The Cambridge Glass Fair
three hundred years of collectable glass in one day
When and how did you become interested in collecting glass ?
It all started back in 1974, having gone to Manchester for a postgraduate year at the Royal Northern College Of Music, during which time I formed my string quartet, ‘The Delfino’. This was the start of my career as a professional violinist which I maintained till ill health required me to look for something else to fill my time.
The first violinist had a few Victorian wine flutes for the light refreshment required during rehearsals and I was given a chipped example to take home for my use.This started the descent into the all-consuming passion for antique glass.What sort of glass do you collect personally, if any?
My main interest is in glass from the 17th and 18th centuries and mostly drinking glasses. Being a collector/dealer I am, of course, lucky to have many examples in my collection until new homes are found. Some, including fine wheel engraved examples and large goblets tend to remain until another finer example comes along, usually forcing the release of something special to fund the latest object of desire. Both my wife and I also collect miniature items of glass.
What is the most special/interesting piece that you own or have exhibited?
At the moment this has to be a wonderful stipple engraved glass by D. Wolff. Formerly in the Drambuie Collection, then into my collection, it is one of only a dozen or so recorded with three cherubs on clouds, one presenting a tall wine glass to the second with another above holding a laurel wreath. This uniquely Dutch form of decoration is quite breathtaking and will be available for all to see at the September 09 foyer exhibition, by kind permission of the current owner who purchased it from me some time ago.
Do you have collections of anything other than glass?
My wife and I have a small collection of antique cameo brooches, I have a collection of antique violins and bows and somehow we managed to collect two parrots: Freddie, the green wing macaw and Charlie, the umbrella cockatoo, who take up most of our time and attention.
Are there any particular styles, periods or designers that inspire you more than any other?
I suppose the design and styles of 17th and 18thc glass forms interest me the most, though I do have a very special liking for quality wheel engraved and stipple engraved glasses, which to me show off the extraordinary skills of the craftsmen of the day.
Which are the best and worst aspects of being an exhibitor and a dealer?
This is very simple to answer: the worst has to be the packing, transportation, repacking and safe return of the glass; the best is meeting and talking to fellow lovers of glass and hopefully having something to add to another’s collection. The hunt for quality items can be wonderfully exciting and this has taken me to many parts of the world and introduced me to many very interesting people and their collections. Many hundreds of miles can be covered in the search for glass with no result but the expectation is all part of the thrill.
What was the best piece of advice that you were given when you started collecting and dealing in glass?
The first words of advice I was given by a glass dealer who is sadly no longer with us was 'Don’t start !!!!!!! It will become all-consuming'. But the best advice I was given can be summed up in three words: look, learn and listen. Look at as many examples of glass that you can, be it in museums, auctions, catalogues and hands-on. With many fine glasses being available for this at quality glass fairs where many specialists in your chosen area will be found, ask as many questions as you like: most dealers are more than happy to talk on the subject - after all, many dealers probably started as collectors - and listen to what they have to say, then buy what you like, in the best condition that you can afford or find, from dealers who will guarantee what they sell with regard to origin and condition. But beware!!! Once started, you will, as I did, find the subject completely absorbing and need more and more to satisfy the craving.
What advice would you give anyone just starting to collect glass?
As above, find somebody who you find it easy to talk to and who knows their subject and be guided by them.