So Last Century

Whitefriars Glass

Whitefriars Glassworks had been in existence for a century before wine merchant, James Powell, bought it in 1834. The Powell & Sons factory was on the site of an old Carmelite monastery, where the monks had worn the white habits, thus, when the company was renamed Whitefriars Glass in 1963, the logo was taken of a white monk, to be used on labels and in tiny canes in paperweights.

Powell's was the factory that followed the Venetian tradition of plain blown glass, and pieces from the 1870s, the era of James's grandson, Harry Powell, are elegant and simple, sometimes decorated with trails of the thin soda glass that was used in place of lead glass to produce glass of great delicacy.
The inter-war years showed that firm could follow the Art Deco fashion with its geometric engraving and optic moulding, then in the post-war years came the Festival of Britain and the fortunes of Whitefrairs glass started to rise.
In 1954 a young Geoffrey Baxter joined the company and with the popularity of Scandinavian design in mind, began to produce some of the most recognizable of Whitefriars' designs.
In the 60s Baxter started experimenting with texture, using bark, wire and nails to make vases such as the 'Banjo' vase, 'Bark' vase, the 'Cello' vase, the hooped vase and the well-known 'Drunken Bricklayer'.
Colours were generally vibrant and very much of the time. If buying, great care must be taken to ensure that the piece is genuine - there are a lot of fakes out there, as we know only too well!
Other designers of this period included William Wilson and Harry Dyer with a range of streaky and knobbly vases and lampbases.
Paperweights were also being made and were very popular but gradually the fortunes of the company decreased and in 1980, the factory closed and the site bulldozed, the name only remaining with paperweights after Caithness Glass bought the trademark.



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