Glass - Ireland. Germany


Irish glass, particularly Waterford, has been the subject of discussion for many years, but in fact it cannot usually be distinguished from that made in England at the same time. When some further Excise duties were placed on English glass in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, a few manufacturers sent craftsmen across to Ireland and opened factories there. A number of decanters have survived with raised inscriptions under the base reading 'Penrose, Waterford' and 'Cork Glass Co.', and these are indisputably of Irish make.


The hold of the Venetians on the markets of Europe was a strong one, and continual efforts were made to break it in all the countries concerned. The Germans were skilled at enamelling their glass, but it was of Venetian type and only the quality of the painting makes it noteworthy. Late in the seventeenth century they managed to develop a heavy type of crystal glass to which they applied cutting on the wheel; a revolving fine grindstone against which the article was held for pattern -malting. This was a method first used in ancient times by lapidaries in the forming of gemstones, but had been employed also by the Roman glass-makers notably, as mentioned above, in the Portland Vase. The German craftsmen had already achieved success in engraving natural rock- crystal, which was then mounted elaborately in gold set with gems, and it was not a difficult step to adapt their skill to glass. The most famous of these engraving establishments were in Berlin, Petersdorf in Silesia (now Poland), and Cassel.

The fine workmanship of the earlier craftsmen was not equalled by their successors, but the glasswares of Silesia and Bohemia continued to be made throughout the eighteenth century. A milky-white glass, often decorated in enamel colours, was very popular and much of this has survived. It can be confused with the rare white Bristol product by the inexperienced, but is seen to be commonplace when compared closely. A deep red, or ruby, glass was made in the early and mid-nineteenth century, and cut in the manner of 150 years earlier. It was exported and proved highly popular in England; much of it was of clear glass 'flashed' with a thin coating of red cut through with scenes of stag-hunting and views of German spas.

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