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Author Topic: Some thoughts on the Percival Vickers catalogues  (Read 265 times)

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Offline neilh

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Some thoughts on the Percival Vickers catalogues
« on: June 05, 2016, 09:54:42 PM »
Hi folks,

I've recently had the good fortune to view all the known existing Percival Vickers catalogues, plus one from Robinson & Co of Warrington from the 1920s I think. For reference the Percival Vickers ones are:

1846 cut glass
1881 cut glass
1881 pressed glass
1893 supplementary cut/moulded
1893 electroplate trade
1902 lighting glass shades
1911 supplementary cut/moulded

Some thoughts...

Perhaps everyone knew this already but it was a new thought to me - I doubt that many of the cut designs in these catalogues were ever produced, other than sample pieces. I simply don't see how Percival Vickers could dream up and produce >200 decanter designs in 1846 when they were founded in 1844. This would also tie in with difficulties finding examples of these cut pieces, and something the descendant of a Manchester glass cutter said to me the other month, about samples being produced prior to production, but the samples later being gifted to the original cutter.

It is clearer than ever that trying to match a tumbler / ale to any particular glass house is a forlorn task. Exactly the same designs pop up in the Percival, Molineaux and Robinson catalogues. With Molineaux Webb, there were some very distinctive looking almost Islamic style drinking glasses which I thought might be unique to the company, but nope, they are in the Percival Vickers catalogues as well!

There is a bit of a sea change between the 1881 Percival pressed catalogue, which contains designs from their earliest days in the 1840s, and the ones from the 1890s onwards which do not - though as these later catalogues were termed "supplemental" it is unclear if the company kept issuing the 1881 catalogue in tandem with later ones. The later catalogues used their registered pieces quite extensively in standard, electroplate, and glass shade design.

I was surprised to see a catalogue dated 1911 when I thought the company had ceased operation in 1907 (though it was finally struck off the company lists in 1914). There is information that Molineaux Webb advertising material was still being produced in the early 1930s after liquidation when others took it on, so I wonder if Percival Vickers went through a similar period of fluctuating ownership prior to the end.

Offline Paul S.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Percival Vickers catalogues
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 07:14:05 AM »
hi Neil  -  congratulations on your in depth study............   doubt that anyone else here has quite your extensive knowledge of PV.

You may have had a ticket for TNA at Kew, and have seen all the drawings etc. for those items that were actually Registered, but if not and there is anything you would like to see from the first three catalogues on your list, let me know.           The fourth and last I can access also, but they might take a day or so to locate.

Offline neilh

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Re: Some thoughts on the Percival Vickers catalogues
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 06:22:06 PM »
Thanks Paul, I do have images though they look like 8th generation photocopy. I thought the original source of these catalogues was that they had survived with the Percival family, but apparently not. The 1881 catalogue we believe exists as photocopy only, as the original has disappeared. However the 1881 copy held by the Winterthur library in the USA is not the same set of images circulating in the UK (it is an identical print but the pricing scribbles are different). So at some point 2 copies of the 1881 catalogue made it to the present day.

I think I've seen all the Manchester catalogues known to exist, which is basically the above plus the Molineaux Webb pressed catalogue and pattern books. There was a Burtles Tate catalogue produced in the early 1880s but no surviving copy is known.

Incidentally there is a small exhibition of Ancoats Glass on this week in Ancoats as part of the Manchester Histories Festival, arranged by a local history group. It runs from Wednesday to Saturday and there should be about 100-150 pieces on display from the Ancoats factories, lent by myself and other more serious collectors in the area. They were supposed to be setting up the display today using the hexagonal display cabinets from the Broadfield House museum, hopefully it went smoothly...

For anyone in the area:
http://www.manchesterhistoriesfestival.org.uk/whatson/glass-industry-ancoats

Offline Paul S.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Percival Vickers catalogues
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2016, 08:33:36 PM »
Neil  -  I'm probably confusing myself more than anything, but just in case there is a misunderstanding from my earlier comments .............     

the factory drawings I'm referring to - at TNA at Kew  -  are of course those sent by the factory to the Board of Trade to support the factory's request for a Reg. No. - those drawings I show here occasionally to link a design to a Rd. No.             
Nothing to do with images that you speak of, sourced from the factory catalogues and held, for example, by the Winterthur Library.

Regret I'm too distant from Ancoats to visit the exhibition you mention.

Offline neilh

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Re: Some thoughts on the Percival Vickers catalogues
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 07:13:00 PM »
Ok, I guess when you went to TNA you photographed all the images from the 3 main pattern books. I wish I had thought of doing that at the time rather than just selecting the Manchester pieces. But I'm not going back. No no. Had enough of carting those huge Victorian tomes across the research area!

One final point from the registrations. It is often difficult to tell how many shapes were made from a single registration as often it will only be illustrated on one item even if a full tableware set had been produced. I had thought when seeing a wide variety of objects linked to some registrations that they were all linked to an extended tableware set. But the PV catalogues show some shapes may have been specially made for electroplate and lighting as well as tableware. For example the easily recognised PV registration of March 1891, the ziggy zaggy one, appears several times in electroplate for biscuit jars, butters etc, and again in the lighting section (it was produced as a lamp shade).

Offline Paul S.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Percival Vickers catalogues
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2016, 10:57:31 PM »
yes, I agree they're almost too heavy to handle  -  some of them must be nearly 10 inches thick, and on one the leather spine had 'red rot' which I didn't realize until I'd carried it some distance and looked down to see my shirt was virtually ruined!

I photographed what I imagined to be everything I'd ever want, but it seems occasionally I have a need for something and find I don't have the picture.

 

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