Friday, 8 July 2011
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Although, despite the title of this post, I do not see this as the end. It is more the closing of the first chapter of the collection's life here at CHAS. The rest of the collection will be gradually catalogued over the coming years and I hope that the interest in the company will continue to grow as it has done during this project. If you are interested in accessing the catalogue it is now available to view online on the Black Country History Website at http://blackcountryhistory.org/collections/getrecord/GB146_BS6/. Please keep the history of this amazing company alive by visiting CHAS to take a look at the records yourself or by contacting the archive with your enquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to you....yes you, reading this post right now. Whether you became an official follower of this blog or just accessed it from time to time to read about my progress, I am extremely grateful for your interest and support. It has been a real challenge but I feel that you were there with me at every stage. Thank you for taking a Chance on me and my blog!
Friday, 11 June 2010
Thursday, 3 June 2010
Following my last post, I am pleased to announce that Sylvia Brookes kindly forwarded copies of her wedding photos to me. If you remember, Sylvia and her friend Margaret worked for Chances and Margaret made Sylvia's wedding dress. As you can see, Sylvia looked beautiful on her special day and her dress is a symbol of the close bonds and friendships that were often forged at the works. During the course of this project I have enjoyed nothing more than meeting Chances' ex-employees. Their stories are so real and vivid and they have given me a much more rounded view of the company than just the records could ever provide on their own.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
The second talk I gave was at a day school at the University of Birmingham regarding glassmakers in the West Midlands. I was one of four speakers and each speaker had a very different facet of the industry to talk about. Jennifer Davies talked about the rise and fall of the Stourbridge glass industry and gave us an idea of the very interesting work happening at Broadfield House Glass Museum. Sally Hoban introduced us to the famous stained glass artists who worked across the region and described the way that artists were trained at the Birmingham Municipal School of Arts. And Karamdeep Sahota, a project archivist, introduced us to the fascinating records of the Hardman collection at Birmingham City Archives. The four talks that were given and the discussions that followed provided a very broad and varied sweep of the industry across the Midlands and it was an extremely stimulating day, culminating in questions about the future of the glass industry. It seems that whilst the times of large mass-producing glass companies is over, there are many successful individual artists still operating across the region and their more bespoke work offers a view of what the future holds. To get a sense of this future I would advise you to visit Broadfield House Glass Museum to see some of the more contemporary work on display and I was also informed about the International Festival of Glass 2010, which runs from 27 to 30 August at Stourbridge. There will be events, exhibitions, displays and workshops including opportunities to have a go at glass blowing and glass bead making. For more information, check out the website at http://www.ifg.org.uk/.
Friday, 30 April 2010
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
2) They were the exclusive producers of a very thin glass for use in microslides for over 100 years
3) They were the first company to produce interchangeable barrels and plungers for syringes, revolutionising modern medicine
The records testify to this desire to create new products and improve on others. There are mixture books and reports recording experiments in the laboratory for producing the perfect coloured and textured glass. There are also over 150 patents in the collection for inventions and improvements to glass making processes granted to Chance and its employees. Amongst these are around 20 original letters patents dating from 1842 to 1860 with their original seals and boxes. Letters patents are a legal instrument in the form of an open letter issued by a monarch or government, granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or to some entity such as a corporation. These documents are very large and beautifully illustrated with a large decorative seal attached (please see below). A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern patent granting exclusive rights in an invention.
It is also clear from the records that Chances could be ruthless when it came to gaining the trade secrets of other firms. In 1887, Chance director Kenneth Alan Macaulay corresponded with an agent in Belgium called Achille Charlot who had found an ex-employee of a glass manufacturer called Baudoux who would sell their knowledge on how to re-produce Baudoux's ruby glass. Initially, the ex-employee wanted £120 but Charlot managed to bring his price down to £70. This equates to approximately £4,000 in today's money. A bargain for a trade secret, I'm sure you will agree!