The first Sowerby Glassworks opened in Gateshead in about 1807. Sowerby’s produced pressed glass from 1846, though it is their glass made in the 1880s, moulded in fashionable shapes and designs, which is most famous. In 1884 Sowerby fancy glass was praised for being hygienic, cheap and artistic. Between 1870 and 1880 Sowerby’s ran an art-glass studio where, under the management of J.G. Sowerby (1850-1914), Italian craftsmen blew decorative vessels in the style of ancient Egyptian, Roman and Venetian glass. Mould-blown ‘Venetian Glass’ was also produced from about 1878 by Sowerby’s local glass makers.
Wrythen-ribbed goblet, about 1880, Sowerby Art Glass Studio (1870-1888)
Free-blown glass. Given by Mrs R. Spence Watson, 1919.
As well as manufacturing mass-produced pressed glass, Sowerby's ran an 'art glass' studio from around 1870. Work produced here was inspired by Eqyptian, Roman and Venetian glass styles. The rippling surface effect on the glass is known as 'wrythen ribbing' and is a decorative technique seen on a number of forms in this range. The twisting handle is also typical, as is its asymmetry.
‘Venetian’ basket vase, about 1880, designed by Jonathan Cook for the Sowerby Art Glass Studio (1870-1888)
Mould-blown glass. Given by Mr Matthew Bell, Esq., 1925
Between 1876-1877, Sowerby's introduced a trade line inspired by historical Italian glass called 'Venetian'. Items were made either of bottle green or clear flint glass. This line can easily be identified by the turquoise trail decoration they feature. Jonathan Cook is recorded as one of the makers of this new style ‘aesthetic’ glass. He was appointed General Manager of the Ellison Works in July 1887.