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Pre-18th Century Glass

17th century and earlier glass, wine glasses, antique stemware if you prefer, dating from prior to the 17th century and earlier are incredible survivors. It is wise for prospective collectors to temper their expectations of finding what they seek accordingly, particularly those with a passion for - or a myopic focus on - English drinking glasses of the time. 17th century Bohemian glass, medieval and renaissance Venetian glass, Roman and Syrian glass  and early Catalan examples are more readily available as are reliquary jars, bowls and tazzas than their English counterparts.

To strike a pedantic pose for a moment, the first Hanoverian King, George I did not ascend to the throne until 1714, and strictly speaking glass produced before this date should be termed according to either the incumbent monarch of the time, Queen Anne, William and Mary and so on, or the less specific epithet of the Stuart period if an exact date cannot be assigned to a particular piece and a degree of latitude is therefore required (this encompasses the years 1603 to George's coronation).

We are frequently asked about the possibility of making available for sale one of George Ravenscroft's original goblets or posset pots - crizzled or otherwise - but thus far this remains no more than a tantalising possibility and a fervent hope - it would be enough to simply hold one of these cherished pieces for a moment, let alone to be charged with its disposal !

Subsequent glasses with provenance and claims to have been made under the stewardship of Hawley Bishopp and Francis Ravenscroft at Henley on Thames have not stood up to the academic scrutiny of domain experts and have been sold with their purported attributes as espoused by vendors being wholly unsubstantiated, with their tacit approval we hope, by some major auction houses.

It is not always possible to determine the country of origin of some early drinking glasses. Plain and spiked gadrooning may be found in both English and continental non-lead glass and so is no aid to determining provenance. Flammiform bowls and propeller stems, hollow stems with funnel-bowls and pieces with narrow folded feet were produced in Italy, throughout the Low Countries and by English glasshouses alike and are similarly non-specific. Designs were clearly shared and copied across the continent by manufacturers of equivalent competence using comparable materials and processes so the potential for mis-identification is significant. Dating, however, is rather more easily approximated, using catalogues compiled by John Greene and the Sloane manuscripts housed in the British Museum - invaluable source material for dating “by design” when confounded by the almost obligatory lack of identifying seals on pieces which may be under investigation.

When lead oxide became a constituent part of glass manufacture the process of identification was somewhat simplified. Drinking glass stems became less complex, pieces became heavier and mereses evolved into the baluster knop in the hands of English craftsmen - again to be emulated by the Lauenstein glasshouse and others. In addition to the above, Dutch and German Roemer glasses from the mid seventeenth century and Venise or Facon de Venise examples are occasionally acquired or made available to us for sale from private collections.  

Pictured below are some of the seventeenth century and earlier drinking glasses that we have for sale. Select Early Glass in the menu to the left to see items for sale. Please do feel free to contact us and make us aware of specific pieces which you may be seeking - we will gladly make a note of these requirements and advise you should examples of your quarry ever come in to our possession - although Ravenscroft - - we share the dream, for that it almost certainly is.

Collecting early glass is not a straightforward pursuit, nor should it be. Patience and an enjoyment of the chase are virtues which the successful collector must exhibit, as is a refusal to become too despondent should that much cherished piece, once located, prove to be unobtainable. To lessen the likelihood of such disappointment you may choose to register with us and provide a "wish list" of your particular favourites. When we have stock that meets your requirements you will receive an email alert at the earliest opportunity. We hope that this will prove to be a valuable asset in your quests. Alternatively please contact us directly to make specific enquiries that may require more urgent attention.

Click here to see our early Roman, Venetian, European and British glass for sale

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