Pall Mall glass

Part of the content for this brief history of Pall Mall glass was provided by Hugo Wildblood who has written an overview on Pall Mall glass and which is available for purchase on ebay.   We are much in gratitude to him.

There is a lot of confusion about Pall Mall glass as it is a term applied to much of the thin walled, etched glass that was produced at the beginning of the twentieth century. It is also sometimes classed as Edwardian glass in the belief that it was only manufactured in the first decade of the last century. Notwithstanding the theory that common usage determines a definition, we believe that Pall Mall glass refers to a particular pattern of glass that was produced in the last century in England and overseas, from a number of different manufacturers, over a number of decades.  Although we have yet to see concrete evidence, there is a belief that Pall Mall glass was sold by Woolworths, the ubiquitous UK retail chain, now defunct.  The volumes that it would have sold explain why so many variants from so many different manufacturers were made.  Indeed, exactly matching a set of Pall Mall wine glasses can take significant effort.

We have heard from Paul Scott, a retired Woolworths manager, who tells us that Woolworths sold the Pall Mall glass into the 1960s, each glass being sold separately at a cost of approximately a florin (equal to 10p in today's currency) a glass.  He also confirms that the Pall Mall glass sold by Woolworths was imported.

The pattern in question is also called the Lady Hamilton pattern and refers to the combination of a particular type of scrollwork design to the top of the glass combined with a latticework pattern to the bottom. An example of the pattern in question is shown here to the right.  The scrollwork pattern is always scratched through a resist on the glass using a pantograph machine, before being dipped in acid, but the latticework may either be etched or cut.  The earlier Edwardian pieces were always cut. 

In Charles Hajdamach's excellent book "20th Century British Glass", he displays an advertisement from the Pottery Gazette for Pall Mall glass dated 1911, confirming the Edwardian origin of the cut examples. 

The etched and cut glasses made at the beginning of the 20th century were copied as to form but modified to have machine etched latticework as the century progressed. It is probable that these fully etched variants were made well into the middle of the century, and were sold in great quantities by Woolworths and other retail outlets.  Some of the etched and cut varieties were also produced as the century moved on and Thomas Webb produced a range of such glasses sometime in the late 1930s and 1940s.  Their versions are etched with the company trademark "Webb Made in England".

The glassware was sold through a number of different retail outlets and we are grateful to a fellow glass dealer for providing the image below extracted from the 1913 catalogue of Gamages, the central London store that closed down in 1972. 

There is evidence that more than one manufacturer produced this pattern and Andy McConnell in his excellent book, Millers 20th Century Glass, points out that even Ronald Stennett Willson of Kings Lynn Glass and Wedgwood Glass fame commissioned, or attempted to commission, a Scandinavian company to produce the design while he was at Wuidart in the 1960s.  It was certainly produced in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and it is not uncommon to find etched latticework Pall Mall glass with a "Made in Bohemia" sticker. There is also evidence that the pattern was manufactured in Belgium.

Later still are the balustroid glasses that bear the same Pall Mall Lady Hamilton pattern design but which bear no resemblance to the form of the original glassware. These were made in Bohemia in the late 20th century and sold as "The Lady Hamilton Collection". They can sometimes be found in the original boxes that bear UTC-A bar codes which only came into common use in the late 1970s.

Early 20th century examples:

Mid 20th century examples:

Late 20th century examples:

 

References: Pall Mall Glass by Hugo Wildblood

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