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An English Engraved Sunderland Bridge Tumbler c1800

Heading : A engraved Sunderland Bridge tumbler
Period : 1800 perhaps a little earlier
Origin :Sunderland
Colour : Clear, excellent smokey blue hue
Bowl : Incurved bucket, engraved with Sunderland Bridge, initials in script 'HRK', flanked by hops and barley. This is a good late 19th century shape
Foot : shallow band of basal flutes
Pontil : ground and polished
Glass Type : Lead
Size :  Height 11cm, Bowl Diameter 10.8cm, Foot Diameter 7.3cm
Condition : Excellent
Restoration : None
Weight:  472grams

The vast majority of glasses depicting the Sunderland Bridge are rummers. Rarely does one come across either a tumbler or tankard depicting the road bridge. This is the second example of such a tumbler. We have seen one tumbler depicting the Iron Bridge in Shropshire and dated 1781 but the glass was mid Victorian. The engineering feat over the Severn was still attracting visitors fully a century after completion.


The 1796 Sunderland Road Bridge as it should be known, was considered to be a major engineering achievement of the era. There are a number of contributory factors. Firstly the banks of the river Wear in Sunderland are very precipitous, the gorge was reputed to be 85 yards wide at the time and place of construction. Secondly the bridge had to be a single span so as not to impede tall masted ships. This was due to coal being loaded further upstream. Sunderland also had a ship building heritage and was known as the biggest ship building town in the word, but at the time the bridge was built there were only a handful of ship yards to the west of the bridge that was located between Sunderland and Monkwearmouth.

Some 50,000 people attended the opening of the bridge on 9th August 1796, an opportunity for commemorative wears for enterprising glass makers. The bridge had a toll for both waggons and pedestrians, despite this the financier, the Member of Parliament for Sunderland one Roland Burden ran into financial difficulties. In 1815 a parliament approved lottery gave the winner a share of the toll revenues, which included ships and ferries that travelled beneath the bridge itself. The bridge was rebuilt by one Robert Stephenson and re-opened in 1859.


References : This engraving is more commonly found on Rummers which can be found within,

English, Scottish & Irish Table Glass By G. Bernard Hughes – Page 193 Figure 139.

Nineteenth Century British Glass By Hugh Wakefield – Plate 46B. 

The Arthur Negus Guide To British Glass By John Brooks – Page 105 Plate 100 and Page 117 Plate 106.

Starting to Collect Antique Glass By John Sandon – Page 46.

Decanters and Glasses By Therle Hughes – Page 20 Plate 13.




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  • Product Code: 2019092204
  • Availability: Sold
  • £225.00

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