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Webb Ruby Swan on Barleytwist Pillar Novelty Ashtray


Bernard C:
Click for picture gallery.

It is in a good clear ruby with no bubbles within the glass.    The base has some wear.   The pontil mark is unusual as it is a thin ring, about ¾" in diameter, as though the pontil rod was a tube not a rod.   Within this ring is the natural surface of the glass, unmodified in any way.   Diameter 5", height 4", weight 8¼oz (236g).

The whole item was made from five components.   In order of assembly:[list=1][*]The main ashtray, machine threaded around the underside of the rim,[*]The central barleytwist pillar, twisted during assembly just before the swan was added,[*]The swan's body, head and tail, made from a pincer-moulded leaf with impressed branching veins, shear cut to size and then shaped,[*]The two wings, each made in a similar way from a pincer-moulded leaf.[/list:o]The pincer-moulded leaves look to me similar to leaves which were applied to bowls and vases along with stylised flowers, cherries, and stems at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, thereby re-using a glassmaking tool for an unexpected purpose.

Liebe/Hayhurst, in Glass of the '20s & '30s, illustrate a similar novelty ashtray on p57, attributing it to Thomas Webb & Sons of Stourbridge, and dating it to the 1920s.   Although the pillar here is the stem of a palm tree, and the noverty item is more complex with an added foot, the ashtray component appears to be identical, probably by the same individual glassmaker.   On that basis I attribute my swan ashtray to 1920s Webb, as Jeanette Hayhurst is one of the very few whose immense experience of Stourbridge glass is to me unquestionable.

I have made this posting for two reasons.   One is to invite reports of other similar novelties.    The other is to demonstrate how interesting glass can be when you analyse how it was made.

Finally, I did consider labelling this a "frigger".    I am not too happy with this, despite it being labour-intensive to make and thereby possibly not commercially viable considered as mainstream production.   Another way of considering it is that one or more of these novelties could have been made at the end of any shift when the normal production for that shift had been completed early, as a useful way of utilising that time.    If so, then it would not strictly have been a frigger.    ... or would it?

Bernard C.  8)

ps — I have also posted this topic on auctionbytes.

Can I respectfully suggest that you make an appointment at the Royal Doulton Museum, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent?
This might seem daft, but, they have the complete pattern-books for Webb Corbett, but held in isolation, from the rest of the collection.

If you are interested,  one of the volunteers is a 30+ year man at Webbs, and might be useful to know.



Bernard C:
Marcus — Thanks for your information.

I am a little confused.   I am certain my novelty ashtray is Thomas Webb, not Webb Corbett.    It was Webb Corbett that was taken over by Royal Doulton in 1969.

Anyway it is very useful to know that they have their archives in safe keeping and available, presumably by mutually convenient appointment.

Everyone — I hope you like my new style picture gallery, just implemented for the first time here (see start of this topic).    You will find that you can run your mouse in a circle around the top four thumbnail images and obtain an impression of a rotating object.   SuperSize is also still available, rather more simply than before.

Any constructive comments, criticisms or suggestions?

Bernard C.  8)

Sorry Bernard,

Merely trying to help, with whatever tools available. When this info came up, I was surprised, as I was following the trail of a Czech glass importer, British American Glass (BAG), which is a dormant
company, whose name trade-marks etc are owned by Royal Doulton.

Of British glass other than Wedgwood/S_W, I know little, hence the post regarding Bagley Cabbage tulips. Surprisingly, I see odd pieces of cloud glass, here in France. Its not my forte, and i personally have no interest in it.

Info is always useful, as I can then help, others/ find a piece here, that otherwise may go awol, until next year, as few villages and towns have more than one car-boot, collectables sale per year.

Is there a link between Webb and Webb Corbett, or no?



Bernard C:
Apologies, Marcus — it was me being unnecessarily flippant.

Yes, there was a close family connection.   Jackson tells us that two of THE Thomas Webb's sons, Thomas and Herbert, founded Webb & Corbett with George Harry Corbett in 1897.   There are other family links, for example, William Kny, son of Frederick, Webb's master engraver, was the WC chief designer in the early C20.

It was and is a very small world, especially when you consider that most of the master craftsmen were trained at the Stourbridge School of Art.   It is not surprising that some found this claustrophobic and a brake on artistic innovation, and explains Michael Harris setting up Mdina glassworks in Malta.

I used to think that a particular peg and socket method of candlestick construction was unique to Walsh.   Then I found similar work by S&W and Webb.    Now I think of it as the standard Stourbridge School of Art method!

Most of the famous innovators in Stourbridge glassworks were outsiders.

Bernard C.  8)


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