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Stevens & Williams Northwood pull-up w/zig-zig pattern

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I recently acquired this piece for my collection:

I've yet to find another Northwood pull-up piece like this, although I did find a reference to a zigzag NW PU vase in the Hajdamach British Glass book, unfortunately there's no photo.

Anyone seen one of these? It looks like the zigzag pattern is blown out, and possibly an air-trap pattern.

Here's further descriptive info on the piece:

The pulled and feathered threading is a peach color, over a layer of white opaque glass, which in turn is layered over chiffon yellow opaque glass (about the same color as this page background), then another layer of white opaque glass, and finally a layer of chiffon yellow translucent glass (four layers total).

The bowl appears to have been initially blown out into a mold to form the unusual zigzag pattern, then given the box-pleated rim, and then given the threading treatment with Mr. Northwood's pull-up threading machine. A lot of complex work went into this bowl.

The bowl measures 5" tall and 6" in diameter.


Hi Brian,

I can't say whether this is a Northwood piece as I have almost no experience of viewing or handling items like this. What I can say is that I think it's a wonderful piece of work.

From the photos, I don't think there is any "air-trap" involved as that would impply a coating of clear over the patterned ribbing to enclose the design. Instead. the main image shows that the surface is undulated which is consistent with it having no outer covering.

But I am puzzled by how the trailing and pull-ups were actually achieved. At first I thought there were very fine vertical threads which had been pulled into the zig-zag pattern, but if that was true, how the heck did they apply all those threads vertically? I then thought the threads must have been applied horizontally (which makes more sense to me) and were then combed vertically before finally being pulled into the zig-zags.

But then I noticed something else ... to the right of centre of the main photo it clear that the zig-zag pulling is not at the point of the up-and-down pulling (seen as the the main vertical wavy bits). And the same effect then became obvious to the left of the photo. This suggests to me that there really was a first up-and-down combing of horizontal threads and a later zig-zag pulling but with fewer "points" of pulling than there were for combing.

Fascinating stuff - well, for me it is. :)

Sorry I can't be of any help on the maker, but I would certainly like to have a piece like that in my collection (even if the colouring is not in keeping with my usual taste).
Hi KevH,

My apologies, my topic title is misleading.  There's no question it's a Stevens & Williams John Northwood pull-up piece.  I'm interested to see if I could find more info on this zig-zag design - is it air-trap, rarity, maybe even value?

I suspect it may be something special, or more on the unique/rare side as I've never seen a pull-up piece with this zig-zag design.  I'm not sure if it's an air-trap design either.  According to the Hajdamach book, the zig-zag effect was the result of being blown out into a mold.

It's interesting because it has four layers of glass, in addition to the threading.  Why I'm not positive, but you can count the different layers and colors of glass from the pontil.  

The pull-ups were done on a machine that John Northwood invented and patented in 1885.  It could manipulate applied glass threading into various designs such as the so called pull-up and Orisis.  The rim was also crimped in a machine that Mr. Northwood invented.  There's a lot of various technical feats on this piece.

Thanks for taking a look, it's quite an interesting piece of work in my opinion.


Hi Brian,

Thanks for the confirmation on those points.

In my comments I had said that there was no air-trap because the outer surface was not covered, trapping the zigzag design. This seemed relevant because I have heard in the past of moulded (diamond) patterned items being incorrectly described as “air-trap”, even by Bonham’s auction house!

I can accept that a near-final process for your bowl was the forming of the zigzag outer design in a mould, which would fit with the visual evidence.

Perhaps it is the pull-ups that you think may have had air-trap applied? That could be possible, but I suspect it is not so. My reason for saying this is that I have a pair of vases which do have an air-trap pattern (and it happens to be a zigzag [herring-bone], too). These show a distinct feature linked with an air-trap design. One vase is shown here:

And the detail is:

My vases (which, so far, are attributed only as "Stourbridge") are nowhere near as nice as your bowl, but they do show a "shiny" effect of the trapped air at the edges of the pattern. In your piece, there seems to be no "shiny" parts at all, just very nice (and flat) two-tone pulls.

But I would like to see a photo of the base of the bowl if possible. It might make me change my mind.

Also, could you please let me know the page of Hajdamach’s book where you found the reference to a Northwood zigzag pull-up. I know the section on air-trap technique, but cannot find the zigzag reference.

I think it would be a good idea to get an opinion on it from Broadfield House Glass Museum (contact can be made through their website). They ought to be able to comment on the rarity and other points of interest.

I suspect that a value would only be found by contact with a main auction house that handles top-quality glassware. And I suspect it’s likely that the American auction rooms will be the best place since, in my opinion, most of the really good British 19th century glass was shipped out there.
Hi KevH,

Pieces like your air-trap vases, or what we call mother of pearl/MOP in the states can be challenging to attribute as a lot of glass houses in the U.K., U.S., and Bohemia made it.  Most isn't signed, and unless there's a characteristic that's unique to a specific glass maker, it's can be anyone's guess.

I found the reference to the zig-zag pattern on page 282 at the end of the discussion of the pull-up decoration that starts on page 279.  Apparently there is a vase in the Michael Parkington collection with this same zig-zag pattern, unfortunately they don't show a photo.  

Looking at this further I think I can rule out air-trap, which I was thinking was part of the zig-zag composition, more in the sense that their hollow, not so much as a pattern/decoration as in your air-trap vases.

Here's a picture of the base/pontil:

Thanks for your suggestion to contract the Broadfield House Glass Museum, I'll write them and see if they have any further information.

Thank you,


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