We are often able to offer items for a reduced price, which were sold as seconds by the factories. These do not usually have marks on the base. There appears to be no consistency as what constitutes a second, and it is often difficult to see why a glass is a second. Royal Brierley stated that a second had to have at least three faults before being sold as such. Webb Corbett stated that ‘faults and variations should be expected and do not detract from the appeal of the glass’. Waterford declared that they did not sell seconds, so all of it should be marked, though the name can be difficult to find. For a few years, Thomas Webb engraved an ‘S’ on their seconds, which should not be confused with the ‘S’ on the base of some Stuart glass sold through Stoniers in Manchester, a store owned by a member of the Stuart family.
The faults referred to can be a prominent air bubble or too many air bubbles, inclusions in the glass, feet too domed when they should be flat, the wrong weight or mistakes in the cutting. Obvious variations in size may also be put in the category. Both Royal Brierley and Webb Corbett have used sticky labels to identify seconds. Many smaller firms never etched marks on the base anyway, only using labels. We can find no evidence at all to support the idea that only one in a set was marked. Most of this glass was sold as individual items, not in a set.
The following are NOT seconds:-
- Variations in size of feet.
- Slight variations in bowl shape and size in glasses or width of stems that have been hand made by different craftsmen over a period of time.
- Variations in length of cuts on feet.
- Variation of where the mark is placed on the foot.
Remember that most of this glass was handmade and with different craftsmen making it over a period of time there are bound to be slight variations, visible even in Waterford. With the increased use of machines, only the most recent items are totally uniform.
Some wear should be expected on the base, even if items have been kept in a cupboard. A rule of thumb is the older the glass the more likely scratch marks will appear. Wine glasses are more likely to show signs of use than brandy or sherry glasses.
Misting occurs when a glass has not been properly dried over a period of time or has been left in a damp store. This becomes invisible when liquid is put back in the glass or decanter and is harmless. It can be removed commercially. We have tried most home methods and they were rarely successful. Some methods can increase the damage.
All our glass should have no chips or cracks. Those with minor misting, excessive wear, or trimming [chip removal] may be offered at a reduced price.
We are prepared to give valuations for probate or insurance purposes. Please speak to us for further details.
We do not give valuations without seeing the items.
Identification can be challenging. Base marks did not become universal with the big manufacturers until the 1920s, though ‘seconds’ have never had marks, except for the Thomas Webb ‘S’ , and this was only used for a couple of years. Smaller factories often only used labels and these are easily lost. Some marks are very difficult to see, especially Waterford. We can find no evidence that only 1 of a set was marked, a frequently heard story.
Except for Thomas Webb, patterns rarely had names until the 1950s; they were given numbers. These were often copied by smaller factories, usually on a different shape. An extra cut may be added, given another name and sold locally. The stores name may be on the base. Glasses were modernised by enlarging the bowl or lengthening the stem. Sometimes they were given new names, sometimes not. Changing to plain stems and feet cut costs.
Finally, there are copies on standard blanks. These have always been made and some of the modern reproductions are good quality. Without handling the glass we cannot be certain that it is an original, and even then there could be doubt!
Another complication is the re-use of names. There are three problems here:
- The total change of shape eg Stuart Beaconsfield.
- The use of an old name on a new product eg Webb Corbett Elegance is totally different from Royal Doulton Elegance.
- An existing pattern may be known by another name in either another country or if sold in a store. Eg Stuart Villiers is known as Oleta in the USA.
If you wish us to attempt to identify an item fill in the Glass Search Enquiry form, but write on it clearly that it is for information only. The service is free as we are always keen to increase our knowledge.
Uses and Types of Glass
A mid-20th century manufacturer’s list would astonish us now. Included would be:- at least 3 different size wine glasses, goblets, sherry [ports were often referred to as wine glasses], liqueurs, 6 sizes of tumbler in different shapes, cocktail glasses and cocktail shakers, tots and shots, short and tall champagne glasses, schooners, flutes, gin and tonic glasses, iced Tea and brandy balloons, fingerbowls, grapefruit dishes, jugs, 3 styles of decanters, hocks, ponies and water and soda glasses and the occasional tankard. The highball, lager glass and water carafe are more recent additions to the list. In addition there were table accessories—ash trays, mint sauce jugs and trays, ice buckets, celery vases, sauce bottles and pickle jars etc and the delightfully name ‘Muddler’ a sort of cocktail stirrer.
Some of the popular patterns such as Stuart’s Glengarry had different styles and shapes of glasses at different times. At one time the glasses were more conical than bucket shape.
Overall the wine glasses of the 20th century were smaller, though goblets and water glasses existed and are now used as standard wines.
Our advice to those who want to know what to use a particular glass for is to use it for what suits you. The champagne saucers of this period tend to be more useful for cold starters and desserts. Iced tea can be used for any long drink; small wine glasses can be generous ports or for pudding wines.
These are the reasons why we ask for the dimensions of the glass rather than the manufacturer’s classification of its use.