Author Topic: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS  (Read 2902 times)

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Offline Bernard C

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Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« on: September 19, 2008, 04:49:24 PM »
A Classic British Arts & Crafts Movement Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS


   
The Design

The defining object in this rod and ball style is probably this table lamp in the V&A collections, designed by Arthur Dixon, made by the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft, and given by Dixon to a fellow Arts & Crafts designer as a wedding present in 1895.   The elegant simplicity of rod and ball construction rapidly became popular, and is frequently found in EPNS (and silver) stands for both utilitarian and fancy glass.

What is interesting about this condiment set is its unity of design.   Around the turn of the century British glassworks usually designed glass "for the Electro-plate Trade" 1, sold the glass on to these manufacturers, who then designed appropriate stands and frames for what they had bought in.   So design was a two-stage process.   Rarely do we find examples of EPNS-mounted glass that were obviously designed by one individual or team.   Even the Walsh / Martin Hall pieces and documentation discovered by Eric Reynolds2 do not necessarily indicate one designer — more likely the collaboration of the two design teams.

In contrast this condiment set exhibits remarkable unity of design, indicating one designer.   Note:-
  • The curve of the lower part of the glass, matching the curve of the rods at the side of the frame;
  • The shoulders, matching the rim of the frame;
  • The reverse curve of the glass just above the shoulders, matching the curve of the handle support;
  • The optical illusion of a double rod at the vertical corners of the glass, made by a simple flake cut running all the way up the corners of the glass from the base to the top, matching the double rod of the handle support and top edge of the frame.

One or two matching design elements could be dismissed as coincidental, but four should satisfy even the most hardened sceptic!

The Components

The set comprises:-
  • An EPNS handled frame, overall height 8¾" / 22.5cm, fixed by
  • Four EPNS knurled nuts, to
  • An EPNS baseplate with four ball feet.
  • A cruet with four pouring spouts, one on each side, flake cut from top to bottom on each corner and around the neck, with ground and polished base and pontil mark, engraved on base Rd 555510 in two lines with a 1 engraved in one corner, fitted with a five-sided cut stopper also engraved 1.
  • An identical cruet and stopper marked 2.
  • A similar shaker, marked with the Registered No., fitted with an EPNS collar, cemented on with what looks like Plaster of Paris, and a push-on pierced lid with the holes arranged in a six-point star.
  • A similar but low mustard (salt?), unmarked, fitted with an EPNS collar and hinged slotted lid.

All four glass items were hand made, blown using the same shape mould, attached to the pontil rod, then the top hand-worked to the individual shape required.



Click image to zoom out
Query 1

Unfortunately, the Registered number 555510 is not listed in the blue book3, but at least this source gives us the date of registration — 13/14 January 1910.   No possiblities can be excluded, so Jim Edgley could have missed it if it was a glass registration, or the registration documents could have been lost.   I think a Class 1 (metal) registration unlikely, as it would have been usually punched into the base, but it is not impossible.   Which leaves Class 4 (earthenware), quite likely, as it is easy to visualise a similar condiment set in china instead of glass.   Whatever, that registration number is quite likely to identify at least one of the manufacturers.

Query 2

Does anyone recognize the engraver's style?

The R is quite distinctive, with the lower end of the right stroke curling up.   The d is almost on its left side, and has become almost an @ sign, very distinctive.   And the underlining of the superscript d is almost a z.

Please would any Whitefriars collectors with a pattern 916 vase (a wide trumpet shape on a raised flat foot) please check the registration usually found engraved under the base for similarities.   See Jackson pl.117(iv)4, Gulliver p.865.

The Burtles Tate vase shown in Gulliver p.535 has a completely different style of engraving, perhaps not surprisingly, as it dates from a quarter of a century earlier.

I would be interested in engraved registration numbers it doesn't match, as well as those it does, particularly from the period 1900–1920, as all this information may reduce the attribution possibilities.   Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help.



Click image to zoom out
Query 3

I can't find this EPNS maker's mark.   It's not in Mappin6, nor Matheu-Raven7, nor have I found it on any of the established websites.   I thought it would be easy, as the TW in TW&COLD.S was likely to be Thomas Woolley, Thomas Wilkinson, or Thomas White.   An S at the end usually means Sheffield, but all three of these possibilities were Birmingham firms.   I am optimistic that one of the three had a factory in Sheffield around 1910.   The five digit pattern number seems to indicate a company of some substance.


References

1.   See the Appendix to Yates, Barbara, The Glasswares of Percival Vickers & Co. Ltd., Jersey Street, Manchester, 1844–1914, in The Journal of the Glass Association, Vol.2, 1987.
2.   See the web page John Walsh Walsh Glass.
3.   Edgley, Jim, Registration Numbers 1908–1945, The Glass Association, 1996.
4.   Jackson, Lesley, Whitefriars Glass, Richard Dennis, 1996.
5.   Gulliver, Mervyn, Victorian Decorative Glass — British Designs 1850–1914, Schiffer, 2002.
6.   Mappin, George, EPNS ... Makers' Marks from 1784, Foulsham, 1999.
7.   Matheau-Raven, E.R., The Identification and Dating of Sheffield Electroplated Wares 1843–1943, Foulsham, 1997.

... and finally

Thanks for taking the time to read this.   It's been something of a marathon writing it.

Please respect my copyright.

... and I will finish with how it all started.

We had spent a fruitless and costly Sunday on an expedition around antique fairs, finding nothing worthwhile, and found that we just had time to drop in at an antiques centre on the way home.   It was grim, hardly worth the effort, but we persevered.   The very last cabinet we looked in had a lot of colourful Murano on the top shelf, but I thought I could see something at the back, hidden.   Well, it was this condiment set.   I whispered to the OH, "It's covered in marks — brilliant".   That was how we acquired it.   Little did I suspect then how both interesting and difficult it was going to prove.

Bernard C.  8)
Text and Images Copyright 200414 Bernard Cavalot


Offline Frank

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2008, 09:26:47 PM »
You certainly mastered BB code Bernard, has to be the best posting on this board!

Very familiar with the styling but cannot help you much beyond that other than to recommend you contact this super couple http://www.vandenbosch.co.uk/ whose knowledge of the period is outstanding.
Frank A.
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Offline Patrick

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2008, 08:19:17 AM »
You certainly mastered BB code Bernard, has to be the best posting on this board!


Hi Bernard,
 Your post matches the beauty of the condiment set and as Frank says it is the BEST.........

Unfortunately I do not have a 916 Whitefriars vase but if I remember the Reg. is acid etched.  Mr Hobbs should be able to confirm this.

Question:-  Are the stoppers numbered in any way ?

All best wishes,
                   Patrick.

 


Offline Bernard C

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2008, 09:02:50 AM »
Quote from: Patrick
...   Question:-  Are the stoppers numbered in any way ?   ...

Patrick — Yes, on the polished base.   You can just make out the top of the 2 (z) on the left, the 1 on the right on my picture of the two.

A shame that about the 916 vase — I couldn't remember whether the number was acid-etched or engraved.   Engraved registration numbers are a trifle thin on the ground.   I can recall two different Thomas Webb examples, and, I think, one S&W, but I can't remember any idiosyncrasies of the lettering.   The only Walsh examples I know are the Ideal flower holder, acid-etched from a rubber stamp, and the palm tree, pressed.  I will have to ask Eric if he has or knows of any others.   To the best of my knowledge Stuart always acid-etched from a rubber stamp.

The most obvious possibilities are Richardson, Webb, S&W, and the Manchester works, but there are others.

Thanks for your interest.

... and, Frank & Patrick, there's nothing special about using the very restricted tables in this implementation of bbcode.   It's just a very simple subset of HTML tables.   Thanks for your kind words anyway.

Bernard C.  8)
Text and Images Copyright 200414 Bernard Cavalot


Offline Patrick

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2008, 11:14:43 AM »
Hi Bernard,
It was great to see the condiment set at Cambridge yesterday and it was certainly a great find. It was interesting to hear Ray Annenberg discussing with you about the amount of work that had gone into the cutting.
 Best wishes ,
                       Patrick.


Offline johnphilip

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2008, 11:47:09 AM »
 Hi Bernard Mr Hobbs here my W/Fs vase is engraved Rd No 543290 i have had others acid stamped. JP .
 That set looks ( after ) C Dresser in design , i will get my books out , the plain cutting also is his thing - not OTT .


Offline Littleblackhen

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2008, 10:52:17 PM »
Could the maker of the metal part be Travis, Wilson and co Ltd as seen here towards the end of the page?

http://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/Makers/Sheffield-T.html

I have found a reference on another site (http://www.925-1000.com/silverplate_T.html) to George Travis and co which became Travis, Wilson and Co ltd in 1908, so that would fit in with the dates.
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Offline Bernard C

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2008, 06:07:52 AM »
Quote from: Patrick
...   It was interesting to hear Ray Annenberg discussing with you about the amount of work that had gone into the cutting.   ...

Patrick — A most useful conversation, as I rarely have the opportunity of discussing my glass with experienced glassmakers, and I really value this.  Two other points that came out were:-
  • Ray's initial surprise, followed by his checking and confirming my view that the low mustard had been made in exactly the same way as the three tall condiments, and
  • His view that replacing one cruet would cost more than my asking price for the whole set (he expressed it in money terms, inappropriate here).   This didn't surprise me at all.

Please pass on my grateful thanks.

Quote from: johnphillip
Hi Bernard Mr Hobbs here my W/Fs vase is engraved Rd No 543290 i have had others acid stamped. JP .
 That set looks ( after ) C Dresser in design , i will get my books out , the plain cutting also is his thing - not OTT .

JP — Any progress?   Particularly does the eclectic engraved lettering look similar?

Janet — Brilliant.   I already had the Travis Wilson attribution possibility from a parallel query on the 925-1000 forum of your second link, and it's in Matheau-Raven under "T".   Unfortunately, with such a common pair of initials as "TW", I needed more evidence before accepting this attribution, and had intended to ask the local studies library in Sheffield to check to ensure that there were no other possibilities.   Your link to the silver mark provided just the evidence I needed.   Both Thomas White and Thomas Wilkinson had used shield fields for their initials, but both shields were quite a different shape, whereas the silver field you found and my silverplate field are identically shaped shields.

Matheau-Raven provides:-
Travis, Wilson & Co Ltd, Clarence Works, 13 Bath Street, [Sheffield], 1908–1967
previously George Travis & Co, dating back to 1864, which also explains the large pattern number.

Grateful thanks.

Bernard C.  8)
Text and Images Copyright 200414 Bernard Cavalot


Offline Littleblackhen

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2008, 07:05:31 AM »
Hi Bernard

Glad to be of help :)

If you ever do ask the local studies library for help, it will be my husband who gets the job, he is a freelance researcher in archives who is subcontracted by Sheffield Archives and Sheffield Local Studies Library to answer their queries. (If you ever do need him contact us direct as they charge  double for his services). However it would have been Sheffield Assay office you needed to ask for this particular query,   http://www.assayoffice.co.uk/

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Offline Bernard C

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Re: Mystery Arts & Crafts Condiment Set in Glass and EPNS
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2008, 07:56:10 AM »
Janet — I'm surprised.   The last place I would have thought of to check EPNS marks would have been the assay office.   And on 925-1000 you're definitely in a lower class, and somehow odd!   See this topic on Mappin & Webb date letters.   Had that been glass, it would have been all sorted out decades ago!

I'm not convinced that the local studies library is not the most obvious place to check the two Kelly's bracketing my date.

Bernard C.  8)
Text and Images Copyright 200414 Bernard Cavalot

 

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