greek key pattern

Molineux Webb Glass:

19th Century glass from
Manchester in Lancashire, UK
Brought to you by The Glass Encyclopedia

Molineux & Webb were the oldest of the major Manchester glassworks famous for their 19th century glass. They operated as a blown glassworks from 1827 and registered their first pressed glass design in 1846 (a decanter). This was a very early registration for pressed glass.

Originally called Molineux & Co., then Molineux & Webb, and from 1865, Molineaux, Webb & Co. (note the spelling change), they were the most prolific of the Manchester glassworks. They are known to have produced a wide range of cut crystal glass, cased glass, and other hand-blown and decorated items as well as pressed glass.

One of their most famous pressed designs was the Greek Key pattern, shown left. This pattern was used for a wide range of tableware, and was first registered in 1864. The greek key design was used by other 19th century glassworks including their local rivals James Derbyshire and the North Eastern company George Davidson.

Most of the company's production was tableware, but they did produce a number of very beautiful novelties. There is a matt black sphinx which they registered in 1875 which can be seen on page 121 of Rayond Slack's book "English Pressed Glass". That same year they also registered a design for a "dolphin pillar". Ten years later (1885) they registered their lovely little fish posy vases like the one shown in opalescent glass on page 100 of Cyril Manley's book "Decorative Victorian Glass". The company closed in 1936.

above: "greek key" by
Molineux & Webb, 1864



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Molineaux Webb vase
above: vase advertised by
Molineaux Webb in 1926
The vase shown below on the left is from a Molineaux Webb advertisement in the Pottery Gazette Diary for 1926. It is almost identical to a shape made in cloud glass in the 1930s by Walther & Sohne (Germany). Walther's made a variety of shapes in this design, the most common being a comport.

Manchester was the second great center producing pressed glass in England during the 19th century. The first was the North East (Gateshead, Sunderland, and Newcastle) with three giant companies Sowerby, Davidson, and Greener, and several smaller ones. There were five glassworks in Manchester producing high quality pressed glass which today is highly collectible, plus several lesser known ones. The main five were:
  1. Burtles Tate
  2. James Derbyshire
  3. John Derbyshire
  4. Molineux & Webb
  5. Percival Yates & Vickers
Pressed glass designs from Manchester were popular in the 1860s and 1870s, slightly earlier than most of the pressed glass innovations from the North East of England. Sowerby, for example, registered their first pressed glass design in 1872, and Davidson in 1877.

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References, Sources & Further Reading:

Click on the book covers or titles below to read more about these books.

British glass book British Glass Book 2 English Pressed Glass 1987 English Pressed Glass by Thomson 2000 19th C British Glass 1982 Victorian Decorative glass book

1: English Pressed Glass by Raymond Slack (Oct 1987). Still an excellent reference book on glass factories in the early years of pressed glass.
2: The Identification of English Pressed Glass, 1842-1908 by Jenny Thompson (Jan 1990).
3:
British Glass 1800-1914, by Charles R. Hajdamach, (1991).
4: Nineteenth Century British Glass by Hugh Wakefield (1982).
5: Victorian Decorative Glass 1850-1914, by Mervyn Gulliver, (2002).
6: The Manchester Glass Industry by Roger Dodsworth (article in The Glass Circle No 4).








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