three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair

Foyer Exhibition:
September 2005

'more Than Just Slim Jims':
The Designs Of Alexander Hardie Williamson

Slim jim glass
Slim Jim
Conical glass
Conical

Alexander Hardie Williamson, a textile designer at the Royal College of Art, London, had designed glassware since the mid 1930’s, producing some colourful pressed glass Art Deco designs for Bagley and some drinking glasses for United Glass which were so successful they can still be found today in many homes, hotels and so on.

In all, however, he produced more than 1,600 glass designs between 1933 and 1974, making him Britain’s most prolific 20th century glass designer.

In the 1950’s and 60’s he produced a range of designs for screen-printed drinking glasses for United Glass’ Sherdley and Ravenhead ranges.

These designs really encapsulated the spirit of the era; they were stylish and fresh, bright and colourful, reflecting the mood of post-war prosperity. They were produced in various different shapes which were given names such as Conicals, Chubbies, Chunkies and Slim Jims.

Conical glass
Conical

As the advertising literature of the time stated, these glasses provided ‘a style to suit every taste and harmonise with every home colour scheme’ and they gave ‘added glamour to indoor and outdoor parties at modest cost’.

In the 1960’s when the Space Age infiltrated the general consciousness and found its way into all aspects of domestic design, Hardie Williamson responded with the aptly-named Aurora, Galaxy, Spangle and Moonshine patterns, with their bang up-to-date futuristic themes.

These glasses made modernism and good design accessible to the masses, which was one of Hardie Williamson’s aims, and they proved a great commercial success for over twenty years.

Many hundreds of different patterns and colourways were produced during that time, making these glasses a great collecting area. They are still easy to find and are generally within reach of most pockets – so buy them to use and enjoy, and raise a glass to a great period in British design!

exhibition highlights

Slim Jim Glass
Slim Jim

The Slim Jims exhibition features the major Hardie Williamson screen-printed enamel designs and shows the seven different shapes and sizes of tumblers. You may spot something you once used amongst the items listed below which will be in the exhibition:

  • Conicals – renamed Coolers in the 1960s – a slightly flared tumbler

  • Slim Jims – tall cylindrical glasses

  • Chubbies – short barrel-shaped glasses

  • Chunkies – a glass with a tapered, thickened base

  • Gaytime – the ultimate party glass with a gold rim and gold decoration, strictly for entertaining the Jones's or the husband's boss!

  • Toddies and Tots – modern design in miniature

 

Note: All images supplied by Andy McConnell.

 

top of page