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  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1850-1860 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    James Powell & Sons (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silvered glass, engraved

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 123, case 7

Object Type
This goblet-shaped vase is a purely decorative object. Although made of glass, with its brilliant silvering and traditional pattern of engraved vine leaves and grapes it is nearest to the bright copper- or silver- lustred ceramic wares typical of north-eastern English potteries. Despite its apparently practical shape, it would have been bought as a curiosity, possibly to impress its owner's visitors.

Materials & Making
The process of making double-walled silvered glass was patented by Edward Varnish and Frederick Hale Thompson in 1849. A number of glassworks, such as that of James Powell & Sons of Whitefriars, London, made the blanks. A stemmed vase or goblet shape was formed, with the glass-blower stopping short of opening out the mouth. Instead, the top of the vase, still sealed as a bubble-shape, was reheated and 'dropped' inwards to form a double-walled interior. This plain, undecorated vase was then supplied to E. Varnish & Co., where it was filled between the walls from the foot end with a solution of silver nitrate and glucose (in the form of grape juice). The final stage was to seal the hole in the foot with a metal disc, in this example marked for Varnish's Patent.

The silvered glass exhibited by E. Varnish & Co. fascinated commentators on the 1851 Great Exhibition. Varnish's salvers, vases, globes and goblets were bold in size and presentation, using non-tarnishing silver, ornamented with coloured casing, cutting and engraving. The process 'added a richness and beauty of colouring to that material of which few could deem it capable of receiving' (Illustrated London News).

Physical description

One of a pair of vases, double-walled, silvered and engraved.

Place of Origin

London (probably, made)


1850-1860 (made)


James Powell & Sons (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Silvered glass, engraved

Marks and inscriptions

'Hale Thomson's Patent London'
Makers's mark


Height: 12.4 cm, Diameter: 9.6 cm

Object history note

Probably made by James Powell & Sons, Whitefriars Glassworks, London.

Descriptive line

Vase, England (probably London), patent of Hale Thomson, attributed to J. Powell & Sons, 1849-1855, C.19-1961 and C.19 A-1961

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Double-walled silvered glass was a novelty that was very successful. Edward Varnish and Frederick Hale Thomson took out the main patent for the process in 1849. The effect was made by pouring a silvering solution between two walls of glass. [03/27/2003]


British Galleries; Glass; Vases


Ceramics Collection

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