Ice plate, England (Longport), probably made by Davenport's, 1820-1850, C.165-1985 .
Height: 2.5 cm, Diameter: 18.4 cm, Diameter: 9.5 cm base
British Galleries, room 125b
Probably manufactured by the firm of Davenport, Longport, Staffordshire
Cyrus Hill, the grandfather of Mrs Wright the donor, worked at the Davenport glass works
Bequeathed by a descendant of Cyrus Hill, an employee at Davenport's glass works in the mid-19th century.
A contemporary writer noted that 'Ice has of late years become very cheap and easily obtained, so that it is constantly used in the kitchen....to prepare ices of cream and water with various flavourings.' Ices, served from shaped moulds on to glass plates, were a popular part of the dessert course. [27/03/2003]
This ice plate was one of many types of dish designed to suit a particular food. Extensive glass table services became increasingly popular towards the end of the 19th century, especially with the introduction of machine-pressed glass. This example, however, is decorated by hand with wheel-cut ornament.
Materials & Making
This piece is made of lead glass. In the 17th century a higher proportion of lead oxide was introduced into glass during manufacture to offset the problems of 'crizzling' (a fine network of tiny internal fissures within the body of the glass). The resultant lead glass was clear and brilliant, and especially suited to cut decoration. Cut patterns are created using rotating disks of various materials and sizes, with a stream of water and an abrasive. First the pattern is painted on the surface and intitially rough-cut. It is then refined with a copper or sandstone wheel, and finally the finished object is polished. Steam-powered wheels were introduced in the early 19th century.
John Davenport (1765-1848) founded his own company in Longport, Staffordshire, in about 1797 to make earthenware, hybrid hard-paste porcelain and bone china; on his death his son William took over and continued trading until 1887. John Davenport expanded into glassmaking in 1801 and the company became well known for high-quality plain, cut and engraved tablewares.