April 2003 Newsletter


Welcome to the April 2003 edition of the Cloud Glass Newsletter. In this newsletter we have:

  • Latest news on Cloud Glass

  • Web site updates

  • Yellow Cloud Glass - Is it a genuine colour or Orange which went wrong?

Latest News

Hello everybody, apologies for the long time in producing this news letter, but we have both been very busy with our 'proper' jobs and of course researching Davidson Glass.

Over the weekend of the 15/16 March we had a stall displaying Cloud Glass at the Broadfield House 'Pressed Glass Weekend'. Sadly the very warm and fine weather kept many visitors away, but we were able to meet a number of Cloud Glass Collectors. This made the whole weekend worthwhile for us, and we really enjoyed the opportunity to chat to people. Broadfield House are having two more Pressed Glass Weekends this year. The next one will be on July 19/20 and the again in September. We will be attending both events with displays of our display of Cloud Glass and hope we can meet more of you.

Siegmar Geiselberger has published the first edition of 'Pressglas-Korrespondenz' for 2003. One of the catalogues reproduced is a 1965 catalogue for Sachsenglas (formally Walther). The catalogue contains many of the famous Walther styles from the 1930s particularly the centre pieces and vases. It does not look like any where made in Cloud Glass. To view visit www.pressglas-korrespondenz.de.

Web Site Updates

The following pages have been added or changed on the web site:

  • A new page has been added on post-war Davidson Glass. This page can be found under the 'George Davidson & Co.' menu.

  • The Jobling Cloud Glass catalogue page has a new addition which was purchased at the recent Swinderby fair. We also heard of a pair of Amber Cloud Glass Brockwitz 'Meissen' vases which had been recently sold.

  • Further researches in the Archives has revealed a new earlier start date for the first production run of Orange Cloud Glass. See the Orange Cloud Glass page for details.

  • We have added a table of production dates for the different colours of Cloud Glass on the 'Colours' page.

Yellow Cloud Glass - Is it a genuine colour?

Is Yellow Cloud Glass a distinct colour, or just Orange that went wrong? This has been hotly debated by collectors and dealers for many years, As a result of our research and some valuable insight into the problems of making orange glass from Adam Dodds, former Glass Technologist at Davidson we can finally say that Yellow Cloud Glass is simply Orange Cloud Glass that went horribly wrong.

The range of Cloud Colours made by Davidson is well documented in the Pottery Gazette and in contemporary product catalogues. Nowhere is Yellow Cloud Glass mentioned. Our own examination of Davidson's production records for the 1930s again reveals no Yellow Cloud Glass. Indeed the only mention of Yellow glass of any type was in 1942 when Davidson made some lenses for the RAF in Red, Green and Yellow. It appears that they also made some No. 55 ashtrays in this 'RAF Yellow'.

As any collector of Orange Cloud Glass is aware, Orange comes in a variety of shades and colours, from the 'custardy' rims and bases of unmodified Orange to the red tinged trails of the later modified version. Orange was made for only a very short period of time, and most seems to have been made for the export market, particularly Australia and New Zealand. The first production run for Orange was in February 1933. The glassmakers had severe problems getting the production correct. There are many references to their problems including 'seedy metal' (lots of bubbles in the glass), 'bad colour' and even 'bad shape'. The last production run of 'unmodified' orange was in June of 1933. Production resumed in December 1934 when the first 'modified' version was produced. Presumably in the intervening months Davidson went back to the drawing board in attempt to iron out the problems. In this they seem to have succeeded as the modified form has a much more consistent colour and uniformity. Incidentally the term 'modified' comes from the Pottery Gazette, when in a 1934 report on the British Industries Fair their reporter wrote:

"...We also noticed that the orange cloud has been subjected to some modifications, and in its new guise this appeared to be in great demand for the export trade."

The question, therefore, is how can we explain the different variations in the Orange Cloud including a yellow variant. Whilst working at Davidson's in the late 1950s Adam Dodds faced similar problems when attempting to make orange glass for car indicator lights, To be exact they were attempting to make the colour 'British Standard Signal Yellow' which despite it's name is orange. Orange was apparently a swine to make, (Adam's own words) as it was not a simple matter of adding a colouring material to the base soda-lime batch. As well as getting the ingredients correct, other factors such as whether the temperature of the pot, gatherer and finished article goes up or down come into play and consequently were not always under control.

They managed to get the colour correct for British Standard Signal Yellow by creating a batch which consisted of two parts pink cullet, one part ruby (selenium/cadmium/zinc type) cullet and a small amount of soda-lime mix to bulk up the main ingredients, which were cadmium sulphide, zinc sulphide and sodium selenite. The correct colour was only achieved after umpteen trials. Examination of the samples and conferences on what to do next often took place in the local pub!

Adam confirms that effects such as the 'custard' colour seen on unmodified Orange Cloud were also seen when making signal yellow. The reddish tinge seen on some modified forms of Orange Cloud could result from a selenium/zinc/cadmium mix which was too red. Adam also notes that some rubies were yellow when pressed and blown and only changed to red in the Lehr or with additional heating.

The balance of evidence from both first hand recollections of the problems in making orange glass and from surviving documents does indicate that Yellow Cloud is not a separate colour, but a 'second' produced during the production of Orange Cloud Glass. Although it would be nice to think that Yellow should be added to the range of known Cloud Colours, it is simply and interesting - and rare - variation of an existing colour.

On a historical note, Adam records the fact that Selenium was in short supply immediately after the war. This prevented production of colours such as pink, ruby and orange. The shortage was over by the mid 1950s when both Sowerby and Davidson were again making ruby and pink glass.

Copyright (c) Chris and Val Stewart 2003