Webb's Great Cameo Role

It is often suggested that the most notable creations of the 'cameo revival' were achieved during the Art Nouveau period by the Nancy makers Gallé and Daum. However, Sworders Chairman, Guy Schooling, disagrees. 

It is often suggested that, artistically, the most notable creations of the ‘cameo revival’ were achieved during the Art Nouveau period by the Nancy makers Gallé and Daum. However, Sworders' chairman Guy Schooling is not alone in his belief that, in terms of sheer quality, the earlier work of the Stourbridge glassworks was seldom matched. 

Although once dubbed the ‘crystal king of England’ the Thomas Webb & Sons glassworks is perhaps best remembered for its cameo glass. As interest in classical Greek and Roman glassworking methods surged, the ancient process of etching and carving through layers of opaque white and coloured glass was studied, revived and then perfected by a number of Midlands makers in the mid Victorian period. Webb, based at the Dennis glassworks, won prizes for their products at the 1889 Paris Exposition. 

A group of jewel-like cameo scent bottles form part of Sworders' Anniversary Sale on Tuesday 19 June.


Thomas Webb & Sons Cameo Glass Scent Bottles


This collection was formed by the late Ann Marsden Comery, nee Barraclough (1934-2017), the daughter of Indian mining engineer Lancelot John Barraclough who latterly lived on Alderney in the Channel Islands. When Guy Schooling visited the Cambridgeshire home of her family, he had been taken aback by the magnitude and quality of the inherited collection, which included almost 150 scent and cologne bottles. 

The ‘cameo’ bottles, seven in total, carry estimates of £400-600 each. A layer of milky white glass has been cut away - via acid-etching and hand carving on a wheel - to give a design of blossoms on a branch or a leafy floral bloom. Occasionally a 'patina' stain is applied to further enhance the design. Only a small handful of Webb pieces were signed but, as most of these bottles were fitted with screw-top silver mounts by Birmingham makers such as ‘smallwork’ specialist Sampson and Mordan, they can be dated with some accuracy to the mid to late 1880s. 

The Anniversary Auction - Tuesday 19 & Wednesday 20 June

View Lots





Recent News


The Collection of the late Rosemary and Theo Cutting

During the Cuttings' custodianship, one might have been forgiven for thinking they had stumbled into an Italian palazzo upon entering The Old Bakehouse, Whepstead, for the first time. In what looked like a humble dwelling from the outside, Theo and Rosemary collected and arranged an impressive collection of fine furniture and works of art from the 17th to 19th centuries, creating a luxurious and elegant home that they shared for some sixty-five years.

20 May 2024

Capturing Strength and Spirit | The Artistry of the Sancai Glazed Horse

The highlight of the upcoming Asian Art auction is undoubtedly the magnificent sancai-glazed pottery horse from the Tang dynasty (618-907). 

14 May 2024

European Ceramics from the Collection of Hermann Baer (1898-1977)

Sworders feel privileged to be entrusted to disperse this select group of items from the deeply cherished personal collection of the late Hermann Baer (1898-1977), including antique Italian maiolica and German faience.

8 May 2024



Get Sworders News