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Author Topic: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome  (Read 1358 times)

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Offline David E

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The ale glass on the left (7½in, 19cm - I presume this is what it is) was purchased locally at Malvern Flea Market and has an intriguing optical 3-part moulding with a fairly deep top ring. Also appears to be slightly sun-purpled when compared to the one on the right. However, this second glass was bought by Sturt a few days later, also locally, but it is slightly slimmer and taller. 

My first thought was Thomas Gammon, thinking back to an earlier thread (or so I thought). Can anyone confirm this?

Coming back to the differences in the two pieces, could this be because one is a later moulding than the other, or did the manufacturer make some other item like a parfait?

Thanks for looking.
David
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Offline David E

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2016, 11:58:06 AM »
A similar glass found here on the 1st Glass website, which is normally quite accurate, and identified as Sowerby. No dimensions and it does have a different stem and smaller thumbprint optics at the bottom of the bowl.

Also an identically formed one here, but no attribution.

Another snippet - the one on the left measures a smidgeon under half-a-pint.
David
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Offline Ivo

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2016, 02:16:02 PM »
I have two 21 cm ones, and a fluted 25 cms. The 21 cm. ones have a polished pontil mark, the fluted does not and was not finished in a clapper so the foot is unround. Both types have been hand made and cut, so there would be a difference.

According to Dansk Glas, your 19 cm ones are toddy or beer glasses from the kastrup 1886 catalogue - FWIW. I believe mine to be beer glasses made in France, at Arques around 1885.

It appears to have been a popular shape in the 1880s and I'm sure there are more variants around.

Offline David E

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2016, 03:12:35 PM »
Thanks for that lead - I'd never have thought of looking in Dansk Glas (as photoed on pp.122-123). The height is spot on, however, there are some differences: the stem is faceted, whereas these two glasses are plain. There are also seven rows of optics as opposed to five in the book. Not sure how significant this is as designs were always evolving (and stolen). One other point is that the base was pressed with the glass - not applied - as the seam marks are visible across the base and up the stem.
David
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Offline Paul S.

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2016, 11:49:59 AM »
If you look at page one, Volume Three of the Thistlewood's CD catalogue  -  A CELEBRATION OF SOWERBY -  Pattern Book XI for 1885  -  there are a variety of ales (all pressed) similar to those shown here  -  some are 'thumb-print' pattern (with lenses), others are plain  -  one of these matches the design of Tony Hayter's (1st Glass) ale in David's link  -  so an accurate attribution, as you'd expect.

As far as pressed examples go, that particular Sowerby pattern of ale glass is far less common than the ones I usually see, most of which show lenses only (thumb prints) - and as Ivo says there are many with this general look, shape and in varying sizes, and most remain un-attributable - there must be dozens of variations -  the thumb-print type of decoration can also be seen not uncommonly on pressed goblets of the sort shown in Raymond Slack's book.            Wilkinson's book gives very limited space to the taller thumb-print ales.                  When I first found these things I thought they were flower vases, and another commonly misnamed use is celery vase  -  I'm surprised at the price of £45 in David's second link  -  I think the last I found was £0.50.  As Ivo comments, pressed examples are found with both ground pontils and fully pressed feet. 
 
I've seen the odd 'sun-purpled' example  --  from memory something to do with uv reaction on the manganese, but the effect can take a long time coming which is not a problem if you're from the C19.........    on the other hand there are those who create the effect deliberately, apparently, in a much shorter time.
I'm not aware of having seen a documented Thomas Gammon example - are they here on the Board somewhere?

Thumb print ales with cut decoration turn up less commonly - and are usually more expensive -  and on those examples with cut decoration it's considered correct to refer to the ovals/circles as 'punties/printies', and am sure those with cut decoration go back further than the pressed examples.............    the circle or oval as a form of cut decoration is vastly older than the introduction of pressed glass.   
Apparently, cut circles were historically named as such because of their similarity to the pontil depression on the underside of the foot.             
I hadn't looked in 'Dansk Glass' either, but that's because I don't have the book  -  certainly hadn't considered that hot toddy and ale would be drunk from the same sized glass.         I know little about drinking glasses and their use outside the U.K., but traditionally in Britain hot toddy was drunk from shorter glasses, and in the C19 rummers were often favourite  -  occasionally their use for such can be seen by the effect on the bottom of the inside of the bowl where the continual crushing of sugar has dulled and scratched the surface.         Have to say that I've never seen a sugar crusher long enough such that it would have reached the bottom of a standard thumb print ale  -  but dare say someone will now come along and prove me wrong - there seems always to be an exception to the rule.               

Mostly due to lack of collector interest in these things, there is little in the way of literature on what you'd assume were glasses intended mainly for tavern/pub use, but it might be of interest to quote from Stephen Parry's useful booklet where he speaks specifically of these tall, pressed - mostly 'thumb- print' ales, from the post 1850 period.................   
 
""............  there seems to be hardly any break of continuity between late ales, and 'knickerbocker glory' glasses of the 1920's inspired by them............................
"It is worth noting, therefore, that pressed-glass ales (and rummers) can be approximately dated by their feet.           In the earlier examples(1850-1880) the foot and stem are hand-made and there is a pontil (sometimes ground) or a gadget-mark (on the upper side of the foot).                         
Later specimens are entirely pressed, a fact made apparent by mould 'seams' radiating across the foot.      It is only in this last case that one need suspect a 'knickerbocker glory' glass.""

The italics are mine  -  (added in view of previous erroneous ideas regarding the location of the mark created by the gadget ;))


In that last comment I suspect Stephen Parry was referring to completely plain examples that lack any moulded decoration, and where there might be some doubt as to age and/or use  -  in fact tall, plain undecorated, flute shaped beer/lager glasses were common in pubs even around the middle of the C20, although they often carried the name of a brewery in the form of a transfer, which of course would give the game away.          They also appear, undecorated, as stand ins for Sundae desserts.
Some additional information can be found on the Board's search by using "thumb-print ales".
Other than the above comments from Parry, I don't think that size of glass or number of mould seams will be reliable guides to dating or origin  -   of my ten examples of pressed ales shown in the attached picture, most look to originate from three part moulds  -  two show four seams  -  and a couple I'd suggest have had their seams removed by fire polishing.

Hope people don't object to my attaching some pix showing, separately, some similar glasses.............. 

1  -   pressed thumb-print decoration     
2  -   with cut punty/printy decoration     
3  -   plain tall 'ales'  -  tallest of which is c. 22 cms. and some of which may be of more recent vintage than the C19 -  although these six all have ground pontils.                             
As to origin, regret I'm unsure as to what part of Europe, and my comments and opinions refer to British material only  -  and I've never tried drinking from a 'thumb-print ale, maybe clasping your lips over such a thick unrefined piece of glass might spoil the taste.          I've no idea to what extent, if any, thumb print ales were used domestically as opposed to spending their lives in commercial pubs or whatever.              Rarely a glass will be found carrying a previous owner's name, and these are found, usually, near the top rim and look to have been applied with a diamond or stylus of some sort.       

Ref.    SOWERBY'S ELLISON GLASS WORKS  -  CD ROM  -  Volumes 1 to 3 (three discs)  'A Celebration of Sowerby  -  Glen & Stephen Thistlewood  2008.

          'DWARF ALE GLASSES and their Victorian Successors'  -  Stephen Parry  -  POLYPTOTON 1978

          'ENGLISH Pressed Glass 1830 - 1900   -   Raymond Slack  -   1987.

          'The Hallmarks of Antique Glass   -   R. Wilkinson  -  1968  (lacks index)

P.S.     feel free to comment  -  surely I must have said something wrong in view of the amount of words.

Offline David E

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2016, 10:26:53 PM »
Thanks Paul. The sun-purpling is only slight, so I doubt it was a deliberate attempt. Yes, it is exposure to the sun affecting the manganese in the glass, which, was added as a decolourant.

The Gammon link was purely from memory having seen (I thought) something similar, but my search did not find anything on GMB. A misnomer so I'd ignore that. It would appear the two in my original post are later examples, as seams are clearly seen across the foot. So from 1880-onwards.

A very interesting discourse as I wasn't aware until you and Ivo pointed out the diversification of a single, stunning design.
David
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Offline Paul S.

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2016, 09:00:39 AM »
I seem to remember earlier comments to the effect that if you add excessive amounts of manganese you actually end up with purple glass, rather than it acting as decolourant.
Might it be that those folk who wish to speed up the process place their clear glass on a sun-bed, or irradiate it heavily in some other way.
Sun-purpled glass was quite fashionable, especially in the States I think, some years back. 

Offline David E

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 11:00:35 AM »
Yes, glass that is excessively loaded with manganese will create a natural purple, but its prime use in Victorian times was a decolourant, when used in much lower quantities.

The faking of sun-purpled glass was quite rife, but the trend seems to have slowed down considerably. I think more people are getting wise to this.
David
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Offline Stuart71

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2016, 08:26:23 PM »
Thanks for everyone's replies on this, I bought the glass cheaply in a charity shop thinking it was a small vase, I had no idea it was an Ale glass. I just need to test it out now...... ;D

Offline David E

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Re: Victorian Ale Glasses - possibly Thomas Gammon? Any help is welcome
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2016, 08:30:06 PM »
There are subtle differences between the two, so possibly not from the same maker seeing there are quite a few of them!
David
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