three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair


Foyer Exhibition:
September 2007

The Designs of Frank Thrower for Dartington Crystal

Frank Thrower MBE.
Frank Thrower MBE

To celebrate 40 years of Dartington Crystal the foyer exhibition will showcase the work of Frank Thrower. He was one of the most important post-war British designers and his work is currently undergoing a major reappraisal.

Eve Thrower and Mark Hill will be selling copies of their book, 'Frank Thrower & Dartington Glass', which has been produced to accompany the exhibition of the private collection of Dr Graham Cooley, which is taking place at Great Torrington in Devon this summer. This book is
X Certificate vase.
FT95 X-Certificate
vase in Clear.
Designed 1969.
the essential guide to Frank's life and designs, and the company's history.

Frank Thrower was born in 1932 in London. After leaving school he took a number of jobs before going to work in 1953 as a travelling salesman for J. Wuidart & Co. Ltd, important importers of Scandinavian glass and ceramics. Frank spent much of his time working with managing director Ronald Stennett-Willson who also designed glassware for the company. His time at Wuidart exposed him to the best of Scandinavian design. It fired his enthusiasm and he became interested in the design process.

In 1960 he moved to Grays, a Stoke on Trent pottery, where he ran the company sales. He very successfully sold their Portmeirion ware and imported Swedish glass. He then started to produce glassware designs, including the simple, solid 'Victoria' goblet. These were manufactured in Sweden.

In 1967, at the height of the swinging sixties, Dartington Glass opened in Torrington, Devon, with Frank as designer and sales director. The 'Victoria' suite continued to be produced as well
Greek Key Vase.
FT58 Greek Key vase in Midnight & Kingfisher. Designed 1967.
as many of his Portmeirion designs, and he went on to create an innovative range of quality glassware. The colours were initially Clear, Midnight and Kingfisher. The more expensive Flame was used from 1968 until 1970 and Green and Blue were introduced in the early 1990's. Some of the ranges were given humorous catalogue descriptions such as the 'nipple vase' (FT95) and 'having a bit on the sideboard' (Victoria suite). The factory was very successful and much of that can be put down to Frank's functional tableware designs. In 1969 Frank received the Observer Designer of the Year Award. In the early 1980's Dartington joined forces with Wedgwood Crystal.

Frank Thrower died in 1987.

Daisy vase in Flame.
FT59 Daisy vase in Flame. Designed 1968.

The Cambridge Glass Fair exhibition will be situated, as usual, in the foyer alongside where Mark Hill and Eve Thrower will be signing copies of their book. The main part of the exhibition will feature much of the collection of Jacqui Olive.

Frank's son, the engraver and artist Kim Thrower, whose designs were used on some of the Dartington packaging, will also be attending the fair.

exhibition highlights

• FT35 sunflower floor vases

• FT52 head vases

• FT23 rectangular vases

• FT4 decanter

Note: All images supplied by Andy McConnell.