Saturday, 11 June 2011

Galerie Deset (Waldes Museum)

In December 2009 I posted a picture of a billboard advertising Koh-i-Noor, the manufacturer of press-studs, buttons and fasteners, and its famous trademark of the winking girl. The founder of the company, Jindřich Waldes, was born in 1876 in Nemyšl u Tabora, and set up his first business in Holešovice before establishing a new headquarters in Vršovice.

Opposite the church of St Wenceslas, on the corner of Moscow Street and Slovenia Street, is a smart town house that was originally built for Waldes in 1911 as commercial premises for the company. In 1918, the building was re-branded as the Waldes Museum of Buttons and Fasteners, and gained this smart new entrance and an allegorical statue representing the Sciences by Čeněk Vosmík (whose work also adorns the National Museum).

With factories in Vienna, Paris and New York, Waldes soon became a rich man, but, despite having paid the almost unbelievable sum of 8 million crowns to the Nazis as a ransom to get his family out of the country in 1939, he himself died two years later in Havana under mysterious circumstances which have never been solved. One colourful account suggests he was poisoned. Today the 'Waldesovo Muzeum' is a smart modern art gallery, Galerie Deset ('Gallery Ten').


Koh-i-Noor press-studs,
showing Frantisek Kupka's
famous design, Miss K-I-N


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