Members' Window # 53  
by Prof. David N. Nikogosyan, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
(click on photos to enlarge image)


Collecting silver-plate objects, I usually try to choose those in better, if not perfect, state. The teapot from my collection that I am going to introduce here was found at a village market in the Balaton region of Hungary in 2001.
An unidentified 25 cl teapot with an original design An unidentified 25 cl teapot with an original design
An unidentified 25 cl teapot with an original design
Though this object had numerous dings and dents and a small hole in the bottom, I immediately bought it for 2000 forints (about 10 $). The reason I liked it was its original design. The round bottom transformed smoothly to the quadratic head and besides the teapot possessed a very expressionist looking spout and handle. I was so proud of my finding and simultaneously very sad that it was impossible to study the mark, as it was absolutely unclear.
An unreadable inscription on the teapot bottom
An unreadable inscription on the teapot bottom
Four years later, in 2005, I bought on a small silver-plated 12 cl creamer possessing a similar inscription with the circle in the center of the same diameter, 3.9 mm. Inside this circle I easily read SANDRIK.A.S., which means SANDRIK Alpacca Silber (or Alpakove Striebro in Slovak language).
12 cl silver-plated Sandrik creamer 12 cl silver-plated Sandrik creamer
12 cl silver-plated Sandrik creamer
An inscription on the creamer bottom with the Sandrik mark
An inscription on the creamer bottom with the Sandrik mark
Later, in 2007, in Berlin (Charlottenburg antique market) I acquired another piece of Sandrik silver plate, a large 150 cl teapot , with a slightly smaller round mark, 3.4 mm in diameter, but of similar design .
150 cl Sandrik silver-plated teapot and its bottom inscription with the Sandrik mark
According to the stylistic features, I guess that the large teapot was made in the beginning of the XX century before World War I, while the little teapot and the creamer were produced after World War I. 
Recently I purchased in Hungary a silver-plated ladle from Sandrik. It contains the above-described mark, set not inside the circle but inside the rhomb with a vertical diagonal of 5.1 mm (right).
By analogy with a mark used at the same time by the famous Arthur Krupp metalware factory in Berndorf, Austria-Hungary (this firm had close relations with Sandrik), it should be related to low-quality silver plate.
Sandrik mark inside the rhomb
Sandrik silver-plated ladle
Sandrik silver-plated ladle
Finally, in the Dorotheum auction house in Vienna, I found a beautiful art-nouveau silver-plated fruit dish made by Sandrik (right), bearing an inscription in Czech "MESTSKÝ DUM" (which means city hall) and a similar mark of low-quality silver-plating, set inside the rhomb with a diagonal of 4.5 mm. This mark contains also the additional letters A.S., which mean "Alpacca Silber". I would also suggest that the smaller size of the rhomb refers to earlier years of production.
Sandrik fruit dish
inscription in Czech 'MESTSKÝ DUM' and  low-quality Sandrik silver-plating mark, set inside the rhomb
The inscription on the bottom of Sandrik fruit dish
Now a few words about the history of this factory.
In 1752 the Dutch aristocrat Jan Joseph Geramb came to Slovakia. He was very successful in the mining business. At the end of the 18th century he founded the so called Geramb Mining Union (GBU) that was the strongest and the most profitable company not only in the mining area, but also in the whole Austrian-Hungarian monarchy. In the middle of the 19th century the GBU employed 1400 people and apart from the mining of common metals (copper, lead, zinc), at the time of the best prosperity, the company annually extracted on average 28.3 kg of gold and 3,194 kg of silver. The prosperity of GBU lasted until the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, after the discovery of rich silver deposits in South Africa and America, the world price of 1 kg decreased more than twice.
The deep mining used in the GBU didn’t allow the extraction of the metal for a lower price. The mines and GBU were just about to become bankrupt. The businessman Robert Berks decided to transform the extracted metals into final products. In 1895 he founded a factory for the processing of silver in Dolne Hámre (now Hodruša-Hámre, central Slovakia). He chose land which belonged to Johanes Sandrik. The company was given its name after the land it had been built on. Berks chose as a graphic trade mark the six-petal rose which was adopted from the Geramb coat of arms. According to the Berks project, the factory was supposed to process 10,000 kg of silver per year.
In 1895 (or 1896) the designer and graduate of the Wiener Kunst Schule (Vienna Art School), Jan Peterka, started to work in Sandrik. According to the condition of the Budapest´s government for providing a financial loan, the factory was supposed to take part in the Millenium exhibition in Budapest in 1896 and also in the World exhibition in Paris in 1900 with its own designed products. Young Peterka coped with the task so successfully that the objects designed by him were awarded gold medals at the both exhibitions. For that success, the 29 years old Peterka was put in charge of the factory. He stayed in this position until 1929. The factory was active until World War II. After the war it was nationalized and fused with the Czech firm Bibus.
After the Velvet Revolution, Sandrik was reopened. The Austrian investor Berndorf gained a 100 percent share in Sandrik in 1994.

1. Hodruša-Hámre, History of the village Dolne Hámre,
2. Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk and Claudia Kanowski: Modern Art of Metallwork (Berlin: Bröhan Museum, 2001), pp. 552, 555.
Prof. David N. Nikogosyan,
University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
- 2008 -