Friday 11 February 2022

Whitefriars Glass

Lot 28.

A small Whitefriars kingfisher blue Drunken Bricklayer glass vase by Geoffrey Baxter, 19cm height

Estimate £80 - £120

For Auction 16th February

Britain’s longest running glass house, best known as the Whitefriars factory, was purchased by James Powell for his three sons in 1834. It subsequently led fashion and technology in the manufacture of domestic glass for a century and a half.

Largely forgotten in the years following its closure in 1980, in more recent times Whitefriars has enjoyed a vibrant collecting revival as collectors, dealers and the museum community reassess a broad spectrum of high quality, handmade glass that epitomise design movements from the Arts and Crafts to the Swinging Sixties.  Perhaps the most iconic Whitefriars productions emerged in the 1960s as the firm (officially named Whitefriars Glass in 1963) battled to return to its pre-War prosperity. Designer Geoffrey Baxter had joined the factory in 1954 directly from the Royal School of Art. His approach to glassmaking was sometimes radical (he famously used nails, wire and bark to create his prototype moulds) but it was perfectly in tune with the mood of the late 1960s. The Textured range with its distinctive shapes such as the Drunken Bricklayer and Banjo, was released in a range of three colours in 1967. To cinnamon, indigo, and willow were added meadow green, kingfisher blue and vibrant tangerine by 1969. These were daring designs but the production method was quite traditional: Whitefriars glass was always hand-blown, in this case into a series of cast iron moulds.

The factory hit hard times during the next decade following the loss of industrial contracts and the lack of demand for stained glass. Whitefriars continued to make Textured domestic glass, notably the new Glacier range of 1972 and a series of millefiori paperweights, but the end came in 1980. The trademark Whitefriars is now owned by the Scottish glass maker Caithness.

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