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Glamorgan Antiques Newsletter

June 2002 - Newsletter # 3

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Welcome you all to this third newsletter from Glamorgan antiques.We hope that it will appeal to all lovers of Antiques, whether newcomers or more experienced Collectors.Anyway, the learning process in Antiques never ends,we all get to be more experienced but we never stop learning.

In This Edition

Late Victorian and Edwardian Jewellery

Pressed Glass

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Late Victorian and Edwardian Jewellery.
The wealthy Edwardian ladies wore jewellery that has rarely been equalled.These Jewels even now, are such a good investment, as the technical expertise of the makers has rarely been equalled.
After the Old Queens death in 1901,a new mood of gaiety and extragavence came with the advent of the new King and Queen, namely Edward the 7th and the beautiful Queen Alexandra.For evening wear and functions the ladies wore Tiaras,Stomachers and fringes encrusted in diamonds around their neckline.Everyday wear included pearls and brooches, but still much more daytime Jewellery was worn than in previous generations.
The old fashioned Grandmothers of the Edwardian Ladies would never have worn jewellery in the daytime when they were younger, and for functions and evening wear only Pearls or Jet necklaces and fringes would have been worn, but by the end of Queen Victoria's reign, wealthy buyers flocked to the famous French Jewellers to invest their money in precious stones, and also to some high class London Jewellers.Later, the new found wealthy land owners bought their wives expensive Diamond Jewellery to be worn as an advertisment for their husband's social standing.
Less wealthy families who were nevertheless beginning to climb the social ladder,.like industrialists and chain shop owners,decked their wives out in beautiful paste imitations, however, well made copies were also being commisioned by the Aristocracy,as their more valuable original jewellery languished in the Bank vaults of London.
Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward the 7th,was a very beautiful woman, and she was considered to be the barometer of Edwardian fashion with her flamboyant hair styles always topped with Diamond tiaras, and around her swan-like neck she wore dog collars of Pearls,Amethysts,Rubies,Emeralds,Sapphires, aquamarines and Peridots, this last stone being a great favourite of her husband the King.However,overall Diamonds still reigned supreme.
There was also at this time the Arts and Crafts movement, and these free thinking people enjoyed wearing semi precious stones and geological stones set into silver,all adorning their flamboyant loose Medieval style clothes with their flowing robes and long loose hair styles.Arts and Crafts jewellers likes large format pieces such as pendants,hair decorations,brooches and clasps which were used on shawls,cloaks and buckles. The choice of stones being, Opals,Turquoise,seed Pearls,Moonstones,Garnets and Agates.Cabochon stones (polished stones not faceted) set on stylized flowers and leaves of silver open work.
Designers at this time also revived the beautiful enamel work dominated by Limoges of France, enamel and silver were used in combination also by the Liberty company when they launched their Cymric design.
Edwardian rings were set with single large stones of Opals and Cornelians also Opals and Rose Diamonds.Silver was extensively used mainly for the sculptural potential.This was the age of elegance and beauty, the Edwardian era, when the Old British Empire was still basking in it's glory and wealth - the legacy of Queen Victorias reign.However the old Empire days were sadly numbered as when the 1st World War broke out in 1914,the days of Wine and Roses were finally over as, the great Countries Britain once ruled demanded freedom and independence,thus breaking the domination of Brittania forever.

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Pressed Glass
Pressed glass tableware and other pressed glass items were very popular,and at their height,in the post Victorian reign.Pressed glass was mainly made for the the working class households.There would be Salad bowls,Water sets,Cruets,Irridescent vases etc.
Pressed glass was strong, very decorative and practical, it cost a fraction of the price of crystal cut glassware. It was made in massive quantities and served the working class population well..It was made in a rainbow of colours from pale blue to deep Amethyst, some items were transparent while others were frosted and opaque.
The 1st pressed glass was made in the USA by the New England Glass company in 1820, and production was taken up by British glass makers in the 1830's.It was always well made,popular and cheap and was the standby of most British households during the early years of the 20th century..All our Grandmothers had cabinets full of Pressed glass.
It was made in cast iron moulds, which had the surface decoration of the piece cut into its inside surface.A gathering iron was dipped into a vat of moulten glass, and the "gather" of white hot semi fluid glass was then put into the moulds.A plunger was then pressed into the glass, forcing it further into the moulds which were then opened to allow the half cooled red hot item to be lifted out.This was then held at the mouth of the furnace for a few seconds to be "fire polished", this final process gave it a brilliant finish.
Most of the mould designers were unknown, but James Stevens was well known in glass designing, he made the mould for the 1st pressed glass tumbler.
Most of the glass factories made butter dishes,sugar bowls and cream jugs, others made salts,trifles , and ice cream dishes..Decorative items were also made including Bowls,Spill holders,Vases,Paperweights using some wonderful patterns including Peacocks,Greek patterns on candlesticks,Geometric and abstract designs.Commemorative ware was also popular, showing Queen Victorias 2 Jubilees and later Kings and Queen various Coronations,
During the early years of the 20th century, massive imports, especially from the USA came into Britain, and although British firms like Sowerby produced Carnival glass, the best still came from America,Some British firms also successfully exported to the USA, firms like Fenton Art glass,Sowerbys and the Northwood company.The extraordinary colours were produced by spraying items whilst still hot with a solution of metal oxide.The most frequently seen colour is orange which was produced by a Selenium spray, but the greens, blues and purples were also popular.
The term Carnival glass was coined in the later 1950's,it was also called "funfair glass".This later pressed glass does not have the high quality of the earlier Edwardian pieces

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