February 2003 Newsletter


Welcome to The February 2003 Cloud Glass Newsletter. In this edition we have:

  • Web Site Update

  • Broadfield House Pressed Glass Weekend

  • Mould Contamination - Fact or fiction

  • EBay News

  • Cloud Glass Top Ten

  • Reports from the Pottery Gazette

Happy reading.

Web Site Update

There have been two major updates to the web site since the last newsletter. In late December we updated the Green Cloud Glass page to include production figures taken from Davidson's records. The page now has a (almost) complete inventory of all the Green Cloud Glass produced by Davidson. This again is a first for the Cloud Glass web site.

Last month we updated the Davidson history web pages. In addition to the updated history page, we added a short biography of George Davidson and a history of the the development of the Davidson factory.

At the same time this newsletter is published we have added some more to the Jobling page and added new images to the Walther bowls, Walther Vases and Davidson 'other styles' pages.

Our research into Davidson is still continuing. We have information still to publish and many new avenues of research to explore. All of our findings will be published on the Cloud Glass web site.

Broadfield House Pressed Glass Collectors' Weekend

Broadfield House Glass Museum will be having another Pressed Glass Weekend on Saturday and Sunday 15th and 16th of March. We will be there with a display of Cloud Glass. Admission to this event is free. Broadfield House is a must for any collector of glass. They have an amazing collection of all types of glassware. For details contact Broadfield House on 01384 812745 or email glass.museum@dudley.gov.uk.

Mould Contamination - Fact or Fiction ?

Recently I sent out an email to the Cloud Glass mailing list with the picture (seen right) of a No 535 bowl which has definite purple trails. As this bowl was made in the late 1960s this raised the possibility that Davidson may have tried to introduce Purple Cloud Glass again. Some of our correspondents suggested that the trails may have been the result of mould contamination. Not being an expect on the process of making pressed glass I asked Adam Dodds, a glass technologist who worked at Davidson in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He has very kindly supplied the following information about the 'myth' of mould contamination.

‘Firstly there is no way a mould could be contaminated by colour. A mould could be used with any colour or type of glass in rapid succession and not impact the quality of the following article in any way. The only mould contamination to have any effect on the glass was the slow build-up of iron scale on the mould surface which could result in scab-like effects on the surface texture of the article. There was absolutely no colouring effect involved.

In my opinion by far the most likely cause of the colour streaks shown is a deliberate attempt at a cloud colour using normal cloud-type production techniques.  I would put the odds of this being the cause at better than 75%.  Why it was done in this case we shall probably never know.

A possible, but unlikely, source of colour contamination could be from the gathering iron. If the gatherer had been working in black or dark purple glass and for some reason changed to colourless without cleaning or changing the business end of his iron, streaks as shown could certainly result.  This would be extremely bad practice and I never saw it happen, but as I have no idea what was going on ten years after I left I suppose I should give this scenario a 10% chance.

Even less likely would be the effect of changing the colour in a pot of glass from black to colourless.  I have done this when desperate but it is a fiendish job for the furnaceman partially to fill the pot with colourless and ladle out again repeatedly until "washed" clear. If this were not done properly the result would be more likely to be a uniform pale pink although in theory we might get drips of stronger colour from the top of the pot to cause a cloud effect.  I have never seen this happen.  I think I would give this one less than a 5% chance.

You will have gathered that any mould effect resulting in colour streaks rates a firm 0%!  Let's leave any remaining percentage chance for some effect which has not occurred to me!’

We will probably never know the true story behind this bowl, but perhaps life would not be very interesting if we knew all of the answers!!

EBay News

During the last eight weeks there have been a few interesting pieces of Cloud Glass on EBay. These include:

  • A Sepia Cloud Glass Coffee service in it's original box and with the makers label still on many pieces. The label bore the inscription 'JSAR Krystall'. We still do not know anything about the age or maker of this set. The seller has very kindly let us use her pictures on the web site.
  • A 'Yellow' Cloud Glass 279 Vase (a picture of this vase is already on the Orange Cloud Glass web page). We will be examining this further in a future newsletter
  • An Orange 283 Salad Bowl. Extremely rare - only about 60 were made in Orange Cloud Glass
  • A Walther Hellas Vase in Topaz-Violet. There has been very little Walther Cloud on EBay recently.

Cloud Glass Top Ten

Ever wondered which are the most common Cloud Glass pieces? From Davidson's records it is possible to estimate the total number of Cloud Glass pieces made for the period for which records survive. The top ten for the years 1932 to 1945, based on the number which passed inspection  is:

Style Number Made
283 2.5" Candlestick 171,422
4" Flower Dome 155,353
1910 BD Flower Bowl 95,246
3.5" Flower Dome 58,839
5" Flower Dome 58,653
Plinth No 1 53,453
280 7.75" Square Plate 49,825
2.5" Flower Dome 46,479
Plinth No 4 45,552
283 3" diameter Jar 40,825

These figures are for all Cloud Glass colours in production at that time. Probably the only surprise here is the No 280 Square Plate. They are not that common, yet nearly 50,000 were made in the 1930s. The 1910 BD flower bowl was by far the most popular flower bowl that Davidson made. It is also not surprising, therefore, that the 1910 BD bowl takes a 4" flower dome.

Cloud Glass become less popular as the decade passed and this is reflected in the amount of Cloud Glass produced. The table below shows the total number of Cloud Glass pieces made in the 1930s for each colour. Data for January 1932 is not available. The figures in brackets are the total number  of entries in the Glassmakers records in that year and for that colour.

Colour 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1942




 Blue  86,266
 Purple  68,234
 Orange   8,120
 Total  421,601

Amber Cloud accounts for over 50% of Cloud Glass production in each of these years. By the start of the war it had been in continuous production for about 12 years. Green Cloud Glass survived until the start of the war, but was never as popular as Amber.

Orange Cloud was only in production for three years. Despite the highest volume being made in 1935, its lack of acceptance caused it to be axed. This happened despite Davidson cutting the wholesale price of Orange Cloud items (we will be doing more on pricing in a future newsletter).

Purple Cloud had been around since 1923 and even in 1932 large quantities were still being produced. It's demise was gradual, the last batch of Purple Cloud was made on 7th August 1937 where 26 No 34 Lamp bases were made. The previous day 42 No 697 candlesticks had also been made.

In contrast Blue ceased production in 1934. During that year over 19,000 articles were made in Blue. The last Blue Cloud Glass was made on the 27th May 1934. On that day 900 of the small 283 candlesticks were made.

During the 1930s, new styles were introduced and older ones retired. The two tables below shows the top ten Cloud Glass styles for the years 1932 to 1942 (except 1941 where no records exist) when the Utility Glassware Order prevented the manufacture of all but utility glassware until after the war. The figures in brackets are the total number of pieces made in Cloud Glass.

1932 1933 1934 1935 1936

 283 2.5" Candlestick

 283 2.5" Candlestick
 283 2.5" Candlestick
 283 2.5" Candlestick
 4" Flower Dome

 4" Flower Dome

 4" Flower Dome
 4" Flower Dome
 4" Flower Dome
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 283 2.5" Candlestick
 3.5" Flower Dome
 283 3" diameter Jar
 Plinth No 1
 Plinth No 4
 5" Flower Dome
 283 3" diameter Jar
 3.5" Flower Dome
 5" Flower Dome
 280 7.75" Square Plate
 2.5" Flower Dome
 Plinth No 1
 Plinth No 1
 3.5" Flower Dome
 5" Flower Dome
 204 D 7.5" Posy Bowl
 283 3" Diameter Cover
 283 Pin Tray
 No 50 Vase
 2.5" Flower Dome
 280 7.75" Square Plate
 283 Pin Tray
 283 3" Diameter Cover
 Plinth No 2
 No 10 Grid 4.5"
 3.5" Flower Dome
 5" Flower Dome
 283 5" diameter Jar
 1910 SD Flower Bowl
 3.5" Flower Dome
 No 44 Ashtray
 283 5" diameter Jar
 5" Flower Dome
 283 Pin Tray
 Plinth No 1
 204 D 9" Posy Bowl
1937 1938 1939 1940 1942

 4" Flower Dome

 4" Flower Dome
 No 27 Ashtray
 4" Flower Dome
 Plinth No 248

 No 44 Ashtray

280 7.75" Square Plate
 4" Flower Dome
 3" Flower Dome
 3.5" Flower Dome
 No 27 Ashtray
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 280 7.75" Square Plate
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 4" Flower Dome
 No 10 Grid 4.5"
 283 2.5" Candlestick
 Plinth No 248
280 7.75" Square Plate
 Plinth No 4
 Plinth No 4
 No 282 8" Round Plate
 1910 SD Flower Bowl
 Plinth No 4
 Plinth No 2
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 3.5" Flower Dome
 5" Flower Dome
 2.5" Flower Dome
 5" Flower Dome
 1910/10 Flower Bowl
 No 53 Ashtray
No 53 Ashtray
 No 10 Grid 4.5"
 34 D Flower Bowl
 5" Flower Dome
 2.5" Flower Dome
 1910 BD Flower Bowl
 4.5" Flower Dome
 279 8" Vase
 2.5" Flower Dome
4.5" Flower Dome
No 360 Scent Spray
 5" Flower Dome
 727 Flower Bowl
 280 7.75" Square Plate
3" Flower Dome
 248 D Flower Bowl
 Plinth No 1
 283 8" Flower Bowl

The 1910 BD flower bowl and the 283 candlesticks fell out of the top 3 rating in 1937. In all years Flower Dome production was a major contributor in the total number of items produced. Plinths for flower sets were also high production items. Prior to 1935 it was the No 1 Plinth which was the most popular, After 1935 the No 4 Plinth takes over. This reflects the changing popularity of the many flower sets Davidson sold. From 1935 onwards ashtrays and plates start to appear in the top ten.

Reports from the Pottery Gazette

Since we first started doing the newsletters, we have tried to include at least one entry from the Pottery Gazette and Glass Trades Review. The Pottery Gazette is not only interesting for the Pottery or Glass collector, but it is also of interest to social historians. Reading about the trials and tribulations of the commercial traveller or how best to display glassware in a shop window conjures a nostalgic view of life in the early part of the last century! There are also many articles on the process of glass making.

The Pottery Gazette also changed over the years. One of the most striking changes is in the length of articles. Prior to the second world war, articles were long and very wordy and sometimes difficult to read. It seems the authors would use 10 words where today one would suffice! The state of the glass industry each month would take two or three pages of closely typed prose. After the war half a page was sufficient.

In the 1950s and 1960s gone were the 'Buyers Notes' articles describing the latest production from a Pottery or Glass house. Reports from the British Industries Fair were shorter, as this example from the 1951 'What to see at the Fair' article:

'George Davidson and Co Ltd. A selected range of both fancy and domestic pressed glassware from the well known Davidson and "Chippendale" series, including various distinctive lines recently brought back after their withdrawal from production during war-time conditions'

This preview is very similar to the one used in the 1948 'What to see at the Fair' article.

In 1964, Davidson reintroduced slag glass and displayed the line at the Blackpool Fancy Goods Fair. The Pottery Gazette reported in March 1964 thus:

'The main attraction at Geo. Davidson & Co. Ltd., was undoubtedly their reincarnation of a very old form of glassware similar to slag glass and for which they have not yet got a name. The appearance of the glass might be likened to a mixture of deep purple and off white colours mixed together and gently stirred. the glass is not new and appeared in fact in the company's catalogues about 60 years ago. its reception was mixed: antique dealers loved it, laymen were not quite sure and Americans thought it "great". The company's display was noted for its colour, particularly a delightful midnight blue and an antique green. As a test for public reaction two sample ashtrays with a smoky finish in the base of the tray were shown and were aptly christened "Moonglow".

  Davidson soon decided on a name. An advert in May 1964 included the line 'Ask to see our new MARBLE glassware of exclusive composition - Samples gladly sent on request'. Today this Marble glassware is called 'Lava' by collectors, although we haven't come across an instance of Davidson calling it by this name.

On the web page describing the history of the Davidson factory, we have included an excerpt from 'Tyneside Industries', a booklet published by the Historical Publishing Co. in about 1888/1889. The front page describes the contents as 'An Epitome of results and manual of commerce. Business men and mercantile interests. Wealth and Growth. Historical, Statistics, Biographies' . The complete entry for Davidson is:

'George Davidson & Co., Teams Glassworks Gateshead-on-Tyne. This well known house was founded in 1868 at its present headquarters, and is still conducted under the personal auspices of its originator, principal, Mr George Davidson JP assisted by his son Mr Thomas Davidson. The premises constituting the Teams Glass are at once extensive and compact, and comprise offices, a large packing shed, commodious warehouse for the storage of finished goods, four 8-pot furnaces and a mould making department, very complete in all respects and considerably larger than is usually the case. There is also an extensive building in addition to these, part of which is used as a sand warehouse, part as a shop for the mixing of glass forming ingredients and part as a pot loft. This building is about 150 feet long by 40 feet wide. Throughout the works the floors are nearly all laid in cement, preventing damp and the risk of fire, and all buildings are reasonably airy and well ventilated. A special feature in connection with these works consists of the Lehrs for annealing glass. These are supposed to be unsurpassed by any in existence and such a fact is obviously of very great importance, the proper tempering of glass has so much to do with its durability. The works cover a large area of ground and have excellent quay and railway accommodation on each side of the works for the delivery of raw material and of coals, and also for loading, being situated on a sort of peninsular of the river Teams. With regard to Messrs Davidson's manufacture, it is well known that they are especially celebrated as makers of pressed or moulded glass, their houses having received the only gold medal awarded for this description of glass at the recent Newcastle Exhibition. In the firms showrooms at the works can be seen some exceedingly beautiful specimens of pressed glass in such forms as salad bowls, fruit dishes, butter coolers etc. which to the eye of the ordinary observer unacquainted with the of the trade would at once appear to be cut glass of a very fine quality. To such perfections as this have Messrs Davidson carried their process of glass manufacture by moulds. The production of this house are known and esteemed all over the world, and have acquired a distinctly well merited reputation, in as much as they combined all the graces of beautiful design and appearance, and all the qualities of an especial soundness and durability with a cheapness in price that is as remarkable as it is commendable. The firm employs between 300 and 400 hands regularly, and carry on a trade and industry of great magnitude and widespread range all of the departments of which evince conspicuous evidence of the care and competence which characterise their administration. Mr George Davidson, the respected head of this eminent house is now Mayor of Gateshead for his second year in that office, it being 30 years since he first entered the Council; and the manner in which he acquits himself in this responsible public post is matter for general satisfaction in the community. He is chairman of the local board of the Federal Fire Insurance Company, a member of the local directorate of the Northern Accident Insurance Company, chairman of the Newcastle Building Insurance Company, a JP for Gateshead and is also on the Tax Commission and proprietor of several other works of considerable importance among modern Tyneside Industries.'

Copyright (c) Chris and Val Stewart 2003