Thomas Webb & Sons
Thomas Webb & Sons was established in 1837; the present owners are Webb's Crystal Glass Co., Ltd. of London, and The Edinburgh & Leith Flint Glass Works of Edinburgh. This firm has long made excellent table glass; finely wrought bits of crystal executed by hand, goblets, decanters, bottles, and flat pieces; candlesticks which follow old "Anglo-Venetian" designs, flower holders, et cetera, in limitless variety, all emphasizing utility with beauty. "Thomas Webb cut glass designs, far from multiplying the points of illumination, tend rather to accentuate the form itself." Webb glass is truly hand made. They depend entirely on calipers, paddles, and other hand tools to produce the gross shapes of their pieces, even shunning the use of molds which are openly accepted by many manufacturers as legitimate tools of hand workmanship. Webb's glass is famed for its exquisite polish and crystal purity and the avoidance of the more stereotyped flashy cuttings.
Many replicas of old patterns are faithfully reproduced in goblets and a variety of other pieces by the Edinburgh & Leith Glass Company.
Thomas Webb and Corbett, Ltd., was founded in 1897 by the brothers Thomas and Herbert Webb, sons of the nineteenth century glassmaker, Thomas Wilkes Webb. The firm commenced business in Brewery Street, Wordsley, near Stourbridge, England, specializing in cut and engraved lead crystal. By 1900 they had built up a considerable home and export business, especially with their polished rock crystal engraving, which found a ready market in the United States.
At Coalbournhill, their site since 1913, some 550 glassworkers fulfill the very exacting conceptions of Webb-Corbett artists and designers, to produce a glass of resplendent beauty, universally recognized as one of the finest glasses in the world.
Specializing in decorated heavy lead crystal, they have noticeably veered away from the older prismatic cutting to lighter, airy designs which ideally complement especially their thinner metal stemware. Dainty buds, flowing tendrils, stems and tiny leaves are recurring motifs in many of Webb-Corbett's most appealing designs. Highly polished designs of this type on pure lead crystal impart amazing brilliance to the glass-something in the nature of a sparkling liquidity.
Although Webb-Corbett have been among the leaders of English glassmakers to depart from so much of the heavy prismatic cutting, they make glass for that demand and do considerable in the way of reproductions; certainly their Waterford reproductions gloriously restore and endear that noble old type. Summing up Webb-Corbett glass, it is little less than an artistic triumph. From a charming austerity in one design they turn to one of imposing simplicity: in other designs they boldly aim at the grandiose, shrewdly avoiding any semblance of ponderous elegance through subtle mollifying lines in shape or decoration.
Webb-Corbett glass truly reveals a remarkable skill in handling the materials of this art.