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Victorian Drinking Glasses

Victorian wine glasses, rummers, champagne glases and assorted drinking glasses – read on


The Victorian era marked a rejection of everything that had gone before in glass design; it was a period of unparalleled self-confidence, particularly in Britain as the empire flourished and industrialisation swept all before it. Glassware from the previous century was – at the higher end of production – all about hand-crafted excellence, limited numbers of painstakingly produced pieces with their hand-made twists and manually applied engraving or enamelling that existed almost in spite of the conditions in which they were created, each exhibiting the myriad subtle variations which went hand in hand with such essentially rudimentary processes.


The Victorians turned out and replicated glasses which were cut, ground and sliced by machine-powered incising wheels, pressed by the dozen in moulds, tinted by increasingly proficient chemical processes and produced to match templates from mass-produced pattern books from which customers could choose their preferred designs, rather than commissioning bespoke sets or seeking out manufacturers who were renowned for their own particular style (apart from society’s higher echelons, of course, who reserved the right to spend inordinate sums of money to demonstrate their affluence).


The value of the glasses as a means to promote sales also came to the fore with lenticular ale glasses intended to make the contents look more appealing making an appearance alongside branded pieces and styles which were promoted by celebrity endorsement – particularly champagne and absinthe glasses. Glassmaking became more of an industry, less of a craft, but with production techniques being constantly honed and refined, there was still the scope for some stunning pieces to have been produced and – of course – items intended to make an impression had to be more finely executed than ever before in order to do so; 19th century glassmaking excellence is therefore evidenced in abundance, no less remarkable than earlier examples, but exhibiting different skill-sets in order to appeal to a more discerning, perhaps more sophisticated clientele.


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