During the 18th century Newcastle was the largest glass producing centre in the world. Its location meant that it was ideally placed, with plentiful raw materials, coal for the furnaces, and the River Tyne for exporting finished goods. The industry grew up around the Skinnerburn and the Ouseburn, and by 1827 there were an amazing 41 glasshouses working in the area. Newcastle glass was considered to be very high quality and much of it was exported to Europe, especially to The Netherlands where the most skilled engravers worked. Once engraved, the glass was frequently imported back to England.
‘Amiticia’ wine glass, about 1740. Newcastle glass with Dutch engraving (18th century)
Purchased with grant aid from the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, 1976.
This Dutch engraved friendship glass shows two clasped hands with the sun shining on them. The word, 'Amicitia' (friendship) is engraved below. Light baluster glasses are often known as 'Newcastle glasses' because so many were manufactured here. Newcastle had a reputation for producing high quality glass suitable for engraving. The Dagnia family of Newcastle glassmakers developed a profitable trade with Holland and many Newcastle glasses were exported there.
‘Neptune’ goblet, about 1840. Newcastle glass, engraved by Thomas Hudson (19th century)
Glass engravers were working on Tyneside in the 18th century, but it was not until the early 19th century that the technique became well established. The main local engraver was Robert Hudson who in 1802 advertised his skill with 'coats of arms, crests, cyphers or any other devices, engraved on flint glass in the neatest manner.' Robert's son, Thomas Hudson, continued in his father's profession. This goblet with an engraved picture of Neptune is signed 'T. Hudson Newcastle'.