Author Topic: *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass  (Read 10493 times)

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Offline David E

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*NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
« on: August 31, 2005, 02:48:19 PM »
Visit to Smethwick Heritage Centre for Chance Brothers display

Further to Bernard's earlier thread on Chance Brothers Glass, the following may be of interest.

Located right next to Smethwick Council Offices, the Heritage Centre is located within the converted Lodge in Victoria Park.

As can be appreciated, the displays cover all aspects of Smethwick’s industrial and social history and due to space constraints, the amount of glass on show is relatively small and confined to one cabinet. However, the items on display were of great interest, including two industrial pieces; a large (approx. 6” diameter) red ‘reflector’ with a circular deep-cut prism, and an off-cut from the lens used at Lizard Point lighthouse! Not sure what the reflector was used for (like a massive brake light), but it would an excellent dish. :)

At this stage I would like to offer my thanks to Dr. Delia Garrett, the Curator, and her colleague who kindly allowed me to take photographs. While I’m not allowed to publish these without permission, if this is granted I will post the news on this topic thread. Delia was very informed on Chance Brothers and I have also encouraged her to join in this topic.

Some of the photographs were, in any event, slightly blurred due to having to take them without flash — taking clear glass, on clear glass shelves, with clear glass in the background and through a clear glass window does not lend itself to good photography. On top of this the display revolves, so I think you get the picture (or not, as the case may be!)  :? The good news is that I have a more advanced camera with manual control so, if allowed, I will revisit and take a tripod…

On a better note, Delia did show me two of the only books on Chance Brothers:

    1. A History of the Firm of Chance Brothers & Co. Glass and Alkali Manufacturers, first published c.1919 – I believe this is mentioned in the other Chance thread.
    2. Mirror for Chance, c.1951[/list]

    Both titles are out of print, but it might be possible to obtain copies through an online bookseller. The former was probably of limited interest (to me), as I don’t believe art glass or glassware was produced by Chance until after WWII – I beg to be corrected here.

    The second, though, contained some fascinating photographs of glass production at Chance Brothers in the 1950s and included a short chapter on Tableware including, of course, Fiestaware. A pity this particular topic wasn’t covered in more depth, but some of the industrial photos were amazing, such as one worker spinning a very thin, 4 foot (1.3m) diameter “microscope cover glass”* on the end of what appears to be a pontil rod! Gulp! :shock:

    * I think this is the glass used in microscope slides, so that should give you an idea. The spinning action stretches the glass to become ultra-thin prior to being spliced.

    Additionally, Delia very kindly photocopied a list comprising 15 pages of the Centre’s entire Chance Glass collection (most in storage and about 500 pieces I believe). I have also been offered the chance to come back out of season when the Centre is closed, to view the remaining stock: needless to say I will certainly follow this up.

    On a historical end point, Chance Bros. ceased production in 1981 after 150 years of glass-making production and the rights to produce Fiestaware was bought by Mr. Michael Joseph who continued making art glass and glassware using the same techniques pioneered by Chance. The company has now passed to his sons who have renamed it ‘Joseph Joseph’ (reminiscent of John Walsh Walsh!) and glassware can still be bought today, some looking quite similar to Fiesta, from various outlets. It is noticeable that these later pieces are much thicker: no doubt a result of Health & Safety!

    Any questions, please just ask.
    David
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    Offline Frank

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #1 on: August 31, 2005, 08:01:21 PM »
    Useful link
    http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/index/ENG-BLACK-COUNTRY/2000-09

    scroll down to # [B.C.] Chance's Glassworks (repost for new subs) by Dave Ogden, 8 pages.
    Frank A.
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    Offline David E

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #2 on: September 01, 2005, 08:48:20 AM »
    Thanks for this Frank :D

    Seems to cover in quite some detail the early history of Chance Brothers, with links to Nailsea and British Crown Glass Co.
    David
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    Offline chopin-liszt

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #3 on: September 01, 2005, 09:06:28 AM »
    :D
    Thanks very much for this very interesting item!

    I'm familiar with microscope cover slips - they're much, much, much thinner than microscope slides - they're the tiny little squares that you put on top of the specimen on the slide, and they're considerably less than 0.5mm thick - they almost break when you try to pick them up! I can't imagine this expanded to such a great size on a rod! :shock::shock::shock:
    Cheers, Sue (M)

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    Delia

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    « Reply #4 on: September 01, 2005, 10:05:20 AM »
    Many thanks to DenCill for his generous review of our Heritage Centre.  I would be delighted to welcome any other visitors to the Centre in search of Chance glassware, and reiterate the point that we have a considerable collection of Fiestaware in store which I would be happy to allow access to.  Very interesting to discover how many enthusiasts of Chance glassware there are.
    Also, just to make it clear, we are indeed an independent charitable trust working very hard to safeguard Smethwick's proud and diverse heritage with no ongoing monetary support from our local council!  All support given is very much appreciated.  Thanks!

    Offline David E

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #5 on: September 02, 2005, 10:44:07 AM »
    My thanks to Delia (curator at Smethwick Heritage Centre) for this information.

    I would like to add that all items are held in Trust for the public and so the Centre has a responsibility to allow public access to the collection — I understand there are something like 500 pieces of Chance glass on the premises!

    The Centre also has a few items of Ruskin pottery, which are very collectable pieces because of the unique glazes used (apologies for being slightly off-topic!)
    David
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    Offline Leni

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #6 on: September 02, 2005, 10:57:57 AM »
    At the Woking Glass Fair we saw a stand with several pieces of Chance glass on and I recognised a piece and said, "Oh look! I know that piece! It's called Calypto."  I even took a pic -  it's the little square plate on the right - http://tinypic.com/biqasj.jpg

    However, the stallholder overheard me and said, "No, it's called Calypso."  I asked her, wasn't it in fact 'Calypto' because the design was based on Eucalyptus leaves? ( I actually recognised the design because we have a Eucalyptus tree in the garden!)  However, she looked at me as if I was barmy and said, No, she was certain it was 'Calypso'  :roll:

    Please can some Chance expert tell me if I was right, or if I really am barmy?   :oops:

    Leni
    Leni

    Offline David E

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #7 on: September 02, 2005, 11:00:15 AM »
    Quote
    Please can some Chance expert tell me if I was right, or if I really am barmy?


    Heaven forfend, Leni :wink:

    No, you are right, it is called 'CALYPTO' — huge pats on the back :lol:
    David
    ► The Curious History of the Bulb Vase ◄
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    Offline David E

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #8 on: September 02, 2005, 11:12:19 AM »
    I also just noticed a floral plate in the foreground of your photo Leni, with the wire handle. Isn't that the floral pattern you're interested in, Max?

    Also similar to the wire handle fitted to my mother's Calypto cake dish (about 8-9" diameter):

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v288/dencill/chance-calypto1.jpg
    David
    ► The Curious History of the Bulb Vase ◄
     A new book by Patricia Coccoris

    Contact ► Cortex Design ◄ to order any book

    Offline Anne

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    *NEW* Visit (3 Feb): Smethwick Heritage Centre, Chance Glass
    « Reply #9 on: September 02, 2005, 01:38:57 PM »
    The plates with the white spiral line pattern in Leni's pic... are they Chance as well? ...does anyone know if these have a Pattern name please?

     

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