Open in 1994, the Museum of Enamels and Mosaics (MeMo) is located in the same compound than the manufacture Emaux de Briare, in what used to be the residence of Jean-Félix Bapterosses, founder of the product Emaux de Briare (Briare Enamels).
Birth of the Manufacture of Briare
The 3rd of August 1837, two entrepreneurs named Brisset & Azambre bought 3 Ha to build earthenware (“faïence”) manufacture.
Briare was an excellent area for this industry : the city was not far from Paris, there was an access to the river, the Loire, and to its channels. Moreover Briare could provide raw materials and fuels. The manufacture was very modern. For instance, there were steam engines, quite an exceptional thing at that time. Gien’s manufacture only acquired steam engines 10 years after Briare. The earthenware manufacture used special raw
materials as clay with hematite. Very quickly, in 1838, the manufacture became a company listed on the Paris Bourse among ten others (Saint-Gobain, Gobelins…). Despite of this successful story, the earthenware manufacture went bankrupt in 1841.
Briare’s Manufacture and Jean-Félix Bapterosses
Opened in 1994 From 1841 to 1851, many people bought the manufacture but none of them rescued it. Until 1851 when Jean-Félix Bapterosses bought it.
Jean-Félix Bapterosses (1813-1885) was a successful mechanical engineer who invented a machine that created 500 buttons at the the same time whereas the English, contestants, created buttons one by one. It was a revolution for the buttons industry and Briare’s button knew immediately an important commercial success. Right after this invention, Bapterosses moved his previous manufacture from Paris to Briare. At that time, his manufacture employed more than 500 workers.
In 1864, Briare’s manufacture started to produce beads. Greatly prized because of their quality, Briare’s beads were successful and exported all aound the world. Many African ethnic groups used these beads as jewellery or as worship objects wheeas explorers used beads as barganing chip.
Few years before the death of Jean-Félix Bapterosses, the product “Émaux de Briare”was invented. This product is unique in its production method and quality. From now on the Enamels are made “pré-formés” that means they are produced pre-formed. The marteline (small mosaic hammer) is now useless. It takes less time for mosaicists so it is more efficient for the manufacture.
After Jean-Félix Bapterosses’ death in 1885, his three sons-in-law inherited the manufacture. briare also became the only center of production for the Enamels of Briare.At the same time, Art Nouveau grew up and put the light on decorative arts, especially on mosaic art.
Nowadays Briare’s Manufacture produces and exports Enamels all around the world.