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Ysartnews Issue 2 - February 1987
Edited by Mary Houston-Lambert 2002
I start this editorial with a good feeling; the club has been a success and more than I had anticipated. At the time of writing, membership has grown to twenty-six. I will be forced to adopt more sophisticated approaches to production of the newsletter. The first twenty copies were printed one at a time on my word processor (Amstrad PCW) and with the rush of membership applications and other enquiries in December and January it proved very difficult to produce them fast enough. The amount of work involved is getting much greater than I had expected and I will be seeking some help from other members in organising our third issue. In addition, I will be including illustrations in the third issue other than photographs, so anyone with an artistic bent is welcome to submit something. There were a few comments about the title; the pun was not intended, but no real complaints so I have decided to keep it unless asked to change it by you. I have also decided that the newsletter will be produced three times per year at roughly four-month intervals. In between, I will keep in touch by telephone and if I can in person.
A third of our membership visited the small exhibition I gave in January, thank you. It gave me great pleasure to meet some of our members for the first time. I am considering arranging a larger exhibition next year and will be looking for a suitable venue.
Prices of the Monart glass have risen dramatically this year. By about 300 percent. I hope that the next year will see a slowing down in this trend. There does not seem to be very glass much about. Certainly, production runs were often very- low. The increased prices should bring more onto the market. Lack of knowledge by the antiques trade and collectors will leave many pieces still to be discovered so there must still be plenty of bargains to be found. The efforts of the club should ensure for all a wider understanding of the glass. The label and registration project which we will all be involved in should allow us to have a fair knowledge of the range of colours and patterns used, by the end of this year.
Vasart and Strathearn are still appearing as Art Nouveaux glass and at extortionate prices, but not as frequently as last year. I expect to see prices of Vasart falling due to a greater knowledge of the glass and due to the vast amounts of Vasart available. With exceptions, Vasart cannot be mistaken for Monart. The exceptions are worth the extra anyway, and it is to be hoped that the signature is not being polished off in an attempt to disguise a piece as Monart. The differences are easily learnt. Strathearn is a completely different glass quality and I am finding it very easy now to recognise a piece without the leaping salmon seal.
Paperweights are not to everybody’s taste and I do not want to force anyone to like them. When I started the club, I knew nothing about them and had only bought one MONART weight for my own interest. Since buying a weight by Paul Ysart and meeting our first paperweight collector, my interest has grown. They are a very high form of the glassmaker’s art and as such can be very beautiful to behold. Paul Ysart is very important in the growth of the paperweight industry in the twentieth century. He has been highly acclaimed by collectors of paperweights for many years now and his best pieces fetch very high prices. Each of his weights is an individual creation and while the variety is immense, there is a continuity of style that is uniquely his. Paul Ysart’s paperweights are often found with a cane bearing his initials ‘PY’ or an ‘H’. None of the weights he made in the thirties have the ‘H’ cane. So, as with MONART, identification becomes a skill. However, once the features are fully understood it would be very hard to make a mistake. The good thing about this is that it is possible to build a comprehensive collection for the price of one or two signed insect paperweights. There is a lot of study to be done in the area of Monart, Vasart, Ysart and Strathearn paperweights. Our next issue is to feature an article, or articles, on the paperweights and I would appreciate receiving details of any weights in your collections, preferably with photographs.
Gray-Stan unlike Monart is mostly one-offs and is trading for similar prices to Monart, but could well go ahead. It is certainly much rarer than Monart but much more easily identified due to the signature. Gray-Stan glass is a completely different quality to YSART glass, so beware of Gray-Stan signed Monart. Let me know if you find any and where it came from. Prompt action will prevent this spoiling of Monart glass. None of the Gray-Stan that I have seen bears more than a passing similarity to Monart.
Whitefriars/Powell ‘Cloudy’ glass is an area about which I know very little. Collectors appear to be rare and prices are very low. Some of the glass is very beautiful and I would love to see a collection of identified pieces. Like the Monart, it was only ever given a paper label. The glass is of a finer quality than Monart and usually much thinner. The first two pieces of ‘Monart’ that I bought turned out to be Whitefriars and I know some of our other members have had a similar experience.
The larger our membership the better the standard of our newsletter; so, if you know of another collector or interested dealer who has not joined do tell them about us.
Frank Andrews, Secretary - February 1987
In the history of Monart glass, YsartNews, issue 1, it was stated that Salvador had been employed by Baccarat in France. From this information I had assumed that he had learnt the techniques of millefiori and latticino cane decoration there. Mr J. Hutton, a retired glass dealer from Berkhampstead, called me recently with some information about Baccarat that eliminates that theory. Baccarat ceased the use of sulphide decoration in 1882? and did not use it again until 1952. The techniques of Millefiori decoration were re-introduced by Baccarat in 1958 — interestingly close to Paul Ysart’s independence and the growth of the modern paperweight. This would also imply a much greater importance to the introduction of paperweights by Moncrieff’s than I had hitherto supposed. And it raises the question of how did Salvador Ysart and, in turn, Paul acquire these skills? Did he learn them in Spain during his early years? Did he work for Baccarat at all? If he did, did he do any sulphide work there? Did he perhaps independently rediscover the methods in Scotland? Certainly the development of his glass in Scotland shows him to have been extraordinarily gifted and creative. The ‘experimental cup’ by Salvador in the Perth Museum collection is dated 1922 and contains some simple Millefiori decoration.
What we need to know, beyond the Ysart glass, is who else in this country or Europe was using Millefiori canes? What was the production at ‘Leith Flint Glassworks’ where Salvador first worked in this country? The answers to these questions are available, but where? Local museums can often produce some surprising information. Beads were made from Millefiori and Latticino canes from the nineteenth century continuously to modern times. Who made them and where?
These are very vague questions and the answers in turn are likely to be vague. Nevertheless, every piece of information could help to provide the key. If you have any solutions or ideas for lines of enquiry let us know. Any such snippets of information or suggestions will be circulated separately with the next newsletter for comment.
From the stylistic similarity of Monart glass to Gray-Stan, a rumour has circulated that there was some involvement between the Ysarts and Mrs Graydon-Stannus. I have not heard anything to confirm this and one of our members indicates that he has not found any evidence that they were even known to each other.
[2002. John Deacons told me that Isobel Moncrieff and Mrs Graydon-Stannus were close friends and often holidayed together.]
During June (1986) I held a small exhibition at the London Decorative Arts fair, on behalf of the club. Pieces included were from the collections of various members, including my own.
This article is now here as a separate page.
As promised last time, here is a further list of references to YSART glass in various books.
Reference to Paul Ysart only; one sentence on paperweights. This book is also published under another name (?).
The History of Glass
A superb book on glass in general apart from two sentences about J. Moncrieff of Perth and their’ ‘Schneider-like’ glass.
Scottish & Jacobite Glass.
Very dated style, but includes two and a half pages on Monart glass, also black and white photographs of 15 pieces including one paperweight. It does, however, give an interesting if brief account of the Monart production. Also illustrated is some cut glass by Moncrieff’s known as ‘Muslin Glass’. It mentions the use of the glass for ceiling shades and that the production of table lamps is to be started. (see later in this newsletter)
Refers to Monart glass as sold in 20’s and 30’s with the remarkable claim that earlier pieces are coming to light! There is an illustration of a conical purple vase in a pewter holder claimed as Monart. I am trying to find the piece to verify this. A friend who specialises in Liberty pewter thinks it is probably a made-up piece.
Victor Arwas is shortly to publish the next edition of his book on Art Deco Glass. I have provided him with information about the Ysart Glass on behalf of the club. His previous edition had a small section on the glass and included an illustration of the earliest type of Monart label. This had no thistle and included the words ‘Monart Ware’ instead of ‘Monart Glass’, as on the more common label.
The two Cyril Manley books mentioned in the last issue are out now of print. His collection has been sold and the auctioneers may be publishing the catalogue. The Monart items will not be featured as they were sold privately before the auction. If it is published it will still provide an interesting reference book as some Monart-like pieces were in the sale.
Every collector would love to own a Mushroom Lamp. But how often are they seen? I have one complete but with some damage and two others that lack a shade. None have appeared in auction for a long time now. So why are they so scarce? The shades are obviously as fragile as the mounts are unstable but that does not explain the shortage of bases. Neither can it be assumed that bases were converted to vases. The mushroom bases are the wrong shape for vases and any polishing down would show, as the proportions would be wrong. I think it is possible to narrow down the production to as little as one year or maybe two. I have not heard of a pattern book showing these lamps and Fleming mentions, in his 1938 book, that production of standard lamps and shades was to be started. Liberty Christmas catalogues for 1929/30 to 1938/39 only illustrate lamps with fabric type shades. Post-war production only involved making replacement shades. As Liberty would certainly have sold such lamps, it seems likely that they were not available until late 1938. Outbreak of war in 1939 halted all Monart production. Therefore, I suggest that production was only from September 1938 until September 1939 with experimental pieces being made for perhaps one year prior to this date.
Certainly, Moncrieff’s experienced difficulties in making the shades. Perhaps production reached about 20 to 30 per week. If so, they could only have made about 1,000 lamps all told. Casualties due to accidents would have wiped out perhaps seventy percent. Others would have cracked from overheating (15-Watt bulbs are about the maximum tolerated), or from stress faults. If one hundred intact lamps have survived, I would be surprised. So if you should see one — give me a call!
There has been a positive response to this suggestion and I am going to start to implement the system over the next few months. The aim of this scheme is not to try and label every piece but to increase the number of positively identified pieces in circulation. Eventually it should be possible for most new collectors to add such a piece to their collection. At some point in the future the club labelling will stop any remaining labels destroyed.
The re-drawn labels are sufficiently different to avoid any confusion with originals. In particular the ‘M’ has been drawn quite differently. The Vasart labels will have ‘VASART’ replacing the word ‘MONART’. As not all pieces are large enough to take a standard label, or already have an original label, a small rectangular label printed ‘Monart & Vasart Collectors Club’ will be used to record the registration number only. This small label will also be used to label Strathearn and Ysart paperweights. The labels will be thicker than the originals and on self-adhesive paper. In all cases, a certificate will be issued for each registration.
The register will be distributed with the newsletter on completion of each page. My initial plans for numbering items are, using five digits:
The layout of each register will vary slightly. For example, Monart Ware headings will be Registration No., Original Label, Shape, Size, Main Colour, Secondary Colour, Other Colours, Comments and Location. The ‘Location’ will be used if a piece is in a public collection somewhere.
Labelling the glass will be a slow process; I will visit collectors in turn, preferably with another member, and examine each piece for authenticity. Any questionable pieces will not be labelled until further opinions can be obtained. A photographic record of each piece labelled will be kept with the register and a copy at another location yet to be decided. The negatives and the labels will be stored in a suitable secure location, to be decided. The register and accompanying photographs will be available for inspection with reasonable notice, usually the same day. A video film of each piece will also be made. The video will be used to create, via a computer the outline drawings, which will then be included in the newsletter. I hope that this process will also allow some details of the patterns to be shown lightly on the outline drawings. If this is possible, a separate table of the patterns can then be created. By inclusion of known colours, sizes and patterns against each shape a very detailed catalogue of the glass will eventually come to exist.
By taking the same approach with the paperweights, a catalogue of the patterns and canes used can be developed. Obviously, this is going to take a few years to complete and the results will be included page by page in the newsletter as they are produced.
Slowly growing. The marked card to be included in the photographs, which I mentioned in Issue No. 1, is intended to give an indication of the size and should show one inch by quarter inches and three centimetres by centimetres. The card should be placed centrally to one side of the piece being photographed.
With simple cameras quite good results can be obtained by photographing the glass outdoors. If a white sheet can be arranged over the object tent-like, horizon reflections of trees and roof-tops will not appear.
The auto-focus Polaroid gives quite good results but not as sharp as the 35mm type of camera.
The best light to use for the photographs is very strong flash with the flash ‘pointed’ at a white wall or sheet about two feet to one side of the object. Modern flashguns automatically adjust the exposure but can be confused by this type of subject. If possible, the picture should be repeated twice with differing exposures to ensure success. Roughly half of the photographs I have taken are useless and the second method has produced the best results.
The glass industry uses small pieces of coloured glass as a guide to colours so no help there and still no sign of the Monart colour books. I have found a possibly suitable alternative in the ‘Methuen Handbook of Colour’. This book illustrates 1,266 different colours and supplies names for many of them. While it appears to be superb it is quite hard to decide which shade is correct and I suspect that this would only lead to confusion.
I have started member-to-member introductions but it is a slow process. If I have not yet been in contact with you please be patient; I will be before very long. If you want to be put in touch quickly please contact me.
If you are a dealer/collector and would like other members to know about you please write or phone to let me know. I will then forward your address to all members so that they may contact you directly if they wish. I will not give the addresses of collectors to dealers unless expressly asked by the collector. Dealers are also welcome to advertise in the newsletter.
I propose to organise a weekend seminar on the Ysart Glass, and Perth is the obvious location. A group booking at a suitable hotel in Perth could be arranged to include a dinner and breakfast the next day. If we do not have a committee by then that would be the time to organise one. You will even be able to vote me out of office! I hope that the Museum would be able to lay on facilities for us to inspect the collection as a group. However, before I take this any further I must know how many of you would like to come and if you would want accommodation for the Saturday and possibly the Friday night. Local members would be able to attend the functions only. When would you like it to be? I suggest October or November at the latest! Please complete and return the enclosed enquiry form as soon as possible.
No hard news yet, but I hope to have something definite to tell you by the next issue. I have the publisher but not the manuscript; it is possible that a book of reprinted catalogues and related ephemera will appear first.
An exhibition “British Glass between the Wars” featuring Monart, Gray-Stan and Whitefriars glass will be held at the Broadfield House Glass Museum from 13th June 1987 to 31st August 1987. The museum is at:
Barnfield Lane, Kingswinford, West Midlands. DY6 9QA, Telephone 0384 213011. The normal collection does not include any Ysart glass.
An interesting exhibition of art glass entitled 17 Artists From The Rosenthal Glass Studio, was held during September 1986 at Wilson & Gill, 137 Regent Street, London W1.
The pieces on show were the pre-production samples by the artists. Prices from £25 to £407 were reasonable for modern studio glass. Some of the pieces would have been of interest to Monart collectors. One or two paperweights were also included. The artists included:
Do you want to know about other glass? Let me know.
Provincial auction houses in the UK are still selling good Monart at thirty pounds a piece (if you are lucky).
Liz Hall-Bakker and Les Hall, dealers in Decorative Arts, usually have a few pieces of Monart. They have a show case at Span Antiques, 6 Market Place, Woodstock, Oxon. Their home telephone number is xxxxxxx. They also exhibit at Alexandra Palace Antiques Fair in London.
Perthshire Paperweights are making TULIP lamps at £65.00 each. The most obvious way of detecting them is that the cable entry is drilled instead of pierced. Genuine Vasart Tulip lamps are probably fairly common and should be possible to find for between £40 and £150. But £100 is a sensible upper limit for a very attractive example. The shape varies a lot and the choice of colours used is often not very nice. Strathearn Lass also made these and it is very unlikely to find them with a leaping salmon seal. Currently the only sure way of naming them would be the VASART label. A good area for a specialised study?
Because of the unexpected growth of the club I feel it is vital that we form a committee as soon as possible. The positions that we require are Treasurer, Editor, Membership Secretary and Secretary. The treasurer will be the last appointment to be made and will be subject to stringent checking of references. The growth of the club will result in a fairly large income.
Any members who wish to be involved in the committee just to be involved in policy decisions are also welcome but I suggest that the committee be limited to a maximum of eight. If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible.
Formed in 1983 this is a national society which aims to promote the understanding and appreciation of glass and glassmaking, both historically and contemporarily. Membership details can be obtained from:
Membership brings a quarterly newsletter, meetings and a bi-annual journal. They currently have about 400 members.
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