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Glass Identification - Post here for all ID requests => Glass => Topic started by: brewster on December 02, 2012, 01:19:28 PM

Title: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: brewster on December 02, 2012, 01:19:28 PM
There are three items on at the moment that are listed as the works of Sam Herman:

One is marked JFWI for the Jam Factory Workshop in Adelaide where Herman worked 1974-79. (I don't know what the I stands for, and the seller thinks it is the numeral 1.)  The others are unmarked and none is signed. These items show his influence, as does much of the Jam Factory output in the late 1970s, but are they his works?

In 1977 and perhaps later, Herman operated a studio of his own in the Jam Factory precinct, employing trainees as assistants and as independent artists. I have seen works by Stan Melis, Rob Knottenbelt and Peter Goss, signed by the respective artist but subtitled SJ Herman Studio or SJH Studio. To my eye, these pieces display the influence of Sam Herman every bit as much as the ones listed for sale. I have shown them before  on the GMB here:,50103.msg283097.html#msg283097

The photos below show some other Jam Factory production pieces from the late 1970s, made by trainees and unsigned but identified as such by Stan Melis, both about 12.5cm diameter.

Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: chopin-liszt on December 02, 2012, 02:09:32 PM
Fascinating, Trever, thank-you! (I can't currently see the whole listings - we went wireless recently (as in not a transistor radio  ::) ) and t'internet keeps cutting out or refusing to load pages, so I can only see the main page - I can't see enlargements or the seller's blurb. So much for "advancements" in technology.  :P
Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: flying free on December 02, 2012, 02:31:03 PM
Trevor one is marked for the Jam Factory and 1 but did you miss the mark underneath it?
or is it not relevant? - I thought Sam H had a terrible signature lol,
that looks a bit neat but reads SH to me?
Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: chopin-liszt on December 02, 2012, 06:59:03 PM
Could be SM - Stan Melis....
My Jam Factory marked piece reads Samuel J Herman 1975 and SA81. The SH (or SM) on the bottle in the listing is not written in any similar way to the way Sam Herman forms his capital Ss or Hs.
Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: brewster on December 03, 2012, 12:39:34 PM
Thanks, Sue and m. I didn't attach much significance to the initials SH because I thought at best that would be a tribute and hence not helpful to identification of the maker beyond what is obvious from the appearance. I agree they do not appear to correspond to Sam Herman's usual signing of either the S or the H.

I agree they could well be SM, and then Stan Melis is an intriguing possibility. Melis's signature on a few examples to hand shows some variability in both the S and the M, and does not rule out a match.

Another piece I've seen with the inscription JFWI from 1980 has an additional marking that seems to say U2. I'm not aware that Bono and the lads were in Adelaide at that time! On the other hand, it may suggest the letters SH or SM are not somebody's initials at all.

The obvious solution, of course, would be to ask Stan Melis. He has been charming and helpful on the couple of occasion we have met him, but he tends to move around. I'll see what I can do to track him down through other contacts.

Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: brewster on December 05, 2012, 10:55:53 AM
Here are photos of the item referred to in the third paragraph above. It is 16cm high by about 12.5 diameter.

Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: chopin-liszt on December 05, 2012, 11:00:00 AM
It's a lovely piece.  :)
Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: brewster on March 15, 2014, 12:04:27 PM
Iíve come across more items from the early Jam Factory workshop, as shown in the first photo below. They range from 12 to 18cm high and all have a basically trapezoidal lower section, although some are more rounded than others. They are all inscribed JFW1 and signed PG in the hand of Peter Goss Ė see the second photo.

By happy coincidence, I have been in contact with Peter Goss in recent days, He is long retired from glass making, having stopped in 1991. However, he has been helpful with confirmations and recollections, and has resolved some of our earlier speculation.

My new items are Jam Factory production pieces from the mid-1970s, just like the items that started this thread. (Unfortunately, the ebay listings in question are now deleted, although two of the items are shown on the dealerís web page  here ( as Bottle #1 and Bottle #2 in picture 3.

From Peter Goss I learnt that it is indeed JFW1, with the numeral 1  to indicate the first item of that design. Remember these were intended to be production items, because that was supposed to generate the income to fund the workshop. The fact that every item seems to be JFW1 Ė not JFW2 or 86 or whatever Ė is a testament to those heady days of experimentation and discovery.

These items were made by Sam Herman and his trainees (Peter Goss, Rob Knottenbelt, John Walsh and Tom Persson) together with Stan Melis who was brought in to contribute his Slovakian glass making background to production ware. After a short time, Herman was less involved in production and the others did most of the work, although clearly influenced by their training. A piece might be worked on by several of them in various combinations, with design input from all of them. The person who finished the item usually signed it.

The  item we were discussing earlier was inscribed JFW1 and signed with initials SM for Stan Melis. That piece is shown on the dealerís web page as Bottle #2.

Iím no closer to resolving the apparent signature U2 on my blue piece from 1980 shown above. Peter canít help on that.

Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: flying free on March 23, 2016, 11:53:15 PM
I've just seen your post on the Aki Isogai thread Trevor.
I have this vase (see pic), can't reach it at the moment as it's right on the top of a tall cupboard.
And can't find any pics of the base but I seem to remember it might be signed 'Hook'.
I thought it was a Sam Herman piece and searched for a glass artist called Hook who might have worked with him forever and found nothing.
Any chance this might be an early Michael Hook (Jam Factory) piece do you think?
It's never occurred to me before now as his perfume bottles look so very different, but just suddenly wondered tonight.  It has a very Sam influence I think.
Thanks for any thoughts :)
Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: flying free on March 24, 2016, 02:06:31 PM
aah, actually don't worry.  I've fetched it down now and I think I came to the conclusion that it is signed Kooke not Hook.

Thanks for looking anyway :)
Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: brewster on March 24, 2016, 10:22:16 PM
Hi m. I think you are right about the signature being 'Kooke'. Michael Hook's sigs are usually clear, although they became somewhat stylised and harder to read in later years. The three examples below show the variety that I have seen. The earliest is from 1982, the middle one from the late 1980s I'd guess, and the third from a 2000s perfume bottle.

I agree that the free form of your piece also seems at odds with Michael Hook's refined and symmetrical later work. But then, I suppose, we all had to start somewhere.

Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: flying free on December 14, 2016, 12:31:33 PM
these early Morar pieces from Peter Layton remind me of my vase - perhaps it dates to a similar period i.e. c. 1971
Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: brewster on March 30, 2018, 09:13:08 PM
Yet again, I'm solving my own puzzle. The item described in Replies #4 and 5 has the inscription JFWI (for Jam Factory Workshop), a date of November 1980 and also some initials of the maker. The form of signing indicates it is a piece made to be sold as JF production ware to finance the training operation.

I kept reading the initials as U2, which of course is nonsense in the circumstances. I now realise it says NR for Neil Roberts, who was one of only a handful of trainees at the time. NR went on to a celebrated career in sculpture and glass, until he was killed in 2002 when he was struck by a train while trying to rescue his dog from the tracks. For those interested, there is a website in his name maintained by his friends as a tribute.

I figured this out after seeing another JFW piece signed by Fred Tessari, who was contemporary with NR.

I realise that I'm probably the only person in the world who thinks the question worth solving.

Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: chopin-liszt on March 31, 2018, 12:47:01 PM
I'm still reading and trying to take it in. ;D
I have a long-standing mystery vase that looks a little bit like your blue swathed one. Found on a stall under a bridge in Portobello Road, sometime circa 1999.
It has a large, roughly ground out, round pontil mark. It is absolutely not contemporary Chinese. I'll have to get pics, won't I?  ::)

Title: Re: Sam Herman anyone?
Post by: rosieposie on April 02, 2018, 01:25:04 PM
You are definitely NOT the only person Trevor! :)