three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair


Foyer Exhibition:
February 2009

english pressed glass

Molineaux Webb matt black sphinx.
Molineaux Webb matt black sphinx.

The February 2009 foyer exhibition willl feature a private loan collection of over sixty pieces of Victorian English pressed glass.

The theme of the exhibition will be the colours of the glass produced by the major factories in the Newcastle and Manchester areas during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

These manufacturers, who include Sowerby, Greener, Burtles Tate, Moore and Davidson among others, excelled in the breadth of both the designs and the colours they achieved.

The first cabinet will contain items from Sowerby of Gateshead in the North East of England. In terms of the sheer variety of the designs and colours produced this factory was unsurpassed.

There will be thirty one different colours on display and this does not actually show their complete colour range. During the decade from 1875 to 1885, Sowerby was particularly active both in registering new designs and also copying existing ones such as the nursery rhyme pieces by Walter Crane.

Burtles Tate elephant salt in Sunrise
Burtles Tate elephant salt in Sunrise

As with furniture and ceramics, many of the designs produced reflected the fashions of the day and some of Sowerby's designs show a clear Japanese influence.

Cabinet Two will contain items from several other manufacturers. Some of these companies produced colours that were peculiar to themselves, e.g. Edward Moore's 'Caramel' and Henry Greener's 'Amber Pearline'.

The items selected for display in this cabinet are chosen to reflect variety and difference in shape and colour from the Sowerby production.

Most of the factories produced swan designs, possibly to be used as salts, and there will be several from different makers included in the exhibition including a rare double ended dish by Sowerby.

Green uranium glass hand by Derbyshire, 1872
Green uranium glass hand by Derbyshire, 1872

Sometimes the opalescent pieces are mistaken for Lalique glass, but of course, these items were manufactured some fifty years before Lalique started production!

Equally, some of the Malachite pieces can be confused with Bakelite, a type of early plastic.

Although the bulk of pressed glass produced was of clear glass utilitarian items, this exhibition will show that the 'top end' pieces were a wonderful reflection of a very fertile period in design and manufacture and provide a remarkable legacy of a great era in the rich history of English glass-making.

exhibition highlights

• Sowerby double ended swan dish in Common Green

• Molineaux Webb blue opalescent duck

• Burtles Tate elephant salt in Sunrise

• Blue bust of Queen Victoria by Kidd

• Molineaux Webb large yellow opalescent pike

• Ivory Queensware 'peacock feather' tray by Sowerby


Note: All images supplied by Andy McConnell.