Bagley & Co art deco glass
Bagley & Co art deco glass is art deco style glassed which was produced at the Bagley factory during the 1920s and 1930s. It is considered highly collecitble today. Background
Bagley & Co began life as a bottle-making factory in 1871 in the UK. Cousins John William Bagley, William Bagley and John Wild founded the venture, acquiring the rights to the American Owens bottlemaking machine in 1903. In 1912, the cousins renamed the business The Crystal Glass Company and began to create a handful of lead crystal items. However, due to its high toxicity, lead was removed from the production line within two years. Despite this, the firm’s crystal wares were still known as “lead crystal”, with lines including butter dishes, sugar bowls, and beer mugs.
WW1 interrupted production. Instead of functional and decorative glass items, the factory contributed light bulbs and army equipment to the war effort.
Following the war, Bagley & Co became extremely successful. The roaring twenties saw its inexpensive art deco glassware become grow evermore popular among the glass buying public.
Wares from this period were produced in a range of sugary colours and pleasing textures. In 1924, after Queen Mary bought a quantity of Bagley glass at the Wembley Exhibition, the firm was awarded the Royal Seal.
Bagley employed a number of trained glassmakers. The manufacturing process comprised a mixture of methods, from traditional hand blowing and finishing, to mechanised techniques.
While most glassware was created using machine-made moulds, decorative finishes such as crimping and turning were all done by hand.
Colour and texture was also highly important at the Bagley glassworks. Branscombe, an engineer for the firm, created opal and cloud-coloured glass, as well as items in an array of pretty pastel shades (both matte and clear), which were knowm as Crystalnyt.
The creation of these colours generally involves experimenting with toxic and potentially harmful chemicals. Initially, pink glass contained arsenic, however, it was later discovered that adding slices of potato to the formula had the same effect. It remains unknown quite how this discovery came about.
Sandblasted items boasted a textured surface, while hand painting items with an acid paste achieved a smooth, silken finish.
Florid tourist ware featuring place names was mass produced during the 1930s alongside the firm’s more high-end lines.
Also in the thirties, Bagley & Co. introduced its Jettique range of black glassware patterned with red and white polka dots.
In October 1937, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took a tour of the glassworks. A commemorative souvenir booklet was duly produced and school children in the area given a commemorative plate. Queen Elizabeth was gifted a small Marine Bowl, decorated with tiny sea creatures.
In the 1940s, an opal-coloured line named Crystopal was introduced.
In terms of form and design, Bagley designers took inspiration from nature, creating vessels adorned with marine creatures, exotic mammals and birds.
Art Nouveau heart shaped troughs decorated with delicate, stylised foliage, soon made way for braver, bolder Deco stylings.
Some items were stamped with registration marks, while most bear the factory’s “Made in England” impression.
As was common during the 1930s, vases came with the option of a black base.
Again, production slowed to a trickle during the second world war. Beer glasses were created for the troops and shell cases contributed toward the war effort at large. The Government also confiscated three tonnes of Uranium, used to give the yellow glow to the glass when they realised that it could be used to make bombs with instead!
Following the war, Bagley produced glass boxes for Electrolux refrigerators and covers for the internal lights of motor cars.
In 1962, the Jackson Glass Company of Knottingley took over Bagley when there was a slump in their productivity, which was put down to the lack of skilled labour. Six years later they became part of the Rockware Group who closed the Bagley Crystal works in 1975. In 1995, this company was acquired by the Austrian Stoize Oberglas AG and they still produce high quality bottles for the cosmetic industry today.
The following registered design numbers were allocated to Bagley & Co. on the dates shown:
- 732176 12 Sep 1927
- 742290 04 Dec 1928
- 777674 21 Oct 1932
- 781996 30 Mar 1933
- 782221 06 Apr 1933
- 782234 07 Apr 1933
- 782436 18 Apr 1933
- 785064 21 Jul 1933
- 787536 01 Nov 1933
- 790480 20 Feb 1934
- 790481 20 Feb 1934
- 790482 20 Feb 1934
- 795455 07 Aug 1934
- 798236 23 Nov 1934
- 798842 18 Dec 1934
- 798843 18 Dec 1934
- 798844 18 Dec 1934
- 801851 04 Apr 1935
- 804397 10 Jul 1935
- 811929 04 May 1936
- 813237 22 Jun 1936
- 816035 22 Oct 1936
- 817574 15 Jan 1937
- 821905 12 Jul 1937
- 827045 22 Mar 1938
A Bagley Glass Co art deco green-glass vanity set sold for $110 at Livingstone’s Auctions in December 2007.
An equivalent set made $100 at Livingstone’s Auctions in June 2007.
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