Bristol blue glass
During the late 18th century Richard Champion, a Bristol merchant and potter, making porcelain, was working with a chemist, William Cookworthy. Cookworthy began a search for good quality cobalt oxide to give the blue glaze decoration on the white porcelain and obtained exclusive import rights to all the cobalt oxide from the Royal Saxon Cobalt Works in Saxony. It is uncertain when Bristol blue glass was first made but the quality and beauty of the glass swiftly gained popularity, with seventeen glass houses being set up in the city.
Lazurus and Isaac Jacobs were the most famous makers of Bristol blue glass in the 1780s. Their company held a royal warrant and made glass for the aristocrats of Europe. Bristol’s glass makers were invited to demonstrate their skills at the Great Exhibition of 1851, opened by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. At this period cranberry glass was made for the first time by adding 24 carat gold to lead crystal, giving the glass its ruby red tones.
Production ceased in about 1923. Bristol Blue Glass was revived in the 1980s by Peter Hewlett, and production was later taken up by James Adlington and Peter Sinclair. Today, Bristol Blue Glass is produced by The Original Bristol Blue Glass Ltd in Brislington, established in 1988.
In the late 20th century, John Harvey & Sons of Bristol began to sell Bristol Cream sherry in bottles made from Bristol blue.
A stage in the manufacture of a Bristol Blue ship’s decanter.
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