Collectors Facts - Royal Swans, Sowerby
Marigold; Amethyst (all very rare)
The Sowerby Glassworks was established at Gateshead on Tyne in the north east of England in the early 1800s, at about the same time that Jane Austen was writing her famous novels such as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Emma". Internationally famed for their pressed glass output of the late 1800s, Sowerby also produced some remarkable Carnival Glass during the 1920s and early 1930s.
Arguably the most beautiful and sought after examples of their Carnival were those made using their old moulds that dated back to the 1880s, such as Royal Swans and Diving Dolphins.
The Director of the family business through the latter part of the 1800s was John George Sowerby. He was a talented artist as well as a businessman, and is credited with designing many of the cast iron moulds that were used in the glassworks.
The design of the Royal Swans posy vase was arguably inspired by Walter Crane's art work. The distinctive curving necks of the swans are very similar to those depicted in his illustration for "Three Ships" in Crane's nursery rhyme book—“The Baby's Opera"—which is shown on the right. In this, the prows of the ships are stylised swans, their heads curving almost exactly like those in the Sowerby Royal Swans piece.
We are aware of only around six or seven examples of the Royal Swans, in the UK, Australasia and the USA.
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