Thos Webb


The story of Thos. Webb Crystal  

At Thos. Webb & Sons, a visitor's first reaction on arrival at the factory is usually one of surprise - surprise which results from expecting the reception area to be part of a modern office block and finding instead that one has entered Dennis Hall, a Georgian mansion built over 200 years ago, which was once the home of Thomas Webb.

In the fourteenth century, the area on which the glassworks now stands was part of the "King's Forest" and Walter de Denys was appointed as a "regarder". It seems probable that the name "Dennis" originated from this centuries old source.

One wonders when the first glassware was made on the Dennis estate - unfortunately there are no records, but what we do know for certain is that the site was leased for glassmaking purposes in 1691. A document dated 1738 which is displayed in the showroom refers to two glassmaking units and specifies the annual charge for the lease - the princely sum of £30.

The founder of Thos. Webb & Sons entered the glass industry in 1829 and became a partner in the Wordsley glassworks of Webb and Richardsons. In 1833, his father, John Webb, also entered the glass industry in partnership with John Shepherd at the neighbouring White House glassworks, but in 1835 John Webb died and Thomas succeeded to his father's share in the Shepherd and Webb business. In 1840 Thomas Webb moved to the Platts, Amblecote, very near to the Dennis estate and started "Thomas Webb's Glassworks".

In 1855 he moved to the present site. Dennis Hall became his home and Dennis Glassworks became a hive of industry in which at least four of his sons eventually became involved. Thomas Webb died in 1869 at the age of 65 and was succeeded by his son Thomas Wilkes Webb, under whose astute leadership the company's fortunes prospered to such an extent that the name of Thos Webb became known among the connoisseurs of glassware throughout the world. His energy and enterprise knew no bounds and he travelled thousands of miles, not only to secure new business but to bring to Dennis Glassworks some of Europe's finest craftsmen. During this period fine crystal and coloured glass was produced, including Cameo and "Rock Crystal".

In 1878 and again in 1889, the exquisite products of Thos. Webb & Sons were on display at the great Paris International Exhibitions where they competed against glassware from many factories and many countries. On each occasion the Grand Prix was awarded to Dennis Glassworks and Thomas Wilkes Webb must have been a proud man indeed to read in the 1878 Exhibition's illustrated catalogue that "Messrs Thomas Webb & Co of Stourbridge are the best makers of Crystal Glass in the world". In recognition of his contribution to these exhibitions, Thos Webb was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, an award which the French seldom give to a foreigner. He died in 1891 at the early age of 54.

1930: Thos Webb takes over Richardson & Sons (c 1870 - 1930. 33 designs registered from 1882 to 1928) and the Wordsley Flint Glass Works and moved it to the Dennis Glassworks. The name was still occasionally used by them until late 1960s.

Many changes have taken place since the days of the Webb family whose association with Dennis Glassworks ended in 1919 with the death of Walter Wilkes Webb at the age of 75. Modern machinery and methods have replaced outdated plant and techniques, but one thing continues to survive - the skill of the craftsman who strives to achieve even higher standards than his predecessors.

Dema Glass Limited Glassware manufacturers incorporating Thos Webb & Sons.
Dennis Glassworks, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 4EZ, United Kingdom.
London Showroom, 32/33 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8DT

As your guarantee of excellence, each piece of Thos. Webb crystal is marked with the appropriate backstamp.

Date unknown.
Maybe over
100 years old

1906 - 1935
acid etched

1930s
acid etched

1936 - 1949
acid etched

1950 - 1966
acid etched

1966 - 1980
sand blasted

September 1980 to
when the factory
closed in 1990

Both lead crystal glass and full lead crystal glass are made from a mixture of sand, potash and lead oxide. There is a British Specification (BS 3828: 1964) for each type. Lead crystal glass contains a minimum lead oxide content of 24%. Full lead crystal glass contains an even higher proportion of lead oxide, in fact not less than 30%, which is manufactured primarily for its beauty of appearance, particularly when decorated by a skilled glass cutter. Thos. Webb have manufactured crystal with a 35% lead content for over a century.

A typical set of crystal looks like this:

No

Item

Inches

mm

ozs

m/l

1

Liqueur

3.5

89

1.5

40

2

Port

4.5

115

3

85

3

Sherry

4.75

121

3

85

5

Claret

4.75

121

5

140

6

White wine

5.125

130

6

170

7

Saucer champagne

4.625

117

6

170

8

Tall champagne

7.5

190

6

170

10

Goblet

5.75

148

10

285

11

Large size goblet

6

152

11

315

12

Tall hock

6.625

168

6

170

13

Grapefruit

3.875

98

   

16

Whisky tumbler

3

77

6

170

18

Old fashioned tumbler

3.25

82

9

255

19

Large old fashioned tumbler

3.625

92

12

340

23

Whisky jug

6

152

20

569

24

Water jug

7.5

190

40

1138

27

Wine decanter

12.5

317

27

769

28

Square spirit

10

255

30

850

30

Claret decanter

12.5

317

26

739

34

Large brandy

5

127

15

425


Price list dated 15th January 1979:

Item

London
53192

Hatton Garden
53074

Kingswinford
31719

St Andrews
32040

Regency
53272

Normandy
9433

Wellington
B.170

Sheraton
53251

1. Liqueur

£3.75

£4.00

£4.75

£5.50

£5.50

£5.95

£8.75

£14.00

2. Port      

£5.75

 

£6.75

£9.50

 
3. Sherry

£3.95

£4.25

£4.95

£5.75

£5.95

£6.75

£9.50

£15.00

5. Claret

£4.95

£4.75

£5.80

£6.95

£7.25

£8.25

£11.50

£17.00

6. White wine

£5.95

£5.75

£7.40

£7.95

£8.50

£9.75

£13.00

£20.00

7. Saucer champagne      

£8.75

 

£9.75

£13.00

 
8. Tall champagne      

£8.75

 

£9.75

£13.00

£20.00

10. Goblet

£6.95

£6.25

£8.35

£9.95

£9.95

£11.00

£15.00

£24.00

11. L/S goblet      

 

 

£13.50

£19.75

 
12. Tall hock    

£9.00

£9.95

£9.95

£11.75

£15.00

£24.00

13. Grapefruit      

£10.95

 

£12.75

£17.00

 
16. Whisky tumbler

£3.95

£4.25

£4.65

£5.95

£6.75

£7.25

£9.50

£11.00

18. O/F tumbler

£4.95

£4.65

£5.90

£6.95

£7.75

£8.25

£10.50

£13.00

19. Large o/f tumbler    

£9.50

£9.75

£10.75

£12.50

£16.00

23. Whisky jug

£14.75

£12.50

£13.75

£21.50

£22.00

£27.50

£37.50

£52.00

24. Water jug

£19.75

£17.00

£20.00

£27.50

£29.50

£35.00

£49.50

£62.00

27. Wine decanter

£29.50

£35.00

£37.00

£49.50

£49.50

£55.00

£69.50

£85.00

28. Square spirit

£49.50

£49.50

£49.50

£57.50

£59.50

£62.50

£85.00

£87.50

30. Claret decanter      

£62.50

 

£69.50

£90.00

£100.00

32. Brandy

£7.25

£7.25

£8.50

         
33. Ships decanter        

£53.00

 

£70.00

 
34. Large brandy      

£11.75

£12.50

£12.95

£20.00

£25.00

Cheltenham presentation boxed ware:

Sherries (6 per box) £35.00

Wine decanter £35.00

4.5" Rose bowl and net £16.00

Clarets (6 per box) £37.50

Square spirit £49.50 6.5" Rose bowl and net £29.75
Tall champagnes (6 per box) £49.50 Whisky jug £21.00 Sugar and cream £19.75
Goblets (2 per box) £19.95 Beer mug £16.50 8" Footed bowl £22.50
Tall hocks (6 per box) £52.50 4.5" Footed vase £11.50 Candlesticks (2 per box) £13.50
Whisky tumblers (6 per box) £29.50 6" H/S vase £15.75 Bell £11.75
O/F tumblers (6 per box £32.50 Bud vase £9.95  
Brandies (2 per box) £22.50 Voilet vase £8.25  

   

   

   

   

thos webb cressida

canadian commemorative glass

Cressida design

Inscription: " Webb Family in Canada 1889-1989". 105 glasses were produced by Webb to commemorate members of the Webb family migrating to Canada in 1889.

Today

The Thomas Webb - Dennis Factory at Amblecote, Stourbridge, closed down in 1990, and the glass house and warehouse were demolished mid 1995. 68 houses had been built by 1996 on much of the site and the handsome Georgian Dennis Hall has been refurbished into 26 expensive apartments by 2004.

The Thos Webb label has been taken over by Edinburgh Crystal (which was one of the original Webb's Group of Companies) and is now made in their factory in Edinburgh, Scotland. The visitor's centre is at Eastfield, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 8HB, Scotland, and includes a tour of the factory and shop. Please visit their website at www.edinburgh-crystal.co.uk where you can order crystal online and read about the history of Edinburgh Crystal.

     

Patterns and replacing pieces

American company Replacements Ltd have a large number of patterns on their website. They have become the world's largest supplier of old and new china, crystal, silver, and collectibles. Our 300,000 square foot facilities (the size of five football fields!) house an incredible inventory of 10 million pieces in more than 200,000 patterns, some over 100 years old. If you are looking for a replacement piece, they maybe able to help you.

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank:

- Melissa Marchand from Michigan, USA for supplying photocopies of the Thos. Webb & Son catalogue, which is dated 1979.
- Don Sykes for supplying the Cressida pattern photo.
- Anne Webb Freisinger for dates etc.
- Kaye Barber for early mark.

More information

After 20 years of research, Jason Ellis has published a book titled "Glassmakers of Stourbridge and Dudley 1612-2002". Published in January 2003, an important historical book based on the author's original research which covers each glassworks in this area of England, who built it, who owned it, and the craftsmen who worked there. This is available through Amazon, or if you would like to know more about this book, please email me.

The Great Glass UK website - a good photo library of designs.

Please visit the Webb and Corbett web page for a history of the area.

David Levin
August 2007

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