nailsea Glass

Nailsea Glass: from
Nailsea glassthe Glass Encyclopedia

Nailsea-style glass jug
above: Nailsea-style
glass jug made at
Wrockwardine, Shrop-
shire, England c. 1810

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Nailsea Glass there
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Nailsea Glass

Nailsea Glass: A short explanation:

In the 18th century in Britain there was a heavy tax on Flint Glass which lasted for a hundred years until 1845. Excise men were employed by the Government to inspect the factories to make sure the tax was being paid, and factories had to choose whether they made Flint Glass (used for tableware and good quality glass items) or only bottle glass and crown (window) glass, which were not taxed. For a period glassworks in England were not allowed to make Flint Glass as well as non-flint glass.

This was a time of huge increases in demand for both windows and bottles, and many factories sprang up to meet the demand. The Nailsea glassworks was one of them, set up as the Nailsea Crown Glass and Bottle Manufacturers in Nailsea, near Bristol, in 1788.

Because of the heavy duty on Flint Glass, it was common practice for bottle factories to make tableware out of bottle or window glass, and to decorate it very simply with white dots or lines to make it more acceptable. The Nailsea Crown Glass and Bottle Manufacturers were one amongst many who made this kind of glass, and they gave their name to this style of glass, very little of which was actually made at Nailsea. It was made at bottle works all over the country.

Typical Nailsea-style items were flasks, jugs, bottles, mugs, vases, bowls, rolling pins, pipes, hats, and jars. Some Nailsea-style glassware is plain clear glass with a slight green tint; these items were made from Crown (window) glass. Others were made from bottle glass, in varying shades of darker green. Both these styles of glass were often decorated with white or colored splashes or white lines, sometimes pulled or combed to give a feathered effect.

The term nailsea glass is often used to describe almost any glass item which has white lines that have been pulled or combed in this way.

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References and Sources:

Nailsea Glass by Vincent 1975 Nailsea Glassworks 2004

  • Nailsea Glass (1975) by Keith Vincent.
  • . Covers the history, the glassmakers, the kinds of glass and the explanation of why it was so popular and where else it was made. Plenty of black and white pictures. An old book, but very useful.
  • The Nailsea Glassworks, North Somerset: A Study of the History, Archaeology, Technology and the Human Story (2006) by Andrew Smith. A detailed archaeological and historical account of the Nailsea Glassworks.

  • Although there are few books about Nailsea glass, there are useful sections in books on early British Glass and general books like Newman's Dictionary of Glass. See, for instance:

  • British Glass 1800-1914 by Charles R. Hajdamach, 1991. An excellent book covering all kinds of British glass, including interesting references to Nailsea glass.

  • Nineteenth Century British Glass by Hugh Wakefield. Good covereage of the early 19th C glass including Victorian coloured glass, with a section on Nailsea glass.

  • An Illustrated Dictionary of Glass by Harold Newman,1987.

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