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Ysartnews Issue 1 - October 1986
Edited by Mary Houston-Lambert 2002
Welcome to the first issue of the Monart & Vasart Collectors club newsletter ‘YSARTNEWS’.
This first issue is all my own work and I have enjoyed preparing it. I do hope to have some help for the next one. Most collectors of this glass have done some research and I would be grateful if you could send the fruits of your efforts for us all to share. No need to type it; all I need is to be able to read it.
Even if you have not done research tell us about the glass you have. Any ideas for the contents or criticisms are welcome. If you have any documents, articles or press cuttings let me know so that I can arrange to have them duplicated for the archives and hopefully inclusion in future editions. Any question I receive will be published in the following newsletters. I will be preparing the newsletter on an Amstrad Word Processor so appearance should be acceptable and I have used a large type to make it easily readable. If anyone finds it unpleasant to read let me know and I will try some other method. Also if you have an Amstrad PCW send your contributions on a disk and save my fingers. Disks will be returned.
Well it is up to all of us to make sure it survives beyond the first issue so please send something.
Frank Andrews, Secretary
Manufactured from 1924 until c.1950 at Moncrieff Glassworks, Perth, Scotland. Developed by Salvador Ysart, a glassblower from Barcelona, and his family.
Salvador moved with his wife and sons to Marseilles, France in 1909 and later to Lyons, France. After a short stay he moved again to Choisy-le-Roi on the Seine about six miles from Paris. During the time in France he worked for Baccarrat the paperweight manufacturers. In September 1915 he emigrated to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here he worked for ‘Leith Flint Glassworks’ (later renamed the Edinburgh Crystal Go.) with his eldest son Paul b.1905 as an apprentice. In 1922 he was offered the position of Master Glassmaker at John Moncrieff Ltd., The North British Glassworks, South Street, Perth [Established 1865] The whole family joined Moncrieff’s — Paul as a glassblower and Antoine, Augustine and Vincent as apprentices.
During the first two years he experimented with various techniques of coloured glass decoration in addition to the scientific ware that the factory produced. Mrs Moncrieff took an active interest in his experinentation. The coloured glass produced as MONART GLASS was developed by the Ysart’s in collaboration with Mrs Moncrieff who was largely responsible for the colour designs and patterns. Coloured glass powder and canes were rolled (marvering) into the blanks and then, usually, cased. Many of the earlier pieces were uncased and have a fairly rough surface. Some had random blotches of colour and some pieces of millefiori and latticino worked into the surface. Gold powder or Aventurine and silver foil or mica were often included. Up until the outbreak of World War Two the strong coloured rods were imported from East Germany. when these supplies were halted softer colours had to be used, no Monart was produced between 1939 and 1945. The loss of the strong colours caused a decline in the demand for MONART after the war, as did the rising cost of manufacture. A large proportion of MONART glass production was exported to the United States.
During the early years of production a great variety of pieces were produced including a handful of fine cut overlay pieces in the style of Galle. although extremely crude by comparison. One such piece which is in a Scottish collection has solid black overlay rising halfway up cut into a trees design above. Another is a table lamp base, upto twenty attempts to produce a shade for this lamp but on every attempt to cut the outer casings the pieces shattered. The costs of production forced the range to be limited mainly to the familiar whorlly designs in one, two or more colours and plainer styled pieces in every possible colour and colour combination. While flower holders are the most common object in every conceivable shape and size, ashtrays, pintrays, plates, coupe & saucer sets, fruit bowls and fruit sets are quite common. Rarer pieces include table lamps with lit bases and matching shades, ceiling light bowls, lemonade sets, bottles for dressing tables and bathrooms, trays and glasses and some individual non typical pieces for friends. Some pieces were made to commissions in particular colours to suit the clients decoration — for example, a set of jars for bath salts lidded in greys and mauves.
Identification can be a problem as no piece was ever signed in the factory the only identification being a black printed gold paper label — and many of those must have disappeared on the first wash. The label usually has a code written on it consisting of three groups, a number in Roman numerals identifying the size, a group of letters identifying the shape and a group of numbers giving the colour recipe. The numerals referring to the colours do not appear on pieces made after 1939 as the source of the new colours was less reliable. Style and reference to known pieces is the best guide bearing in mind that Salvador would use continental styles as well as British. Mrs Moncrieff would often ask him to copy a shape of a piece of pottery that she had bought. Monart glass rarely has a ring when tapped; most pieces just give a dull tone.
Most of the shapes used for the usually signed VASART glass were originally Monart shapes. A fairly common type of glass wrongly attributed to Monart is the blotchy blood-red/orange with solid black or blue overlay cased in a satinised clear glass. This glass is either Czechoslovakian or French if old and if fairly new looking possibly modern Israeli. Some pieces attributed to English factories may in fact be Monart; it is therefore important to have knowledge of the English coloured glass production when identifying such pieces. Bubble glass is one area where confusion can arise, Stevens and Williams of Stourbridge produced cased and uncased ‘Bubbly’ glass but it is mostly mould blown and usually the bubbles are regular. While some Monart is obviously mould blown, or partially so, the bulk is free blown. The whorlly designs appear to be uniquely Moncrieffs. The enamels were sometimes laid on the surface at other times cased in clear glass. The thickness of the glass varies from very thin to very thick and heavy, with examples of all thicknesses in both large and small pieces. The degree of transparency varies from near crystal to completely opaque. The silver flecks [Mica flakes] were introduced around 1935. Very early pieces were cased of a creamy whitish blank. Salvador also produced some paperweights but his son Paul developed a greater feel for these. I have seen a beautiful scent bottle by Salvador Ysart with exquisite Millefiori decoration. Paul Ysart’s paperweights are now in great demand by collectors worldwide. In 1948 Salvador, Augustine and Vincent left Moncrieff. Paul stayed until 1960 when he joined the Caithness Glass Company and was an independent paperweight designer from 1971 until his retirement in 1979.
The museum at Perth contains some interesting pieces and a large collection of the best Monart & Vasart paperweights. There is also a cup made in 1922 which is orange glass with a few slices of millefiori and a clear glass handle. A red bowl (surface enamel) with embedded latticinio is a beauty. It is well worth the trip to Perth to see this unique collection.
Antoine Ysart died in a car accident during 1942.
Ysart Brothers Glass - Vasart External Article
Strathearn Glass New External Article
I am proposing a labelling scheme for Monart and Vasart glass. Labels will be similar to the Monart label for both Monart and Vasart except that they will be slightly smaller. The word Moncrieff will be replaced by ‘Collectors Club’ and the word ‘Scotland’ by ‘No.’ leaving a space for a registration number. It is my intention to maintain a register recording all pieces so labelled and assign each piece a unique number. The usual coding area will be left blank unless it is possible to recode the piece as original. While the more obvious pieces will be easily labelled any piece that I have any doubt about will be held back until its identity can be confirmed with other club members. I will also happily label any members collection and register it. Eventually such a scheme will be of use to anybody researching the glass. For obvious reasons these labels will not be entrusted to any other person except with the agreement of all club members. I would appreciate any comments on this scheme and I would emphasise that while I may describe a piece as ‘probably’ Monart and sell it as such, I will not relabel unless I am positive. For such a scheme to have any value it must be operated with the greatest integrity. Incidentally, I will be financing the cost of this scheme.
During August 1986 I started an album of Monart and Vasart glass, this contains colour photographs of glass that has passed through my hands, glass in other collections and all the paperweights from the Perth Museum collection, although these last are in black and white. The album will be available for inspection at my stall or by appointment at my home. I will also take it with me whenever visiting collectors. Hopefully I will be able to build up a comprehensive album of all the shapes and patterns. I have decided to give this album and photographs to the club but I retain the copyright on all my own photographs. If you want to send photos for inclusion please apply the following criteria (Copyright remains with the owner of the negative);
A piece of white card 1.25" by 0.5" marked with 0.25" divisions must be placed close to the object in the photograph. Vases must be photographed square on. Bowls and unusual shapes must be photographed square on AND from above.
Where the pattern or shape is not effectively portrayed by this method a photograph should be taken from a suitable angle IN ADDITION to the two other views. Table lamps should be photographed lit and unlit. Details of labels etc. should be included.
Can anyone suggest a standard for defining colours? For the register and any articles in this newsletter it is important that a standard colour scheme be found. The original colour recipe books must be somewhere, could they be used, can they be found? Perhaps there is a standard existing for describing glass colours in the glass industry or elsewhere. Stamp collectors do have a standard colour guide copies of which are reasonably cheap (I think) perhaps we could use that? Suggestions please.
Our members are all over the UK but it would be nice if we could get together once a year. Perhaps late in 1987 and in Perth, naturally. An American collector of glass hats has offered to place some adverts in USA magazines for us, so our membership should become international.
1987?, I hope so. Alison Clarke, a lecturer at Stourbridge College, has agreed to write the book on the Ysart family and their glass. It will be giving equal weight to all of the glass from Monart to Paul Ysart’s paperweights. It will be published by Collectors Research Press Limited. Progress report next issue.
An Exhibition of Monart Glass will take place in 1987. More details next time.
Christies in Glasgow recently sent the club, how did they hear of us?, a catalogue for an auction sale including Monart glass. I will write to them and ask them for better notice of future sales. Monart ashtrays have been selling in Scottish auctions for upto £40.00 recently! If you want advice on selling your glass through an auction house I will be happy to oblige. But if it is an important piece perhaps the other members could have a chance to make an offer first?
We will accept paid adverts in this section but I will happily divulge shops I know that tend to buy it in for stock. Adverts, text only, semi-display £5 per line. £15.00 minimum. Single items in Swap & Sell section.
One I have not been to is in an arcade in Bristol? The occasional piece turns up in Alfies Antique Arcade in Church Street, Marylebone. London. But they also sell Strathearn at Monart prices, so take care. Portobello is not a good hunting ground I very rarely find any there. Paperweights appear more frequently there though.
Antiques fairs are not good places to find pieces although you will find glass described as Monart frequently. The recent Alexandra Palace Fair yielded only one piece. an exceptionally good one, but at least six wrongly attributed pieces. Mainly the red & black glass and Whitefriars.
Edinburgh is very expensive. Perth is reasonable, Glasgow ? not sure. The best area is the borders region but it is really pot-luck.
Street markets and junk shops everywhere are the only place that the odd piece still turns up regularly and cheaply.
Gray-Stan and Whitefriars ‘Cloudy’ glass bear a strong similarity to Monart should we include articles on their glass? I think it would be useful to do so.
Hard for anyone to fake in any quantity but similarites can make a piece easy to mistake. But, more next time.
I will be accumulating research material in the clubs name. It is important to determine the fate of this material in the event of the clubs demise.My suggestion is that it be given to the Perth Museum. Your views please.
If I have to purchase material I will ballot members for a decision to use club funds for the purpose. Any material that I am offered for sale will first be offered to the club by this ballot method and then offered to the members individually via the newsletter.
I would like other members to actively share my supervision of the club to ensure fairness in the way the club is operated.
Any member who wishes to sell or swap a piece of glass through this newsletter may do so. Unless specifically requested only the membership number will be printed. If a collector needs to sell quickly I will buy the piece and if it is an important piece or of a shape a colour being sought by a particular member it will be made available only to other members for a nominal handling charge. If you advertise a piece please keep it until the newsletter is published.
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