Glass and Glass Ware, Paris 1878 - 04




{ Notes 2008: All of the images in this section can be found in the Glass Catalogue, larger and with detailed views of each. }

Universal Exposition At Paris, 1878. 274


The British section contained quite a variety of glass ware, especially table ware and ornamental glass. In point of excellence of metal and workmanship the British were splendidly represented.

THOMAS WEBB & SONS. Stourbridge and London.

These exhibitors had the finest display of flint and colored wares, and deserved the grand prize which they received. Their flint glass was the finest in the Exposition, and was superior in brilliancy to the French, which still retains a trace of the bluish tint so noticeable in their glass in 1867. I should mention, however, that other British houses had also very fine flint glass nearly equal to Webbs’. In fact, all the flint we saw in that section was of remarkably good quality, and superior to that exhibited by other nations.

Vases and ornamented glass.

The display by Webb & Sons comprised a multitude of handsome articles. The center of attraction seemed to be a vase in the style of the Portland Vase, called the Dennis Vase.

The body of this vase is of a very dark blue and coated outside with opal glass. The subject chosen by the artist, Mr. Northwood, is the Triumph of Galatea and Aurora. The cover represents a winged horse, not yet finished. The two handles represent horse's heads, one of which is finished. The subjects shown upon the sides, the base, and foot are ornamented with leaves in opal. The immense difficulty of producing such an article will be understood when it is considered that all the designs in relief have to be carved and chiseled out of the white outside coating; the artist is required to produce a semi-translucid effect, showing the blue glass through the opal, carving out this glass and making it thin enough to show the blue through and yet retain perfect and correct relief forms. This beautiful effect was reproduced in several parts of the vase. The blowing of the vase itself must have been a difficult piece of workmanship, since the horse on the cover and the horse-head handles must have been so put on as to enable the artist to carve correct subjects and introduce the semi-transparent tints I have alluded to. This glass carving is necessarily a very slow work; the vase is not yet finished, some parts being polished and others yet in the rough state. The artist has already devoted two years to the vase, and it is estimated it will be worth $15,000 when finished. It is simply a “tour de force.

Next to this vase a smaller one of the same style was exhibited as the work of Mr. Woodall. The subject represented is after Guido's Aurora. The skill displayed by the artist commands admiration. The half tints described in the former vase were also produced in this vase

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with remarkable effect. The base shows a series of leaves, with the semi-transparence repeated in each with a surprising evenness of shade. The parts, after having been carved, may be left rough or may be polished; this enables the artist to obtain a dead or clear effect.

A striking feature of the Messrs. Webb's exhibit was their engraved flint articles such as decanters, vases, ewers, jugs (Figs. 11 and 12), dishes, trays, goblets, etc.

Fig. 11. — Thomas Webb & Sons.
Fig. 12. — Thomas Webb & Sons.

A vase engraved in relief by Mr. Kny was a marvel of execution; only nine inches high; it is valued at $1,500. The engraving around the body of the vase was partly clear and partly depolished, and was beautifully executed. It stood in such bold relief that, though engraved by the wheel, it might be supposed to have been carved.

A decanter, Fig. 13, also engraved by this artist, the subject representing the frieze of the Parthenon in intaglio half-clear engraving, was very beautiful. It is valued at $2,250.

In flint metal several other interesting articles, engraved in dead and clear surface, were exhibited:

A plate representing Venus Aphrodite, a beautiful piece of work, valued at $150.

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A vase in the Italian Renaissance, with classical subjects, handles, and foot engraved, worth $1,000. I noticed in this vase a very pretty effect made up by polishing diminitive spots on the dead engraved ground. The brillancy of these points on a dead surface I consider a very happy effect.

A two-handled jug, subject Pluto carrying away Proserpine, engraved very deeply on the two handles, with the base of each ending in an engraved medallion; all of beautiful workmanship; valued at $500.

Fig. 13. — Thomas Webb & Sons.
Fig. 14. — Thomas Webb & Sons.


Vases at $200; jugs at $500.

An endless variety of table-service articles, such as jugs with the peculiar shell handle which is now pressed by our manufacturers.

Fig. 14, part of a water service in the Italian Renaissance style, shows the most beautiful designs and intricate ornamentation. The whole of the surface, and even the handle, is most beautifully engraved. The principal designs represent four Cupids in different attitudes, graceful birds, and fine tracery.

Engraving of all kinds, combined with clear, half-clear, and dead surfaces, on tankards, mugs, goblets, decanters. Many of these articles are engraved very deeply, and the engraving is subsequently polished. Such articles were also shown in the French section, but it is apparent that too much labor is bestowed on such work without corresponding effect, since the reflection of light somewhat drowns the designs.

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A very handsome square jewelry casket made of plate-glass, with a gilt frame and four handsome columns with solid ball bases in the corners, the sides cut in deep diamonds and engraved escutcheons.

Fig. 15. — Thomas Webb & Sons.

Heavily cut sets (Figure 15) in spiral bamboo and diamonds, heavy and brilliant sets of blue and pink upon flint, cut in relief, with projecting knobs upon which the colored glass has been left, but subsequently cut in diamonds upon their faces; sometimes borders of colored metal are left and cut over in the same style.

Large bowls, decanters, fruit dishes, goblets, etc.

Some sets of ruby upon flint, of very handsome shades of ruby.

Decanters with stoppers cut in prisms, which make a beautiful play of colors.

A large variety of flower stands in flint and ruby, cut in large diamonds, upon which smaller and very fine dia>monds were cut; most of these articles >are mounted on gilt metal stands.

Iridescent glass.

This house is also manufacturing iridescent flint glass in thin blown articles, such as decanters, goblets, jugs, and flower stands, mounted on mirrors, the base of these stands being made of solid balls. The use of these balls adds very much to the beauty of light fancy articles, besides the safety it adds in keeping then from falling over.

A very attractive style of flower stands is peculiar to this house. It consists in making receptacles for flowers with sticks of flint glass mounted in the style of our log cabins; they are held together by means of silvered wires. These are built of different shapes, and lined inside with a galvanized metal casing. Quite a number of these stands were made of bronze iridescent glass of very pretty colors.

This bronze iridescent glass is a speciality of this house, said to have been patented, and was quite new. The first samples I saw were not quite satisfactory, as the glass looked rough on the surface and the colors were dark, without brilliancy. The new samples received, however, were very handsome; the glass retained its usual brilliancy, and reflected the iridescent colors in pleasing variety. Jugs made of this glass were engraved to show the ground of the

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glass, while the remainder was kept in the polished state. The bronze of this glass has a peculiar greenish tint prevailing through the mass.

Fig. 16. — Thomas Webb & Sons.


Of chandeliers the Messrs. Webb had a very fine collection.

One particularly, in the center of their exhibit, was a specimen in very good taste. The bottom piece is a large ribbed hollow ball, with twisted glass branches starting from the middle. The center stem is made up of a series of these balls, decreasing in size towards the top. The drops are made of blown hollow glass, prettily shaped. Between the series of balls the center stem is made in the shape of a handsome vase. Attached to the bottom of the drops are several solid glass

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balls containing a number of little air bubbles. One of the balls, a very large one, was hung to the bottom of the chandelier.

Other chandeliers, of flint and colored glass, were hung through their show temple. All of them were of very good taste and fine execution.

Some made for candles bad long solid brandies, with heavily cut bowl for bottom pieces, and solid prismatic cut buttons attached.

The tops of some chandeliers were made of inverted cups, cut in scallops Some of the drops were made in the shape of square pyramids of solid glass, running to a very sharp point. The whole chandelier was made of a mass of clear and heavily cut glass, in which colors played most beautifully. Some others were mounted in gilt or silvered metal.

A very pretty combination of white and colored glass was to be seen in several of their chandeliers; drops of colored and white glass, some tear-shaped, some depolished, and others cut.

A large variety of side brackets for gas and candles, in the same style as the chandeliers described.

Quite a number of hanging glass flower-baskets, of an infinity of patterns, made of white glass; mirrors and white and colored glass sticks mounted on the outside.

Fig. 17. — Thomas Webb & Sons.
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The use of silvered mirrors has been put to a good advantage by this house in combining panels of mirrors into different-shaped stands, baskets, etc., which look very beautiful.

Venetian glass.

This firm made a fine display of “Venetian” glass ware. The workmanship, the purity of the flint and colored glass, and the regularity of forms far outstripped anything which could be seen in the Italian section. Nor should I be silent upon the remarkable sets designed by Mr. O’Fallon, a young gentleman who has charge of the decorative and drafting department of this house. Through his kindness I obtained a great deal of information in regard to the wares exhibited. Among his designs I noticed especially some decanters, jugs, bowls, goblets, engraved in the Celtic style, a peculiar ornamentation which he has carried to quite a success. This style of decoration consists principally of engraved continuous lines, in which the ends can scarcely ever be found. The engraving is not deep, but is made up of an endless variety of lines.

Fig. 18. — Green & Nephew.

Mr. O’Fallon has also designed some very comical subjects, such as a pig ornamentally treated, tadpoles, frogs, etc., which, however, I must frankly say, I do not think will ever enter extensively into the race for ornamentation of glass. Although I have seen beautiful classic designs by this gentleman, I regret to find that the shapes of old jugs, tankards, etc., have too often been selected by him. I wish that English glass, which is so commendable for its beautiful workmanship, could be designed in better styles. Mr. O’Fallon is evidently quite talented, as could be seen by some of the beautiful designs of his classic wares, but, as in the Austrian department, the English would be better off by leaving aside the awkward

and ugly designs of old mugs, jugs, tankards, etc., a style representing the remnant of the first efforts in ornamentation of half-civilized nations.
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In support of my remarks, I would call attention to these beautifully engraved wares, representing the highest skill and beauty of design, unfortunately placed upon ugly-shaped jugs; Figs. 16 and 17. The same talent, placed upon shapely articles, would look infinitely handsomer.

I also wish to say that if other manufacturers would imitate the Messrs. Webb by sending with their goods men like Mr. O’Fallon, courteous, intelligent, and capable of giving information, they certainly would not be the losers in their reputation, and would increase their trade. All the employees of the Messrs. Webb were, in fact, ready at any time to furnish the information asked, and were uniformly communicative.

James Green & Nephew, London.

A very fine exhibit of table and ornamental glass ware was made by this firm.

In the middle of their stand could be seen a very handsome chandelier, a mass of prismatic cut drops, with a very large ball of glass at the bottom, the different parts mounted in ormolu.

Very handsome candelabra, mounted in ormolu, and consisting of solid pieces of glass, pear-shaped, and cut in prisms, a cutting which is particularly well adapted to the fine metal made by this house.

A large square flagon cut in heavy diamonds; worth $50.

A variety of heavily cut hanging baskets, some with separate handles, cut all over and attached by ormolu mountings.

Fruit dishes heavily and intricately cut.

Jugs and decanters, beautifully engraved (Figs. 18 and 19).

Fig. 19. — Green & Nephew.

A few articles of thin blown glass, etched by acid.

These thin wares, or muslin glass, as it is called, were very well done.

Jugs and goblets, engraved in half-clear engravings.

Paper weights, cut and engraved.

Chandeliers with hollow ball drops, filled with a pink liquid.

Imitation of jewels in glass, in very line colors.

Also thin muslin iridescent glass fancy articles of a peculiar nature, with small whitish spots.

A few articles of Venetian glass ware in very good style.

Quite a number of mirror flower stands.

Mugs made with spiral air tubes.

Caskets of plate glass for jewelry, engraved and mounted in ormolu.

This house has a very creditable display of fine wares, but is especially noted for making objects of solid pieces of glass cut in prisms — a very beautiful effect.

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Alexander Jenkinson, Edinburgh.

This house is especially celebrated for its thin muslin glass and Venetian ware:

Engravings executed upon goblets so thin that it seemed almost impossible to touch them with the engraving wheel without going through.

A striking example of what the glass-blower can produce was a goblet the weight of which, in handling, could scarcely be felt; the bowl was 8 inches in diameter by 8 inches high, the stem 4 inches, the whole weighing 6Ÿ ounces. This certainly was the thinnest article for its size.

A striking piece of skill was a basket made of bent pieces of glass, handles and all in perfect imitation of wicker-work.

Their imitation of Venetian glass in all styles is certainly, like that of the Webbs, superior to the Italian.

A very handsome set of muslin iridescent glass, which was said to have been sold 130 times.

Very finely cut and engraved glass.

The productions of this house are certainly very superior.

Fig. 20. — Hodgetts, Richardson & Son.
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Hodgetts, Richardson, & Son, Stourbridge.

Like the Webbs, this house had some very fine basso-rilievo carved glass in white upon a deep-colored ground:

A largo vase, subject “Hercules restoring Alcestis to her husband.” A pair of two-handled vases, subject Venus (Fig. 20), and another vase (Fig. 21) representing Cupid.

A copy of the Portland Vase, worth $2,100.

These so-called carved glass objects were finely executed, and reflect much credit on this house.

Flower stands with queerly twisted branches. A tripod with pink sticks and pot hung by glass chain. Vases of blue upon flint, etched in dead surface by acid. Handsome flint articles cut in very fine diamonds. A set of white glass with small threads of bluish green spun spirally upon the surface, the top ornamented with small buttons of the same colored glass.

Fig. 21. — Hodgetts, Richardson & Son.

The usual variety of hanging baskets, flower stands, decanters, goblets, with spun colored threads.

Articles of a peculiarly darkish-green colored glass, said to be a particular production of this house, but little different from bottle glass.

A bouquet-holder in white glass, representing an umbrella with pink border, half opened, hanging upon three branches.

Light pink upon flint plates, etched in acid.

Vases of pink upon opal and ruby upon opal, looking very pretty.

A pretty cage made of pink glass sticks with a looking-glass on the outside of the bottom.

Small tea sets, blue upon white, finely etched in acid, leaving blue in relief.

Several vases of blue upon opal, also etched in acid, showing the design in opal.

Dark blue vase topped with opal, subject Hercules, finely executed, the half tones being very beautiful.

A fine Etruscan vase (Fig. 22) with twisted glass handles, finely engraved.

The acid etching of this house is particularly pretty and skillfully executed.

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James Powell & Sons, London.

This house has quite a reputation for its Venetian ware, and had a great variety on exhibition:

Fig. 22. — Hodgetts, Richardson & Son.

Very fine thin muslin glasses, plain and engraved.

Several articles of “metallized” ware in the same style as seen in the Austrian section.

Articles curved spirally with spun threads of colored glass.

A beautiful cube of flint glass, measuring 4œ inches square, of very pure and brilliant metal; not altogether free from striae, however.

Two large buttons of glass, diamond-shaped, cut in deep prisms.

A remarkably thin blown goblet of 4œ by 5œ inches.

Finely engraved sets with the peculiar English ribbed shell feet, which have been introduced here since our Centennial Exhibition.

The wares of this house are also commendable for good quality and fine execution.

F. & C. Osler, Birmingham.

A great deal of attention of the visitors was attracted to their handsome and unique style of glass furniture, chandeliers, lamps, table ware, etc:

Two candelabra, 3 feet 6 inches high, consisting of a thin triangular prism cemented to a very ornamentally cut foot and topped by six glass branches and a center light (Fig. 23). The form is very elegant and of a striking design. These candelabra are said to be worth $300 each.

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Other very handsome cut-glass candelabra were of an entirely different design, the central shaft being a massive piece of glass richly cut. From the lower part of this shaft, leading up to and being connected with a broad band of gilt metal set with cut-glass panels, are placed branches having glass dishes at the end.

Twenty richly cut glass drops hung from this metal band. This is a handsome harmony of glass and gilt metal, and is said to be worth $1,200.

The most striking and handsomest piece exhibited by this firm, however, was a large chandelier of flint glass about 12 feet deep and 7 feet 9 inches in diameter. The central shaft consists of a cylinder in very heavy and finely cut glass; this is surrounded by six smaller shafts, ending at the base and summit in scrolls, from which handsome solid glass pendants are suspended. The inner cylinder opens at top and bottom into floral ornaments; at the base of the shaft is hung a large solid ball of glass, beautifully cut; the branches, hollow — used as gas pipes — are twelve in number, and are a marvel of execution, being made each in one piece of glass 6 feet long, bending gracefully outward at quite a distance. It is impossible to convey an idea of the elegance and finish of this masterpiece, even with the accompanying cut (Fig. 24). It must be seen to be appreciated. It was conceded to the writer by the manager of the first glass works in France to be the most astonishing production yet made anywhere in that line. This handsome chandelier is valued at $4,750.

Another article of this house also displays very fine and finished execution, but I doubt whether this branch of glass-making will ever be extensively introduced. I refer to a chair of state made entirely of glass; it is about 4 feet in length and height, the whole made of solid glass, beautifully cut. I had occasion to judge of the thoroughness of the work of this firm. One of the gentlemen of the jury representing England said to me, in speaking of the glass-cutting machine (of the writer), that he could show work done by hand which equaled the machine-cut in regularity. Naturally, the work of the Messrs. Osier was selected and the chair pointed out. After a careful examination of the glass buttons upon the end of the arm-rest, several irregularities in the cutting of the facets were discovered, but it must be frankly acknowledged that it required a strict and close examination to detect them, such was the superiority of the workmanship.

The centerpiece of attraction was the “cabinet” made of glass in the Gothic style. The extreme breadth is 8 feet 6 inches, and the total height 14 feet 6 inches. I cannot possibly describe this beautiful piece of furniture, as it would be impossible to even give an idea of its effect. It is composed of several very finely cut pieces of glass adjusted over a frame of ebonized wood. It is valued at $11,000.

Although this handsome piece of furniture is certainly remarkable, I do not believe that glass, as a general thing, can be applied exclusively to the ornamentation of furniture, although plaques, panels, and detached pieces can be used with very good effect. Not the least to mention among the exhibits of this house were a number of cut-glass goblets, flower-stands, decanters, hanging baskets, oil-lamps, engraved globes, all done in the very best style.

A. B. Daniell & Son, London.

A reproduction of the celebrated Portland Vase, by John Northwood, who worked three years upon it; valued at

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Fig. 23. — F. & C. Osler.
{ note: detailed views in The Glass Catalogue.}
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Fig. 24. — F. & C. Osler.
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$7,300. Unfortunately this vase is cracked on the outside opal glass coating. This house displays quite a variety of spirally spun threaded wares in very line threads, closely run together; a variety of thin goblets blown round, but shaped into octagons at the edge by being pinched with a suitable tool; finely engraved jugs in clear, half-clear, and dead surfaces.

John Millar & Co., Edinburgh.

A very handsomely engraved jug, representing the Canterbury Pilgrims, worth $150, which I consider quite cheap for such a skillful piece of work; handsomely cut decanters of superior workmanship: very thin blown wares, also of good execution.

The Aurora Glass Company, London.

In the cases of this company could be seen a great variety of small fancy vases in “metallized glass.” These were made of different colored glasses, in which could be seen metal flakes of gold and platina distributed unevenly through the body of the glass.

The metals used are principally white and yellow. It is presumed these metals are reduced to powder or thin leaves, and when the article is in process of manufacture the glass is rolled in this metallic dust, which then adheres to the glass, and, by reheating, the article is finished in the usual way. A piece of broken glass of this variety showed the metals to be near the outer surface and slightly sunk into the glass. Although the inventor holds his discovery to be a wonderful one, and attached ridiculous prices on his goods, I see nothing in it to commend it as a valuable process in the decoration of glass. No regular patterns can be produced, and at best this glass will never look anything else than an accidental decoration. The inventor calls the invention “precious metals melted and incrustated in glass.”

Kilner Bros., Thornhill-Lees and Conisboro’, Yorkshire.

This firm exhibited druggist glass ware, bottles in green, blue, and brown glass, all blown in molds, demijohns, etc., apparently all of good quality.

E. Breffit & Co., of the Aire and Calder Glass Bottle Company, London.

An assortment of bottles, jars, demijohns, soda-water bottles, in ordinary blue and green glass.

The same kind of goods were also exhibited by Bagley, Wild, & Co., of Knottingley, Yorkshire.

In conclusion, I think that the display in the British section was equal to any other exhibit in beauty and purity of flint metal, in skill, and in execution. Their colored glasses, in many instances, are very pretty, but do not equal the

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French and Austrian, as a general thing. A striking feature of this section was the regularity and perfection of the work, either in blowing, cutting, or wheel-engraving. In the latter, especially, I think they are up with the Austrians, and in some instances, as in their relief engravings, they cannot be surpassed. In cutting, I have found in this section the best work, the most regular, and the most brilliant; above the French, Austrian, and Belgian, in my opinion. In blowing, the regularity of their articles is surprising, considering, especially, that the British workmen refuse to use molds of any kind in working. I admired the unerring perfection of the handles on jugs, vases, decanters, etc.; the beauty of the thin muslin glasses; in the “Venetian” wares the great superiority of their work and color of glass over the Italian.

I cannot, however, always praise the taste shown in some of their designs. The forms are often heavy, awkward, and wanting in harmonious lines; in this the Austrians, and especially the French, are superior to them. On the question of prices I have been repeatedly assured that British glass is much higher than the French, Belgian, and Austrian. In fancy goods, except in the case of one or two houses, where strikingly beautiful and novel articles could be seen, I do not think that they are quite up to the mark with the French or Austrian. As a whole, the British exhibit was quite satisfactory, and the art of glass-making with them has made very rapid and striking progress of late years.

I regret that British manufacturers of window and plate glass did not think of exhibiting, as they are well known for the good work they turn out in both of these branches. I think it a great mistake with manufacturers to neglect to exhibit, for many visitors, having seen very fine goods in other sections, are naturally led to believe that the country failing to exhibit does not make that class of goods.