A little about the making of glass

by Evelyn M. Allen
Issue #16 - August 1974

It is believed that glass was first made in Egypt. Its first known use was a glaze on pottery. Rogers and Beard's book 5000 Years of Glass tells that glass, of itself, was not even made into beads, surely tho first all glass product. not until about 5000 years ago. At that time, glass ranked in value with precious metal and stones, much like the collectable glass of today. Glass beads were used in Pharaoh's time to adorn clothing. It was not until 1500 BCE that it was found vessels could be made of this muddy colored substance, which we later called glass.

An old Monk by the name of Theophilue, in the 12th. Century manuscript told of making glass. The operations were very similar to those today. It wasn't until about 250 BCE that glass was blown into various shapes. It is about this time the Greeks appear in the history of Glassware.

Then, soon, in the land of Syria was produced a fairly good grade of blown ware. Glass furnaces could be found throughout the Roman Empire. Many articles of glass were made. They were opaque, or blue, green, black or amber. Clear glass was a cloudy, greenish grey. Roman transparent glass" was a foggy green color when discovered nearly two thousand years ago.

About the time of Christ, there was great demand for glass. The streets of Rome were filled with glass furnaces. Glass became cheap. A "copper" would buy a "Punch Ladle". Glass manufacturers in Rome made riches. The Kings of old demanded the Tax Collector to enforce taxes and the Masters ( heads or guilds, laborers, in the time of Severus) with the demands for higher wages put the Roman glaas industry on the "Blink".

During the Dark Ages, the glass industry stood still. A small group people built Venice and gave new birth to the business of glass. About 1200 the reputation of the Venetian Artisans spread far. It was in Venice that glass was first decorated. It was there in 1475—l500 many of the shapes, quality standards, and use of glass was born.

France, around 1750, became interested in glass and it was also being made in Prague. This caused Venice to lose its hold on business. The manufacture of glass moved into every country in Europe. Each land contributed things valuable to the operation of today. Glass makers of old were elevated to noble status. I am sure that collectors of the National Cambridge Collectors, Inc., are grateful to each and every glass maker known and unknown.

Next month, I will continue on the history of glass in our country.