The Cambridge Glass Fair
three hundred years of collectable glass in one day
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This exhibition will show the wide range of engravings that can be found from the simple to the ornate, from those intended for the wealthiest households to those treasured by the poorest, and from those celebrating personal events to those commemorating events of national importance.
Included in the exhibition will be more than 100 glasses, including stemmed drinking vessels, rummers, tumblers and tankards. Overall, the range of engravings will illustrate and support the research carried out by Timothy Mills and Robert Marris and published in the Glass Association Journal (2010).
The important subject of wheel engraving on drinking glasses in the later Georgian and early Victorian period has been largely neglected in literature, possibly in part because of the difficulty of attributing the execution of the engravings as the engravers were mostly reluctant to sign their work.
The work of British engravers has been dismissed as crude and naive compared with that of their continental contemporaries and can be considered almost as folk art, reflecting the issues which were of interest to the common people rather than those of a loftier social standing.
The subjects of the engravings can be seen as important, however, for their relevance as historical and social artefacts.
For their research, Robert and Tim focussed on sale catalogues, literature and museum and private collections.
Rummers form the largest group of recorded examples with facet-stem glasses providing the second most numerous form followed by tumblers and tankards. After these came ale glasses, slice cut wines and drams.
The last group is probably under-represented because authors of the literature available chose to illustrate important and rare glass over the ordinary and mundane.
The type of engraved subject matter was classified into ten various groups, including categories such as 'Decorative' and 'Transport and Travel' and then into many sub-categories.
The detailed examination of these engravings gave much insight into the issues and concerns that excited our ancestors sufficiently to commemorate them on their drinking glasses and these concerns are perhaps not very different from ours today. Families and friends, politics and government and pastimes, societies and technological change are all still celebrated now as then, and although today we don't typically engrave glasses, this can still be a very effective way of commemorating important and special events.
The early glasses are nowadays very collectable and Tim and Robert's research affords collectors a framework whereby to judge the rarity or otherwise of their latest acquisitions.
This exhibition will provide visitors with a valuable and rare opportunity to see for themselves examples of the various types of engraving including some very scarce items.
Note: All images supplied by Tim Mills, Robert Marris and Patrick Hogan.