Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 02

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Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 15 1947

1. Scope of the Enquiry

Our enquiry has been confined by our terms of reference to the hand-blown domestic glassware industry. We have covered that part of the British Glass Industry which makes domestic and fancy glassware from lead crystal glass. There are a few firms in various parts of the country who, continuously or at intervals, make a limited range of cheaper goods by hand blowing, usually undecorated, from soda-lime glass. These firms are not represented on the Working Party and, as their output is not of the same type as that made by the lead crystal firms, we have not thought it necessary to include them within the scope of our investigations.

Domestic glassware is made by three different methods, by hand blowing, hand pressing, and machine, and each of these is, in this country, confined to a separate and quite distinct section of the glass industry. The three sections have a considerable range of production in common, principally tumblers, mugs, jugs, condiment sets, salad bowls, rose bowls, vases and trinket sets, but the quality varies from section to section, being, of course, much the highest in the hand-blown section. Stemware, that is wine and spirit glasses with stems and feet, is made only by the hand-blown section of whose output it forms a substantial proportion. On the other hand, plates and shallow dishes and shallow bowls are more readily produced by hand and machine pressing and are rarely made now by hand blowing. A good part of the hand-blown ware is subsequently decorated, usually by cutting or engraving, but hitherto there has been little decoration of the hand-pressed or machine-made ware here, although before the war considerable quantities of machine-blown tumblers used to be decorated by cutting on automatic machines for sale in the cheap bazaar trade.

Our task has been made difficult by the limitation of our investigations to one section only of the domestic glassware industry, which, in turn, constitutes only one section, and that a relatively small one, of the glass industry as a whole. We have had repeatedly to deal with problems which could only be properly considered in relation to the whole domestic glassware industry or, indeed, the entire glass industry. For example, the problems connected with the levels of desirable home production and imports and exports of domestic glassware cannot be investigated without knowledge, which we have not been in a position to acquire, about the present position and future plans of the hand-pressed and machine-made domestic glassware firms. Other questions which have to be considered in relation to the glass industry as a whole include design, design centres and technical and marketing research. Actually we have in Chapter 11 discussed technical research from the point of view of the industry as a whole, as we found it impossible to deal with it from the viewpoint of the hand-blown section only.

In view of the importance of the glass industry in peace and the vital part it plays in times of war, we do not hesitate (although it is outside the scope of our enquiry) to recommend that those portions of our report which deal with the advisability or necessity for action by the whole industry should be referred to the whole glass industry or to the most representative organisation of the industry.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 16 1947

We have been considerably handicapped throughout our enquiries by the complete absence of published figures of home production and of imports and exports of hand-blown lead crystal domestic glassware. Reliable statistics are clearly necessary to any effective enquiry into and report on the state of an industry. We have had to depend on such information as the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade has been able to provide in collated form, extracted from the individual returns made by the several firms of this section of the industry for the Census of Production in 1935 and 1937, together with a certain amount of information which we have secured through direct approach to the firms. We would urge the Board of Trade to consider whether the statistics which it publishes relating to production, imports and exports of domestic and fancy glassware cannot be made more informative by distinguishing the three types of production, hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made, as has, for example, been found possible in the United States.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 17 1947

2. History of the Manufacture of Hand-Blown Domestic Glassware in England

Our report should, we think, make some reference to the history of the manufacture of domestic glassware in England.

Glass making was, it is believed, first introduced into England by the Romans; the remains of what appears to have been their glassworks have been discovered in a number of places. After the departure of the Romans there is no definite indication of glass being made in England until medieval times when glassmakers from Normandy set up works in the south-east, where the woods provided not only the fuel for melting glass but also the necessary alkali, potassium carbonate in the form of “pearl ash” obtained by burning beech wood. Later, glassmakers from Lorraine, Huguenot refugees, followed the Normans. To one family of these Lorrainers, the Henzeys, we owe the establishment of glass works in the Stourbridge district, where, from about 1557, they and their descendants carried on glass making for over 160 years. In the second half of the sixteenth century, Venetian influence was strong, and glassmakers from Murano, the most distinguished of whom was Jacob Verzilini, came to work in England.

The first great technical advance in glass making in England was the replacement of wood by coal for heating the furnaces for melting the glass by Thomas Percival and others, early in the seventeenth century. The next important development was the discovery by George Ravenscroft, in 1674, of lead crystal glass, which, for the first time, gave English glassmakers an advantage over those on the Continent.

Decoration of domestic glassware by cutting and engraving by wheel, which had reached an advanced stage of development in Germany and Bohemia by the end of the seventeenth century, became only gradually popular with English glassmakers in the course of the following century. The Excise duties which were levied on glass on a weight basis in 1745 fell particularly severely on cut glass which demands a thick heavy article, and led to a migration of glassmakers to Ireland, where there was no duty, and the establishment of works in Waterford and Dublin.

The repeal of the Excise duties in 1845 stimulated activity in glassmaking in England, and the industry flourished mainly through the supply of table and ornamental ware decorated by cutting in “traditional” English styles. London and Stourbridge had long been the chief centres of production, but the industry was spread widely over the country, in Newcastle, Durham, Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington, Bristol, Birmingham and Dudley. From the introduction about the middle of the last century of pressed ware, followed later by semi-automatic and fully automatic machine-made ware, dates the decline in hand-making, which was accelerated by the competition at home and overseas from the increasing production of cheap continental blown and pressed ware. Since just before the first world war 29 hand-blown factories have closed and only two new factories have opened, though to some extent this has been offset by increase in size of the remaining factories. Production on the whole, however, has diminished appreciably since 1910.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 18 1947

3. Present Size and Location of the Industry: Industrial Structure of the Stourbridge Area


Lead crystal glassware, domestic and fancy, is now made by eight firms in ten factories, six of which are in the Stourbridge area. The other factories are in Edinburgh, Birmingham, London and Tutbury. The firms which own the factories at Edinburgh and Tutbury each have a factory also at Stourbridge. All eight firms are incorporated as limited liability companies, two being public and the rest private companies.

In 1935 the total output of this section of the glass industry was valued at £572,319. The amount of hand-blown and fancy glassware produced by the industry in that year was 39,200 cwt., valued at £510,544, as against a total home production of domestic and fancy glassware of all types, hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made, of 404,300 cwt., valued at £1,268,000. In 1946 the values of hand-blown and total production of these goods were £888,000 and £3,545,000 respectively; the fall in proportion of hand-blown goods as compared with 1935 is due principally to the larger output of machine-made tumblers.

Capital investment, although one of the least satisfactory means of measuring the size of an industry (for the amount of invested capital bears no fixed relationship to the amount of real capital employed) may yet furnish some insight into its organisation and efficiency. In this industry the amount of capital is probably between £750,000 and £1,000,000, although if calculated on the basis of current market or replacement prices of fixed assets, this value must be substantially higher. Comparison with the 1946 output of approxi­mately £890,000 shows the turnover-capital ratio to be exceptionally low. The high rate of capitalisation, of the order of £400 per worker, is explained in part by the fact that the number of workers employed is considerably lower than that which could be employed without any further capital expenditure. In 1935, with substantially the same employed capital, but a labour force of 2,700 (compared with about 1,900 in January, 1947), output calculated at present-day price levels was approximately £950,000.

The factories are comparatively small; the number employed ranges at present from about 50 to some 300 workers. The number of insured workers employed in the industry at the beginning of 1947 was 1,732, and of these 617 were glasshouse workers and 507 decorators, compared with 707 and 947 in 1938. The maximum number of glasshouse workers and decorators who could be employed working the present shifts and hours are 812 and 1,071 respectively. There is therefore a deficiency of 195 glasshouse workers and 564 decorators. The substitution, by introduction of a night shift, of a three-shift for the present two-shift working which is operating in most factories, would allow the number of glassmakers to be increased by about a third without involving any expansion of furnace or other equipment, though there are difficulties in the way of introducing a three-shift system under present working conditions, to which reference is made in Chapter 5 below.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 19 1947

Before the war, the industry was engaged almost exclusively on the production of full lead crystal domestic and fancy glassware, a substantial proportion of which was exported. The war introduced many changes, and production was turned over from domestic to various kinds of technical and illuminating glassware, some types of which still continue to be made in a few of the factories. The first impact of war measures brought the introduction by the Board of Trade of the Limitation of Supplies Order, which restricted the amount of domestic and fancy glassware which could be supplied on the home market. Later in August, 1942, a very drastic change was brought about by the complete prohibition of the manufacture, even for export, of all domestic and fancy glassware other than undecorated tumblers of capacity 8 ozs. and over, mugs, jugs, carafes and condiment sets. Almost all the decorators were at the same time withdrawn from the industry. This brought great changes in the glasshouses ; the teams or chairs engaged in making stemware were dispersed and are being reconstituted only with difficulty; in one important factory, indeed, it has not yet been possible to re-form a single stemware chair.

The products made during the war included bulbs for Radar and X-ray tubes, radio valves and electric lamps, and special illuminating glassware, all for the Ministry of Aircraft Production; scientific and medical glassware for the Ministry of Supply and oil lamp chimneys. This involved the use of glasses not previously made in the factories, e.g., heat-resisting glass. Radio and Radar demand a great variety of glass bulbs, which in many instances it is impossible or uneconomical to blow by machine. It may be appropriate here to note that, in order to have a reserve of skilled glassblowers for the manufacture of electronic and other devices vitally needed for war purposes, it is essential to maintain peacetime manufacture of hand-blown glassware on a substantial basis.

Two of the factories continue to make considerable quantities of technical and illuminating glassware, the manufacture of which they started as a war measure. Another factory maintains its long established production of stained glass windows and thermometer tubing, side by side with manufacture of domestic ware. On the whole, however, the firms in the industry are concentrating on restoring their production to where it stood when the war began.

With the total number of insured workers employed now only 1,732, compared with 2,540 in 1935, 2,765 in 1938 and 2,634 in 1939, it is clear that the industry is still well below its pre-war strength. As the figures given above indicate, the industry is now very short of decorators, who were almost completely withdrawn from it during the war. The position is better for glassmakers, since these were retained as essential for war production. By severely limiting the number of patterns and types of decoration, the industry has, however, been able, even with the shorter hours worked in the glasshouse, to bring production up to something approaching the pre-war level. It has, none the less, a long way still to go before it can meet the home demand as well as that from abroad.


As the industry is centred mainly in and around Stourbridge, in the Brierley Hill and Stourbridge Labour Exchange districts, some reference to the industrial structure of this area seems desirable. The principal industry in this area is

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 20 1947

metal goods manufacture, mainly galvanised or enamelled domestic or other hollow-ware, included under the Ministry of Labour heading “other metal industries,” which in 1929 accounted for 24.3 per cent. of the total number of insured workers in the area. Metal manufacture with 13 per cent., and brick, tile and pipe making with 11.6 per cent. came next, followed by glass manu­facture with 10.9 per cent.

Between 1929 and 1939, the proportion of workers engaged in the metal industries was maintained at about the same figure, although the total number of insured workers in these industries increased with the increase in the insured population, due to the widening of the scope of unemployment insurance. On the other hand, the proportion of insured workers in the glass industry and the brick, tile and pipe making declined to 7.7 per cent. and 9.8 per cent. respectively. In the same period, the total percentage of unemployed workers in the area was, until 1935, higher than the average for Great Britain, the highest figure being 31.4 per cent. in 1931; from 1935 onwards it was lower than the average, with the exception of 1938, when it was 16.5 per cent., falling to 9.1 per cent. in 1937 and 8.5 per cent. in 1939.

During the recent war, the insured population as a whole declined in the area, the decline being particularly severe in the glass industry (which lost more than half its workers between 1939 and 1943), and in the brick, tile and pipe industry.

Post-war developments have brought no change in the industrial structure of the region. The demobilisation of men from the Services is reflected in an increase in the total insured population in 1946 compared with that of pre-war years. Women have withdrawn from industry, but the number employed remains considerably higher than in 1939. Of the two industries which had suffered most from the effects of the war, brick, tile and pipe making had by 1946 regained a substantial proportion of the labour which it had lost; but as the figures given above show, the recovery of the glass industry has been slow and the industry is still far short of its pre-war labour strength.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 21 1947

4. The Size of the Market for Domestic and Fancy Glassware in the United Kingdom; the Problem of Imports; Statistics


Before the war the amount of domestic and fancy glassware of all kinds, hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made, both home produced and imported, supplied to the home market appears to have been, in value, about 2 to 2œ million pounds a year. The Census of Production returns for 1924, 1930 and 1935 enable the following information to be given :—



1924 1930 1935
  £’000 £’000 £’000
Home production (ex-factory values) 897 829 1,268
Exports (f.o.b. values) 285 284 228
Estimated value (ex-factory) of home production supplied to the home market 633 566 1,057
Retained imports (c.i.f. values) 1,482 2,016 1,101

Total home market supplies 2,115 2,582 2,158

Percentage of home market supplied by imports 70 78 51

Note :— Not corrected for price variations.

Imports have always been large and exports, though substantial as indicated above in relation to home production, have been small in comparison to imports.

It is not possible to make a close estimate of the amounts of hand-blown domestic glassware, as opposed to domestic glassware generally, which before the war were supplied on the home market and were imported and exported. The total amount of hand-blown domestic and fancy ware made by the eight firms in the lead crystal section of the industry in 1935 is available from the Census of Production returns for that year. An estimate can be made of the amount exported, assuming that the average value per cwt. of exports was the same as that of total production in the case of both hand-blown ware and of domestic glassware generally. From this calculation the following figures are obtained for 1935.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 22 1947


  Th. cwt. £’000
Total production 39.2 511 (ex-factory)
Estimated exports 12.3 178 (f.o.b.)
Estimated home market share 26.9 346 (ex-factory)

It would, therefore, appear that about one-third of home production of hand-blown ware was exported, a surprisingly high figure when the returns for stemware only, which are complete, are considered. These are :—


  Th. cwt. £’000
Total production 8.0 91
Exports 0.3 4
Home market share 7.7 87

From these figures the exports of stemware were about 4 per cent. of the total production.

The amount spent per head per annum before the war on domestic and fancy glassware was rather less here than in the United States and Sweden, as shown by the following figures :—


  Year Shillings per head (ex-factory value)
United Kingdom 1935 1.0
    0.9 (estimated to exclude cookery ware)
United States 1935 1.1 excluding cookery ware
  1937 1.3 do.
  1939 1.3 do.
Sweden 1935 1.3
  1937 1.5
  1939 1.8

No separate statistics are available showing the pre-war imports of hand-blown domestic and fancy glassware. After careful consideration of all the

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 23 1947

available information, we have come to the conclusion that the total imports in 1935 of this type of ware can reasonably be assumed to have been about 45 per cent. in value of the total imports in that year of domestic and fancy glassware of all types, hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made. This gives us a figure of about £500,000 for imports which, with £346,000 from the home industry, gives about £846,000 as the value of hand-blown glassware absorbed by the home market in 1935. Allowing for the 65 per cent. advance in home prices which has since taken place, this represents a present value of about £1,400,000.

In 1946 the value of the total production of the eight firms in the industry was £888,000; the manufacturers’ sales for export were about £410,000 and retained imports were £41,700, making a total of about £520,000 worth supplied on the home market, or about 37 per cent. by volume of the amount sold in the home market in 1935.

Exports in 1946 (£410,000) were about 235 per cent. by value of the estimated exports for 1935 (£178,000), and allowing for the 65 per cent. advance in home prices, were about 143 per cent. by volume of the estimated 1935 exports. To reach the export target of 175 per cent. (by volume) of pre-war exports requires that exports be raised to about £520,000, necessitating an increase of nearly 29 per cent. on the 1946 export figure. (1938 is the year on which the export targets are based, but exports in that year were at about the same level as in 1935.) If production remains at the 1946 level (£888,000), the raising of the export figure to £520,000 would leave only £368,000 worth available for the home market, i.e., only 26 per cent. by volume of the amount absorbed by the home market in 1935. The return of the decorators to the industry will involve a continued increase in the proportion of ware decorated, and this, coupled with the maintenance of the prohibition of supply of decorated goods to the home market, means that unless production can be increased very substantially, the amount reaching the home market will be likely to decrease rather than to increase. To enable the export target to be reached an increase in production of 13.5 per cent. over the volume of 1946 will be needed if home supplies are to be maintained at the 1946 level, and of 118 per cent. if they are to reach the 1935 level and be provided all from home production.

It will thus be seen that the present capacity of the industry is quite inadequate to satisfy the nation’s need to export up to the target figure and at the same time to satisfy the requirements of the home market at the 1935 level. The position is, however, much worse than this. The following factors have led us to conclude that the demands of the home market are, in fact, much bigger than in 1935:—

  1. There is need to replace the imports which accounted for nearly 60 per cent. of home market supplies in 1935.
  2. There is the wider distribution of buying power which, in conjunction with the efforts now being planned by our manufacturers to make the public more glass-conscious, should have a marked effect on the expenditure on glassware per head of the population in this country which, by comparison with some countries, has tended to be rather small.
  3. There is the need, also, to make up for the virtual absence of supplies over the past eight years, and for the starting up of a large number of new homes.
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 24 1947

There are also good reasons for believing that export markets are capable of absorbing a considerably larger volume than 175 per cent. of our pre-war exports of hand-blown crystal ware. The United States market, in particular, seems to have marked prospects of expansion, since in quality and prestige our tableware is not matched by supplies entering this market from any other source.

Despite the restriction of the home market demand, due to the crippling effect of the Purchase Tax (to which we refer later) and despite the possibilities of change in fashion, and of increases which may be permitted in imports, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the production capacity of the hand-blown industry could confidently be increased up to three times its pre-war size. From this it will be seen that the fundamental task of the industry (a task which we analyse in the following pages) is one of production. With so many of its competitors out of the field, and with so large a demand both at home and abroad, it is doubtful whether the industry will ever again have such an opportunity to take so substantial a step forward. The vital necessity for action to expand exports and to reduce the need for imports is a further stimulus to expansion on national grounds. We therefore urge the industry to give immediate and earnest attention to those of our recommendations which are aimed at increasing production with the minimum possible delay.


It can, we believe, be said with complete assurance that the main obstacle to progress and expansion in the hand-blown section of the domestic glassware industry is the fear of the resumption of imports. The whole industry, managements and men, has a long and bitter memory of unfair competition from cheap foreign imports, mostly from the Continent, which over the last quarter of a century caused severe unemployment and the closing of many factories. As has already been mentioned, since just before the first World War 29 hand factories have shut down and only two factories have started up, although the number of glassmakers has not fallen in the same proportion.

Tables 5 and 6 (see next page) show the total annual imports of domestic and fancy glassware of all kinds, hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made, in the period between the two great wars.

Up to 1932 it may be taken that the value of imports substantially exceeded that of home production. The protection duties imposed during the slump in 1931-32 gave a fillip to the home industry, which began from then on to take a larger share of the home market. Production rose, as the following figures show (1935 = 100):—

Year 1924 1930 1933 1934

Percentage 48 42 91 93

By 1935 the home market supplies from British manufacturers had risen to 49 per cent. by value.

Imports came principally from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Belgium and, to a lesser extent, from U.S.A., Sweden, Hungary and France, as indicated in Table 7.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 25 1947


Imports United Kingdom Exports
  Cwts. £ Cwts. £
1921 345,324 1,403,457 12,063 232,153
1922 441,132 1,436,161 14,184 170,331
1923 490,714 1,387,752 24,563 233,454
1924 572,945 1,540,941 32,715 284,632
1925 617,305 1,716,597 34,123 324,220
1926 635,712 1,771,753 30,783 319,213
1927 642,268 1,764,402 31,100 356,599
1928 668,505 1,915,097 33,615 379,881
1929 655,463 2,009,090 35,319 380,890
1930 701,474 2,062,108 28,449 284,053
1931 677,736 1,717,987 19,421 161,290
1932 243,714 702,241 20,864 150,018
1933 380,976 1,037,486 26,571 168,460
1934 382,372 1,077,790 31,548 206,547

Exports of imported goods averaged 6,204 cwt. over the period, being highest in 1925 at 9,740 cwt. and lowest in 1932 at 1,991 cwt.


Imports United Kingdom Exports
  Cwts. £ Cwts. £
1935 357,932 948,654 34,553 223,297
1936 342,953 915,857 43,743 251,033
1937 382,402 1,010,455 41,330 249,251
1938 352,656 919,662 36,826 209,638
1939 215,452 510,477 41,490 224,137
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 26 1947


  Cwts. £ £ per cwt. (c.i.f.)
Soviet Union 6,008 7,372 1.2
Finland 3,096 6,889 2.2
Sweden 5,175 21,008 4.1
Germany 78,564 242,536 3.1
Belgium 107,195 196,414 1.8
France 1,495 11,984 8.0
Hungary 7,395 20,335 2.75
Czechoslovakia 102,295 288,222 2.8
Japan 2,233 9,591 4.3
U.S.A. 6,572 20,845 3.2
Other countries 6,102 23,447 3.8

Estimated average value per cwt. of domestic and fancy glassware (other than stemware) produced in the United Kingdom during 1935 3.0 £ per cwt. (ex-factory)

The only type of hand-blown glassware for which import and export figures are available is stemware which, since 1935, has been shown separately in the trade returns. The following table indicates annual imports up to 1939.


  Cwts. £
1935 35,509 169,184
1936 33,524 161,501
1937 37,347 183,935
1938 36,881 180,571
1939 21,273 100,337
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 27 1947

The average annual imports by countries and the average value per cwt. are shown below.


  Cwts. £ £ per cwt. (c.i.f.)
Sweden 7,107 34,544 4.9
Germany 6,303 36,674 5.8
Belgium 12,676 47,965 3.8
Czechoslovakia 4,824 27,110 5.6
Japan 763 3,352 4.4
Other countries 1,232 9,436 7.7

Estimated average value per cwt. of stemware produced in the United Kingdom during 1935 11.4 £ Per-cwt. (ex factory)

Wage rates abroad were low and were frequently part paid in kind as by the provision of houses rent free. Hours of working were long, and out-working, especially for decorating, was extensively employed. By this means, the cost of production was kept low, but this was not the whole story, for not only were goods dumped on the British market at prices below those in the country of origin but, in addition, Germany and, to a lesser extent, Czechoslovakia, subsidised their exports. Under such conditions our own industry found it difficult to compete.

To meet this competition, prices were continually being lowered and cheaper lines were introduced by reducing the weight of the article or the amount of decoration it carried, but the foreign manufacturer responded by sending in similar lines at still lower prices, and so it went on. Admittedly some part of the difficulty arose from the higher output per man hour of the continental worker. The imports were for the most part of soda-lime glass or less than full crystal, but the public here did not, in general, attempt or were unable to differentiate as to quality, and in most instances the question of price decided the matter.

Before the war the import duties on domestic and fancy glassware were 20 per cent. ad valorem on stemware and 30 per cent. on all other types of goods, at which levels they still stand. We are of the opinion that these duties should be maintained and that, in addition, steps should be taken to prevent the dumping upon the British market of goods at prices below those at which they are being sold in the country in which they are made. That there is need for such action is indicated by the following extract from an article about Czechoslovakian exports of illuminating glassware in the “Czechoslovak Glass

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Review,” September, 1946, Volume 1, No. 1, which reveals that country's approach to the export of glassware generally :—

“When a factory is working in full swing the stopping of production always entails great financial sacrifices, and this is especially true of glass manufacture. It was, therefore, agreed that work should continue, stocks should be built up and every effort made to lower both costs and prices to secure some orders at least. It was unanimously felt that working at a loss was, for the time being, far preferable to stopping production and thus making the restarting of manufacture a long job.

“ The majority of our glassworks have been therefore, to their regret, supplied with orders for a long time. I expressly say their regret because these orders had to be accepted at prices which mean working at a loss, and which, as a matter of fact, were only quoted in order to maintain production. Foreign competitors reacted immediately to these prices of ours and are now working for a price agreement to eliminate competition.”

At present imports are controlled by import licences which are imposed for currency reasons only, and cannot be used for protecting an industry against foreign competition. During the war import licences were not granted for domestic and fancy glassware. The prohibition of imports has, however, been relaxed within the last year, and some imports of undecorated ware of types, such as stemware, required for the licensed and catering trades are being allowed. The industry is anxious that free imports should not be resumed until it has had time to change back from a war to a peace economy, and until it is well on its way with its new production plans. The war called for a complete cessation of production of many of the goods for which it is famous, particularly stemware. Decorators were almost completely withdrawn and many have not returned; time will be required to recruit and train new workers. The industry is suffering acutely from a shortage of young recruits. We think, therefore, that it is reasonable to ask for close and continuing negotiation between the industry and the Government on this question of imports. We are conscious of the Government’s desire to do everything possible to free international trade, and that the industry has much to gain from the reduction of tariffs and of import restrictions abroad. The industry should, however, be allowed more time for reconversion and re-equipment before having again to face unrestricted foreign competition on the domestic market.

A point which should, we think, receive consideration before imports are allowed freely again is the marking of imported goods in a permanent manner, by etching or sandblasting, to indicate that they are of foreign origin and also so that the buyer can tell whether or not they are of full cut crystal with an accepted minimum lead content, or simply pressed glass cut over to make it look like the better article. The use of adhesive labels as in the past is nor sufficient, since these can fall off or easily be removed.


We have already mentioned in Chapter 1 the lack of published figures of production, imports and exports of hand-blown lead crystal glassware. In attempting, in this chapter, to estimate the size of the market for such ware we have been handicapped throughout by the absence of full and reliable statistics.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 29 1947

At present each firm in the industry supplies monthly to the Board of Trade, through the Glass Manufacturers’ Federation, figures of the total values of production and of exports of domestic glassware. We suggest that these returns should be amplified so as to include also the number of (1) plain tumblers, (2) plain stemware, and (3) other plain ware, and the value of decorated ware.

We also suggest that in future the published figures of production, imports and exports of domestic glassware should distinguish between hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made ware.

We urge that greater attention should in future be paid by the industry to the statistical information concerning it, and that there should be close co-operation between the industry and the Board of Trade in acting on the conclusions to be drawn from this information.


  1. That the industry should begin at once to plan for a production of domestic and fancy glassware up to three times the volume of its pre-war production.
  2. That meanwhile discussions should take place with the Board of Trade on the question of the desirable levels of the export and import trade in such goods.
  3. That imports of domestic and fancy glassware should not be allowed to take place freely until the industry has been allowed an opportunity to change back from a war to a peace economy and is well on the way with its new production plans.
  4. That the present import duties on domestic and fancy glassware should be maintained.
  5. That steps should be taken to prevent dumping of such ware on the British market at prices below those at which it is offered for sale in the country of origin.
  6. That imported goods of this kind should be marked in a permanent manner to indicate that they are of foreign origin.
  7. That the statistics provided in relation to domestic and fancy glassware should be improved
    1. by distinguishing, in the published figures of production, imports and exports, between hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made products;
    2. by amplifying the monthly statistics supplied by each firm to the Board of Trade to include, besides the figures of the total values of production for home and for export, also the numbers of
      1. plain tumblers,
      2. plain stemware, and
      3. other plain ware and the value of decorated ware.
  8. That the industry should make full use of the statistics which will be available, and that there should be closer co-operation between it and the Board of Trade in acting on the conclusions to be drawn from them.