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Author Topic: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849  (Read 46014 times)

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Offline flying free

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #270 on: July 13, 2019, 11:00:00 PM »
1) There is an interesting juxtaposition of information here.  In the Sotheby's sale above it said:

'When this example was exhibited in 2003, it was suggested that the glass may have been made by James Powell and Sons, Whitefriars Glasshouse in London and engraved by a Bohemian artist working in London. However, as the glass appears not to contain lead-oxide it is therefore more likely to have been imported from Bohemia.'


whereas in this pdf of an article produced in 2007 regarding silvered glass it says:

'...tall and marked Varnish & Co. London.
The origins of cased glass as a decorating technique
can be traced back to the Bohemian makers in the early
19th century. The English adaptation of this technique was
superior, producing items of better quality since the objects
were made from heavy flint, non-lead glass.
'

http://www.antiquemercuryglass.com/files/English_Silvered_Mercury_Glass.pdf

see page 9 for quote



I'm a little confused.  What is that last piece of information trying to say?  Is it saying that the items were made from heavy flint, non-lead glass and therefore (that article claims) English made?
I'd have said the opposite (aka the Sotheby's information) - that the fact they were heavy flint non-lead glass would more likely mean they were probably made in Bohemia? ( Harrach/Buquoy maybe? - need to investigate the silvered glass balls and see if we can find out where they were made as the 'public' were apparently used to seeing those in 1851 before these Thomson and Varnish goblets etc were exhibited) . 








2) In addition in that linked article above it also discusses on page 10 that in Bohemia they used flashed glass instead of casing.  We know this is not true as there are many  examples of cased Biedermeier bechers (amongst many other example shapes) from that period.

Is it possible that what that article is exposing is that the double walled glass made with the Varnish and Thompson plugs is from a quality maker of heavy non lead glass, probably Bohemian given it is non-lead glass?

And that more mass production of silvered glass came later from  Bohemian makers using lighter glass and flashing coloured techniques rather than high quality coloured cased overlay glass?  This could have happened because of the demise of Thomson's company and then the demise of Thomson.  I.E. it became a 'free for all' once the patent of the silvering ended and there was no company or person there to enforce it anyway. 





3) There is some information on this link as to the gigantic and enormous amount of glass and mirrors coming out of Bohemia in 1847.  It was vast.  (see page 1037 for quantities). It talks about the 'extent of the production' and the 'exellence of article' produced. It says she 'Bohemia' ranked first amongst the provinces for production and that the 'excellence of the article surpasses all of them put together'. Implicit in that is that the quality was good yes?  So a definite contender for production of the Hale Thomson double walled vessels I would have thought?

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xo4SAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA1036&lpg=PA1036&dq=silvered+glass+bohemia++great+exhibition+1851&source=bl&ots=DDyPkGtf8v&sig=ACfU3U1lFjdlPK_HfuVo9b11--MncS08aA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjsge3qhLPjAhWFoXEKHZlFAKU4ChDoATAEegQIBxAB#v=onepage&q=silvered%20glass%20bohemia%20%20great%20exhibition%201851&f=false




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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #271 on: July 14, 2019, 08:28:07 PM »
In my post number 213 I queried the vases shown in Art-Journal (see page 21 of this link for the three illustrations I discussed in that post (quoted below):
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=aUJPAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA21&dq=hale+thomson+silvering+process&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjm1I7Iz6PXAhUIEewKHdxHA6IQ6AEINjAD#v=onepage&q=hale%20thomson%20silvering%20process&f=false

I suggested that only one of the pieces, the top one,  looked as though it might have been actually blown as a double walled glass piece.
Looking at that illustration in the Art-Journal with more scrutiny, I note on the middle piece that there is a particular design around the rim.  That same curious design around the rim can, I believe, be found on this vase in the V&A both on the rim and certainly around the rim of the foot of the vase: 
https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O6482/vase-hale-thomson-f/

(Download the picture where the V&A will ask you to tick all the boxes and then I stated it was for private research. Once you have done so it will enlarge greatly where all the detail can be seen including the same rim as in that illustration).

In the illustrated middle piece, I believe that designed on the rim is there because I think that is a Bohemian vase which has been silvered and then had a liner added with a silver rim to cover the join.  This would seal the vase and keep the silver lining intact.  The same as the one in the V&A.

So I think, at least the middle vase was not a double walled blown vessel.    Probably blown originally in Bohemia.

As another example of why I think that, see this vase.
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/10028641_18-cobalt-cameo-double-overlay-vase
I think it is Bohemian.  Note the similarity of cutting and design with the one illustrated in the Art Journal.  I used this as an example in my Bohemian cameo thread regarding my double overlay cameo decanter, because instead of it being cut in cameo, the design is cut into the blue layer exposing the white layer underneath , the reverse of my cameo piece if you like.

I am also sceptical of both the other pieces (the bowl on a stand and the vase at the bottom).  Certainly the vase at the bottom does not look as though it was blown as double walled single piece.  The bowl on a stand may have been in some way (the foot part only perhaps) but I'm still sceptical. 


The Art Journal Illustrated catalogue of the Exhibition page 26


Shows three items of Hale Thomson process silvered glass:

- The middle vase appears to have an applied silver rim the same as the vase in the V&A.

- The bottom vase looks like it is also 'adapted' from a previous item somehow.

- The top one is the only item that looks as though it was blown double-walled.

Art Journal Illustrated catalogue  link (date of Illustrated Catalogue not known to me):
Click here to view



Note:
It seems to me that the PR information put out at the time was that Hale Thomson was silvering English glass: 
The descriptions are so in depth and compare the fact that Thomson is using double-walled glass ('... We understand  the glass comes from Powell and co'.. etc - for source see final Art Journal  link page 76 on this post),  and 'Mr Drayton was given to using Bohemian and German vessels, but Mr Thomson's vases... etc'.
Yet here we are with one vase previously in the Wallace Collection seemingly Bohemian, another in the V&A which looks remarkably Bohemian and one on this page linked, that also has a silver rim applied so appears not to have been double blown and appears in the Art Journal Official Illustrated book of the Exhibition.



Thomson may not have known any different - he was just silvering them apparently, (but his patent which talks about fixing two walls together by appropriate means implies he did).
Someone knew that some of them were not English glass.  Maybe.  Hence perhaps the oblique comments 'The colours employed in the manufacture of the glass,  which we understand is from the glasshouse of Messrs. Powell and co'? 

I'm not saying the double-walled items were definitely not made at Powells but there is some kind of smoke and mirrors (pardon the pun) effect going on here.

Barrie Skelcher mentions that the Museum of London had records that Whitefriars were using uranium in 1836, so there are records available of something.


The Frankfort Zeitung apparent article (if it really was printed there? I am beginning to question what was PR for the Great British digestion and whether it actually was printed in the FZ), I found reprinted in a journal, Little's Living Age, purporting to be a re-print from an article in the FZ, and seems to copy much of the text from Chamber Journal article I linked to previously (see page 63 of the Chambers link below).  BUT it  goes one stage further, as apparently it had a headline 'Bohemian Glass outdone' and also mentioned that some of Mr Thomson's silvered articles cost £500!, further, the article says 9/10th of this cost is down to design and making and talks about the richness and purity of British glass. It's over the top in fulsome praise.   And goes on to say that they hope their German makers at the exhibition will investigate this wonderful new silvered design, and that they suspect the large globes might be the most easily copied.  I wonder if that article really appeared in Germany?

Chamber journal link:
Click here to view


See also FZ apparent article:

Page 276
From Little’s living age 2nd November 1850
Click here to view



Art Journal (1st March 1851) link page 76 - giving effusive and glowing description in full detail of Hale Thomson glass items:
Click here to view



It may just be that some of the items were put into the exhibition that were old stock from Drayton maybe?
It might be that Powell and Sons were making Bohemian style glass at the time?
But something is not as it seems imho.

m

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #272 on: July 14, 2019, 09:21:54 PM »
See also Biedermeier becher c.1840 probably from Neuwelt, with gilded vermicular decoration  as per the vase in the V&A:

https://www.glaswolf.de/Biedermeierbecher_mi.289+B6YmFja1BJRD0yODkmcHJvZHVjdElEPTU4ODEyJnBpZF9wcm9kdWN0PTI4OSZkZXRhaWw9.0.html

There is an example of this vermicular decoration in the Harrach book on a vase dated unfortunately c.1860 (unfortunately because Richardson's patented an etched (acid?) decoration in 1854 in a similar style (cf. CH British Glass 1800-1914 pp113) so that date of 1860 doesn't help pin the V&A vase down to Bohemian.  It is called 'gold infinite thread' in the Harrach book. page 167.  However, there are many examples of Biedermeier Bohemian glass using an all over gilded decoration in various forms. 

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #273 on: July 14, 2019, 11:15:38 PM »
Just wondering if it is possible that the reason Hale Thomson and Varnish went to France to lodge a patent, was because there was a major mirror making plant in France and to stop them using his process which appears to have been much more safe than previous mirroring/silvering processes? 
They say they went to buy glass iirc, but it may have been mirror glass or glass they could use for silvering to make mirrors and boxes for example.  So France may be a red herring when it comes to who made the goblet type pieces.


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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #274 on: July 14, 2019, 11:21:47 PM »
The Literary Gazette of 1848 :
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4oRGAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA540&lpg=PA540&dq=silvered+bohemian+glass+thomas+drayton&source=bl&ots=MxVDTxTkNr&sig=ACfU3U1zpbAcL9ne1T3-UVhABwhxI_GS1g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwismu32tbXjAhXXQxUIHaC_BwgQ6AEwCnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=silvered%20bohemian%20glass%20thomas%20drayton&f=false

page 540 mentions that Thomas Drayton was silvering the inside of Bohemian vases in 1848.  It says the red was very successful, the green less so as the silver outdid the green, but that the 'plated' (by this I think they mean cased glass) 'enamelled white' vases and the plain glass was 'exceedingly handsome'.  I wonder if the vase in the v&a was a Drayton silvered vase with the interior and rim put on by Thomson/Varnish co.

It also mentions the 'looking glass' manufacturers and how detrimental and injurious their record had been and how this safer method of silvering would be harmless by comparison.

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #275 on: July 15, 2019, 06:53:27 AM »
With reference to my query in the post two above about France and mirror making, in The Curiosities of |Industry and the Applied Sciences by George Dodd, on page 20 under the chapter 'Glass and it's manufacture' he says 'It is now about 20 years since Messrs. Chance introduced into this country the mode of making sheet-glass, adopted before that time by the French and Belgians; And later in that chapter he talks about Chance inviting skilled French and Belgian workmen over.  It reads to me as if this was to show the English workmen how to make the glass.  So perhaps the fact Hale Thomson and Varnish went to France and Belgium was because this method of silvering could be used for making mirrors on flat glass.  Therefore France and Belgium possibly a distraction or red herring on this thread which is about 'who made the goblets and vases' type objects as it might be relevant only to flat glass for mirror making or lens making.


Just wondering if it is possible that the reason Hale Thomson and Varnish went to France to lodge a patent, was because there was a major mirror making plant in France and to stop them using his process which appears to have been much more safe than previous mirroring/silvering processes? 
They say they went to buy glass iirc, but it may have been mirror glass or glass they could use for silvering to make mirrors and boxes for example.  So France may be a red herring when it comes to who made the goblet type pieces.



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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #276 on: July 15, 2019, 07:43:48 AM »
This piece is interesting - again if you download it you can see it in very great and close up detail.  It is silvered but if you look at the downloaded picture the silvering inside the stem only goes up to a point inside as far as the bottom of the knop/merese. The merese is not silvered. I wonder how they silvered the inside of the bowl of the cup?
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O3080/varnish-patent-vase-james-powell-sons/

it seems to have been silvered in two parts?  The foot and most of the stem (the hollow bits of it?) and then the cup.  Was it glued together at the merese?

m

Offline neilh

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #277 on: July 15, 2019, 08:10:28 AM »
Apologies if this has been suggested before on a 28 page thread, but have you tried checking the 1851 census for glass workers from Bohemia in the vicinity of the London factories. I know Percival Vickers tempted one over to design and etch something for the 1851 Great Exhibition, but they weren't around long enough to be caught on the census...

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #278 on: July 15, 2019, 08:53:03 AM »
Hi, thank you for taking an interest :)

I will take your suggestion and investigate it further. It's always really helpful to have a different perspective so thank you!

I think the key is that these completely hollow double walled pieces were not easy to make.  CH British Glass 1800-1914 demonstrates this on pages 269-272 where they completed a project with Malcolm Andrews assisted by Pat Ricketts making a piece in modern clear glass.  It took twenty minutes and the glass had to be reheated twenty times to complete the piece.  And that was without it being in cased coloured glass.  Something that was even more difficult due to the annealing process and compatibility of coloured glass.  CH says this would have added to the difficulty and increased the making time.

I'm aware I'm just putting out on here all my random thoughts on this glass but I feel sure the goblets/vases weren't made at Whitefriars James Powell & Son.  (CH also mentions in the same book  pp 271 that there was no conclusive proof they were made at Whitefriars James Powell & Sons).
Yes an inkwell I believe was made there from the readings of the court case (which seemed to take ages to actually procure, iirc from reading the court case, for some reason.  Maybe they couldn't make the hollow double walled piece, or perhaps they just didn't have time to experiment or perhaps they were just not interested in supplying a small demand client?  I don't know why it took so long but clearly it wasn't an easy piece to get hold of from what was said in the court case).

But I suspect the goblets and smaller goblet shape salts etc were made somewhere else.


And I think the discussion of the quality/weight is a red herring.


As a case in point I am attaching a photograph of two Bohemian glass goblets of a very similar shape.  Admittedly one is larger than the other - I have no idea how to measure how much larger but perhaps saying a third would be generous.

The one on the left is double walled silvered glass,with a gold interior and has been engraved with birds and vines.  Probably dates to second half of the 19th somewhere. 
It weighs just around 120grms

The blue and white goblet also made in Bohemia, probably around mid 19th century so a similar time period to when the Varnish/Thomson plugged vases and goblets were made, is triple overlay, blue over white over clear. 
If the suggestion that Bohemian glass was lighter than English glass as a determiner was right, then being generously a third larger should mean it should weigh around 160 grms.
Even allowing for it being cased and doubling the weight of the silvered goblet, that would make it 240gms. 
It actually weighs over twice that weight at just over 1/2 kg, nearly 1 1/4lb (my scales are not electronic so I'm being cautious).

So I think it's a misnomer that Bohemian glass is noticeably lighter and that that factor could be a determinant of where the Varnish plugged/Thomson plugged glass was made.

Yes, I do think that later silvered Bohemian pieces may have been made  of a different kind of glass, making them much lighter. 
But that does not preclude the double walled goblets from c.1850 being made of a heavier type of glass at a different factory in Bohemia.




Another example is this  green vase with a Varnish plug, article from 2017:
The owner actually mentions in the article that it was not very heavy (though each person's version of what they think will be heavy varies of course but the owner commented on that specifically)

https://random-treasure.com/2017/06/15/guess-the-date/

https://i0.wp.com/random-treasure.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/mercury-glass-vase-1.jpg?resize=407%2C530&ssl=1

'Only one object stood out – but solely because of its extreme blinginess and total vulgarity.  A trumpet-mouthed vase with a knop stem, about 9 inches tall, in the brightest, shiniest, most luminous lime-green that you’ve ever seen in your life. Plastic? I picked it up. No, it was cold to the touch.  Must be glass.  It was thick-walled and fat, but not sufficiently heavy to be solid glass. Got it! It must be a vacuum flask-type construction like the liner inside the old-fashioned Thermos flasks that we used to take on picnics to keep the soup hot. I didn’t know they made vases like that, and I didn’t know they made them in any other colour than bright silver, but it couldn’t really be anything else.
For confirmation, I picked it up and looked at its underside.  Sure enough, it must be double-walled.  In the centre of the base was a small circular metal plate, apparently inserted in the glass to seal the vacuum.  On the plate was impressed the words E VARNISH & Co PATENT LONDON.  Meant nothing to me.  '



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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #279 on: July 15, 2019, 10:32:03 AM »
Something new!!

Thomson and Varnish patent from June 1850 with drawings :) - drawings from 19 December 1849

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lwsCQtrhxFkC&pg=RA2-PA3&dq=hale+thomson+silvered&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjytqKg27bjAhU0QUEAHUl-DzQQ6AEILTAB#v=onepage&q=hale%20thomson%20silvered&f=false


from:
English Patents of Inventions, Specifications: 1868 ..., Volumes 12901-12915

 

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