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Glass Discussion & Research. No ID requests here please. => Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, Austria => Topic started by: Sklounion on March 08, 2007, 07:04:56 AM

Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on March 08, 2007, 07:04:56 AM
Please,
Does anyone have any information about the role of E. Downey, within the UK glass importer Vitrea?
Who was he/she? From what date were Vitrea commissioning Downey to produce designs?
Anything at all about this person, would be gratefully received,
TIA,
regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on March 10, 2007, 08:59:43 AM
Just a note:

Downey's designs were made by Sklarny Inwald and Spojene Ceske Sklarny. I would like to clarify whether Downey was designing free-lance for the Czechoslovakian companies, or whether the designs were licensed to those companies, by Vitrea/Downey. There seem to be similarities to the John Jenkins and Co Ltd/Inwald "Barolac" situation in the 1930s.
TIA,
Regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Adam on March 10, 2007, 09:06:01 PM
This name is ringing very faint bells with me.  My mould-making colleague at Sowerbys used to talk about a pre-war designer (employee?, contractor?, consultant?) and I think the name MIGHT have been Downey.  Any possible connection?

Adam D.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on March 10, 2007, 09:13:26 PM
Hi Adam,
Between the wars and into the 1950s would be the right time-frame.
There is a serious probability that Vitrea commissioned items from both UK and Czechoslovakian glass-works, so Downey may well have designed items made by Sowerby.
Thanks very much for your assistance, much appreciated,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on March 10, 2007, 09:20:39 PM
Did Vitrea also set up in the UK then?
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on March 11, 2007, 07:23:40 AM
Hi Frank,

Vitrea (Merchants) Ltd
Showrooms at 12-16 Clerkenwell Road, London E.C.1
Definitely still there in 1964. But when they started?

The Downey items have post-war numbers (some of them) but there is a vase with three swans to the base, inspired by European vase designs from Brockwitz and Inwald themselves, which looks very 1930s. It could also be, that Downey designed Inwald items that are now wrongly assumed to be from the Barolac range.

Regards,

Marcus

Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on March 11, 2007, 09:39:01 AM
"Dr. Markovic said he had left Czechoslovakia in March, 1948, and could not say very much about events there since. He knew, however, that all non-Communist employees had been discharged. During the last twelve months, he had heard that sales departments had been divorced from the manufacturing side, the former now being divided into two separate departments, one (DUTA) being responsible for the home trade, and the other (VITREA) dealing with exports. The regional groupings were being abolished and individual works were now under direct control of the central organisation."
PG&GTR Jan 1950 courtesy glass-study.com
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on March 11, 2007, 11:08:46 AM
Hi Frank,
Not sure how this works then, as we know Skloexport (Glassexport) appeared in 1948. There does not appear to be any other organisation handling export, other than Jablonex. Certain small companies, (less than 50 employees) were still advertising in early 1948, in CGR, as exporting from the Jablonec region.
Is Vitrea London, a wholly-owned Czechoslovakian subsidiary, in which case, why employ Downey as a designer?
Do you have a pre-war gazetteer from PG and GTR, Frank, and is there any mention of Vitrea, pre-war?

Thanks and regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on March 11, 2007, 03:09:14 PM
Well well, PG 1933  - Vitrea Union Bottle and Glassware Co,. Ltd., 173 Evelyn St, Deptford

Appears under both

British Glass Manufacturers AND Directory of London Merchants, Factors & Importers.

Possibly unrelated to that one:
PG 1962 directory of importers - Vitrea (Merchants) Ltd. 12, Clerkenwell Road, EC1. Agents for Glassexport (Bohemia Glass; Moser: Rhapsody: Harmony: Pizzicato: Hartil: Durit. (Also an advert)

But possibly not a conicidence of name. So company records for both of the above? Might reveal why a designer was needed.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on March 12, 2007, 10:46:31 AM
Hi Frank,
Possible that this is one and the same:
Vitrea (Merchants) Ltd, registered company from 31/12/1926. Obviously the same company that was at 12 -16 Clerkenwell Rd. Cannot find whether or not there was a name change at some point, but will check this further.No name change shown as Companies House seem only to keep these for 20 years.
Thanks and regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 11, 2007, 03:47:22 PM
Hi,
E Downey appears to have acquired greater importance this afternoon, with the receipt of a message from Vaclav Hanus.
"this man belongs also to the authors of Czech pressed glass (or pressed glass produced by the Czech glassworks)".
Vaclav Hanus also gives the info that "Downey, who was a designer residing in London, working for Skloexport".

So who was he?

For Hanus to consider that this man should rank alongside the major Czech names of post-war pressed glass, suggests he was held in high regard, by the first generation of post-war designers.

Any further ideas on how to find him?

TIA,

Marcus


Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on May 11, 2007, 04:14:30 PM
Vaguely...based on the assumption that family tended to remain in related professions in first half of twentieth Century.

Publishers E Downey (Active 1900)

W & D Downey were the photographers that produced an important portrait of King George V.

Mod: adding link to this image... http://www.mediastorehouse.com/low.php?xp=media&xm=940545

Just perhaps their was a relationship and those should be realatively easy to track for descendants. Did you get company records for Vitrea? Perhaps he was a director, then you get a home address.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: David E on May 11, 2007, 05:41:16 PM
Reminds me of my pursuit for the designer of Swirl :-\

However, as mentioned, I'll ask around: members of the Goodden and Casson families might be able to help.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 11, 2007, 10:53:28 PM
Thanks.
I am finding it very difficult to believe that someone, supposedly that significant, cannot be traced.
As discussed with David, surely professional body membership should throw up something, RDI, SIA, but currently the big zero....
TIA,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on May 11, 2007, 11:22:56 PM
Because he was working in London does not mean that he was English. Could have been Irish, Channel Islander, Somewhere in Commonwealth or US.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 15, 2007, 09:49:54 AM
Now Downey is bugging me.....
Thanks to both Bernard Cavalot and Chris Stewart for your help.
Downey was not an MSIA, nor MSIAD, was not at the RCA, or the Royal Academy Schools, does not appear in the National Archives,
nor any entries in the National Art Library, nor Westminster Reference Library's Art and Design department, never exhibited at the RA, was not an RDI, as far as I can tell.

The RSA, through their excellent librarian, Joan Simpson (I hope that is spelt correctly) are trawling their archives.

Does anyone have any info on Alfred James Downey, also lived in London, a painter and illustrator who did exhibit at the RA, 1909-35, so could theoretically be his father???

Any other avenues to try?

Thanks and regards,

Marcus

Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Glen on May 15, 2007, 12:27:50 PM
I think you can rest a little, Marcus. No need to feel bugged anymore. I have heard from the source you asked me to follow up - and yes, they know of E. Downey.

Mr Downey was employed by Vitrea as a draughtsman - he was a "competent draughtsman" who produced technical drawings.

I'll email you the rest (it doesn't say much more than above) as I don't like to copy/quote a private email.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Anne on May 15, 2007, 03:28:52 PM
Does anyone have any info on Alfred James Downey, also lived in London, a painter and illustrator who did exhibit at the RA, 1909-35, so could theoretically be his father???

An Alfred James Downey's birth was registered in Islington between April-June 1882, and he appears on the 1901 Census in Holloway aged 19, occupation Heraldic Engraver. Could this be him, Marcus? If so I'll dig a bit further if you want.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 15, 2007, 04:12:34 PM
Hi Glen, Thanks very much.
Anne, please do follow that, it might explain the competency of E. Downey.
Thanks to all of you again,
Regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: David E on May 15, 2007, 04:19:58 PM
I'm waiting for replies from Goodden and Casson family members. In the meantime, I have found mention of an Alan Downey, who wrote a book The Story of Waterford Glass, published by Carthage Press, Waterford, in 1952. Source was Glassmakers of Stourbridge & Dudley... by Jason Ellis

Edit: Alan Downey
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sue C on May 15, 2007, 04:35:10 PM
www.downey.co.uk the company history mentions Alfred Downey
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on May 15, 2007, 05:39:28 PM
Publishers E Downey (Active 1900)
W & D Downey were the photographers that produced an important portrait of King George V.
Now +A and A.J.

And Downey & Co are also known for the Postage stamp engravings of Harold Wolfenden who bought the company from Downey. Bizarre the that it was the W & D Downey portrait of George V that became known as the Downey head stamps.

Some coincidences here for sure.... but we are talking of an E Downey some 30 years later than the company left Downey hands.

But still no connection to the publishers E Downey. so Downey & Co might be a red herring.

Marcus did say that Downey is a common Irish name.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 15, 2007, 07:02:57 PM
Hi,
Thank you all.
With all your assistance, progress seems to be being made.
It is becoming clear that Downey did draw up designs for companies other than Vitrea. There is an increasing body of evidence that Downey also designed in his own right, though some confusion as to the status of Vitrea and its links to Glassexport at that time.
However, I have managed to find the current contact for Vitrea, and am hoping their company records may reveal something.
Clearly Downey designed work that was produced at three of the factories, and clear overlap of production numbers, possibly indicating the popularity of certain items, needing to be made simultaneously by two production units.

On Downey's time-line, we now know was working in 1963, definitely in the 1950s, and one Hermanova hut pattern number suggests 1947-48. Allowing for education and training, maybe military service, E Downey could possibly have been born between 1910 and 1920.

I have a couple of calls to make this evening, so we may have something concrete later.

My thanks again to all of you,

regards,

Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 15, 2007, 09:11:59 PM
With the phone calls tonight, Downey has not made an appearance yet.
However, a former member of the glass import community of the period has been found, and I shall be talking to him in the morning.
The surprise?
That his wife is the daughter of a 1920's UK Joseph Inwald agent, who designed/drew up glass in the 1920s and who is believed to have had some training with Inwald at that time.
This could not have happened without the help and support of board members, and the continuing assistance of current and past members of the glass import community.
Thanks.
Regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on May 15, 2007, 09:44:49 PM
This has taken some interesting twists and underlines the complexity of the industrial processes of large scale glass production for international markets. Nice to that such people get recognition in the end.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 21, 2007, 08:17:09 PM
Hi,
 A chance comment from my father-in-law and a new avenue to explore.
He mentioned that at one point he was a member of the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtmen, apparently the first union to have a minimum wage agreement with employers. I have no idea when they started, but 1920s? certainly until the 1960s, but became DATA, and then swallowed by AEU/AEWU. Apparently the Association covered most technical drawing offices. Both AESD and DATA appear to have published technical hand-books on die (mould) design.
Any GMB members (not General, Municipal and Boilermakers ;D) who are also members of the engineering union know anything about AESD/DATA, and whether the AEU has their archives? Would they be held by Ruskin College?
Just wondering if at that time, Downey might have been a member, as AESD appear to have been a closed-shop union.
Thanks in advance,
Regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Della on May 21, 2007, 08:27:44 PM
Hi Marcus,
There is some information here: http://www.warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/ead/101da.htm
The Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen was established in 1913.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on May 21, 2007, 08:34:37 PM
My father was a draughtsman in a small London Drawing office from circa 1940, no unions there at all.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Sklounion on May 21, 2007, 08:37:45 PM
Hi Della,
Thank you, that was quick.
The Access Restriction of 30 years???
I'll have to phone them to find out what the implications of that are, and whether it applies to all papers, or just the later stuff.
It will be a little daft if it covers everything.
Thanks again and regards,
Marcus
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: RDowney on June 19, 2011, 01:06:34 AM
I am the grandson of Alfred James Downey and have his records. I have just seen the query from 2007 on the Internet. How can I help you please send email to richard  AT  downeyr.freeserve.co.uk.


Thanks
Richard Downey

Mod:  email address AT sign modified for safety reasons
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on June 23, 2011, 01:35:02 AM
Hi Richard,

Can you confirm if E Downey was his son and if he was a designer?
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: RDowney on June 23, 2011, 02:29:34 AM
The only Elizabeth Downey I know of was a daughter of William Henry Downey. She was born in 1848 and died in 1918. She married and became a Mrs Shirley. In the records I have I have not seen references to involvement with glass. My ancestors were mostly engravers of bookplates, stamps and banknotes. One or two did cartoons for Punch magazine. Alfred james Downey had two sons being Alfred Lloyd and Leslie Ernest (the latter being my father).

Downey & Co was started by my grandfather and sold to Wolfenden in the 1920's. My grandfather did exhibit bookplates at the Royal Academy in the 1920's.

Hope this helps.

Richard Downey
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on June 23, 2011, 11:50:20 AM
Thank you Richard, clearly a different line of the family name. It has been assumed E Downey was male as it would be unusual, though not unheard of, for this person to be female. He/she was employed by Vitrea (Merchants) Limited and period concerned was possibly 1920s to 1960s - so it could not have been your family's Elizabeth.

Unfortunately our Downey has sunk into obscurity and seems to have been considered important as a designer only in Czechoslovakia where many of the designs he produced were manufactured.

Longshot... perhaps you could pass these details to your relatives as we might get lucky, but thanking you for your clarification.
Title: Re: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Anne on August 05, 2011, 04:55:12 PM
Possibly no connection, but cross-referencing to this topic just in case:
http://www.glassmessages.com/index.php/topic,42228.0.html
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Anne on August 06, 2011, 01:11:38 AM
Vitrea (Merchants) Ltd
Showrooms at 12-16 Clerkenwell Road, London E.C.1
Definitely still there in 1964. But when they started?

Finding more odd pieces to slot into the puzzle so am adding them here so we can find them again when needed...

From the Companies House registers...
Vitrea (Merchants) Ltd, Company No. 00218603
Date of Incorporation: 31/12/1926
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Company Type: Private Limited Company
Status: Dissolved 30/06/2009
They are now shown as a dormant company

From an article in The Times dated Tuesday, Oct 23, 1984, pg. 11
Vitrea, who import Czechoslovakian furniture... Further information from Vitrea (Merchants) Ltd. Fanshaw House, Fanshaw Street, London N1

In The Times dated Thursday, Mar 15, 1951; pg. 11, Vitrea are shown as being members of the Federation of London Public Wharfingers Limited

Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: AndrewPerrott on November 03, 2012, 07:32:17 AM
I joined Vitrea Merchants as a salesman in 1958. At that time Vitrea had premises in Charterhouse Square and Edwin Downey
was a full time employee. He was commissioned by Glassexport and importers to design glass objects that would subsequently
be produced in Czechoslovakia and imported to the U.K. He was an outstanding draughtsman and designer and had the ability
to produce one dimensional drawings that were such that the capacity of an object was always correct as desired. In the early
sixties Vitrea moved from Charterhouse Square to Clerkenwell Road London E1 and Glassexport  (Skloexport) moved from Wenceslas Square Prague to Liberec north Bohemia. I became a director of Henry Marchant Ltd , wholly owned by Glassexport,
and Downey designed for me a number of items including a water set and a fruit set that were produced in Lednicke Rovne which
proved to be very successful with major retailers in the U.K. In the early sixties Downey left Vitrea and commenced working with
an importing concern named Max Emanuel who were located in the Hatton Garden area of London. I lost touch with Downey
shortly afterwards.
Andrew Perrott.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: AndrewPerrott on November 03, 2012, 11:29:14 AM
In 1958 Vitrea Merchants were located in Charterhouse Square London E1 and I and Edwin Downey were employed by Vitrea.
The then managing director was Antonin Vomacka .In the early sixties Vitrea moved to Clerkenwell Road E1 where Downey
continued as draughtsman and designer. At that time Downey resigned from Vitrea and was employed by an importing concern
by the name of Max Emanuel and they were located in the Hatton Garden area. I subsequently became a director of Henry Marchant Ltd (wholly owned by Glassexport)and Edwin Downey designed some items that we imported at that time
I lost touch with Downey in the late sixties.

Andrew Perrott.
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on November 03, 2012, 11:39:21 AM
Many thanks Andrew for clearing up all the loose threads on this topic.
Title: Re: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Anne on November 03, 2012, 07:30:17 PM
Hello Andrew, welcome to the board, and thank you for adding your really interesting information.

Would you have any photos of the designs you mention, which you'd be able to add into this topic for us please, as this is such an interesting yet less well-known area, and we'd love to see what his designs were. If you need technical help with adding pics please do feel free to email me directly. :)
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on November 03, 2012, 08:57:23 PM
Another footnote:

Max Emanuel Company are another general pottery and glass importers established in 1880s. Covering most of Europe and including table glass from Czechoslovakia in the 60s.
Title: Re: Re: E. Downey
Post by: AndrewPerrott on November 04, 2012, 08:57:43 AM
Hello Anne, I regret that I do not have pictures or photos of designs by Downey, however there are two items that readily spring to mind
and they are a water set named Joanna and a fruit set by the name of Scandia. Both items were designed with a Sandinavian influence
and I will produce drawings for you and send them at a later date. Downey made designs for a wide spectrum of glass which included
soda glass, lead crystal which were hand made and also pressed ware. 
 Andrew Perrott.
Title: Re: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Anne on November 04, 2012, 06:49:12 PM
Hi Andrew, thank you, that'd be very useful. Did any of Downey's designs include trinket sets please? This is my main area of interest and am always looking for more information about them as we've so many unanswered questions about these sets.

I also found a birth in 1911 of an Edwin William Downey in 1991 in Mile End London, who appears to have married in Dartford Kent in 1946 to a Doris Lucas, and who died in Bromley Kent in 1986. Does this sound like the same man? The dates would seem to fit with someone working at Vitrea in the 1950s...
Title: Re: E. Downey
Post by: AndrewPerrott on December 18, 2012, 07:58:04 PM
Hello Anne,
It has been some time since I last posted. I have made a drawing of the water set and fruit set designed by Downey however it is too large to form an attachment. Never mind I will draw something rather smaller.
I do not know if Downey designed any trinket sets, never the less i will ask a friend,who worked as Managing Director at the time if he can shed any light.
Your information concerning the birth in 1911 of an Edwin Downey fits the dates however I think it is rather speculative.
Title: Re: Re: E. Downey
Post by: Frank on February 10, 2013, 02:17:20 AM
We can always help with re-sizing scans Andrew