three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair


An interview with
philip housden

Philip Housden has been exhibiting with us since the beginning of the Cambridge Glass Fair and specialises in quality British pressed glass. He also plays trombone in a jazz duo in the restaurant at every third fair, alternating with guitarist Jerry Harrison and harpist Jolanta Cole.


leda drucaroff
Philip Housden

When and how did you become interested in glass ?

In 1995 my uncle passed away and I had to clear his house. Amongst the items was (as I later discovered) a piece of Davidson blue ‘pearline’.

 I thought it was attractive and found out it was designed in 1889, which by coincidence was the year my house was built. I then started to look for similar pieces at local antique fairs.

What sort of glass do you collect personally, if any?

This was the start of my collection of English Victorian pressed glass.  Things rather snowballed and I started travelling the length and breadth of the country visiting shops and fairs, finding out more about pressed glass and building up a collection.

Do you have collections of anything other than glass?

No. I found that as my knowledge of the glass increased my collection expanded to other manufacturers, particularly Sowerby, and the great variety of shapes and colours have been more than enough to retain my interest.

Are there any particular styles, periods or designers that inspire you more than any other?

I think that the last quarter of the nineteenth century produced a great flowering of design in this country, reflecting our confidence as a nation and incorporating influences from around the world.  This is very much reflected in the production of pressed glass at this time.

Which are the best and worst aspects of being a dealer and exhibitor?

In 1999, as my collection grew, I decided to sell some of it. The first stall I had at the National Glass Fair was in November 2000. The best part of being an exhibitor is establishing relationships with other collectors and passing on, and sharing, knowledge of the glass with them. The worst of being an exhibitor is putting up with people who pretend they are interested in buying something but really have no intention of doing so.

What is the most special/interesting piece that you own?

I do not have one special piece. The favourite part of my collection is in displaying the great variety of shapes and colours that were produced.  

What was the best piece of advice that you were given when you started collecting/dealing in glass?

Keep a variety of stock, not just the things you like yourself.

What advice would you give anyone just starting to collect glass?

Know a lot about the items you are selling and remember that the customer is not always right !