At Graham Smith Antiques we love knowing the history behind our antiques and in the case of the Bristol Blue Glass we have in store, we are talking about literally hundred's of years of history - an interesting item indeed. It cannot be said for sure when the first Bristol Blue Glass was made. However, during the late 18th century a Bristol merchant and potter by the name of Richard Champion teamed up with chemist William Cookworthy to create a blue glaze for ceramics worthy of royalty and the wealthiest of customers. Cobalt Oxide of the highest quality, traded from Saxony achieved a blue that would indeed later be associated with wealth and prosperity.
A Bristol Blue Decanter, circa 1830.
Bristol Blue Glass's success and appeal was instant. By 1851 there were 17 factories required to meet the public's demand, with increasing American trade in this special blue glass as well. It was during this time that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert invited the glass makers of the Bristol Blue Glass to exhibit their skills at The Great Exhibition (popularly known as the Crystal Palace Exhibition). Many celebrated individuals such as Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll and Charlotte Bronte attended the exhibition. It was also around this time that cranberry glass was made by adding 24 carat gold to lead crystal which gave the glass it's luxurious ruby red tones.
A ruby glass, double ended perfume bottle, circa 1880.
After production ceased in the early 20th century, Bristol Blue Glass was later revived by James Addlington in the 1980's, restoring and saving what was becoming a lost art. The Original Bristol Blue Glass Ltd continues to produce distinguished glassware today and, as is common in today's modern manufacturing world, is open to the public.
For further information about our antiques please visit our new and improved website, or better yet, pop into our shop in the leafy suburb of Jesmond, Newcastle Upon Tyne.