20th Century Glass
MILLER'S 20TH-CENTURY GLASS
By Andy McConnell
Mitchell Beazley, ISBN: 1-84533-099-4, Hardback, 256 Pages
'Twentieth-century glass is a booming collecting area
which, at least to the uninformed, can appear an
un-identifiable mass of complexity. With prices still
affordable and great examples readily available, the field
is a perfect entry point for the new design collector who
is prepared to do some reading. However, newcomers should
beware that 20th century glass collecting should carry a
health warning stating: VERY ADDICTIVE. Typically, the
author’s own collection exceeds 20,000 pieces, he
apparently lives in a glass shop and has a brain brimming
with the stuff!
This book is illustrated by over 2,500 beautifully
photographed pieces, intentionally ranging from the
affordable and available to rare and highly valuable design
icons. It is directed towards resolving the key difficulty
for collectors: that of identifying glass that rarely bears
maker’s marks. The book is laid out country-by-country and
then by glassworks and designers, in alphabetical order
making identification easy.
The ‘identifying and collecting’ section gives great tips
for buying, and a price-guide for each piece, based on
current glass dealer prices, will help you to identify
bargains. Price guides, however, simply provide a snapshot
in time and should not be viewed as absolute (they tell you
which bits are generally expensive but not precisely how
much at some future point).
The key factories are explored, each with key-dates boxes,
and presented using visual timelines that provide an
excellent view of each company’s design development. The
author’s background as a journalist is apparent in the
easy-read, clear texts.
The sections on Holmegaard (Denmark) and Riihimäki, Kaj
Franck and Iittala (all Finland) are particularly
outstanding: the result of the author’s ability to gain
access to previously unexplored company archives. The
sections on British designers such as Alexander Hardie
Williamson, Ronald Stennett-Willson and Frank Thrower are
also very useful and underline the fact that some great
glass remains cheap and readily available.
This book is the result of two years of solid research, and
it shows. The author visited most of the glassworks
featured and has interviewed many of their key designers
and ancillary staff. The inclusion of designer sketches,
catalogue illustrations and contemporary advertisements
adds to overall feeling of quality and depth. The result is
excellent and, crucially, an accurate summary of the
development of glass design in the 20th Century.
As an accessible guide to identifying the glass this book
really works and is a great entry point for the new
collector. It even contains some very interesting surprises
for the old hacks.
Well done Andy McConnell...where do you put it all?'