|"Japanese Floral" pattern|
The technical term for this type of glass is “rolled figured glass” or “cathedral glass” and for federation-era Queenslanders it was a popular choice for the more formal spaces. For some reason the more widespread use of lead lights in NSW and Victorian houses was not adopted in the Brisbane suburbs.
The glass was mainly produced in the UK by the leading manufacturers Chance Brothers in Birmingham and Pilkington in Lancashire. There was no locally manufactured alternative - throughout the 19th century and well into the 1920s all “flat” glass for windows was imported into Australia from Europe. The first Aussie manufacturer was Australian Window Glass in the late 20's followed by Pilkington Australia, both using European technology. Australian Window Glass was the first producer of rolled figured glass starting as late as 1931.
|Rowe Bros & Co catalogue, 1907, |
Ornamental glass designs including the
Figured Rolled Japanese pattern
If you have this glass in your house and a pane is broken don't despair - reproductions of some of the common classical patterns are available from good glaziers. The reproductions include the "Jap Floral" patterns used throughout our sitting and dining rooms which is reassuring to know. I have been told that the new glass is almost identical to the original although the modern version is thicker as it is a laminated product (the patterns are made in clear glass and backed with colored glass to match the traditional tints). And - the new product is perfectly flat on the reverse as opposed to the antique glass. You may be able to find the original product in salvage yards.
The glass in our external doors filters the daylight and floods our central hallway in a bright green. Some have pointed out that the colour is overpowering and they are probably right, but it's been a green hallway for a century and we are not about to change it. One day the panes will break and be replaced with something else, but I’m hoping that will be a project for a future owner.
If you have any additional information or corrections to this post please let me know.
- National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/
- The Federation House, a Restoration Guide; I. Evans; 1986
- Powerhouse Museum; http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=396683