Wedgwood glass

Wedgwood Glass
from the
Glass Encyclopedia

Wedgwood glass

Sheringham glass
candlestick designed
by Ron Stennett-Willson
for Wedgwood Glass.

Wedgwood glass bell

This bell by Wedgwood
Glass has a jasperware
cameo of Queen
Elizabeth 2nd

Wedgwood Glass: A short explanation

Wedgwood Glass and later (from the mid 70s) Wedgwood Crystal, were the names used for the output of King's Lynn glassworks in the UK after it was taken over by the Wedgwood Group in 1969.

Ronald Stennett-Willson, one of the most prominent UK post-war glass designers, had established King's Lynn Glass in 1967, and continued as Managing Director and chief designer of Wedgwood Glass until he reached retirement age in 1980. He had been closely involved with the Swedish glass industry during the 1950s, and his designs at King's Lynn had the clean functional lines associated with post-war Scandinavian design.

His Sheringham range of candlesticks and goblets, see above left, was one of his most celebrated early designs, and won a Queen's Design Award for Industry. These candleticks varied in height and had between one and nine discs in their stems, made in five colors amethyst, green, blue, topaz and clear.

Wedgwood Glass produced a number of commemorative pieces with small jasperware plaques like the bell on the left, which was produced to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee celebrations in 1977. This bell has an inscription etched inside "Queen's Silver Jubilee 1953-1977 Wedgwood Made in England".

In addition to tableware, vases, and commemorative pieces, the King's Lynn glassworks also produced a wide range of little glass figurines of animals, birds, and fish. A number of these animal paperweights were designed for Wedgwood by David Midwinter of Midwinters Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, (now itself part of Wedgwood-Waterford).

More than half of the staff employed when the company first opened, were skilled glass blowers from Sweden and other parts of Europe. Part of their job was to train local people in glass industry skills.

When Wedgwood became the dominant shareholder in Dartington Glass in 1982, the late Frank Thrower from Dartington Glass also contributed designs to the Wedgwood Crystal range. He had previously worked with Ronald Stennett-Willson for the UK importer of Orrefors Glass (Sweden) and amongst his designs for Wedgwood was the very heavy hexagonal or octagonal "Brutus" series of vases and bowls.

King's Lynn glass was marked only with paper labels. Following a long Wedgwood tradition, all the glass made by Wedgwood Glass was supposed to be marked with a permanent mark. The mark is sometimes very hard to find and indeed we were told that the etching machines took a while to arrive after Wedgwood purchased King's Lynn glass, and so even during the early Wedgwood days some pieces were not permanently marked. The etched mark shown below, which appears on the Sheringham candlestick shown at top left of this page, shows the first mark used by Wedgwood after they took over the Kings Lynn Glass factory and depicts the Portland Vase.

Wedgwood glass signature

Etched signature
Wedgwood England
and the Portland Vase picture
on the base of the Sheringham candlestick.

Wedgwood became part of Waterford-Wedgwood plc in 1986 and this merged company continues to play a major role in the glass industry, but not as Wedgwood Glass. The Wedgwood Glass operation was closed in 1988 and rumour has it that all the pattern books were destroyed at that time.

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The King's Lynn glassworks was sold to Caithness Glass in 1988 and became known as Caithness Crystal until it was subsequently closed down in 1992.

References and Sources:
If you would like to know more about Wedgwood glass, Susan Tobin's well-researched text should be very helpful. There is also an excellent section on King's Lynn and Wedgwood Glass in Lesley Jackson's book.
1: Wedgwood Glass . Author Susan Tobin, 2001.
2: 20th Century Factory Glass - click here. Published 2000, author Lesley Jackson.
3: Wedgwood - a Collector's Guide - click here. Published 1992, reprinted 1996; author Peter Williams. All about Wedgwood, but no glass.
4: Modern Glass by Ronald Stennett-Willson, 1975.

20th Century glass book

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