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Author Topic: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849  (Read 1680 times)

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Offline KevinH

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #60 on: October 17, 2017, 12:32:50 AM »
Just a small addition to the questions:

Some sources state that J. Powell, as makers of the mercury glass, provided "blanks" to the retailer / dealer (such as E. Varnish) and it was they who poured in the silver nitrate solution and affixed the seals to the base. But was the cutting part of the "blanks", or was it outsourced to yet another "maker" somewhere?

Nobody in the books mentions the design and working of the cutting!
KevinH

Offline flying free

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #61 on: October 17, 2017, 07:22:18 AM »
Kev in your sentence here - when you said 'they' did you mean the retailer?

'Some sources state that J. Powell, as makers of the mercury glass, provided "blanks" to the retailer / dealer (such as E. Varnish) and it was they who poured in the silver nitrate solution and affixed the seals to the base. '


Question 1:
And if the seals were affixed after the solution had been poured in, and the solution was poured in by the retailer, then who made sure the holes in the bottom of the glass, and the exact size of the seals, fitted together perfectly, so they could be sealed perfectly after the retailer had poured the solution in.  I'm sure I have read in relation to 'English silver glass'  that the seal was made to fit the glass hole left and that a glass seal was then placed over the named seal.



Question 2:
To which end, are every single one of the the Hale Thomson patent, E Varnish Patent and Lund patent seals marked with scratch numbers to match numbers which have been scratched into the bottom of the glass piece?





Offline drewfind

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #62 on: October 17, 2017, 07:42:12 AM »
Can anyone tell me what was the Lund/Mellish patent?

These two were associated with Thomson, Varnish and Powell.

I still think that E.Varnish glass was either made or finished inhouse, or another glassmakers, not Powells, as it does not make sense that these two companies would exhibit two entirely different products at the Great Exhibition?
Powells were showing glass pipes and joints, while Varnish was showing silvered glass. This was, at the time, an eye catching product. You exhibit to catch the eye, why are these two unaffiliated in 1851?

There are 2 James Powells exhibiting glass, one is in the Strand, the others Whitefriars. Does anybody know anything about this other company?

Offline Paul S.

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #63 on: October 17, 2017, 07:53:40 AM »
There is nothing in Leslie Jackson's edited collection of essays 'Whitefriars Glass - The Art of James Powell & Sons', to suggest that Powell's were involved with this material, neither does Jackson provide indexed links for any of the names being used here.        Unfortunately, I don't have the bigger W/Fs book so can't comment as to whether that volume does or doesn't reference any of this material or names mentioned above - perhaps someone is able to check the larger book please.          Something as distinctive as silvered/mercury glass would surely have warranted a mention somewhere along the line in one of them, even if Powell themselves weren't involved in the silver nitrate side of things.

What are the sources of your comment Kevin that Powell cut the blanks of those pieces that were later filled with silver nitrate by retailers/dealers (E. Varnish, for example).         

It's not perhaps easy to assess a makers full range of output as long ago as the mid C19, so we have to rely on people like Jackson etc. to publish their findings and hopefully give us a balanced view of what was being made then, and with this author it looks to have been apparent from both the b. & w. and colour pix that cutting was virtually non-existent at Powell's around that time.             The fashion seems to have been almost exclusively for Venetian, Roman and medieval styles  -  none of which show cutting - although believe there was some wheel engraving in the form of ferny pteridomania.            Perhaps they'd been listening to Ruskin. ;D

Were there other big London names that might have been more inclined toward cutting do we know?

apologies if any of my waffle has clashed or repeated with m's or Andrew's words.

Offline flying free

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #64 on: October 17, 2017, 08:46:33 AM »
drewfind, that is a good assumption except - and this is my opinion only:
Glassmakers were in it to make money. 
If someone asked them to make glass for them then they would. 
And if the company (retailer) who had asked them to make the glass, had a patent on an invention in their (company, retailer's ) name and asked the glassmakers to make the glass they are not going to say no if it makes them money. 
But they are also not going to be able to make it under their own name since the process had been patented by the client (i.e. company, retailer), which would preclude this.


I believe there is an example of other companies exhibiting glass at the 1851 exhibition under their own names (retailers) but that look possible to have been made at Richardsons for example. (Green? for example iirc - need to check CH British Glass as the source)

And perhaps in this 'mercury' or silvered glass example we are discussing,  by the time the patent ran out, it was discovered that the glass had gone out of fashion, or was too complicated and expensive/time consuming to make and would not be profitable so the company never made it in their own name.

However, having said all that, the lack of conclusive evidence that Whitefriars made this glass is stunning given all the references.
But in my opinion they cannot be precluded solely on the basis  that they had a stand 4 stands further on and didn't show any of this type of glass on their own stand.  It may had to the evidence against though.

Some sources state that this type of glass continued to be made in Bohemia and Germany and America after 1855 iirc.
Just adding that point.

m

Offline Lustrousstone

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #65 on: October 17, 2017, 11:00:18 AM »
I too am concerned that we have no evidence of Varnish being a manufacturer. A glass factory was an enormous investment. We also know that Varnish Hale Thomson was a surgeon in his day job! See my previous post.

Retailers wouldn't have done the silvering; it's a nasty chemical process requiring heat http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Glass-Mirrors-With-Silver-Nitrate-Sugar-Am/

Has anyone seen the actual patents?

[Mod: Edited 07 Nov 2017 ... The surgeon was Thomson, not Varnish. So the last sentence in the first paragraph may be redundant.]

Offline drewfind

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #66 on: October 17, 2017, 12:07:53 PM »
I have spent a lot of my life in the manufacturing business.

I have also delved into patents.

Lets step back and look, as I think Keith or Paul wrote.

Two companies would HAVE to work in extremely close quarters. We are looking at the merger, albeit tenuous, of two companies. This was for THE GREAT EXHIBITION, this was not Wembley Market on a Sunday morning.

As pointed out by lustrous, just setting up a glass making venture was expensive, let alone one that combines two different mediums.
Not only that, but I don't think Thomson and Varnish just knocked on the door a week before the Exhibition and said "hey, we got some mercury we want you to play with.

Powells were obviously quite established at the time and would have recorded this major re-shuffle, surely?

I am still trying to find out more about Mellish and Lund, as I think they may be another avenue which may lead to an answer.

Whichever way you look at it, there is a company or was a company that had some significant changes to its working practice, a new influx of funds, possible relocation due to hazardous chemicals, and I don't think Powells fits the bill somehow?

Offline flying free

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #67 on: October 17, 2017, 02:11:25 PM »
1)  This is a photograph I took of part of the Exhibitor listings in the Great Exhibition catalogue
Click here to view

Interesting to note that as well as mentioning 'silvered glass' under 27. E.Varnish
it also mentions 'or-molu and silvered glass chandelier' under 32. Green, J.G.

Now,  who knows if the 'silvered' word description in both 27. and 32. means the same technique? 
But if it does, then that was two exhibitors showing 'silvered glass'.


2) under 27. E.Varnish is also says they were showing 'silvered glass reflectors, applicable for artificial illumination' (Chance glass sprang to mind for some reason on reading that).

Offline flying free

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #68 on: October 17, 2017, 02:30:17 PM »
3)  This is another photograph of the previous page in the Great Exhibition Catalogue.

It shows a company called R. W. Swinburne - pp125

it mentions silvered glass (though I have no idea if it was silvered using a similar process to the Varnish process)
Click here to view

Just a thought because Varnish mentions they showed 'Reflectors' in silvered glass so perhaps a company that could make industrial type equipment as well made their glass?
And if you read through Swinburne's production they look like a possible candidate for making Varnish silvered glass maybe?

Interestingly there was a link between Swinburne and Chance Glass (see link on GMB here)
http://www.glassmessages.com/index.php/topic,18417.msg106531.html#msg106531

Worth reading.  He seems to have gone out of circulation for a bit at some points? maybe at the point where the Varnish glass stopped being made?  Just assumptions and surmises by the way!  Don't want to see these surmises quoted as facts anywhere  ;D

Offline KevinH

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Re: E.Varnish mercury glass with embossed seal, circa 1849
« Reply #69 on: October 17, 2017, 05:07:39 PM »
I suspect that at least some of the "silvered glass" references are in relation to mirrors and other reflecting items rather than the "art glass" of the Varnish / Thomson / Lund variety.
KevinH

 

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