Victorian Decorative Glass - British Designs, 1850 - 1914 by Mervyn Gulliver
Published by Schiffer Publishing Company
In my opinion this is a truly amazing book, which no collector of Victorian glass should be without. Yes, it's expensive, and you need to 'shop around' to get the best price - mine cost around £50 from a seller on Amazon - but it's well worth the money. It's crammed so full of the most beautiful colour pictures that it's hard not to drool on the big glossy pages!
The book is divided into chapters, and starts with 'Component Designs and Decorative Techniques'. This chapter is divided again into sections relating to, for example, 'Applied Decorative Techniques' and 'Internal Decorative Techniques', with coloured photographs of examples throughout. Other chapters include 'Designs for Flower Holders' and 'Designs for Food Containers', again illustrated with many coloured photographs. There are some repetitions of a few pictures or parts of pictures, for example where a component part of an item was given as an example of a technique in chapter one, but as there are hundreds if not thousands of pictures in this book this is not meant as a criticism!
Every picture is accompanied by a small body of text describing the item in detail. I found that this, while perhaps a little repetitive, made me really look
at the detail described, and in fact I found myself frequently running to look with newly-opened eyes at the examples in my own collection!
Gulliver only gives attributions where a definite ID is possible due to marks on the item or examples of it being clearly shown in the final chapter, entitled 'Registered Designs', which shows the drawings and registration numbers from companies such as Richardsons, Walsh, Stevens & Williams, etc. This chapter alone is super resource!
BUT. And I feel perhaps I'm being a little 'picky' to even add a 'But',
however some things about this wonderful book did irritate me.
Most annoying to me (as a punctuation pedant of the first order) was the awful over-use of commas! Now I know I am a fine one to talk, as no doubt those of you who are familiar with my posts on GMB will have noticed that I own an exclamation mark shaker, with which I liberally dust my writings
But Gulliver seems to add a comma every time he draws breath, plus a few more besides! I had to discipline myself to ignore these, as at first I found myself actually being distracted by them from the content of the text. I realise that this may just be a peculiarity of mine, but IMHO the sentence, "The amber glass body, is formed from a mold with twelve, shallow projecting ribs, and is decorated with applied trail of clear glass rigaree around the neck" has at least two and possibly three more commas than it needs
A comma indicates a brief pause. Try reading the above sentence aloud, with a pause for each comma. Then read it again without the pauses and you'll see what I mean. OK, Grammar lesson over
A personal preference of mine would have been for the sections in chapter one where Gulliver explains, for example, such techniques as 'Air trap patterns' and 'Trapped enamel decoration' to have been interspersed with pictures. As it was, I found myself needing to flip back and forth to the sections from later pictures illustrating examples of these techniques.
And finally, of course the inclusion of 'price guides' is pretty pointless. OK, they are called 'guides', so perhaps we can excuse their inclusion. However, in my experience of collecting this type of glass I have found very many of Gullivers quoted prices to be way out, even though the book was only published in 2002. I wouldn't recommend buying the book just for guidance on the 'value' of Victorian glass!
I would however highly
recommend buying the book if you like Victorian glass and want a real feast for the eyes! In my opinion this book will be well
worth whatever it costs you to obtain a copy!