The General Electric Company (G.E.C) | Vaseline-glass Pendant Light | England c.1905
An attractive vaseline-glass lampshade probably produced in Stourbridge displayed pendant with its original arts and crafts pierced-brass gallery and flex spacer designed and sold by The General Electric Company. England c.1905
Provenance: G.E.C catalogue photos of gallery dated 1905
Ht.(as displayed)79cm/31in, Ht.(shade & gallery)24/9.5, Ht.(shade018/7, W.(shade)11.5/4.5
The General Electric Company (G.E.C)
- GEC had its origins in the G. Binswanger and Company, an electrical goods wholesaler established in London in the 1880s by a German-Jewish immigrant, Gustav Binswanger
- 1887 the company published the first electrical catalogue of its kind. The following year, the company acquired its first factory in Salford, where electric bells, telephones, ceiling roses and switches were manufactured.
- In 1889 the company was expanding rapidly, opening new branches and factories and trading in ‘everything electrical’, a phrase that was to become synonymous with GEC.
- In 1893, it decided to invest in the manufacture of lamps. The company was to lead the way in lamp design, and the burgeoning demand for electric lighting was to make GEC’s fortune.
- In 1902, its first purpose-built factory, the Witton Engineering Works, was opened near Birmingham.
- The company expanded both at home and overseas, with the establishment of agencies in Europe, Japan, Australia, South Africa, and India. It also did substantial trade with South America.
Stourbridge Glass, Birmingham
Thomas Webb & Sons, Henry G. Richardson & Sons, Stevens & Williams, John Walsh Walsh
- The industry was established at the beginning of the 17th century by glass-makers from Lorraine in north-eastern France
- The industry grew and evolved for the next 275 years and glass from Wordsley, Amblecote and Brierley Hill is recognised as amongst the finest in the world
- Birmingham Lighting designers such as Best & Lloyd, Faraday & Sons, Osler & Co, James Hinks & Son and Messenger & Sons employ the Stourbridge factories to produce the glass-ware for their lights.
- Mostly it is impossible to say which firm produced a particular lampshade but some patterns were registered/catalogued and can therefore occasionally be attributed.
Whitefriars Glass Company, London
James Powell & Sons/ Harry Powell
- In 1834 James Powell, then a 60-year-old London wine merchant and entrepreneur, purchased the Whitefriars Glass Company, a small glass-works off Fleet Street in London.
- Powell, and his sons Arthur and Nathanael, were newcomers to glass making, but soon acquired the necessary expertise and specialised in making church stain glass windows.
- When Harry Powell “Grandson of James” took over as Manager in 1876, James Crofts Powell, his cousin, ran the important stained glass department using in-house designers and famous artists like Burne-Jones for important commissions.
- From 1875 Harry Powell had a blacksmith called Edminstone with a boy called Edmund Francis employed to make wrought iron lighting fixtures, which again used his fabulous shades. He supplied many other makers with various shade shapes.
- During the latter part of the c.19th, the firm formed a close association with leading architects and designers. Whitefriars produced the glass that Phillip Webb used in his designs for William Morris
- By 1900 production lines of vaseline and opalescent glass-ware, including lampshades, were proving to be extremely successful with clients such as William Arthur Smith Benson using their glass in the design of their lights.
- The firm’s name was changed to Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd in 1919