Some twenty-five years were spent in the enterprise of assembling this most extraordinary and beautiful collection, thus making an opportunity for art lovers to view in one group a wide variety of many types of glass in the graceful form of bells. These are classified as “Table Bells”. The Nailsea Glass Works in England made table bells as a commercial venture form the eighteenth century, many blown glass bells were made as after-hours work by glass blowers.
It was the custom to permit the blower to use up the odd bits of molten-mass at the end of the day to make objects for his own use. This gave workman an opportunity to be original, and is largely responsible for many oddities found today. The end of the day type of glass appears to be the most frequent outgrowth of this practice, specimens of this type are found in this collection. Glass blowers, like other artists, possess a roving spirit and it was their custom to travel about taking their ideas and tricks of the trade with them. Many of the European tradesmen came to America so it is not surprising that this custom of making table bells was practiced here.
These adornments were frequently made for wedding gifts for the bride and groom and often used on the wedding table. In some cases, they were referred to as the “Lady and Gentleman Bells”. Naturally the male species was taller while, in most cases, the body of the bell matched, the handles would differ, making them companions rather than identical.
These lovely objects of art are found in all types of glass and offer a fascinating challenge to the student of glass artistry, whether it be blown or pressed glass, early or late.