Scottish Glass - A Collector's Notes (1958)



Janet. C. Paterson (1958)

{ Notes 2008:
We are unable to trace author Janet. C. Paterson, or descendants, and would be grateful if anyone can help us to make contact. There is no copy of this publication in the Edinburgh Museum so publishing it here seems to the the only way of getting this early work acknowledged.

Considering the publication date, 1958, and lack of references in this booklet, other than those implied in the text, it cannot be considered a definitive text. Dates can be cross-referenced against ‘The List’ built on Scotland’s glass which indicates the veracity of dates given. However, this booklet does serve well as a basic history of Scottish Glass. Words and orphan sentences splitting across pages are united on the starting page in this version.

Scottish Glass - 1958 Cover Janet. C. Paterson




Mrs. Janet C. Paterson, Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Museums Occasional Publications No. 1

Scottish Glass - 1958 Title Janet. C. Paterson



Mrs. Janet C. Paterson

Scottish Glass - 1958 Foreword Janet. C. Paterson

The following text has been prepared by Mrs. Janet C. Paterson to accompany an exhibition of Scottish Glass in Huntly House Museum during the winter months of 1958-1959. It is hoped that it will be possible to keep the Collection in being and on show thereafter at Huntly House, in the Canongate Tolbooth, or in Lady Stair’s House, so that it can be seen by all interested in Scottish glassware. The specimens are from Mrs. Paterson’s personal collection gathered over many years and from the Museum’s own resources. Without Mrs. Paterson’s enthusiastic co-operation this fully representative Collection could not have been put on display and it is pleasant to be able to recognise that co-operation in this brief note of introduction.

C.S. Minto, City Librarian and Curator.

December 1958.

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SCOTLAND has abundance of sand, kelp and coal, the three essentials for glassmaking. In the 17th century, glassmaking was a nomadic craft pursued by individual artists working on their own in a small way. Nevertheless, interesting glassware was being made. In some cases the standard must have been high if one may judge by the “Pitfirrane” purple glass goblet, made in the Venetian baroque style, or in the “Murano Way” as it was then called. From this very glass James VI drank his stirrup-cup before leaving for London to reside there. The “Pitfirrane” goblet which belonged to the Halket family of Pitfirrane Castle in Fife was acquired by the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, Edinburgh, where it is now on view.

When, in 1603, the crowns of Scotland and England were united, the government of England was becoming alarmed at the rapid destruction of trees by English glassworkers, the wood being needed for the making of ships. In 1616, therefore, the Privy Council issued an “order touching glass” to the effect that “wood no longer be used as fuel”. Thomas Percivall then took out a patent for using “sea-cole” and shortly afterwards, the first shipment of Scottish “sea-cole” ordered by him arrived in England. To the surprise of the English glass-workers, the Scottish coal was found to produce just as good glass as the wood they had hitherto been using.

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The Scots now held the key to profitable glass-making. They also took full advantage of an order in Council stating that “The Customs and Excise of H.M. are instructed that no glass was to enter England or Wales except that made in Scotland”. The output of glass from Scotland at that time could not have been large.

In 1621, the Scots suffered a set back. They had to charge their competitors dearer prices for coal on account of the high host of transport. They demanded 14/9 per load of 9 cwts., although they asked only 2/8 for the same load at home. This led to England having to use coal from Newcastle. The Scots, now left with a surplus of “sea-cole”, decided to produce glass on a larger scale than they had hitherto contemplated.

Sir George De Haye of Nethercliff became the pioneer of Scottish glass “blowing”. He was descended from a younger branch of the same stock as the Earl of Errol, and later became Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal. Sir George was high in favour at the court of King James VI-I who granted him a patent for glassmaking for thirty-one years. His request to make “Braid” (window) glass and bottles also received the Royal assent. He had already chosen a likely cove at Wemyss in Fife where the sand and kelp for the supply of alkali were eminently suitable for glassmaking. There was also plenty of “sea-cole” nearby and the finished products could readily be shipped across the Firth of Forth to Leith and Edinburgh. At this place at Wemyss,

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known to this day as “Glass Cove”, he established a small glasshouse in 1610. Like many other Scots at this time, Sir George was educated at Pont-√†-Mousson in France. Impressed with the skill of the French glassworkers, he managed with the help of an agent Pickayes to induce a number of them to come to Wemyss to assist him in his operations there. He had a London agent, Leonardo Michelli, an artist in glass-making who came from the Island of Murano where the process was kept a close secret, anyone known to reveal it being put to death. Michelli accepted an invitation to come to Wemyss. In 1618, a Venetian, Giovanni del Aqua, and Bernard Tamerlayne, both master glassmakers, were also persuaded to go there. Owing to the tuition of these three artists and the help of the French glass-workers before mentioned, the Scots increased their skill at the craft, and fine glassware was made in the “Murano Way”. Though few examples of this period have survived, it has been suggested that the “Pitfirrane” goblet may be one, but this is purely conjectural.

Sir George De Haye died in 1634 and his patent lapsed during the Civil War. With the “Restoration” Charles Hay, his grandson, applied for and obtained a fresh patent which he made over to his mother, the Countess of Kinoull, and his uncle, the 2nd Marquis of Montrose. They later sold out. to Robert Pape, a master glassmaker. A dour struggle for survival now ensued.

Towards the end of the 17th century David, Lord Elcho later Earl of Wemyss, became the director of the glasshouse.

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Wrythen glassware, as well as plain, was now made, custard cups, monteiths, sweetmeat and cordial, glasses being popular. On the plain glasses, engraved “Jacobite” emblems, pertaining to the “Rising” in 1715 are often found.

Lady Grizel Baillie, daughter of Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont, who was a noted hostess of her time wrote in her diary of her proud possession of “Scottish sweetmeat glasses nipt on the rim”. During the “Risings” of 1715 and 1745 the glasshouse struggled through lean years and in 1778 William, and Mary Beilby, his sister, well known artist glassmakers, became directors at Wemyss. Glassware in the “Irish Taste” was made and owing to the peculiar quality of the sand here, this glass has a most unusual sparkle and colour. It was very popular among hostesses of the day.

In time the art spread to other parts of Scotland , at first to Prestonpans across the Firth of Forth from Wemyss. John Rae, an English naturalist, touring the countryside in 1661 recorded in his book that he had seen glass being made on the shore near Prestonpans. Wm. Maitland in his “History of Edinburgh” written 1753, states that in 1595 a glasshouse existed “adjoining the eastern end of Newhaven”.

William Morrison, with the assistance of Paul Le Blanc, master glassmaker, and William Scott, a mirror frame (“buist”) maker erected a glassworks at Morrison’s Haven, where vials,

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Braid glass, Werch (watch) and Keikin’ glasses were made. The Keikin’ glasses had a great vogue because of their novelty. They were hawked at the country fairs and all over the countryside. One of the accounts at this time had the following item:- “Bocht at the Cremore (pedlar) ane Keiking glass for l/6”. A Keikin’ glass which belonged to Mary Queen of Scots can still be seen in one of her apartments at the Palace of Holyrood House. The one used by Mary Fleming, one of the Queen’s “Four Maries” may still be seen in her old home in Cumbernauld House .

Bottle making of a good strong quality commenced at Leith in 1628. These “Leith Bottles” are now being eagerly sought by collectors because of the beauty of their form and colour, the violet browns and olive greens being particularly attractive.

In 1664 flint glassmaking commenced at Leith. Robert Pape, a master glassmaker, the owner, of the glasshouse at Wemyss, sold out there and sank all his capital in the glassworks he built at the Citadel (Citydel) Leith, from which the soldiers had just been evacuated. Two of his directors were the Earl of Argyll and the Earl of Balcarres. All manner of glassware was made: “Muskin” (Mutchkin) Quart and Chopin bottles, wine glasses, “Braid” (window) glass and crystal.

In 1746 the year of Culloden, the premises were extended and glassworks were erected by James Milne as principal partner, on South Leith Sands at Salamander Street.

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Punch bowls, rinsers, rummers, rout and toasting glasses, Priest’s flasks and chemists’ bottles were now being made at these two glasshouses. This glassware had a soft, clear, sparkling colour which seemed to improve with time. In EdinburghThe Caledonian Glasshouse” was established about this time. It was situated in the North Back Canongate to the west of the Palace of Holy-rood House. “Jacobite” glasses, perhaps made at this glasshouse, had on them emblems pertaining to the “Rising” in 1745. They were engraved in the back courts of Edinburgh and are now the most prized of all Edinburgh glassware.

In 1751, the Edinburgh Glass House Company occupied a feu adjacent to James Milne’s at Salamander Street and the next lot eastwards was taken by John Scott.

In 1773, James Ranken, a lapidary, established a glasshouse in Middle Leith, where girandoles, cut crystal drops and lustres were made. In 1798 he was succeeded by his son Francis Ranken who made the famous large chandeliers for the Assembly Rooms in George Street, Edinburgh, where they still are to-day - one of the “Treasures of Edinburgh” if not of Scotland.

In 1812, Wm. Ford took over the old Caledonian Glass House and later transferred his

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business to the South Back Canongate where he established the Holyrood Flint Glass Works. He died in 1818. In 1839, his nephew, John Ford took on the business and in 1855 Queen Victoria granted him the licence of being “Glass Maker to Her Majesty” the place now assuming the title of “The Royal Holyrood Glass Works”. John Ford died in 1859, and his “prentice piece”, a cut glass fruit boat on stand in the “Irish Taste” can be seen at Huntly House Museum in the Canongate, At The Royal Holyrood Glass Works glassware of the finest quality was made and engraved by such clever artists as John Smith of Bangor Road, Leith, an expert in heraldry, and J. H. B. Miller, famous for his classic and sporting scenes. The engraved crystal table service by this firm, when John Ford & Co., deserves special mention. It was designed for the Duke and Duchess of York (George V and Queen Mary) as a wedding gift from the citizens of Edinburgh on the occasion of their marriage on July 6th, 1893, Through the kindness of Wm.Ford Ranken, the present director of the firm, a number of extra pieces made at the time, are now on view at Huntly House Museum. Very fine lace glass (Vetro di Trina) was a clever feature of this glassworks. In 1864, J.¬†Thomas erected The Edinburgh and Leith Flint Glass Works. He sold the works the following year to Alexander D. Jenkinson. In 1876 larger premises were acquired at Norton Park. Cut glass and plain straw stem glassware was a feature and it is here to-day that the famous “Edinburgh Crystal” is still being made and exported to many parts of the world. The three

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large Flint glass goblets, made in 1780, and presented to Lord Provost Steuart by the municipality, of Edinburgh may be the work of this Glasshouse when Wm.Geddes was manager. They can be seen at Lady Stair’s House Museum, Edinburgh.

In 1824, Wm. Bailey established the Mid-Lothian Glass Works at Portobello. Very fine glassware, clear and coloured, of all kinds was made here, the “Apple Green” or “Tartan” glasses being most popular. Flint glassmaking was discarded in 1848 and green bottles only were made here afterwards. A branch bottle works was later built at Pettycur near Kinghorn in Fife and is still in existence to-day.

In Alloa, glassmaking commenced in 1750, a glasshouse being erected on the left bank of the Firth of Forth, In 1770, the “Stuarts of Touch” with great enterprise, extended the works to cover a much larger area and “The Alloa Glasshouse Company” was formed. Fine crystal, plain and engraved was made. Later, glassware of the “Nailsea” type was also made under the management of Timothy Warren who was trained at the Nailsea Heath Glass Works at Bristol. Opal glass “rolling pins” with quaint enamel painted and flower decorated mottoes such as “Think on Me”, were popular gifts from sailors to their women folk. “Quilling”, a way of decorating glass - a feature of the Alloa Glass House -was used with great success both on bottles

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and flint glassware. This Nailsea type of glassware was also made at Verreville, Glasgow, and at the Edinburgh and Leith Flint Glass Works, Norton Park.

In 1750 glass was also being made in Dunbarton . In 1776, glass works trading under the name of “The Dunbarton Glass Company” were built. The manager was Jacob Dixon, a member of the famous shipping family. It is said, that the beautiful coloured models of ships, “Dunbarton Boats” as they were called, owed their origin to the family interest in shipping. They were popular as wedding presents. Coloured glass “friggers” of birds and animals, glass curiosities, were another feature much admired. The latter were also made at Prestonpans.

In 1789, a bottle house existed for a short time at Dundee. It was not till 1850, that Enoch Tomey erected glass works at Perth where chemical glassware and gauge glasses were made. In 1865,The North British Glass Works” were established by John Moncrieff, and the “Moncrieff Gauge Glass” made here became famous all over the world. Later, a popular feature of this glasshouse was fine blown muslin glass, and still later multi-coloured “Monart” and “Vasart” glassware, the “Paisley Shawl” pattern being the most successful. Paper weights of Millefiori (a thousand flowers) design, made here by Salvadore Ysart, and his two sons, the Ysart Brothers, are much in demand to-day.

In the early 18th century, bottle making commenced in Glasgow. In 1730,

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The Bottle House Company” erected a glasshouse at the west end of the “Old Green” at the north east end of Jamaica Bridge. “Braid” glass, dark green flagons, and quaint coloured ornaments were made, paperweights and door-stoppers with bells in elaborately arranged patterns being the favourites. The works were finally sold in 1837. Many other bottle houses were established and by 1870 twenty seven were in operation, producing millions of bottles every year.

It is only right to mention here the names of James Tassie, and his nephew William Tassie, two famous artists in Glass Cameo cutting, and in making “Pate de Verre” much used in the jewellery trade. James Tassie was born at Pollokshaws, near Glasgow in 1735. He trained at Foulis Academy, Glasgow, and later went to Dublin. Both James and William supplied many cameos to the Brothers Adam, the Scottish architects. James Tassie made the first cast of the Roman glass, the “Berberini” or the “Portland” Vase just before it was broken in the British Museum and so assisted in its restoration. The brilliant work of these two Scots can now be seen at the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, and the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh. James Tassie died in 1799.

The Verreville Flint Glass Works were established in 1770. The actual founder was Patrick Colquhon, LL.D., who was born in Dumbarton in 1745 and trained at the bottle works there. After many changes, John Geddes was

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made manager in 1795. He had received his training under his eldest brother Archibald in the Edinburgh & Leith Glass Works. Sparkling flint and cut crystal glassware of all kinds was made. The large cut glass rummers were specially popular as also the “lace-makers lamps” (orineaux) which were bought by the Ayrshire lace-makers for 2/- each. The works were sold in 1835 and John Geddes died shortly afterwards.

In 1832, A. & R. Cochran erected a glasshouse at 52 Tennant Street, Glasgow. This was known as the St. Rollox Glass Works (St. Roche). The style of cut engraving practised here was peculiar to this glasshouse and was of a very high standard. About 1850, James Couper built two glasshouses facing Bell’s Pottery in Glasgow, trading under the name of James Couper & Sons. Under the management of William Haden Richardson, who came from Stourbridge, coloured glassware, in the Venetian style was made. This was very like the Stourbridge glass but was much heavier in weight. Amber, royal blue and ruby were favourite colours. Dr. Dresser, one of the artists employed here made the “Clutha” glass with its many lustrous tints, sapphire, amethyst and aventurine (brown amber) being specially admired. Stained glass called “St Mungo” was also a feature of this House. At Port Dundas in 1876, all kinds of Mirror glass was being manufactured by John Baird, Ltd., at 99 Milton Street and was being exported to many places at home and abroad.
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In 1829, fine glassware was being made at Greenock Glassworks. The engraving was most artistic, “June Hedgerows” being perhaps the favourite pattern. “Poison Green” coloured wine glasses and bottles were made to satisfy the demand in the hot countries of the East.

Finally, mention must be made of the “pressed” or moulded glassware so much prized in America to-day.

In the 19th century the small glassworks erected at Kirkcaldy in Glasshouse Loan produced dainty opaque or “Milk Glass” ornaments with painted and enamelled flower decoration, a favourite ground colour being the “Fife Blue”. If cut crystal drops were attached, the ornaments were called “jinglers” or “tingaleeries”. They were much prized by the fisher folk, and are now handed down as family heirlooms.

Towards the end of the century, pressed glassware, both opaque and clear, was made at the Royal Holyrood Glass Works, Edinburgh. Clear and amber coloured cake plates recording Royal occasions, portrait plates, and Xmas plates with patterns of hollyberries, were favourites. Opaque glassware ornaments in white, opal, and black were popular, “Pebbled” glassware in lavender and red agate tints being most liked.
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In 1867, at the Forth Glass Works, Firrhill, Glasgow, pressed glass bottles in apple green, canary yellow and cobalt blue tints were manufactured and are now eagerly sought.

Though established late, glassmaking in Scotland has flourished over a long period and now occupies a place in the history of the craft that is becoming increasingly recognised. Much historical detail no doubt yet remains to be discovered and this short survey has no immediate purpose other than to review the present state of knowledge of the subject. There are few types of glass which have not been either imitated or improved in Scotland - and several that may truly be regarded as of native origin. The standard of achievement, as with most products of man’s hand and mind, has varied from the mundane and the prosaic to almost inspired heights of artistry. Some work has been bad, some extraordinarily fine, and there can be little doubt that this very variety in quality and in type of glassware has a special appeal for collectors that has played a very substantial part in creating and sustaining the world-wide interest in Scottish glass today.
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