Excluding the abortive glass factory at Jamestown, the American glass industry began roughly a century after that in England. The 18th century was largely dominated by three German families - Wistar, Stiegel and Amelung - who created an enclave and set up glasshouses in New Jersey near the Delaware River. Wistar and Stiegel made mainly bottles and window glass by the broad method while Amelung, who took over one of Stiegel’s factories, also made tableware and a form of lead crystal. None of these glasshouses survived.
All this glass is rare and expensive. The typical American collector’s period does not really start until after the American War of Independence (1776), and English imports were largely blocked. The main need, apart from windows, was for bottles, flasks and lamps, produced in great diversity. In the 19th century exquisite blown tableware and Art glass in distinctive styles and colours, decorated with painting, engraving embossing and cutting, were produced and continued almost to the present day.
The overwhelming demand was for cheap glass - met by the invention of the pressing machine, c.1825. It answered the shortage of skilled blowers. The initial pressing was often further worked in surprising ways not found in England. English emigrant glassmakers - Cain’s, Blenko, Bennet, Northwood, Nash etc. - many connected with Stourbridge, played prominent roles in these developments.
Following the introduction of machine-made glassware many of the traditional industries collapsed after WWII. Today it is being replaced by an exciting Studio Glass movement.
Please note the date and day of the week, which exceptionally is a Wednesday.
The lecture will start promptly at 19.15. Coffee and light refreshments are provided from 18.30. The meeting will finish by 21.00
(NB There is now a charge of £10 each per meeting.)