All others  
Shoes: I have not seen another design, besides with a cat Purse: as far as I know, this is the only model
Flower and Fruit Baskets
Below Ajeko bells, silvered and clear glass, with and without clapper. Size varies from 6 to 3cm high.
   
Ajeko hearts
   
Ajeko houses and a church; the second from the left is the back of the house.
Vases, Coffee or teapots

Vase, but the right handle piece missing

Tea/coffee pot, decorated front and back

Tea/coffee pot, no decoration
Lampshades and Lanterns (and look-a-likes)

Lampshades
 
     
Fantasy ornaments
 
colored swirels all yellow
 
Fruit, nuts, trees, ....

Large mushrooms, 8,5cm and 6cm from top to above the thickening

Mushrooms clear glass 4,50cm and 5,50cm from top to above the thickening;
with and without smaller addition.

Detail of the various clips used for the trees

Label "Made in Belgium" on an Ajeko tree found in the USA
   
Violins, contrabass or ...: the large ones have a dent in the back, the small ones have not
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Non-figural ornaments

A series of glass painted ornaments with winter scenes: comet, mushrooms, music symbols, snow scenes, snowman,
and also with text, such as "Merry Christmas" and "Stille Nacht" (silent night).

Red lantern and trees



Mushrooms and purple circles



Covered with imitation snow and red sprig
 
Below various indents. The round ones measure from dia 3cm up to 8cm the largest. The oval ones are from around 5cm to 8cm high, not counting the pike.
Now a series of various round balls, some with extra molding. Most of them are decorated with colored bands and others with floral designs and ice flower effect. Dimensions vary, mostly between 3cm and 6cm diameter, but the two large ones below are exceptional in comparison with the two smaller ones, being 4 and 6 cm, the large ones being about 14 cm in diameter.

A round Ajeko ball has been used to form this airballoon with a scrap Santa, paper basket with glitter and a piece of silver garland.

This is probably self-made from a design in a magazine or Christmas book.

   
     
The oval ones, some uni-color, of which one with a mat finish, others with the traditional color bands, floral decoration and ice flower finish. They measure between 4cm and 8 cm high, not counting the pike.
   
Treetops

ca 15cm high
 
Ajeko Look-a-likes
Some ornaments, due to the thickness and weight of the glass, the type of decoration, give the impression of being Ajeko, and often the pike gives the impression that the glass hook has broken off. One of the criteria to classify these as non-Ajeko is that the rim of the pike is not smooth, although this is not foolproof, as seen on the pictures below.

Ajeko Santa, not smooth

Ajeko Santa, not smooth

Ajeko Santa, not smooth

Ajeko fantasy, edge sharp,
not smooth

Contrary to previous statement, now classed as non-Ajeko. Also I have not seen this kind of gelatine on Ajeko.



Same heavy glass


Also thick glass, no metal cap but only a hook, and therefore sometimes thought to be Ajeko with the glass hook missing.

Probably same production as the skinny Santa's, also mistaken for Ajeko

Same production skinny Santa's ?
 


Small treetop with an oval indent instead of the standard round Ajeko,
but the rounded edge of the stand does look a lot like Ajeko to me.



Ajeko model
 
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