From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
The history of glassmaking can be traced back to 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first true glass was made in coastal north Syria, Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt. The earliest known glass objects, of the mid third millennium BCE, were beads, perhaps initially created as accidental by-products of metal-working (slags) or during the production of faience, a pre-glass vitreous material made by a process similar to glazing.Glass remained a luxury material, and the disasters that overtook Late Bronze Age civilizations seem to have brought glass-making to a halt.
Indigenous development of glass technology in South Asia may have begun in 1730 BCE. In ancient China, though, glassmaking seems to have a late start, compared to ceramics and metal work. In the Roman Empire, glass objects have been recovered across the Roman Empire in domestic, industrial and funerary contexts. Anglo-Saxon glass has been found across England during archaeological excavations of both settlement and cemetery sites. Glass in the Anglo-Saxon period was used in the manufacture of a range of objects including vessels, beads, windows and was even used in jewelry.
Naturally occurring glass, especially the volcanic glass obsidian, has been used by many Stone Age societies across the globe for the production of sharp cutting tools and, due to its limited source areas, was extensively traded. But in general, archaeological evidence suggests that the first true glass was made in coastal north Syria, Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt. Because of Egypt's favorable environment for preservation, the majority of well-studied early glass is found there, although some of this is likely to have been imported. The earliest known glass objects, of the mid third millennium BCE, were beads, perhaps initially created as accidental by-products of metal-working (slags) or during the production of faience, a pre-glass vitreous material made by a process similar to glazing.
During the Late Bronze Age in Egypt (e.g., the Ahhotep "Treasure") and Western Asia (e.g. Megiddo) there was a rapid growth in glass-making technology. Archaeological finds from this period include colored glass ingots, vessels (often colored and shaped in imitation of highly prized hardstone carvings in semi-precious stones) and the ubiquitous beads. The alkali of Syrian and Egyptian glass was soda ash, sodium carbonate, which can be extracted from the ashes of many plants, notably halophile seashore plants: (see saltwort). The earliest vessels were 'core-formed', produced by winding a ductile rope of glass round a shaped core of sand and clay over a metal rod, then fusing it with repeated reheatings.
Threads of thin glass of different colors made with admixtures of oxides were subsequently wound around these to create patterns, which could be drawn into festoons by using metal raking tools. The vessel would then be rolled smooth ('marvered') on a slab in order to press the decorative threads into its body. Handles and feet were applied separately. The rod was subsequently allowed to cool as the glass slowly annealed and was eventually removed from the center of the vessel, after which the core material was scraped out. Glass shapes for inlays were also often created in moulds. Much early glass production, however, relied on grinding techniques borrowed from stone working. This meant that the glass was ground and carved in a cold state.
By the 15th century BCE extensive glass production was occurring in Western Asia, Crete and Egypt and the Mycenaean Greek term ku-wa-no-wo-ko meaning "worker of lapis lazuli and glass" (written in Linear b syllabic script) is attested. It is thought the techniques and recipes required for the initial fusing of glass from raw materials was a closely guarded technological secret reserved for the large palace industries of powerful states. Glass workers in other areas therefore relied on imports of pre-formed glass, often in the form of cast ingots such as those found on the Ulu Burun shipwreck off the coast of modern Turkey.
Glass remained a luxury material, and the disasters that overtook Late Bronze Age civilizations seem to have brought glass-making to a halt. It picked up again in its former sites, in Syria and Cyprus, in the 9th century BCE, when the techniques for making colorless glass were discovered. The first glassmaking "manual" dates back to ca. 650 BCE. Instructions on how to make glass are contained in cuneiform tablets discovered in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. In Egypt glass-making did not revive until it was reintroduced in Ptolemaic Alexandria. Core-formed vessels and beads were still widely produced, but other techniques came to the fore with experimentation and technological advancements. During the Hellenistic period many new techniques of glass production were introduced and glass began to be used to make larger pieces, notably table wares. Techniques developed during this period include 'slumping' viscous (but not fully molten) glass over a mould in order to form a dish and 'millefiori' (meaning 'thousand flowers') technique, where canes of multi-colored glass were sliced and the slices arranged together and fused in a mould to create a mosaic-like effect. It was also during this period that colorless or decolored glass began to be prized and methods for achieving this effect were investigated more fully.
According to Pliny the Elder, Phoenician traders were the first to stumble upon glass manufacturing techniques at the site of the Belus River. Georgius Agricola, in De re metallica, reported a traditional serendipitous "discovery" tale of familiar type:
"The tradition is that a merchant ship laden with nitrum being moored at this place, the merchants were preparing their meal on the beach, and not having stones to prop up their pots, they used lumps of nitrum from the ship, which fused and mixed with the sands of the shore, and there flowed streams of a new translucent liquid, and thus was the origin of glass."
This account is more a reflection of Roman experience of glass production, however, as white silica sand from this area was used in the production of glass within the Roman Empire due to its high purity levels. During the 1st century BCE glass blowing was discovered on the Syro-Judean coast, revolutionizing the industry. Glass vessels were now inexpensive compared to pottery vessels. A growth of the use of glass products occurred throughout the Roman world. Glass became the Roman plastic, and glass containers produced in Alexandria spread throughout the Roman Empire. With the discovery of clear glass (through the introduction of manganese dioxide), by glass blowers in Alexandria circa 100 CE, the Romans began to use glass for architectural purposes. Cast glass windows, albeit with poor optical qualities, began to appear in the most important buildings in Rome and the most luxurious villas of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Over the next 1,000 years glass making and working continued and spread through southern Europe and beyond.
Indigenous development of glass technology in South Asia may have begun in 1730 BCE. Evidence of this culture includes a red-brown glass bead along with a hoard of beads dating to that period, making it the earliest attested glass from the Indus Valley locations. Glass discovered from later sites dating from 600–300 BCE displays common color.
Chalcolithic evidence of glass has been found in Hastinapur, India. Some of the texts which mention glass in India are the Shatapatha Brahmana and Vinaya Pitaka. However, the first unmistakable evidence in large quantities, dating from the 3rd century BCE, has been uncovered from the archaeological site in Takshashila, ancient India.
By the 1st century CE, glass was being used for ornaments and casing in South Asia. Contact with the Greco-Roman world added newer techniques, and Indians artisans mastered several techniques of glass molding, decorating and coloring by the succeeding centuries. The Satavahana period of India also produced short cylinders of composite glass, including those displaying a lemon yellow matrix covered with green glass.
In ancient China, glassmaking seems to have a late start, compared to ceramics and metal work. The archaeological distribution of glass is limited. Literary sources date the first manufacture of glass in China to the 5th century AD. However, based on archeological evidence, it is currently accepted that glassmaking in China began around the 5th century BCE during the late Spring and Autumn to early Warring States periods.
Glass objects have been recovered across the Roman Empire in domestic, industrial and funerary contexts. Glass was used primarily for the production of vessels, although mosaic tiles and window glass were also produced. Roman glass production developed from Hellenistic technical traditions, initially concentrating on the production of intensely colored cast glass vessels. However, during the 1st century CE the industry underwent rapid technical growth that saw the introduction of glass blowing and the dominance of colorless or ‘aqua’ glasses. Production of raw glass was undertaken in geographically separate locations to the working of glass into finished vessels, and by the end of the 1st century CE large scale manufacturing, primarily in Alexandria, resulted in the establishment of glass as a commonly available material in the Roman world.
Anglo-Saxon glass has been found across England during archaeological excavations of both settlement and cemetery sites. Glass in the Anglo-Saxon period was used in the manufacture of a range of objects including vessels, beads, windows and was even used in jewelry. In the 5th century CE with the Roman departure from Britain, there were also considerable changes in the usage of glass. Excavation of Romano-British sites have revealed plentiful amounts of glass but, in contrast, the amount recovered from 5th century and later Anglo-Saxon sites is minuscule. The majority of complete vessels and assemblages of beads come from the excavations of early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, but a change in burial rites in the late 7th century affected the recovery of glass, as Christian Anglo-Saxons were buried with fewer grave goods, and glass is rarely found. From the late 7th century onwards, window glass is found more frequently. This is directly related to the introduction of Christianity and the construction of churches and monasteries. There are a few Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical literary sources that mention the production and use of glass, although these relate to window glass used in ecclesiastical buildings. Glass was also used by the Anglo-Saxons in their jewelry, both as enamel or as cut glass insets.
The Arab poet al-Buhturi (820–897) described the clarity of such glass, "Its color hides the glass as if it is standing in it without a container." In the 8th century, the Persian chemist Jābir ibn Hayyān (Geber) described 46 recipes for producing colored glass in Kitab al-Durra al-Maknuna (The Book of the Hidden Pearl), in addition to 12 recipes inserted by al-Marrakishi in a later edition of the book. By the 11th century, clear glass mirrors were being produced in Arab Islamic Spain.
Glass objects from the 7th and 8th centuries have been found on the island of Torcello near Venice. These form an important link between Roman times and the later importance of that city in the production of the material. Around 1000 CE, an important technical breakthrough was made in Northern Europe when soda glass, produced from white pebbles and burnt vegetation was replaced by glass made from a much more readily available material: potash obtained from wood ashes. From this point on, northern glass differed significantly from that made in the Mediterranean area, where soda remained in common use.
Until the 12th century, stained glass – glass to which metallic or other impurities had been added for coloring – was not widely used, but it rapidly became an important medium for Romanesque art and especially Gothic art. Almost all survivals are in church buildings, but it was also used in grand secular buildings. The 11th century saw the emergence in Germany of new ways of making sheet glass by blowing spheres. The spheres were swung out to form cylinders and then cut while still hot, after which the sheets were flattened. This technique was perfected in 13th century Venice. The Crown glass process was used up to the mid-19th century. In this process, the glassblower would spin approximately 9 pounds (4 kg) of molten glass at the end of a rod until it flattened into a disk approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter. The disk would then be cut into panes. Domestic glass vessels in late medieval Northern Europe are known as Forest glass.
The center for luxury Italian glassmaking from the 14th century was the island of Murano, which developed many new techniques and became the center of a lucrative export trade in dinnerware, mirrors, and other items. What made Venetian Murano glass significantly different was that the local quartz pebbles were almost pure silica, and were ground into a fine clear sand that was combined with soda ash obtained from the Levant, for which the Venetians held the sole monopoly. The clearest and finest glass is tinted in two ways: firstly, a natural coloring agent is ground and melted with the glass. Many of these coloring agents still exist today; for a list of coloring agents, see below. Black glass was called obsidianus after obsidian stone. A second method is apparently to produce a black glass which, when held to the light, will show the true color that this glass will give to another glass when used as a dye.
The Venetian ability to produce this superior form of glass resulted in a trade advantage over other glass producing lands. Murano’s reputation as a center for glassmaking was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire might burn down the city’s mostly wood buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291. Murano's glassmakers were soon the island’s most prominent citizens. Glassmakers were not allowed to leave the Republic. Many took a risk and set up glass furnaces in surrounding cities and as far afield as England and the Netherlands.
Bohemian glass, or Bohemia crystal, is a decorative glass produced in regions of Bohemia and Silesia, now in the current state of the Czech Republic, since the 13th century. Oldest archaeology excavations of glass-making sites date to around 1250 and are located in the Lusatian Mountains of Northern Bohemia. Most notable sites of glass-making throughout the ages are Skalice (German: Langenau), Kamenický Šenov (German: Steinschönau) and Nový Bor (German: Haida). Both Nový Bor and Kamenický Šenov have their own Glass Museums with many items dating since around 1600. It was especially outstanding in its manufacture of glass in high Baroque style from 1685 to 1750. In the 17th century, Caspar Lehmann, gem cutter to Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, adapted to glass the technique of gem engraving with copper and bronze wheels.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article Glass Manufacturing in America.|
Evidence has been found of glassmaking at the English settlement on Jamestown Island, Virginia. While some glass window panes were made there after 1608, most of the windows had been shipped from England.
The glassmaking business in America started when eight Germans (known as "Dutchmen") and Poles arrived as part of the Second supply on board the Mary and Margaret. They used local material: sand in the James River, potash was in the forest and a bed of endless oyster shells which could be burned and ground to make lime. They set up making the first batches of goods exported to England from the New World. The first shipment sent to England was called the trial glass. Most of it was window glass, bottles, vials and plain drinking glasses. The glass factory at Jamestown was believed to be the first manufactory in America.
The location was near the Jamestown peninsula over a mile from the fort, in a location that was convenient for glassblowing. The Jamestown Glasshouse was situated where the Indians used to camp and where the main roads converged, known to the settlers as the Greate Road. The area came to be called Glass House Point. Though this location made the recovery of mineral resources easily accessible, it also made the glassmakers vulnerable to Indian sneak attacks. The glass manufactory was controlled exclusively by the Polish glassmakers. The Dutchmen went to Werowocomoco (an Indian village on the York River fifteen miles from Jamestown) in order to build a house for the Indian chief, and plotted to kill Captain John Smith and steal powders and arms from the settlers. They didn’t succeed, and were kicked out of the village when the Powhatan Chief became suspicions of their dealings.
The glassmaking operation required three furnaces with different sizes. The first furnace was for melting the glass, the smaller one for annealing or cooling the finished glass. And an even smaller fritting furnace for preheating the ingredients needed for making the glass. A fourth furnace was erected to fire up the clay pots used in the glassmaking process. The construction of the furnaces was made up of huge boulders rolled out of the river and glued together with mud. A rectangular wood-frame building was constructed to protect the furnaces and the workers from the weather. Overall the glass house was about thirty seven feet wide by fifty feet long, and probably had a high thatched roof and partially open sides with the office situated next to the furnaces. (Kelso 2006)
During an excavation in 1948, an archaeologist, Jean Carl Harrington excavating the foundation of the furnaces, theorized that the workmen probably produced a lot of green glass. It was comparable to that produced in England; exhibit showcases, window panes, bottles and drinking vessels. Glass making in the colonies was discontinued in 1609 during the Starving Time. When British settlers first came to the colonies, they were unaccustomed to the land and the weather, and everything was trial and error or success as the case may be. They tried, and with some luck, grew some crops. But unfortunately during Indian attacks, many were killed, some of the injured died due to lack of medical facilities. The Virginia Company Charter expected returns; however since the glass making business was in decline, they ventured to other manufactories. (The name Glass house point was not the original name given to the manufactory. It was merely known as the Glass House then).
Glass making in America symbolized wealth. Ivor Noel Hume excavated in Virginia and found one fragment of a piece of glass. Most glass was utilitarian with a case of glasses in the parlor quite common. Over 70 percent of Hume’s find were fragments of quatre foil- stemmed glasses. Round bottles assumed a more squat shape. Glass was not universal in most households. Even those of wealth had no glass at all. According to his records, a Ralph Fisbourn died in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1708 with an estate of £1,762 and had no glass except for some bottles. (Edgar 1980)
American glass manufactories were founded first in New York in 1732 and then in South Jersey by Caspar Wistar in 1739. The 1730s saw an increasing proliferation of forms. Boston merchants advertised wine glasses, jelly glasses, syllabubs, decanters, sugar pots, barrel cans, punch bowls, bird fountains, and candlesticks. Merchants also offered japanned glassware. “For those who did buy taste in the newest styles, drinking glasses were the inverted baluster type (popular in England from 1720 to about 1735) or the later drawn stem glass (1730–1745)” . Both types have been found in Virginia. Wealth and fashion did not dictate an elaborate collection of glass, for the Reverend Ebenezer Thayer who died in nearby Roxbury less than a year later had £137 worth of silver. But his only glass was some salts in the parlor.
The style of glassmaking changed by 1746 when the government passed The Glass Excise Bill, which taxed glass by weight; beginning in 1751 advertisements in Boston newspaper made a reference to “new fashion” glass. Usually the phrase referred to the air twist stemmed glass or “wormed wine glasses” that had first been advertised in the Boston market in 1746. By 1761, glasses and decanters were also engraved or “flowered”. Glassmakers worked diligently to provide special glasses for specific purposes, and inevitably only the well-to-do could afford a full array of forms. The inventory of Governor Fauquier’s glass is revealing, when the former Governor of Virginia died in 1768, he left: 5 beer glasses, 5 champagne glasses, 14 water glasses, 55 wine glasses, 59 syllabub glasses, 69 jelly glasses, 23 glass salvers, 15 decanters and 8 cruets. He also had three sets of salvers that made up into large pyramids; the largest pyramid was valued at £15. Such pyramids were advertised in the Boston press in 1772. During the Federal Period, after the revolution Americans adopted new European styles. During the Revolutionary period, decoration was minimal. Although the American glass industry was making a strong beginning, considerable quantities were still imported. Cut glass was advertised in Baltimore as early as 1786, gaining popularity toward the end of the period. American production of blown three-mold glass began during the War of 1812. Glassmakers Henry William Stiegel and John Frederick Amelung had both tried to produce elaborate, fine table glass rivaling the European imports and both failed because there was not yet a market for the work they produced.
Many of the glassmakers who worked in American factories were from England and their designs bore a resemblance to that of European designs. European cut glass influenced the patterns of American cut glass until 1880. Phillip McDonald designed the “Russian” pattern for T.G. Hawkes & Company of Corning. New York and from this point on American cut glass wares became richer in design, and quality of both workmanship and glass. John S. O’ Connor’s “Parisian” pattern were the first cut glass designs to utilize a curved line in cutting, and it greatly influenced the American designs thereafter, because most of the cutting had been straight lines.
Since the war of 1812 had stopped the importation of fine cut glass from abroad, the American factories progressed in the making of flint glass. Flint glass manufacture was common in South Boston. In South Boston, there was the South Boston Crown Glass Company, Boston, Massachusetts. The New England Glass Company was created in ca.1817. Most workers that started as glass makers in a company set off to start their own business in no time. The Glassmaking business was risky as it often failed within a few years of establishment. It often ran into labor or financial trouble, which resulted in being sold. For instance, the Bay State Glass Company started in East Cambridge Massachusetts in 1857; it advertised cut flint glass ware in all its varieties along with other glass wares. It also quoted engraving done in neatness. But the firm dissolved in 1863.
The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company in Sandwich Massachusetts produced a considerable quantity of fine cut glassware after 1825 and closed in 1888 due to the Civil War. In Connecticut, it was not different either. Parker and Casper in 1867 operated a glass cutting shop in Meriden Connecticut and manufactured decanters, caster bottles, sugar, salt and mustard glass liners, until the shop closed in 1869. From South Boston, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania to Ohio for many years, the American glass industry engraved, invented, and adopted brilliant designs for glass making in America. It has progressed through decades of new innovations and art forms in the country.