|February 2002 Cloud Glass Newsletter|
In This Issue:
a few minor updates to the site this month. I have been preparing the rest of
the Davidson Catalogue, which I hope to include over the next few months.
the wind and rain I managed to get to the Swinderby Antique fair which occurs
the weekend before the massive Newark fair. This proved to be an excellent
fair for unusual Cloud Glass and Davidson pieces. The first unusual piece was
an Octagonal Purple Cloud bowl. Despite being sold with a Davidson Flower Dome
and Plinth I do not believe it to be by Davidson. It is not an attractive
piece, and I cannot decide who made it. The second unusual Cloud Glass piece
was a pair of green Cloud Glass Candlesticks. I bought them thinking they were
from the 330 Trinket set. It was not until I got home that I realised they
were different. Firstly the top of the candlestick was round, unlike the 330
which has three flat and three curved edges. Secondly the 330 candlesticks
have a small step on the base of the raised moulding and these do not.
Finally these candlesticks have a neck towards the top, whereas the 330
candlesticks do not. I do not
know who made these candlesticks. Both items will be appearing on the ‘Cloud
Glass of Unknown Origin’ page shortly.
non-Cloud Glass I found a wonderful 7.5” 269/12 Amberina bowl. This is only
the second piece of Davidson Amberina I have come across; the other was a 283
bowl. This is a really attractive piece. Deep ruby red at the base and a
wonderful golden yellow at the rim. To round off the day I discovered an old
1910 pattern flint salad bowl with the registered design number showing
faintly in the base. The 1910 pattern has a simple elegance when seen in plain
of the 1910 pattern, a Blue Cloud Glass 1910BD bowl has recently gone through
Ebay, which had the Registered design number in the base. This was the first
1910 Cloud Glass piece that I have ever seen with a registered design number.
It caused a lot of interest on Ebay.
I last updated the site, I added a new ashtray to the Davidson ashtray page.
This ‘Everest’ ashtray has a patent number on the base ‘887277’ (the
first two numbers are not clearly moulded). This patent number does not appear
to be English!! I have tried looking for every possible combination, but
cannot find it in the Patent records. So where was this ashtray patented?
Interestingly Jobling sold a similar looking ashtray that they also claimed
was patented. Another mystery.
Glass on Ebay
table below lists the items that were auctioned on Ebay in January. In
interpreting the table please note the following:
early years of the Geo Davidson Company Ltd
Davidson family firm became a limited company on the 26th October
1934. The newly formed company had a share issue of £75,000 divided into
75,000 £1 shares. The two subscribers to the new company were Thomas Davidson
of the Teams Glass Works, Gateshead and Claude L Fraser (Thomas’s nephew) of
2 Sturdee Gardens, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. From the start Thomas wanted
to maintain control over his family business, and this right was written into
the Articles of Association:-
share for which Thomas Davidson of 18 Percy Gardens, Tynemouth has signed the
Memorandum of Association shall, whilst registered in his name, confer on him
the right at every General Meeting to 3 times as many votes as are conferred
by all of the other shares for the time being issued.
was in control of both day-to-day running and at shareholder meetings.
the first shareholders meeting, the National Provincial Bank Ltd was appointed
as Company Bankers. T D Galloway was appointed Company Secretary and Thomas
Lambert the Company Solicitor. The
initial allocation of Company shares went to Thomas Davidson (27,999), Claude
Fraser (9,999), M Macintyre (10,000) and Miss D Fraser – Claude’s sister -
performed well as a limited company, always making a profit and issued
dividends of between 7.5% and 20% per annum. As the post depression economy
picked up, demand for glassware improved. Davidson introduced many new lines
and colours, winning a Diploma of Merit at the Paris Exposition in 1937 for
their range or royal blue domestic glassware. Advertising was not high on
Davidson’s agenda. They only spent between £100 and £150 per year on
advertising. This compares with £250 per year spent on the their stand at the
British Industries Fair.
did bring its own problems. In 1939, the Japanese started to copy the 255
Barrel Can (Registered Design No 802751) and sell it a lower cost in the
Australian market. Davidson decided to register some of the new designs in
Australia to protect that market and in late 1940 W Hills of their Australian
Agents, T W Heath was granted Power of Attorney to sign documents relating to
Design registration. In 1933 Davidson had bought the sole rights to the
Chippendale range of glassware, paying £3,000 for the moulds. Despite being
very successful in the UK, and copied by most other manufacturers, it did not
sell well in Australia. In 1938 T W Heath & Co was granted an extra 10%
commission to help establish the range in Australia.
the first of February 1938, the Davidson Company employed their first designer
W J G Fullerton, who designed some of their more popular ranges including the
‘Ripple’ pattern and the ‘Van Vase’. Actually Claude Fraser wanted to
employ a designer who could also help at on the technical side as well.
Fullerton was only with the company for 10 years. In 1947 he was told to look
for alternate employment, as there was insufficient work for him at the
workforce benefited from Davidson’s prosperity. In 1937, the year that
Thomas Davidson died, the company ran a trial for holiday with pay, which soon
became available to all. In 1938 they introduced a pension scheme, putting £1,000
into the scheme in the first year.
Davidson Company had many local problems to deal with, all of which required
money. For example money was put aside each year to cover repairs to the Quay.
The opening of the new Trading Estate, which changed the flow of the river,
cause the company to take out extra flood insurance in 1938 at a cost of £70
per annum. The state of the buildings was also a constant source of concern.
In 1937 the estimated cost of repairs amounted to between £25,000 and £35,000.
This high cost caused them to consider moving to the new Trading Estate, but
this was rejected when the cost was calculated. For a number of years the
company put off any decision about the building repairs, each year they
considered new alternatives and estimates. Eventually the war intervened and
no work was carried out until after the war.
Davidson board found that year on year the difference in value between the
glass produced and the glass in the packing room was running at over 20%. The
difference was put down to breakages, bad work, trial pieces, experiment,
stock breakages and theft. This high loss rate could not be sustained, and so
in 1938 a ‘Progress Manager’ was appointed to improve the manufacturing
process and reduce this wastage. This was very successful and the loss rate
was reduced to only 2.4% in 1941 as can be seen in the table below:
this was achieved with out the need for “Management Consultants”!!
Davidson regarded themselves as makers of domestic glassware, about 40% of
their production was for specialist glassware or domestic products for other
companies such as Clayton Meyers. One of their largest customers was
Holophane. Davidson had been making illuminating glassware for Holophane since
the late 19th century; the first moulds for Holophane were made on
23rd July 1896. In 1940 Holophane considered acquiring a financial
stake in the Davidson Company – a proposal which was rejected by the
pre-war customers included Cadbury’s Chocolate and John Smith’s Tadcaster
1931 Davidson introduced ‘Jade’ at the British Industries Fair. Their
display impressed the Gazette reporter, who produced quite a long piece in the
report on the BIF. The gazette also introduced an error, stating that amber
was the first cloud colour. The report wrote:
Davidson & Co., Teams Flint Glass Works Gateshead-on-Tyne, occupied a
spacious stand of dignified characteristics, which was concerned with a
wonderful display of pressed glass for both useful and decorative purposes. Of
plain white moulded ware for ordinary table uses there was a powerful
assortment, but from a spectacular point of view the coloured glasses, were
perhaps, the principal feature. We have watched with interest, over a period
of years, the gradual evolution of the coloured glasses in the pressed ware of
Gateshead, and we are inclined to think there is nothing more wonderful that
one could relate in connection with the recent development of popular-priced
glassware in England. When the plain amber glass first made its appearance
trade buyers hesitated momentarily, wondering whether it would “go” or
not. They felt their way
cautiously until they were assured that the public was ready for it .It was
with greater courage that the cloud effects were taken up as they came along
– first the amber cloud, then the mauve, followed by the blue cloud. A year
ago saw the advent of a brilliant scarlet, networked in black, and this year
witnesses the marketing of still another colour – this time a beautiful
jade. We congratulate Davidson & Co upon the way this was displayed. An
alcove, having a background of black velvet, was entirely reserved for a full
range of this new jade colouring, and we have grounds for believing that it
was one of the talks of the fair. Retailers will do well to make a note of the
value of this process of isolating a line that is powerfully individualistic.
We have often urged that a window, or a section of window, should be draped
off to display a particular line of goods that has its own definite message to
convey. And certainly this is the case in regard to these glasses of unique
colouring. Taking a broad general glance at the entire exhibit of the Teams
Flint Glass Works, one was satisfied that considerable progress is being
realised, and that this progress is based definitely upon the changing moods
of the retailers and the general public. No longer can it be said that our
English manufacturers of pressed glass are not impressionistic.
British Industry Fair was not always popular with the salesman who had to be
on duty all day, particularly after the public were allowed in. In 1931 a
prominent pottery manufacturer gave the following analysis of how he spent his
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