Glass Discussion & Research. NO IDENTIFICATION REQUESTS here please. > New Zealand & Australia Glass

What constitutes proof, with specific reference to Australia

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Cathy B:
On the advice of Bernard, I have shifted this post from another thread.

Hello Glen, Frank, Bernard, Marcus and everyone,

Can I ask a question, as a novice researcher battling alone without training or resources...

In my limited research of Australian glass, I've discovered that Crown Crystal were rampant copiers of overseas glass, particularly in the 1930s. As such, what sort of proof is acceptable before one can state, for certain, that a piece of glass is definitely made by a particular company?

In the past the collecting fraternity have been conviced that any pattern which appears in Crown Crystal catalogues, but which also was made by other companies, must have been imported into Australia by Crown Crystal and then included in their catalogues. It is an incredibly strong belief within the Australian collecting fraternity, apparently without any proof whatsoever other than someone's guess.

However, I've found documents, from 1935 to some time in the mid-1940s, which prove beyond doubt that at the very least, the moulds were made which copied patterns from overseas companies. I don't know whether the glass was pressed or not. The August Walther pattern "Greta", which is available on the internet via Siegmar Geisselberger's site, is one which appears in these documents. Also Bagley's equinox vase.

Now, I've found an equinox shape which differs slightly from the original, in that it has alternatively textured panels, the tops of the panels are slightly rounder, the shape is more like a rugby ball standing on it's end and there is no round mould mark in the bottom of the vase. And of course, the "Made in England" mark is absent.

It's an educated guess that this vase must be the Crown Crystal version, given the colour (which is similar to other Crown pieces), the texture on alternate panels (again, very characteristic of Crown), and that the piece was bought in Australia. It also looks more like the drawing I've seen (although this is rough). But is it Australian? And was it made in the late 1930s, when the mould was ordered?

Likewise, I have found several different "Greta" vases in Australia, clearly made from different moulds, but which would be which? These are difficult, because I personally don't know whether they were ever copied by anyone else - were they ever copied in Czechoslovakia, for instance? (well, I am a novice .

Also, there is the question of the Iris and Herringbone sugar, creamer and butter dishes, as discovered by Angela Bowey in her 1950s catalogue. These seem to have been made from the 1940s (according to a badly photocopied document labelled in pencil "War Catalogue" by collector who is now dead, buried and safe from harrassment by novice researchers wanting clarification...). They also turn up in various opaque ceramic baked finishes, which of course was one of Crown's most common treatments (after the war, when the pot furnace was abandoned, and they stopped making different coloured glass).

It is extremely probable that the ceramic-surfaced Iris and Herringbone is therefore Crown Crystal. But what proof is necessary before you can state this is definitely the case?

And what does this say of the items from earlier catalogues, (1928 - 1934), which are in patterns made overseas?

Coming from a (fairly rudimentary) science background, I know that absolute proof is impossible. But what level of proof do people here feel is necessary to PROVE an identification?

If I have asked this question before, forgive me! It has been playing on my mind.


Cathy B:
And here is my reply to Glen, who's opinion is that Crown Crystal (an Australian company) imported items from overseas, and then onsold.

I would welcome comment!


Ah, now Glen, where is your proof that Crown Crystal imported glass?

What I have found is not catalogues, but sketches that accompanied some internal documents. The blueprints themselves are long gone, but the sketches were apparently so that if they were separated, the blueprints and forms could be easily married up. (Glen, I have emailed you more details).

It is possible that some of the glass might not have been pressed, however so many of these are patterns imitating Czech, German, English and American glass that they must have made at least some.

Crown did in fact import crystal blanks, for a short time, from Scotland. They had advertised the resulting crystal as "All Australian Made", which got them an angry mention in Parliament and a visit from an MP. There was a huge kerfuffle over the importing of the glass blanks which were then labelled as Australian glass.

There are two possible conclusions to be drawn from this.

A. Either it was not the extent of the importation. OR

B. As there was so much fuss over these few shipments of glasses, it might be that if any other glass was being passed off as Australian, there would be a similar kerfuffle. And there wasn't - believe me, I have looked. I have looked in the Sydney Morning Herald microfiche until my eyes were watering and my head ached - but that is another story.

In any case, it is possible that that specific instance of glass importation has remained in the collective memories of glass workers, who have Chinese-whispered the story down the generations until the present, where we have several people believing that Crown Crystal imported any glass with imported patterns and included it in their catalogues.

It remains to be truly proven one way or the other, for each specific pattern, whether Crown did import glass. However, what I have found is very good evidence that they definitely, absolutely, without a hint of a doubt, DID copy some patterns. Can't publish exact details as yet until copyright issues are ironed out.


a lot of glass was not copied, in the mid 30's some one said MMMmm let's put import tax on glass, so what was done they sent moulds to different glass factories around the world so they could be made without them being taxed, e.g  fostoria USA - fostoria England

I have done a lot of comparisons with the Jeanette version of  Iris and herringbone and the one found here in Australia. This has been done by corrrespondence with a collector in USA. I can not come to any other conclusion that crown Crystal copied the Jeanette version. Too many differnces in the mould, To me it doesn't make sense that Jeanette Glass would make a totally different mould to export to Australia.On first look, these items do look the same, untill you start to measure and compare,so why would they do a different mould, why go to all that expense for basically the same result.
Then there is the "chippendale" sugar and creamer,which appears in Crown Crystal's cat. I was told it was not made by CC but by Josef Rindskopf Czech and imported here. I actually had a lady in the USA who had a set, which I believe to be the Czech version.We compared measurements of her version and the version I have here in Australia, they don't match, So again why would a company go  to the expense of different moulds, for basically the same  look.I am a strong believer that CC did make their wares, not imported, and copied other companies items. But this is only my very amatuer opinion and there is no proof, except the items I have had the chance to compare are not from the same moulds.
BTW Cathy keep up the good work, I really enjoy the unfolding saga of Crown Crystal and as the days go by slowly, the mystery will unravel.It just needs someone like you to get in there and have a go. I thank you for this.


You are doing just great, as Peter says "Patience".  I still have some unanswered questions for twenty years but am certain that one day an answer will pop up. As you are illustrating, comparing different factories production is notoriously difficult and gets worse when they shared craftsmen, moulds and designs (copied or approved)!

Every day sees more of the fruits of collectors research appearing on the web and it can hold a lot more pictures than any book.

As your story grows, more collectors will take an interest and the material available will slowly increase.

Published accounts rarely hold much useful information as the information rarely contains commercially sensitive material. University, National and regional archives are the places to look for the companies internal documents - perhaps starting with a library close the the glassworks.

Also, local papers like to publish interviews with elderly residents although these might not contain any specific details.


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