No one knows for certain when, or where, glass was first made. There is evidence of production as far back as 3000BC in Mesopotamia (now known as Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey).
The secrets of glass making were brought to Britain by the Romans. Evidence of glassmaking in the area around Jarrow and Wearmouth date back as far as 680AD.
In 1664, King Charles ll granted a Charter to the Worshipful Company of Glassmakers. In 1676, George Ravenscroft was the first person to produce Lead Crystal in any meaningful scale. Quality became a byword and during the next two hundred years, Britain became the favoured producer in the world, overtaking Venetian Glass.
In 1780, the British Government granted Ireland free trade in glass, without taxation. English labour and trade moved to Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Waterford. In 1825, the tax was renewed and the industry began its decline. It was the middle of the Nineteenth Century before the tax was repealed and glassmaking once again flourished.
Laterly, the minimum wage, imports from Europe and third world countries, taxes and licence fees for acid polishing, have all contributed to the demise of English glassmaking. There are but a handful of makers left today.
Lead Crystal Controversy
A 24% Lead Crystal Premier Wine Decanter. We are fully confident that no lead poisoning can occur!
A controversial study in America has more recently (we feel wrongly), associated Lead Crystal in Decanters with the leaching of Lead Oxide into Spirits and Wines. A study by glass makers at BP revealed that it would take over 100 years for a trace element to leach, by which time, the wine or spirit would have “evaporated”. None–the–less, this ‘rumour’ has created serious consequences for Lead Crystal manufacturers world-wide.