Notebook, 1993-


GLASS - Glossary - A List of Museums and Galleries

American - Bohemian - Chinese - English - French - Irish - Venetian

Glass Glossary - A-Co - Co-Fl - Fl-K - L-Ro - Ro-T - U-Z

Uranium glass. First produced, from the metallic element uranium, in 1857 by Lloyd and Summerfield, Birmingham, using the first gas regenerating furnaces to be built. Early uranium glass was green; it was later made in shades ranging from rose pink to pale yellow and known as Burmese glass. It can have a dull or glossy finish.

Venetian glass.. Thinly blown soda glass, worked at a low temperature, cooling quickly, and requiring great speed of manipulation. Lacks the brilliance and toughness of flint glass.

Vermicular collar.. A wavy trail of glass encircling a stem or decanter neck.

Verzelini, Giacomo. [1522-1606]. Verzelini acquired the Crutched Friars Glasshouse, London, on the death of Jean Carré, whose chief assistant he was. In 1575 he was appointed glass maker to Elizabeth I and granted a monopoly to make 'Venetian glass'.

Vinter, Villas.. Danish or Norwegian born glass engraver at Nöstetangen, Norway. He was assistant to Kûhler, who appears to have taught him the craft. He worked as a freelance after 1777, and signed engravings from his hand are known as late as 1797.

Walking sticks.. Glass walking sticks were made in England during the nineteenth c., and some of these no doubt came from the glass works at Bristol and Nailsea. They were of various types, and were made solid or hollow. The former were occasionally made with lengths of twisted coloured glass within the clear glass stick. The hollow ones were often filled with coloured sweets and are sometimes to be found with their contents intact.

Waterford.. The earliest record of flint-glass making at Waterford was discovered by Westropp in The Dublin Journal, 1729: 'a glasshouse near Waterford now producing all sorts of flint glass, double and single . . . sold at reasonable rates by Joseph Harris at Waterford, merchant'. This glass house was at Gurteens, three miles from the city, and operated until 1739, producing a negligible quantity of glass.

The now celebrated Waterford glasshouse started production in 1784, financed with a capital of £10,000 by George and William Penrose, merchants. The Irish Parliament, however, granted the Penroses a subsidy to cover the expense of building and equipping their glasshouse. As works manager they employed John Hill, member of a family operating the important Coalbournhill Glasshouse near Stourbridge. In evidence given before a committee examining commercial relations between Great Britain and Ireland in 1785, John Blades, a leading cut-glass manufacturer in London, stated that, 'Mr Hill, a great manufacturer of Stourbridge, has lately gone to Waterford, and has taken the best set of Workmen he could get in the Country of Worcester.' There is no doubt that the Penroses installed a furnace of the Perrott type costing more than £3,000, such as were already in use at Stourbridge. The Penroses sold flint glass on a ready-money basis only.

The Penrose glasshouse was bought in 1799 by Ramsay, gatchell, and Barcroft, who built a new factory in Old Tan Yard, advertising the old premises to be let. It is to be assumed that the most modern innovations were included in the new furnace, and that cutting was carried out by means of annealed cast-iron tools, harder and longer wearing [p. 289] than anything formerly available. With these were produced the lavishly decorated cut glass now inevitably associated with Waterford. Not until 1817 was a steam-driven cutting machine installed.

Gatchell had become sole proprietor by 1811, and with successive partners the firm remained in the family. At an exhibition in Dublin, 1850, George Gatchell displayed table glass 'all of opaque blue, and white or crystal'. At the Great Exhibition, 1851, he exhibited a magnificent 'etagere or ornamental centre for a banqueting table, consisting of forty pieces of cut glass, so fitted to each other as to require no connecting sockets of other material; quart and pint decanters cut in hollow prisms. Centre vase or bowl on detached tripod stand. Vases and covers. Designed and executed at the Waterford Glass Works.' This was Gatchell's swansong; his final effort to compete with England was a failure, and he closed the glasshouse later in the same year.

Few collectors realize that Waterford imported glass from England for merchanting purposes; Belfast and Cork were also supplied with Waterford glass.

Waterford blue.. See Blue tint.

Waterloo Glasshouse Company, Cork.. Established in 1815 by Daniel Foley, a glass and china seller of Hanover Street, who set up as a specialist in extensive table services in cut glass for military messes, particularly for regiments occupying France. By the end of 1816 he employed about a hundred men and women, many experienced workers deserting from the Cork Glasshouse Company under the lure of higher wages. On Christmas Eve, 1816, an editorial in the Cork Overseer recorded that 'Foley's workmen are well selected, from whose superior skill the most beautiful glass will shortly make its appearance to dazzle the eyes of the public, and to outshine those of any other competitor. He is to treat his men at Christmas with a whole roasted ox and everything adequate. They have a new band of music with glass instruments with bassoon serpents, horns, trumpets, etc, and they have a glass pleasure boat, a cot and a glass set which when seen will astonish the world.' Glass trumpets were made for sale. A steam engine was installed to operate the cutting wheels and other machinery, thus drastically reducing costs.

Geoffrey O'Connell was taken into partnership during 1825, the firm operating as Foley and O'Connell, Waterloo Glassworks Company. They advertised that they had introduced a new annealing process which enabled them to guarantee their flint glass to withstand hot water without breaking. The excise duty was too heavy a burden, and in mid-1830 it was reopened by O'Connell, who introduced up-to-date methods of blown moulding and advertised that he had 'restored one hundred families to employment'. An advertisement in the Cork Comet four months later announced that the Waterloo Glassworks continued to enjoy military patronage.

The venture could not compete with English prices, however, and in 1835 he was made bankrupt owing to his failure to pay excise duties. The Cork Constitution contained an auctioneerÍs advertisement regarding the sale of plant and stock 'of splendid cut and plain glass at the Waterloo glassworks until the entire splendid stock is disposed of, consisting of rich decanters, jugs, salad bowls, celery and pickle glasses, dessert plates and dishes, tumblers and wineglasses, dessert plates and dishes, tumblers and wine-glasses of every description, hall and staircase globes, side lights, water crafts and tumblers'.

Welted rim.. See Rims.

Whimsey.. U.S. term used for odd or unusual pieces, such as hats, slippers, buttonhooks, made by individual workmen for themselves or their families; or the adaptation of a conventional form to some odd or unusual shape or use.

Wine-glass coolers., 1750s-1860s. See Monteiths.

Witch balls and reflecting globes. From late in the seventeenth c. glass makers blew short-necked spherical bottles of clear flint glass or thick, dark bottle glass. Their shape was inspired by reflecting globes, but they were intended as containers for holy water. Such a bottle was hung in the living room or elsewhere as protection against the malign influence of witches. Eventually it became an emblem of good luck.

Late in the eighteenth c. spherical bottles of green and blue glass were made for this purpose, sometimes inscribed with scriptural texts in gold. Early in the nineteenth century Nailsea made coloured balls in a variety of tints, such as green, crimson, gold, and deep blue. Soon these were enlivened [p. 290] with various forms of decoration: some are spotted: some show either opaque-white or air-thread spirals in the thickness of the glass. Another type has four or more loops of coloured glass festooning the surface of the ball. From about 1830 transfer pictures might be applied to the interior surface. As a background to these the interior was coated white, marbled with various vivid colours. Many were made without any opening and intended as jug covers. These colourful balls were made from about 1780 until 1865.

Glass spheres, lustered to resemble shining silver and capable of mirroring a whole room in miniature, were originally Continental products of fragile soda glass, but from about 1690 English glassmen made them in flint glass. Their interior surfaces were silvered with a preparation composed of two parts bismuth, one part lead, one part tin, and four parts mercury. The lead, tin, and bismuth were melted together and the mercury added when the mixture was almost cold. It was then poured into the sphere by means of a paper funnel reaching almost to the bottom. By slowly rotating the ball, the liquid amalagam was spread in a thin film over the glass, to which it adhered.

In these early balls there was considerable distortion in the reflection. In 1843 a method was discovered of coating the interior surface with real silver. Reflecting globes have a slightly yellow tint. An improved method was patented in 1848 and "so great was their power of reflection that the entire details of a large apartment are caught upon them with surprising minuteness and clearness of definition and in amusing perspective'. Such glass balls were made in a wide range of metallic hues and in sizes varying from 3 to 30 inches [7.6-76 cm]. Originally termed watch balls, this name became corrupted to witch balls.

Writhing.. Surface twisting or swirled ribbing or fluting on bowl or stem.

Yard-of-ale.. A yard-of-ale is a drinking glass measuring some 3 feet [91.4 cm] or so in length. There is a record of one dating from as early as the year 1685, when John Evelyn noted in his Diary on 10 February: 'Being sent to by the Sheriff of the County to appear, and assist in proclayming the King [James II], I went the next day to Bromely [Bromley, Kent], where I met the Sheriff and the Commander of the Kentish Troop, with an appearance, I suppose, of above 500 horse, and innumerable people, two of his Majesty's trumpets and a Serjeant with other officers, who having drawn up the horse in a large field neere the towne, march'd thence, with swords drawne, to the market-place, where making a ring, after sound of trumpets and silence made, the High Sheriff read the proclaiming titles to his bailiffe, who repeated them aloud, and then after many shouts of the people, his Majesty's health being drunk in a flint glasse of a yard long, by the Sheriff, Commander, Officers and cheife Gentlemen, they all dispers'd, and I return'd.' From which it would appear that, at any rate during the late 17th c., such feats of glass making and of drinking were reserved for special public occasions.

Considering their fragile nature, it is not surprising that surviving yards-of-ale are seldom above a century old. The greater number of such survivors are not straightforward drinking vessels, but trick glasses. In them the flared mouth tapers at length to a bulb at the foot, which ensures that the drinker cannot rest the vessel, and once started the glass must be drained completely or the contents will be spilled. The trick about these glasses is that when the liquid has been nearly all consumed and the glass is raised above the horizontal to finish the remainder, the air trapped in the bulb by the action of lifting the glass forces the residuum violently into the face of the unlucky victim.

Quite a number of the glasses must have been produced in the glasshouses of Bristol and Nailsea, but here again it is not possible to distinguish them from others that were made elsewhere.

Zirat Fladske.. See Decanters, Scandinavian. [pp. 260-291]

NOTE: References to MARKS may refer to the illustrations of these marks which are not included in this document.
NOTE: * represents a configuration not available on the computer

[L. G. G. Ramsey, F.S.A., ed. The Complete Color Encyclopedia of Antiques. Preface by Bevis Hillier, Editor of The Connoisseur. Compiled by The Connoisseur, London. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc. 1962. Revised and Expanded Edition.]



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