Molineaux Webb did 4 main pressed frosted sets which they registered in the 1860s, starting with the Greek Key pattern of 1864, and followed with the patterns of raised dots, whole frosted, and frosted bands. These must have been made in some quantity as they are the most likely ones to show up at auction today.
In the pressed catalogue I could see that there was definitely one, and potentially a couple of other patterns, which were very likely frosted but predated these. The one I was certain of was fern pattern 427, which I think dates to 1862 plus or minus one year. It is used on a creamer, a sugar bowl and a finger bowl. I have been looking for one of these to turn up for a couple of years - they must be pretty rare - and this week I found an example of the creamer.
Imagine my surprise then when I examined it and found the word "PATENT" on the creamer. I have not seen such a word on any piece, but as I was already anticipating this fern pattern as the first example of pressed frosted Molineaux Webb, it is somewhat intriguing.
The company issued two patents in the relevant timeframe. Alas I only have the abstracts and would need to go to a research library to find the full story, but they are:
August 1861 - improvements in the manufacture of articles of glass
December 1862 - improvements in the manufacture of articles of pressed glass
This also got me thinking as to when the first pressed frosted items were produced. I know that with the Manchester factories, there was a sudden rush to register frosted pieces in 1864/5 by Molineaux Webb, Percival Vickers, and the Derbyshire brothers. My knowledge is sketchy of factories in other areas but I'm not aware of any frosted pieces being registered prior to 1864.
So my contention is that this fern piece could be the first pressed frosted design issued by a British glassworks, or perhaps the first one to be made under whatever patent Molineaux Webb held from the early 1860s.
Any thoughts? Anyone seen glass with PATENT on it which didn't relate to the standard design registration system?