During the 19th century, glassmakers learned how to produce large pieces that would be strong enough to withstand the pressure of cutting tools. This enabled them to manufacture massive candelabra, fountains, and furniture. Such objects were shown at industrial expositions, which became important showcases for manufactured goods in Europe. In 1851, the scale of these exhibitions changed from regional to global as London hosted the first world’s fair.
This book, which was created to supplement a major exhibition at The Corning Museum of Glass in 2006, traces the development of glass furniture, which began with one-of-a-kind pieces made for royalty, usually in state-operated glasshouses. Wooden objects lavishly decorated with glass are known from the late 17th century, when Louis XIV owned a table with a mosaic glass top and glass legs, which was probably made in Italy. Russia’s Imperial Glassworks fashioned pieces for the imperial family, beginning in the early 19th century. Meanwhile, the French were creating elaborate colorless cut glass furniture.
Furniture for Eastern nobility was made by several European companies that specialized in this area of production. The principal manufacturers were F. & C. Osler in Birmingham, England, and Baccarat in France. Other English companies that made glass lighting and furniture for the Eastern market were Jonas Defries & Sons of London and the Coalbourne Hill Glass Works near Stourbridge. The production of all of these firms is discussed in the book, along with a large set of cut glass furniture that was made for the ruler of Hyderabad by Bohemia’s Elias Palme company about 1895.