Glass Discussion & Research. No ID requests here please. > British & Irish Glass

Question for glassmakers - "Pontil Mark" size

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Frank:
Can anyone explain why the size of the pontil varied between Monart and Vasart?

The same family that made the Monart made Vasart with very little time difference.

If you look at this page LINK and in particular at the pontils showing under the first base type. In general the Vasart pontils were smaller. They did less grinding than at Moncrieff's, purely to save time. The Vasart works were more primitive and most of the equipment was self made.

KevinH:
Well, I am certainly not qualified to respond from a hands-on technical viewpoint, but I have a theory that may have some sense to it.

For Monart the pontil area, where left on the piece, was usually (?) finished to a size that would hold the 1 inch diameter Monart label. So it had to be that size as a minimum.

For Vasart, in the very early years, perhaps a minimum 1 inch pontil area also existed in order to apply the first-type (and very rarely seen) round Vasart label. But when most pieces were marked with the acid signatures, there would be no need to retain an unnecessarily 'large' pontil area.

Maybe.

Adam:
I can contribute nothing at all to the question; my namesake Adam A can, I am sure, answer it.

May I take advantage of this posting to make a couple of points?

Firstly, there seems to be an increasing tendency to refer to the mark as a "pontil".  As this refers to the tool, should we not all (as many still do) call the thing on article bottoms a "pontil mark".

Secondly, I have always kept my fingers crossed when insisting on the use of the spelling "punty" when discussing my Gateshead adventures.  This was because I was never sure whether or not I had actually seen the word in writing.  Now I have had my memory stirred when looking up something else in a WWII vintage American book.  No doubts here, the author mentioned "punty" several times.  I'm happy now - I cringed when using the French spelling above but it seems I have to accept that when discussing the blower's tool as against that (formerly?) used in pressware production.


Adam D.

KevinH:
Adam, I agree wholeheartedly with your request that pontil marks should be called by that name rather than just "pontil". My own use of "pontil area" excepted of course :D

I know this could possibly raise a whole new thread (perhaps detracting from Frank's original query) and I think I may have raised it before, but it's a question that has fascinated me for some time ...

... what is the earliest reference anyone has in their books to either "pontil" or "punty", or equivalent. Two of my own references show:

a) Apsley Pellatt, in his 1849 book Curiosities of Glafs Making stated
--- Quote ---... the pontil and the blowing iron ... the latter is a hollow tube ... The ponty, or pontil, is a solid rod ...
--- End quote ---

b) Harry J Powell, in his 1923 book Glass-Making In England wrote of
--- Quote ---... Pontee or puntee ...
--- End quote ---
and also in a section for technical terms, gave the "Modern spelling" of
--- Quote ---Puntee (ponte)
--- End quote ---
also with an entry "as used by Dr Merret in 1642" of
--- Quote ---Ponteglo
--- End quote ---

Frank:
The language of glassmaking is a polyglot of colloquialisms and a cultural indicator of the mobility of the subspecies "glassblowicus"

Added to that a tendency for individual glass masters to pass on some of their own terms and the natural evolution of language from grunt through Johnson, thence Microsoftspeak and thumbing, the tendency to brevity presumably leading to grunt again. :lol:


It is always fun to indulge in discussions about terms and definitions but rarely leads anywhere useful as we each 'grump' along with our individual usages.

I would argue that the term pontil is in more frequent use to indicate pontil mark, pontil scar or whatever. My dictionary defines pontil as a less common form of punty and dates it to the 17th century and it is strictly limited to the rod itself. So, I would say that if you are talking about glassmaking then punty is the preferred word for the tool. If you are talking about objects of desire then it could be pontil as an accepted abbreviation of any term describing the blob on the bottom.

 :P  so back to topic.

There is clear evidence that in some cases 'the blob' has an impact on the making of a piece. Strathearn decided to use a seal with the leaping salmon on which established the size of the glass button to be attached. This is interesting in context of the original topic as again the same team of glassmakers was involved. The button created a problem as being retrofitted (another modern term) it caused the glass object to crack. Because of this they had to increase the thickness of the objects. Resulting in a key indicator for the recognition of otherwise identical Vasart and Strathearn pieces.

As to setting the size of the Monart pontil because of the label... possible. However, there are many Monart examples where the pontils are larger or smaller than the label. Vasart also started out with a label and maybe here the factor that caused it to be dropped was the smaller pontil.

Would the punty rod be one of the tools that a glassmaker owned or something provided by the glassworks? In the latter case it would not be surprising to me that they used a thinner and cheaper punty rod after leaving Moncrieff. Which brings me full circle to the original question from a slightly different perspective... would the size of the rod affect the size of the blob! :?:

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