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Author Topic: Apsley Pellatt Curiosities of Glassmaking 1849-Venetian Ball & French Millefiori  (Read 7972 times)

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Offline flying free

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This has probably been on the board before so apologies but I thought some might find it interesting if they've not seen it previously.

In this book 'The Curiosities of Glassmaking' written by Apsley Pellatt and published in 1849, he shows on page 140 plate 6 or VI, which is  a coloured plate with an example of:

1)  what he describes on page 141 as a 'Venetian Ball' which seems to be a scramble weight with filigrano cane scraps in it.

Interestingly this was written in 1849 and on page 109 and 110 he describes these 'Venetian balls' and adds '...Some of the ancient specimens have apparently been decomposed on the exterior, but can be again restored by the Glass-cutters polishing wheels' . 

What does he mean by 'Ancient specimens' ?

2) a section of what is described on page 141  as 'Specimen of modern French Mille-fiori glass - formerly made by the Ancients and the Venetians:  it consists of slices off the ends of cones, of various colours, enclosed in white transparent glass, as described in the manipulatory portion of the work (see page 110)' .. and also page 109

link here
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FCwGAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=apsley+pellatt+glass&hl=en&sa=X&ei=y5YuUc6XN8Wn0QXlxYDwDA&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA

m

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Offline KevinH

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1)
"Ancient specimens" may simply mean 15th century (and earlier?) Venetian "balls" and other objects which include millefiori and filigrana canes. The millefiori techniques are what are often referenced in modern books as being "rediscovered" or "reinvented" at Murano / Bohemia in the early 19th century.

The early Venetain "balls" were used as decorative elements for such as the top of maces.

2)
The reference to "cones" in that extract is very likely a misprint and should have been "canes".

At the time that Pellatt wrote the book, French millefiori paperweights (based on the "rediscovered techniques" at Murano / Bohemia) were clearly not properly understood. The making differed from that of "the Ancients" in that the paperweights were solid, not blown, [ * ] and the canes were added to the solid gather and covered with a clear layer then shaped as required.

[ * ] [Mod, April 28 2016: Please see reply 26 below for a correction to this statement.]
KevinH

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Offline flying free

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thank so much :)
I was confused as I was under the misapprehension that millefiori weights were a mid 19th century 'invention'.
m

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Offline KevinH

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They were a 19th century "invention"! Usually stated in the books to be the "invention" of Pietro Bigaglia but now accepted that Dr Fuss in Bohemia got there first in the 1830s.

The misapprehension is thinking that earlier items (Venetian balls, plaques and whatever) were millefiori paperweights - they were not.
KevinH

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Offline flying free

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ok,  so just totally misapprehensive on all counts then  ;D

I've now got it clear ... but didn't know about Dr Fuss either, so thank you for straightening it all out for me.
m

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Offline paperweights

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In referring to ancient glass, I believe Apsley Pellatt may have been referring to truly older samples of Roman and Alexandrian glass canes and mosaics dating from as early as the first century B.C.  These were most likely made by murrini techniques similar to those used by modern day murrini makers like Dinah Hulet and Loren Stump.  More recently, there are examples of Murano beads and bowls that have millefiori formed in molds dating from the 15th century. 

That said, paperweights came later and the millefiori paperweight is now believed to have first been invented in the 1830s as stated above.
From:  Allan Port
                                                             
Check out my web page for Glass paperweights, Paperweight Books, and Paperweight Information
http://paperweights.com

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Offline SimonD

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This posting shows an old Italian millefiori item that predates the Pellatt publication by a few hundred years.

http://www.glassmessages.com/index.php/topic,45664

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Offline flying free

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thanks for linking it.  I love that piece of glass. I remember when you first posted it and it has been included in an article that I've read somewhere I think?  The canes remind me of dried pasta.  They have an odd opalescent look about them and I often recall that piece wondering about how the glass of the canes was made for that colour and effect.
m

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Offline flying free

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Have another question  :-[ sorry

Kev in your response to my first question you said
'At the time that Pellatt wrote the book, French millefiori paperweights (based on the "rediscovered techniques" at Murano / Bohemia) were clearly not properly understood. The making differed from that of "the Ancients" in that the paperweights were solid, not blown, and the canes were added to the solid gather and covered with a clear layer then shaped as required.'

In fact on rereading the book, the reference I made to the Venetian ball actually says that it was a solid ball, not hollow.
The explanation  says
'Fig. 1. A solid ancient Venetian ball, consisting of fragments of filigree cane, placed in a hollow, transparent, white Glass pocket, and collapsed by extracting the air as the mass fuses together by the heat of the furnace'. 

It doesn't say the ball was hollow  :-\  It says it was solid and describes a process that means it was solid I think? It also doesn't say it was blown I don't think?

[ * ]

If this is the case, then is the only difference between an 'ancient' Venetian ball and a millefiori paperweight, the fact that one is called a paperweight and the other not?

I'm just wondering why neither the Pellatt book nor the 1852 book I mentioned on the other threads, both of which discuss Millefiori and the construction of what I guess would be canes of some sort, don't call them paperweights?
It sounds to me he is discussing a solid glass object with millefiori in it not a hollow ball despite it being called a Venetian'ball'. 
If the items were the same but their usage was just different, then when was the term 'paperweight' denoted?

I know the words ' flogging' and 'dead horse' spring to mind, but please humour me  ;D
m

[ * ] [Mod, April 28 2016: Please see reply 26 below for a correction of Kev's statement.]

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Offline glassobsessed

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Sounds like an unnecessary and somewhat bizarre way to make a solid ball. Perhaps trade secrets were being protected? I can think of other somewhat less generous explanations why the author may have had it wrong.

John

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