Stuart CrystalRobert Leigh
Stourbridge is a town in the West Midlands which is famous as the historical centre of the glass making industry. For centuries, Stourbridge glass has been regarded as providing many of the finest examples of British craftsmanship. The booming glass industry of the nineteenth century attracted talented artisans from other parts of the British Isles and further afield, as their local industries faltered. The first member of the Stuart family to join the trade was Frederick Stuart, an eleven-year-old orphan who joined a local company as an apprentice in 1827. Glassmaking is a trade steeped in tradition, with many unique skills, and it would have taken young Frederick many years to work his way up to become a master craftsman. Over the years, generations of the Stuart family perfected his designs and techniques until Stuart Crystal became one of the area’s most famous and respected brands. And while the company may have been sold at the end of the last century, the history lives on in the 110’ smelting cone which they used, the last one still standing in the area, which is now a museum celebrating the heyday of the industry.
Stuart Crystal has found its way into some of the most famous and auspicious settings in history: Stuart Crystal champagne flutes were used on the Titanic; royalty and heads of state have been said to have sent Stuart Crystal glasses as gifts; a Stuart Crystal glass collection of 22,000 pieces was made for the Queen Mary ocean liner in the 1930’s. As with all luxury items, Stuart Crystal wine glasses have an enduring elegance which transcends fashions and trends. Imagine the opulence of pouring a fine wine from a Stuart Crystal decanter in the drawing room of an English stately home, or the glamour of drinking a toast from Stuart Crystal champagne glasses in a New York hotel.
To apply the word ‘crystal’ to glass is actually a misnomer (glass in not actually crystalline in structure), but it’s such a comfortable and accepted one that even etymologists and literature buffs don’t seem to care. The quality of ‘crystal’ glass which people admire so much is its refractive properties, how it sparkles under direct light. Such is the beauty of this material that it has been used to make much more than just tableware; picture frames, candlesticks and vases are just a few of the other items produced by companies like Stuart Crystal.
The key distinguishing mark of any item of crystal ware is its pattern. Each manufacturer has their own patterns, and any collection is only complete when all pieces is the set match. Stuart Crystal patterns are some of the most sought after by collectors, and their most famous, the Beaconsfield pattern, is still in use today. If you are trying to complete your collection of Stuart Crystal tumblers, or have a damaged Stuart Crystal port glass you would like to replace, contact the experts at Stag House Replacements. We can find what you need.