Emaux de Briare

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Emaux de Briare
HeadquartersBriare, France (relocated from Paris)
Key peopleJean-Félix Bapterosses
Productsbuttons, beads, mosaics
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Emaux de Briare
HeadquartersBriare, France (relocated from Paris)
Key peopleJean-Félix Bapterosses
Productsbuttons, beads, mosaics

Emaux de Briare is a French company specializing today in mosaics. Whilst the manufactory in Briare originally started with earthenware pottery, the factory founded in Paris by Jean-Félix Bapterosses (1813–1885) initially began manufacturing porcelain buttons in 1845. They merged in 1851, at which date its international development started: 1851 in The Great Exhibition, UK and as early as 1853 in the USA.

the founder, Jean-Félix Bapterosses


Early years[edit]

The company began as Bapterosses & Cie of Paris, France, which was established to manufacture and sell porcelain buttons made according to a method quite similar to the one patented by Richard Prosser in 1840, but following the invention of a device that could mold 500 buttons at a time vs. only one at the competing English factory,[1] Mintons (which had acquired the rights to the original patent) thanks to a new formulation of the paste in which milk was added to the slip to improve plasticity.[2] Jean-Félix Bapterosses was hence named Officer of the French Legion of Honor in 1878.[3] His bust, sculpted by Henri Chapu and founded by Ferdinand Barbedienne is now exhibited in the museum of enamel & mosaics in Briare.


Today émaux de Briare sells its mosaics across the world for small and large projects alike, one of the latest ones being the walkways for the future Miami Marlins stadium, designed by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez.

Shopping mall, Angoulême, France / architect: Alexandre Chemetoff.



Bapterosses & Cie was bent on efficiency and multiplied inventions to boost productivity.[4] For instance in 1858 (US letters of patent N°19,120), they invented buttons with shanks.[5] Mr Bapterosses was also a precocious marketing man in the sense that he immediately advertised his products under the FB brand [6] and associated it with the numerous medals & awards he had received the world over.


With the growing colonial thrust a new market appeared notably in Africa for fancy beads.[7] The models made included faceted beads, mother-of-pearl beads and chevron beads.[8]

"mother of pearl" type beads in Émaux de Briare


With the Art nouveau movement, there was a revival of interest in mosaics. Émaux de Briare introduced a new concept of pre-cut mosaics [9] that would make it much cheaper to adorn buildings, than with the traditional method.

Sultanate of Brunei: Gold mosaics on the domes by Émaux de Briare.



The American market[edit]

In 1853, the buttons were exhibited in the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations in New York. In 1876, beads appeared in the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia at which time the company was awarded a prize medal. Then in Chicago, in 1893, the mosaics appeared in the World's Columbian Exposition.

The main customers in the latter part of the 19th century were:

Award, Philadelphia, PA - 1876

Other markets[edit]

Emaux de Briare exhibited in numerous world exhibitions: Paris in 1855, honor medal ; London in 1862 « prize medal »  ; Porto in 1865, "gloria victoribus" medal ; Paris in 1867, gold medal and in 1878 Grand Prize ; Vienna in 1873, medal; Sydney in 1879 ; Melbourne in 1880; Amsterdam in 1883, medal; Antwerp in 1885, gold medal ; Paris in 1889 « Grand Prize ».

Emaux de Briare beads were especially successful in Africa in the latter part of the 19th century, because of their regular appearance imitating ancient beads.[11]

Prizes & medals awarded to Bapterosses & Cie (1849-1889)


  1. ^ Ornament 1995 p. 68
  2. ^ Nourisson p. 24
  3. ^ Nourisson p.33
  4. ^ China buttons p.9-14
  5. ^ http://www.buttoncountry.com/%60PatentsbyPage/Patent%20Pages/1858_Enamel%20and%20Porcelain.htm
  6. ^ Buttons p.74-76
  7. ^ Nourisson
  8. ^ Chevron beads p.11
  9. ^ Nourisson p. 95
  10. ^ Nourisson p. 116
  11. ^ a handbook on beads p.87
Historical sources
Other books

External links[edit]