The antiquarian







John Walsh Walsh Glass

1850 – 1951

Birmingham England


John Walsh Walsh was born in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire in 1804.  He married twice, his first wife was Mary who he had two daughters by, Mary Augusta (b1840), Ellen Eliza (b1841) and Maud (b1842).  He second wife was Jane Louisa with whom he had three children;  Mandle (b1843), John Walsh (b1849) and Eva (b1854). 

Walsh was not a glass maker but a business man.  Is known to have established himself in Birmingham with a reputation as an astute businessman.  As a business man he was involved in several individual and joint ventures.  On of his business records show he was involved with the manufacture of soda water. 

Glass was a major industry in Birmingham but it was suffering form excise tax restrictions throughout the early nineteenth century.  The excise restrictions were remove in 1845 making way for the growth and increased profitability of small to medium companies.  Walsh took advantage of this in 1850 by purchasing a glass factory operated by Mr. Samuel Shakespear in Lodge Road, Winson Green.  He was making use of what today we call backward integration.  Another he went down a step in his supply change by buying a glass works.  The first reregistered design of he new glass company was #91634 for a soda water bottle in 1853.  The second design was #99882 was for a glass ink well with cover on April 18, 1855.

Walsh dies in 1864 and divided his estate in two parts:  on-third was to be invested for the benefit of his wife and  remaining two-thirds to be invested and the proceeds divided among his six living children.  Sons reaching the age of thirty were able to take their share out of the estate but the daughters shares must remain invested in the estate trust.  They cold only take income out of the trust. 

Walsh had three sons from his marriage.  His middle son John Walsh died in 1879 at the age of twenty eight.  The executors of the trust had to power to decided to sell the glass business.  Walsh daughter by the firs marriage Ellen Eliza had married Thomas Ferdinand Walker, a Birmingham businessman,  she persuaded to buy the glass business in about 1880.  Thus Walker now was in control of the glass business.  It does not appear he had experience in the glass business and was busy in his other business.  He turned the operations of the glass business over to Lewis John Murray formerly of Stourbridge and Cape Town.  Murray had previously worked for the late Edward Webb.  He had been the Manager of Webb firm for some years.  

Murray was a true glass make and knew the business.  Under his direction John Walsh Walsh glass manufactured the collectable rose bowls.  He introduced vases and bowl sold as “Crushed Strawberry” and Electric Blue line.  These two lines were Cased glass with and over case of colored glass either pink with Crushed Strawberry or blue with Electric Blue.  In March 1884 they introduced Flora Glass,  in which the colors were reversed with the outer body, ivory and the inner lining the crushed straw berry color (pink).   These designs were registered.  He recorded a cut glass design called Queen Anne in Rd #1909 was registered on February 13, 1884.  Walsh glass was very innovative.

Murray continued until his health declined and he passé don June 9, 1912.  After his death Philip Jeffrey Walker, John Walsh Walsh’s grandson took over the management of the firm.  He had been involved in business for many years.  R. H. Wood became General Manager of the factory.  In 1922 the company was converted to a private limited company.  Philip Jeffrey walker died in 1923 and his estate was inherited by his brother Thomas Sydney Walker.  The Private Limited Company was to register “WALSH” as a trademark.  Under the trademark was “ENGLAND” in a semi circle.

In 1926 R.H Wood was director and W. G. Riley as co-director.  Riley had recently married Catherin Walker the daughter of Thomas Sydney Walker and the great-granddaughter of John Walsh Walsh.  R. H. Wood died in 1928 and W. G. Riley was appointed Managing Director.  The firm did will under Riley.  Many feel this was the golden year of Walsh Glass.  The outbreak of WWII brought an end to the rising fortunes of the company.  Glass manufacturing was turned to war time effort and following the war attempts were made to return to main product lines unsuccessfully.  The pre war glass making skills were not available due government control and policy.  The factory closed in autumn of 1951. 

John Walsh Walsh Glass

The John Walsh Walsh Glass photo below is a nice mix of the glasshouse production.  The rose bowl on the back, far right is know as "Crushed Strawberry" circa 1883.  The two rose bowl in front of the Crushed Strawberry and the thee three in the middle are know as "Sateen" circa 1885.  The two on the far left are know as "Flower and Acorn Pattern".  I have been told "Flower and Acorn Pattern" was produced by JWW.  I have found no documentation to confirm this so far. 

A miniature is shown in Johanna S. Billings' Book, Collectible Glass Rose Bowls on page 90, Fig 287 but she did not make an attribution to Glasshouse.  Upon cursory inspection of the photo I have no reason to disagree as to the JWW attribution.     

Photo Courtesy of Norma Nabers' Collection


 A nice example of John Walsh Walsh "Sateen" Rose bowl which has gold enameling. 

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