Glass Dumps: from
the Glass Encyclopedia

Glass Dump
above:Glass Dump
paperweight 19thC.

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Dumps (glass)

Old English Paperweights
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Glass Dumps: A short explanation:

Glass Dumps are usually seen as either paperweights if they are tall and good quality, or "door stops" if they are squat, poor quality, and/or bruised/damaged by years of abuse. They are large sized, ovoid like the one on the left or round with a flattened base, and usually made of green bottle glass. They often have internal decorations made from metal foil like the one on the left, or air bubble patterns, or a design of flowers picked out in a very fine white powder, like the lower section of the example shown left. Some rare examples have an item such as a clay figure or a plaster/talc bust or badge.

The metal foil inside many Victorian dumps is not silver; it was tested by William Drew Gaskill and found to be very thin tinfoil, similar to the tinfoil used to line tea chests. And the patterns in fine powder usually look like patterns made from minute air bubbles, because of the action of the molten glass on the powder.

Glass Dumps were first made in the early 19th century by various bottle and window glass factories in Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North East of England. There are no known catalogues or advertisements showing these items from the time they were first made, but there are good reasons to believe they were part of the production of many factories.

There were standard designs which were made in their thousands. The glass they were made from was a valuable commodity to the glassworks, on which they had already been taxed and unless it was made into a product and sold, would represent a significant loss. The name "dump" probably arose because they were made from glass which otherwise might have been dumped at the end of a shift. The Excise Act of 1745 taxed the glassworks for the next hundred years on all the glass they made, not the amount they used and sold, and indeed, taxed them again if they returned unused glass to the furnace with the next batch. So they were understandably reluctant to dump any glass, and these glass dumps were a useful way of using up all the glass.

It was during the early 19th century that world demand for glass bottles grew enormously, and Yorkshire became the main centre for bottle works. Glass Dumps were a bi-product of this production. There were at least two bottle works in this area which stamped their company name on the bottom of the dumps in much the same way as they marked the bottom of their bottles, namely John Kilner of Wakefield and Redfearn Brothers of Barnsley. There may have been a third, J. Tower (referred to in Pat Reilly's book) but we have never seen an example.

Glass Dumps were made until the early part of the 20th century in bottle factories that were not fully automated. In the 1990s Hartley Wood & Co of Sunderland, in the North East of England, began making green glass dumps similar in design to the old 19th century pieces. They can easily be distinguished from the originals because of their good quality glass and their ground flat bases. Old glass dumps had either a rough pontil mark or an impressed makers name on the base.

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References and Further Reading

1: Old English Paperweights by Robert G. Hall, published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1998, chapter six "Green Glass Doorstops" and chapter five "John Kilner".

2: Paperweights: The Collector's Guide to Identifying, Selecting, and Enjoying New and Vintage Paperweights by Pat Reilly, published by Knickerbocker Press, 1999, section on "Dumps".

3: "Quiet Charm and Gentle Mystery: English Bottle-Glass Paperweights and Whimsies, Part 1" by William Drew Gaskill, published in the Annual Bulletin of the Paperweight Collectors Association, Inc., 2002.

4: "The Donkey and the Sacks of GOld: English Bottle-Glass Paperweights and Whimsies, Part 2" by William Drew Gaskill, published in the Annual Bulletin of the Paperweight Collectors Association, Inc., 2003.

5: Nineteenth Century British Glass by Hugh Wakefield, 1961, pages 77-79.

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