Jobling Glass

Joblings Glass

by John Bell of Bennett and Bell


The first chronicled production of glass in England was in 674 AD when the Venerable Bede described how glass makers from Gaul were brought over to make windows for a newly built church and monastery in Sunderland. This church, St Peters in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland still stands today.

There are no further records of glass-making in Sunderland until the late 17th century when in 1697, the Sunderland Company of glass-makers founded the Wear Flint Glass Works in Southwick This is the site that in the mid 19th century was to be acquired by Henry Greener and his partner James Angus.

In 1857 Henry Greener left the employ of Sowerby in Gateshead and the following year started glass-making in partnership with James Angus at the Wear Flint Glass Works in Sunderland, North East England. The company was known as Angus and Greener until Angus died in 1869. During that time they registered their first design on 21st December 1858. This was to be the first of 11 subsequent registrations.

An Angus & Greener plate Registered 26th November 1867

The plate, shown left, has a date lozenge on the top for 1867. During that year Angus and Greener registered a compote and footed sugar bowl in this same design. The design is on the back, in deep intaglio and the surrounding area is matt finished.

After his partner’s death, Greener continued to register designs in his own name. He also moved the business to a bigger site in Millfield, on the south bank of the River Wear in Sunderland and which was to become the home of James A. Jobling and Co. and eventually Corning Co. Ltd, which it remains today.

Greener were never as prolific as their Gateshead rivals, Sowerby and Davidson which makes surviving pieces all the more rare.

Many of his registrations were for commemoratives his first being the Gladstone for the Million plate Rd No. 231430 of 31st July 1869. Gladstone had won a landslide election the previous year and the Greener plate proved to be an immensely popular purchase.


Gladstone for the Million Plate Design Registered 31st July 1869

We also show a small dish Rd No. 236921 marking the death of George Peabody, a wealthy American philanthropist who came from Massachusetts. Peabody ran a large company in Baltimore before moving to live in London where he established a banking and mercantile business. He gave substantial sums of money in both countries for the housing and education of the poor.


George Peabody Commemorative Dish Design Registered 7th December 1869

With the introduction of the Trademarks Registration Act in 1875 Greener instituted his own trade mark in the form of a demi-lion rampant facing left and with a star in its right paw. Interestingly both Davidson and Sowerby were using heraldic trademarks around the same time.


Left: Trademark used by Greener from 1875 to 1885


Davidson’s was very similar; a demi-lion rampant rising from a turret or a brick wall.

Sowerby’s trademark was a peacock head facing left and was registered within a year of the Act being passed.

Sheilagh Murray gives a detailed description of these devices in her book of 1982, "The Peacock and the Lions".

Henry Greener died in 1882, and the business ran into financial difficulties a few years later.

In 1885 the company was re-named Greener and Co. and a new trademark was registered, a demi-lion rampant facing left, holding an axe.

A year later Greener and Co. was sold off to its principle creditor, James Augustus Jobling. James Jobling was a Newcastle upon Tyne industrialist who owned the Tyne Oil and Grease Works and also had a major business supplying minerals, many of which went to the glassworks of Henry Greener.

Until the turn of the 20th Century Greener & Co. registered many designs for tableware and other decorative items many of which may have had more than one pattern on them.

A Greener & Co. Basket with Designs of March 1888

An example of this is the basket on the right, which has a rustic handle with the Reg. No. 96776 (27th March 1888), and on the body of the basket is the no. 95935 for a pattern registered on 16th March 1888. We once owned a basket which had a third pattern no. 98551 incorporated.

Also shown is a salt dish in the shape of a wheelbarrow (No. 218710 20th September 1893). Both of these pieces have a slight purple hue which came from manganese impurities in the raw materials and which is often an indicator of a piece from the North East of England.

Left: A Greener & Co. Salt in the form of a Wheelbarrow

Below: Greener Amber and Blue"Pearline" Baskets which appeared to infringe the Davidson Patent of December 1889

In 1889 George Davidson & Co. of Gateshead patented their famous Pearline glass, introducing it in their 1890 Suite. In November of that year Greener registered their design No. 160244 which appeared in an amber opalescent and a blue "Pearline" look-a-like. We also had the well-known basket and a less well-known sugar in the same pattern. Greener's blue "Pearline" which could easily be mistaken for the Davidson product. In fact Sheilagh Murray includes it in her Davidson section in "The Peacock and the Lions". Needless to say Greener "Pearline" production was short-lived, we can only presume that Davidson challenged them on an obvious infringement of the patent.

James Jobling did little to build his glass business in the years around the turn of the century and again the company ran into financial problems. Their saving came from him appointing his nephew Ernest Jobling-Purser as manager in 1902.

Jobling-Purser began by revitalising the company with an investment programme (presumably funded by his uncle) using technology from the USA and Germany. His most significant contribution however was to come when he acquired from the Corning Glass Co. the licence to manufacture and market PYREX heat resistant glassware in Great Britain and the Empire (excluding Canada) in 1921.

It was this product range which enabled Joblings to grow and prosper throughout the depression years.

Whilst the sales of PYREX soared the flint glass department fell into decline.

Throughout this period the pressed glass industry were imitating the more expensive cut glass but with the dawning of the 20th Century, glassmakers in continental Europe began to experiment with glass as an art form. Lalique and others using mechanised presses then finished glass by hand to produce pieces, which were beautiful but expensive.

It was with this observation that Joblings entered the 30s and introduced a range of decorative Art Glass. Left: A Jobling Jade Trinket Set

The glass was to be much less expensive than hand finished glass yet sufficiently attractive that a higher price than normal for flint glass would be accepted.

Recalling many of the formulae for coloured glass developed in the Greener days, Jobling counteracted the difficulty of consistent colours by instituting routine chemical analysis of incoming raw materials and conducting trial melts.

The results of this work made a range of standard colours available for the new Art Glass programme. Jobling were able to produce their new colours, including "Opalique" and Jade, consistently.

Pride of the range was "Opalique". Jobling had unsuccessfully attempted to reach a licensing agreement with both Lalique and Sabino, French glassmakers producing opalescent glassware, before going ahead with their own techniques.




Left: Jobling Opalique plate in Fir Cone Pattern no. 5000

Above Right: Jobling OpaliqueDish in art deco Flower Pattern no. 6000

From its launch in 1932 Jobling annually extended the Art Glass range, each time with a fanfare of advertising. Many of these pieces are still to be found today despite being produced in limited numbers and "Opalique" in particular has become recognised as a collectable alternative to the more expensive French pieces.

A Selection of Jobling Fir Cone Pattern No 5000

 

A Jobling Opalique Bowl in Fir Cone Pattern no. 5000

Although Jobling's art glass was discontinued after only a short time, it has been recognised as some of the finest pressed glass ever produced in England.

With the advent of World War II Jobling like the other glass houses discontinued Art Glass

production in order to concentrate on more functional glassware.

Today they are part of the Corning Glass Company trading as Corning Co. Ltd. on the same Millfield site bought by Henry Greener over 125 years ago.

A Calendar of Important Events

1858:Angus and Greener formed
21st December 1858: 1st registered design for a dish
20th April 1869: Final registration by Angus & Greener
1869: James Angus died
31st July 1869: 1st registration by Greener - "Gladstone for the Million" plate
1871: Greener moved to a new site at Millfield, Sunderland
1875: Trade marks Registration Act
29th November 1876: Greener registered trade mark – demi-lion rampant with star
1882: Henry Greener died
1885: Business renamed Greener & Co
1885: 2nd trade mark registered – demi-lion rampant with halberd
1886: Bought by principle creditor James Augustus Jobling
1902: Ernest Jobling-Purser joins Company
1910: Ernest Jobling-Purser became Works Manager & Chief Technologist
1921: Company name changed to James A Jobling and Co.
1921: Joblings acquire right to manufacture PYREX for sale in GB and Empire (except Canada) from Corning Glass Co.
1928: James Jobling retires, Ernest Jobling Purser succeeds as Governing Director
1932: Jobling approach Lalique for a royalty manufacturing operation. Lalique responded unfavourably.
1934: Jobling make similar approach to Sabino but terms considered too high.
20th March 1935: "Opalique" registered trademark (No. 552558).
Prior to 1935 Opalique pieces had "Reg. No. Applied For" on the base


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