Wedgwood glass

Wedgwood Glass
from the
Glass Encyclopedia

Wedgwood glass

Sheringham glass
candlestick designed
by Ron Stennett-Willson
for Wedgwood Glass.

Wedgwood glass bell

This bell by Wedgwood
Glass has a jasperware
cameo of Queen
Elizabeth 2nd

Wedgwood Glass: A short explanation

Wedgwood Glass and later (from the mid 70s) Wedgwood Crystal, were the names used for the output of King's Lynn glassworks in the UK after it was taken over by the Wedgwood Group in 1969.

Ronald Stennett-Willson, one of the most prominent UK post-war glass designers, had established King's Lynn Glass in 1967, and continued as Managing Director and chief designer of Wedgwood Glass until he reached retirement age in 1980. He had been closely involved with the Swedish glass industry during the 1950s, and his designs at King's Lynn had the clean functional lines associated with post-war Scandinavian design.

His Sheringham range of candlesticks and goblets, see above left, was one of his most celebrated early designs, and won a Queen's Design Award for Industry. These candleticks varied in height and had between one and nine discs in their stems, made in five colors amethyst, green, blue, topaz and clear.

Wedgwood Glass produced a number of commemorative pieces with small jasperware plaques like the bell on the left, which was produced to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee celebrations in 1977. This bell has an inscription etched inside "Queen's Silver Jubilee 1953-1977 Wedgwood Made in England".

In addition to tableware, vases, and commemorative pieces, the King's Lynn glassworks also produced a wide range of little glass figurines of animals, birds, and fish. A number of these animal paperweights were designed for Wedgwood by David Midwinter of Midwinters Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, (which later became part of Wedgwood-Waterford).

More than half of the staff employed when the company first opened, were skilled glass blowers from Sweden and other parts of Europe. Part of their job was to train local people in glass industry skills.

When Wedgwood became the dominant shareholder in Dartington Glass in 1982, the late Frank Thrower from Dartington Glass also contributed designs to the Wedgwood Crystal range. He had previously worked with Ronald Stennett-Willson for the UK importer of Orrefors Glass (Sweden) and amongst his designs for Wedgwood was the very heavy hexagonal or octagonal "Brutus" series of vases and bowls.

When Pirelli Glass finally stopped operating around 1980, the last two glass artists, Mick Munns and Don Richardson, went to work for Wedgwood Glass in their lampworking section making glass animals. We have proof of this but we have never found a labelled Wedgwood lampwork glass animal.

King's Lynn glass was marked only with paper labels. Following a long Wedgwood tradition, all the glass made by Wedgwood Glass was supposed to be marked with a permanent mark. The mark is sometimes very hard to find and indeed we were told that the etching machines took a while to arrive after Wedgwood purchased King's Lynn glass, and so even during the early Wedgwood days some pieces were not permanently marked. The etched mark shown below, which appears on the Sheringham candlestick shown at top left of this page, shows the first mark used by Wedgwood after they took over the Kings Lynn Glass factory.

Wedgwood glass signature

Etched signature
Wedgwood England
and picture on the base
of the Sheringham candlestick.

Wedgwood became part of Waterford-Wedgwood plc in 1986 and not long afterwards Wedgwood Glass closed down. The King's Lynn glassworks was sold to Caithness Glass in 1988 and became known as Caithness Crystal. Rumour has it that all the pattern books from Kings Lynn Glass were destroyed before this take-over. After a series of mergers and takeovers Caithness Glass itself was reduced to a small team of glassworkers renting a portion of the Crieff Visitor Centre.

It is always interesting to see what Wedgwood glass is currently for sale and the prices being charged. Click here to see examples of Wedgwood glass currently for sale.
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References and Sources:

Click on the book covers or the titles to read more about these books.

Wedgwood Glass by Tobin British Glass Book 2 Millers 20th Century Glass 2006 20thC glass book 20th Century glass Modern Glass by RSW
  • Wedgwood Glass by Susan Tobin, 2001. Well researched, helpful book.

  • 20th Century British Glass (Nov 2009) by Charles Hajdamach, with an excellent chapter (17 pages) on Ronald Stennett-Willson, King's Lynn Glass and Wedgwood glass with plenty of photographs and text.

  • Millers 20th Century Glass (2006) by Andy McConnell with an excellent 4-page section on Stennett-Willson, King's Lynn Glass and Wedgwood glass.

  • 20th Century Factory Glass . by Lesley Jackson, 2000. Includes a 2 page section on King's Lynn and Wedgwood Glass.

  • 20th Century glass (2004) by Judith Miller, with a short section on King's Lynn and Wedgwood Glass.

  • King's Lynn Glass Ltd by Ronald Stennett-Willson, 1968. An illustrated catalogue published by King's Lynn Glass.

  • Ronald Stennett-Willson. Glass Designs 1954-1980. A small catalogue of the 2004 exhibition from the Graham Cooley Collection. Excellent pictures and information.

  • "Glass design by Ronald Stennett-Willson" article by Anna Roylance in "Art Glass" issue 46, in the magazine antiqueexplorer, June 2004.

  • Modern glass (1975) by R. Stennett-Willson. A detailed account of what happens in a glass factory, with pictures showing glass-making techniques and plenty of illustrations of the resulting glass items. Based on the Wedgwood glass factory, and using numerous Wedgwood glass examples, but not solely about Wedgwood.

  • Note that Ronald Stennett-willson's earlier book, "The Beauty of Modern Glass" pre-dates his time at King's Lynn and covers world-wide art glass, but not Wedgwood or King's Lynn.

Pirelli Glass

Pirelli glass were competitors with the glass animals made by Kings Lynn Glass, with the last two Pirelli glass artists working for Wedgwood glass for a time after Pirelli closed.

This is the 'go to' reference book if you are interested in Pirelli Glass.

It offers a comprehensive history of Pirelli glass and its makers from its inception in the mid 40s to 1980 when the company closed.

Filled with colour photographs, original black and white catalog pictures, stories and a miriad of information on Pirelli & Vasart glass.

Click on the book cover for more information.

Pirelli Glass Book

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