three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair

Foyer Exhibition:
February 2008

British Glass Jugs 1750 - 1900

Nailsea-type ale jug c.1810
Nailsea-type ale jug c. 1810.

The February 2008 foyer exhibition will show an important collection of British glass jugs dating from 1750 through to 1900.

Visitors to the fair will have the opportunity to see the development of these vessels from the simple baluster forms of the mid- eighteenth century through the various stylistic and technological changes to the fine decorative techniques of the late Victorian age. Included in the exhibition will be pieces used for various liquids and ranging in size from tiny toy cream jugs to large cut water jugs.

The exhibition will contain some rare examples which are hard to track down along with others similar to those that might be seen for sale in the fair.

This area of collecting is not particularly well represented in the literature on antique glass. The presentation of numerous examples will therefore allow those interested to compare pieces alongside each other and to chart the changes in style that enable the accurate dating of vessels.

claret jug with etching by John Northwood
A claret jug with etching by John Northwood.

Among the hundred or so pieces making up the exhibition will be examples of most glass forms including various Bristol colours, Nailsea, trailed rims, cut, moulded, engraved and etched.

Group of cream jugs dating from 1750
A group of English cream jugs dating between 1750 and 1820.

Glass jugs made in Britain before the middle of the eighteenth century are rare. A few examples survive from the Ravenscroft period of the 1670's although these are true museum pieces. Otherwise, some late seventeenth and early eighteenth century serving bottles occasionally appear and jugs do exist but are rarely seen on the market.

Before 1750 glass was relatively expensive and is of course a vulnerable material, so jugs made from robust alternatives such as pottery, pewter, silver etc. more commonly survived.

In the second half of the eighteenth century glass became easier and cheaper to produce and transport and therefore was more widely available although jugs remain scarce before 1780.

Early jugs are characterised by a low, pot-bellied form becoming a more elegant shape in the 1770's and 80's.

Around 1800 the form of the larger ale and water jugs began to diverge from that of the smaller cream jugs.

From this period Nailsea-type jugs also began to appear although these were actually made countrywide.

Cut glass jugs first appeared in the 1790's and remained in production throughout most of the nineteenth century.

There was a change in the way that handles were applied to jugs produced from c1860 onwards which meant that the thinner part now appeared at the top. This was an attempt to strengthen the handle joints as this is the weakest part of the vessel.

In the 1840's glassmaking became more experimental and many different styles were produced.

The exhibition will show the development of jugs between 1750 and 1900 and will provide visitors with the chance to compare vessels from across the period and to chart the changes in form that enable collectors to accurately date Georgian and Victorian glass jugs.

exhibition highlights

• mid-eighteenth century wine jug

• blue cream jug gilded by W. Absolon

• large Nailsea cider flagon

• dated eighteenth century ale jug