three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair

knebworth Exhibition: february 2014

the designs of harry powell 1873 - 1920

Harry Powell was responsible for a large number of the designs during his time with the glassworks and, although he was a scientist and not trained in the arts, his designs are among the most beautiful of those produced by the Whitefriars factory, if not of any English glassworks of the time.

Harry was a great experimenter and he developed and introduced new colours and techniques to the works such as the blue and straw opal colours.

Display of Sky Blue pieces
Cabinet showing diamond- moulded pieces, early sky blue and straw and blue opal pieces among others.

He presided over the glasshouse at a time when their industrial glass was of great importance. He was also a great researcher, drawing inspiration from historical glass and reproducing fine examples.

Harry published two books on glass: The Principles of Glass-Making, co-written with Henry Chance and H.G. Harris in 1883 and Glass-Making in England, published shortly after his death, in 1923.

His influence on the designs and the direction of the company lasted beyond his lifetime and he continued to influence his contemporaries through these books.

The exhibition consisted of over a hundred pieces of Harry Powell designed pieces plus a small selection of earlier engraved glass by the firm dating back to the 1830’s.

There were many examples of Harry’s own designs including some of the ‘opal’ colours he helped create. There were also examples from his ‘Glasses with Histories’ designs such as the diamond moulded vases and a rare dark green decanter loaned by Nigel Benson. Other highlights of the exhibition were the ‘Prince of Siam’ decanter and claret jug loaned by Terry Martin and Richard Caethoven respectively,  and the ‘Lotus’ engraved glasses loaned by Patrick Hogan.

The greater part of the glass on display was brought along by Richard Caethoven, who also organised the exhibition, manned the stand for some of the day and produced a leaflet detailing the pieces.

The other glass on display was loaned by the following members:

Cabinet with white threaded decanter, Roman-cut pieces, gold ruby liqueurs etc.

Stan J, Nigel Benson, Patrick Hogan, Terry and Peggy Martin, Leni Simons, Joe Harris, Richard Anderson and Wolfie Rayner. Table helpers consisted of Mike Cripps, Dave King, Layna Manning, Leni Simons and Julian Knowles.

It was hoped that this exhibition would give fairgoers and fellow collectors an opportunity to see a few cabinets filled with early designs and possibly their first chance to see such a large collection of glass around one hundred years old like this all together in one place.

While most of the pieces were catalogued designs, not all of the early stuff can be immediately identified as Powell glass. Another point of the exhibition was to promote discussion among collectors and dealers alike as to often-mistaken identities or glass of the same period wrongly attributed to the factory. One such imposter on display turned out to be a finely blown vase by Webb which was correctly identified by Nigel Benson.

One thing that became apparent was that the amount of interest shown in this fascinating period of Whitefriars history is as strong as ever.

As always, a great effort by the dedicated members and special thanks in particular go to Richard Caethoven for coordinating the exhibition.

The members pull out all the stops at each fair to present a wonderful display of the high quality glass produced by this factory whose work they rightfully admire so much and because Whitefriars was such an innovative manufacturer they have much to choose from, so we can hopefully look forward to many more stunning exhibitions.

These displays and the effort of coodinating them are much appreciated by visitors to the fair whether Whitefriars collectors or not, as they provide a valuable insight into the varied and imaginative glass designs produced during the factory's long history.

This was another superb exhibition which gave lots of opportunity and material for discussion among the group and other visitors.

exhibition highlights

  • Prince of Siam decanter and claret jug.
  • Harry Powell blue and straw opal pieces.
  • Rare early dark green decanter.
  • Lotus glasses.
  • Very rare sea green and ruby random strapped goblet with twisted stem and gold foil inclusions in body.
  • Prince of Wales decanter in sea green.

    Shelf of mainly flint items including decanters, poppy head glasses and Prince of Siam pieces.









    Note: Images provided by Leni Simons.










    top of page