The Chance Brothers' Impact



Chance Brothers of Smethwick was a prolific producer of glass and glass-related products in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Its decision not to manufacture the newly-introduced, heat-resistant 'Pyrex' under licence in 1921 may well have been a commercial mistake, but much of Chance Brothers own domestic glassware is prized by collectors today.

In 1825, the process of pressing molten glass into a mould was patented by an American, John Bakewell and, for the first time, it offered a means to mechanise the glass industry. The idea was brought to England and from 1832 pressed glass was made by the Birmingham-based factories Bacchus and Green, Rice Harris and John Gold.

Chance Brothers’ own foray into pressed glass manufacture was late in comparison and started in 1929 when the company attempted to break into the lucrative market of ‘cooking glass’, or ‘heat-resistant oven-to-tableware’ as it is known today. The Tyneside company of James A Jobling had monopolised the market since 1921 after licensing Pyrex from the inventors, the Corning Glass Company in the USA, and in 1929 was achieving annual net sales of £96,000 (about £5 million today). The Chance Brothers had turned down the opportunity.

KEYWORDS: Glass, Chances, Chance Bros, Smethwick, Domestic Glassware

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Glass Chance Brothers