Connoisseur 1920 - Nailsea and other glass

The Connoisseur magazine 67 June 1920

{ With additional thanks to N J Wilson - Pagination adjusted for easier reading, and indicated by including end of page number in line with grey text. Original footnotes are placed within [] and in the text in a red/brown colour. The referenced article from 1911 has been obtained will be added as soon as possible}


Nailsea and other Glass in the Collection of Mr. John Lane By H. St. George Gray and Margaret Lavington

The Connoisseur of June, 1911 (vol. xxx., pp. 85-98), contained an article on “Nailsea Glass,” copiously illustrated by specimens belonging to the late Mrs. C. E. Challicom, of Clevedon. Recently the writer has had the opportunity of examining a similar collection, the property of Mr. John Lane, who obtained the pieces for the most part in the immediate neighbourhood of Nailsea and in other parts of the south-west of England, chiefly in the nineties of last century, and consequently at a time when a large number of specimens remained very much scattered, but in private hands. This gave him an excellent opening for making a good representative collection, and securing pieces which were at the time still [p68] carefully preserved and valued by families whose for­bears had been directly connected with the Nailsea glass-works. But Mr. Lane’s collection of glass is by no means confined to the Nailsea type, and many important pieces of different fabrics are figured and described later.


(I) 12 in. (2) 7Πin. (3) 95/8 in.
(4) 14œ in. (5) 14œ in.

The Connoisseur magazine 68 June 1920

(I) 11œ in. (2) 6Ÿ in.
(3) 6 in. (4) 2œ in. (5) 43/8 in. (6) 3œ in.

We will now proceed to describe the fine specimens of Nailsea glass [*It cannot be positively stated that every piece here described was actually made at Nailsea, but all, or nearly all, of them are of Nailsea type. Many of the pieces were collected at Nailsea or in the immediate neighbourhood.] in Mr. John Lane’s collection, represented by the accompanying photographs, Figs. I. to VIII., which, although they illustrate 51 pieces, do not by any means include the whole of his collection. The dimensions beneath the plates give the height or length of the object.

Fig. I. — Vessels and rolling-pins of the flecked black or greenish-black bottle-glass are by no means rare, but it is very seldom that one meets with speci­mens of such excellent quality, pleasing form, and artistic merit as those here given. No. 1 is finished with parallel bands of white enamel outside the rim. The flecks are not very evenly spaced, and they vary [p69] considerably in size; one of them measures no less than 1 in. by 17/8 in. Some of these spots are rough and stand off from the surface of the vessel in relief.[* This jug and that given in Fig. II., No. 2, should be compared with those figured in The Connoisseur, vol. xv., p. 49, and vol. xxx., pp. 90, 93.] No. 2 is a two-handled loving-cup of handsome proportions, with comparatively small flecks very thickly clustered; in this case they have a bluish tinge. One of the largest pieces in the collection is the handled bottle (No. 3). The flecks are more or less round in the lower half of the vessel; at the neck they are much smaller, long and narrow. The two flecked rolling-pins (Nos. 4 and 5) are of solid glass, length 14œ in. Glass rolling-pins are generally hollow, like a plain blue one in Mr. Lane’s collection. Flour is frequently found remaining in these hollow utensils; sometimes common salt, which added to the weight, and, moreover, kept the glass cool — an advantage in making pastry. In the days of smuggling these cylindrical objects were often used for illicit purposes.

Flecked pieces of a similar class to those given in Fig. I. are illustrated in Fig. II. No. 2 is a charming jug of great brilliancy, flecked very little except on the shoulder of the vessel. The pedestalled vase, or cup (No. 6), is also of ordinary bottle-glass, but yellower than many of these pieces. Most of the flecks are white, but there are others of chrome yellow and Indian red, the former more numerous than the latter. We have not met with a similar piece with coloured spots; but the handled mug, figured on p. 93, vol. xxx., has the white flecks interspersed with patches of translucent sapphire-blue glass. The wine-bottle (No. 1) is a handsome piece, the body consisting of opaque blue glass with vertical festoons in milky-white. Small hats are frequently met with; No. 4 is apparently an old specimen, in sea-green glass with white spots. The two flasks, of ordinary bottle-glass, are unusual. The festoon ornament in No. 3, horizontally and obliquely arranged, is in relief in the upper half; in No. 5 the white and bluish-white decoration is arranged horizontally in relief.

The Connoisseur magazine 69 June 1920

(1) 8œ in. (2) 5œ in. (3) 4 in. (4) 8 in.
(5) 43/8 in. (6) 3Œ in. (7) 3œ in. (8) 3 in. (9) 57/8 in.

Fig. III. illustrates nine pieces, all of translucent glass, except No. 5, a small bottle of ordinary bottle-glass, which may not belong to Nailsea. The large bottles are both of clear glass, No. 1 having festoon [p70] ornament in blue, No. 4 in ruby. [* These may be compared with those .in the June, 1911, article, Fig. XII., Nos. 1 and 5.] The drinking-glass (No. 7) was obtained by Mr. Lane at an inn in Nailsea, and has similar ruby streaking to No. 4. The little jugs on either side and the shoe (one of a pair) are of a brilliant blue colour. There are two specimens of No. 2, small bottles with tapering necks, finished with a wide, flat lip; they are plum-coloured and grooved obliquely from top to bottom. Lastly, there is a pair of pedestalled goblets (No. 3) of claret-coloured glass, with white enamel edging at rim and foot. The foot is impressed, top and bottom, by a pattern of radiating grooves, each crossed by five ridges in slight relief.

The Connoisseur magazine 70 June 1920

Fig. IV. — “Latticinio” and other glass. Nailsea
(I) 65/8 in. (2) 12œ in. (3) 11 in.
(4) 4٠in. (s) 5Πin. (6) 3٠in. (7) 37/8 in.

In Figs. IV. to VII. are included various specimens displaying the well-known ribbon, festoon, or latticinio effects, which, as stated on pp. 92, 93, vol. xxx., were produced probably by Flemish and Venetian work­men, who moved from one glass factory to another. In Fig. IV. we have a vase (No. 5) of thin clear glass having a considerable number of small air-bubbles — apparently an early piece; the body has an ogee curve and the pedestalled base is hollow : the horizontal rings, evenly spaced, are “dirty white.” The tankard (No. 1) has the typical tapering sides, with a basal diameter of 5 in.; the festoons are milky-white, the handle of clear glass uncoloured. No. 4 is a small handled bottle of clear glass tinged a pale greenish-blue. No. 6 is a small jug of thin clear glass, obliquely, but not evenly, ribbed. No. 7 is of pale yellow colour, [70] in the form of a fat leg and foot (also hollow); this glass is spirally ornamented in a similar manner to No. 2, Fig. III. The decanter (No. 2), with latticinio work in opaque white closely arranged, is 12œ in. in height, with stopper. The collection includes a similar decanter without stopper (height, 8 in.). A bottle, or small decanter, of clear glass thickly covered with opaque white festoons, and having a plain neck, is shown in Fig. V., No. 1. A decanter of clear sea-green glass (height, 9Œ in.), without stopper, which was collected at Nailsea, is not figured. There is another of clear glass, ornamented, although thinly, with milky-white festoons (height, 9 in.). This and the one previously mentioned have three plain encircling bands in high relief on the neck. Then there are two bottles, or small decanters, of ordinary bottle-glass of good quality, large at the base, tapering upwards and having wide lip and mouth; the one with stopper remaining is 8 in. in height. Their provenance may not be Nailsea.

The Connoisseur magazine 71 June 1920

Fig. V. — glass decanter, candlesticks, and drum-stick – Nailsea
(i) 6Ÿ in. (2) 6œ in. (3) 6Ÿ in. (4) 11 in.
(5) 9Ÿ in.

Fig. V. — The candlesticks are charming specimens, but it is quite probable that Nos. 2 and 3 were made at Bristol. They are hollow right through, and ornamented obliquely with slight ribbing; the “lobing” of the stems is very effective. The other candlestick (No. 4), ornamented with opaque white latticinio work, is also hollow right through. We have figured but one of the four “drum-sticks” (No. 5); it is of sea-green glass, and spirally fluted throughout its length. Two others are of the same kind of glass, and another of amber glass (the longest, 12 in.).

The Connoisseur magazine 72 June 1920

Fig. VI. — flasks of “latticinio” glass, etc.
(1) 9Ÿ in. (2) 5œ in.
(3) 7œ in. (4) 5Ÿ in. (5) 6œ in. (6) 8 in.

Fig. VI. — We are doubtful as to the provenance of the horn of clear glass (No. 1). It is, however, a specimen of clever workmanship. The handled cup (No. 2) is of clear glass, ornamented with milky-white bands spirally arranged; it has a foot, and the sides are slightly convex. No. 4 is a small plate of clear glass, enclosing within its walls a radiating design of thread- or lace-work, similar to that so frequently met with in the stems of wine-glasses. It may not belong to Nailsea.

Mr. Lane’s collection contains about half a dozen flasks, of which three are illustrated (Nos. 3, 5, and 6). The first has a milky-white body heavily festooned in pink. Nos. 5 and 6 are of clear glass, ornamented with opaque white “ribbons” — No. 6 a double flask with distinct receptacles for two liquids. A large series of flasks is represented in a coloured plate in a former article (The Connoisseur, vol. xxx., p. 91). Eyres states that the manufacture of these flasks did [71] not come under his observation at Nailsea during Samuel Bowen's time.


{ ignore full size}

Fig. VII. — These charming little scent-bottles are of clear white glass with opaque white spiral streaking, and are further ornamented with beads of turquoise and amber-coloured glass on the edges.[* There was a similar specimen in the Challicom collection, dated 1819.] These love-tokens, evidently made to special order, are inscribed [72] with initials and dates on opposite sides, in mauve; and Nos. 1 and 2 have a heart outlined in dots above the initials. It is interesting to note that these little bottles were made from 1819 to 1822. The inscriptions are as follows: — (1) M.L., 1822; (2) S.R., 1822; (3) M.S., 1819. The perfect ones are 2 in. in height.
The Connoisseur magazine 73 June 1920


Fig. VIII. — Of the long pieces, the pair of slender poignards (length nearly 4 ft.) are probably unique, and although collected in London, there can be little doubt, judging from the treatment of the blades and the colours of the handles, that they had their origin at Nailsea. The blades are circular in section, of clear white glass, enclosing two spiral threads in opaque white and pink, and comparing precisely with the longest pipe in this figure. The circular guards are blue, the ribbed grip green, the pommel clear white.

The coach-horn of amber glass (length, 40 in.) is in perfect condition. A similar piece, in clear white glass, figured in The Connoisseur (1911), vol. xxx., p. 98, is of exactly the same length. At a later date Mrs. Challicom added to her collection of long pieces a “Yard of Ale,” inscribed “Coach & Horses, 1820,” and made by a Nailsea worker named Stevens, from whose descendants she bought it. This vessel, which is precisely similar to that formerly used by the advanced students at Eton College, and illustrated in The Connoisseur, vol. xxxi., p. 272, was used for several years at a public-house known as the “Coach and Horses” (now the “Smyth Arms”), at Long [73] Ashton, North Somerset, for handing up drink to the drivers of the old stage-coaches.

The Connoisseur magazine 74 June 1920

Twisted crooks, wands, and walking-sticks of a variety of colours are common, and many of them are of quite recent date. Mr. Lane has a few old specimens, including a twisted crook of ordinary black bottle-glass (length, 42 in.), and a “walking-stick” (length, 37œ in.), of rare type with square section, streaked in straight lines in white and blue. Both are figured here, and the latter was obtained at Nailsea.

Three “tobacco-pipes” are included in Fig. VIII. The upper one, of a common form (length, 17œ in.), is a good specimen of latticinio work in milky-white and pink. The stem of the longest pipe (50 in.) has already been mentioned; the bowl is unusually small, of clear glass streaked with opaque white. The pipe with a thistle-shaped bowl (length, 23œ in.) is of milky-white glass throughout, and is probably of Bristol origin.

It is evident that many of these pipes were made at Nailsea. Eyres never witnessed the making of any pipes, but the following note he made has an important bearing on the subject: “A wagoner, from over Backwell Hill, must have heard of these pipes, for he came into the works one day and asked one of the ‘teazers’ (stokers) if he thought he could find any ‘cooriosity bacca pipes’ among the cinders!“

The collection also includes a funnel of pale-green clear glass, having a fluted neck (length, 8 in.); a dish, or small milk-pan, of the same kind of glass, with turned-over rim (diam. at top, 87/8 in.), collected at Nailsea; a pedestalled sugar-basin in blue, and another in green glass ; and a pot, or measure (height, 6Πin.), of ordinary bottle-glass.

Included in Fig. VIII. are two “slick-stones,” “slickers,” or linen smoothers of ordinary bottle-glass, which show signs of considerable wear. One is thin at the “business-end,” and has a plain stalk or handle (height, 5Ÿ in.); the other is much thicker, and has a notched handle, which affords a good grip (height, 6œ in.). “Slick-stones” are infrequently met with, but a few specimens in glass may be seen in our museums, as, for example, the Guildhall (London), Horniman (Forest Hill), and Colchester. In the National Mu­seum at Edinburgh there are at least two such linen smoothers of black glass, both obtained in Scotland. [* Cat. Nat. Mus. of Antiq., Scot., 1892, p. 326, Nos. 133, 134 (one figured).] In the same museum a glass smoother is exhibited which was found with a Viking interment at Ballinaby, Islay. [† Saga-Book of the Viking Club, vol. v., p. 395; also Anderson's Scotland in Pagan Times (Iron Age), p. 37.] A “slicker” of bottle-glass without handle is shown in the Taunton Museum, which was used for smoothing the surface of dowlas whilst in the loom, South Petherton. [‡ Dowlas-weaving was a South Petherton industry in the eighteenth century.] Pieces of solid glass (slick-stones) were sometimes used for rubbing floors to give them a glossy appearance. [§ Eng. Dialect Diet., vol. v., p. 516.]

“Take a cloute of linnen cloth wete in water,
wherwith you shall slycke and smoth the said tables.”
(A.D. 1558, Warde’s trans. Alexis' Secr.)

H. St. George Gray.

The Connoisseur magazine 75 June 1920

Mr. John Lane has many other specimens of old glass, sufficient to form in themselves a collection of great importance, mainly English in character, remarkable alike for its variety of form and for its wide range of colour.

While it is obviously difficult to date unengraved glass with precision, the oldest pieces in Mr. Lane's possession are undoubtedly a small bottle, pronounced some years ago by Mr. Seymour Lucas, R.A., to be Tudor: and five plates, probably Elizabethan, each measuring 63/8 in. in diameter (see Fig. IX.). It is just possible that these were made by Italian work­men in England, but the metal is unquestionably English, of the sixteenth century. The bottle, 41/8 in. high, is square with rounded corners; a silver top screws on to a silver mounting with a slightly petalled edge. Mr. Lucas's attribution was singularly justified when Mr. Lane saw in the collection of the late Sir Herbert Naylor-Leyland a dressing-case given by King Henry VIII. to Catherine Parr, fitted with bottles identical in size, mounting, and even decoration, with this piece.



The little metal lantern on the same plate is ascribed by Mr. Seymour Lucas to the period of Charles II. Its glass door is engraved, and the central panel is of looking-glass, backed by the metal setting.

Among the items on this plate are also two decanters, heavy with the lead that makes the bottoms almost opaque; they mark the earlier years of the seventeenth century. The taller of these (10œ in.) has a long, smooth neck encircled by a three-fold collar, and the body is characterised by eight deeply pressed flutes. The other (6œ in. high) is obtusely octagonal at the base, while a rather later fluted decanter, a precursor of the Adam period (9œ in. high and 6 in. in diameter), is distinguished by triple festoons of the simplest description around the neck, and a festooned stopper with a flat top.

The Connoisseur magazine 76 June 1920

Fig. X. — Wine-glasses with baluster stems

In natural sequence follows an array of wine-glasses. A selection from a long series of baluster stems is shown in Fig. X., where the domed feet of Nos. 3 — 7, and the curved tears in the knop of No. 4, are clearly [74] distinguishable. The tallest of the group measures 7œ in. Special note should also be made of the two on the right — the first of them for its Norwich foot and its tear under the bowl and in the stem; and the other for its inverted obelisk stem with small collar and long tear.

Fig. XI. — wine-glasses with drawn stems, with and without tears

Drawn stems, with and without tears, figure in Fig. XI., which also includes a double measure, 45/8 in. high (No. 1), and a sturdy bell-bowl with a tear under, and an unusually high domed foot (No. 3).

Fig. XII. — engraved glasses with air-twists

The first three engraved glasses in Fig. XII. contain air-twists; No. 5 has a compound white twist throughout its three-bulb stem, and so has No. 7. The glass standing between these (7œ in. high), with its baluster stem with knop containing tears, is English, and celebrates the marriage of a Dutchman with an Englishwoman.

Fig. XIII. — jacobite and other glasses

“Loyal and Disloyal” is the significant title given by Mr. Lane to the group in Fig. XIII., the chief among the loyalists being the central one (71/8 in.), with square baluster or inverted obelisk stem containing a long tear, and upon the shoulder of the stem (a most unusual position) the moulded inscription: “God Save King George.” There is also a tear at the base of the straight-sided bowl. No. 1 is a William IV. ogee glass with a double W in pine-apple cutting and two garter stars; while No. 6, with a baluster stem, tears in the base of the bowl and faint pine-apple moulding, is engraved with an S within a garter star surmounted by a ducal coronet, for the amiable and asthmatic Duke of Sussex, a plaster bust in basso-relievo of his brother, the Duke of York, as Conimander-in-Chief, being set in the ribbed glass paperweight next it (No. 7).

The "Disloyal" glasses include the two Jacobite fiats (Nos. 3 and 5), the first (6 in.) being [79] intrinsically remarkable for its bell-bowl, its knop containing tears, and its high domed foot. Both are engraved not only with “ the word “ in the usual italics, but also with the white rose and two buds of the House of Stuart, the star en soleil, and the oak-leaf that indi­cates the Restoration. Under this heading, too, conies the “MagnaCharta” glass shown in No. 2. In addition to the inscription, this is engraved with a seated Blake-like figure holding a rod surmounted with the Cap of Liberty, and doubtless commemorates the stormy days of John Wilkes and the Brentford Election.

The Connoisseur magazine 79 June 1920

The tea­kettle in Fig. XIV., with its acorn knop, is delightful, and perhaps unique. In addition to the cannon seen in this plate, Mr. Lane is further armed with a glass revolver and Chartist truncheon.

An attractive series of sweetmeat glasses is also illustrated, varying from 21/8 in. to 6 in. in height.


Fig. XIV. — Tea-kettle, cannon, sweetmeat glasses, and royal blue Bristol pieces

The pine-apple moulding of No. 1 makes a massively hand­some glass, and the slightly twisted fluting on every part of Nos. 2 and 3 is clearly indicated in the reproduction. The four vivid clear royal blue pieces are a bowl and a snake, the snake being freely spotted with gold, and the beauty of the bowl, which was once in the collection of the late Montague Guest, enhanced by a thin opaque white spiral line ending in a white rim. It is flanked by a pair of most elegant sprinklers of Eastern design, that are veritable gems of royal blue. These were made and decorated with gold sprays of flowers by Isaac Jacobs, whose father, Lazarus, had a glass-house in Temple Street, Bristol, from 1785 to 1787, when he was presumably succeeded by his son, as Isaac was glass manufacturer to His Majesty George III., and seems to have continued in business till about 1821. Pieces of royal blue, signed by him, are in the Bristol Museum.
The Connoisseur magazine 80 June 1920

Fig. XV. — Opaque Bristol glass

Opaque Bristol glass is well represented by the examples in Fig. XV. The sugar-bowl of a tea-set in the lower row is probably the earliest decorated piece, and, like the tea-poy, has done its best to imitate Oriental china. The cream-jug and the small decanter with the curiously deflected neck are both extraor­dinarily dense pieces; while a celebrated modern glass-maker was much impressed by the pair of moulded decanters shown in the upper row, as being superior in technique to anything he had hitherto attributed to Bristol.

Margaret Lavington.