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Ysart Hearsay

by Frank Andrews

Edited by Mary Houston-Lambert

Many tales are told about the Ysarts and their glass, without certain attribution. Some of these may be stories made up by dealers to sell glass, and others may be the truth. But, if it appears on this page we just do not know.

Please do not quote the statements on this page. However, if you are able to provide support for any of the following stories then please get in touch.

The Jack Allan Collection

Jack Allan was a skilled glassmaker who trained at Vasart and his contribution is covered in detail elsewhere on this site. A popular story that I heard from dealer James Jackson, in the 1980’s, was that Jack had a huge collection of very unusual pieces. Another dealer claimed this to be total nonsense, but that Jack had produced a lot of friggers while still working and sold these as ‘special’ Monart pieces. In the 1980’s, it was reported that Jack Allan was an alcoholic itinerant who wandered the streets of Perth with an old pram - it is this aspect that renders the story unlikely. The number of pieces that have been mentioned to me over the years, as being produced by Jack Allan, would have required a warehouse to store them. Also, many of the ‘Jack Allan’ offerings were clearly not the work of the Ysarts.

Vitrolite tiles

In the early days at Ysart Brothers Glass money was short and they could not afford colours - so they ground up Vitrolite tiles to create colours.

A much repeated story that probably has its origins in the fact that Wenger’s were primarily known for providing colours for the pottery and tile industries. Not so well known, is that they also produced glass enamels - the first company in the UK to do so.

Paul Ysart trained at Baccarat

There is no truth to this rumour at all. Paul Ysart developed his interest in paperweights in the early 1930’s. Baccarat did not produce any paperweights during the period that the Ysarts worked in France. However, Salvador may have worked at Baccarat - but this is not yet proven. This story did appear in Ysartnews 1 in October 1986.

In issue 6 of Ysartnews, I printed this update to the Issue 1 item: “In the history of Monart glass in the first issue it was stated that Salvador had been employed by Baccarat in France. From this information I had assumed that he had learnt the techniques of millefiori and latticinio cane decoration there. Mr J Hutton, a retired glass dealer from Berkhampstead, called me with some information about Baccarat that eliminates that theory. Baccarat ceased the use of millefiori from 1882 until 1952. The techniques of millefiori decoration were re-introduced by Baccarat in 1958, interestingly close to Paul Ysart’s independence and the birth of the modern paperweight. This would also imply a much greater importance to the introduction of Monart paperweights than I had hitherto supposed. It raises the question of how did Salvador Ysart, and in turn Paul, acquire these skills? Did he learn them in Spain during his early years? Did he perhaps independently rediscover the methods in Scotland? Certainly the development of his glass in Scotland shows him to have been extraordinarily gifted and creative. The ‘experimental cup’ by Salvador in the Perth Museum collection is dated 1922 and contains some simple millefiori decoration.

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