The Crown Crystal Glass Co.
Australian Glass for the Masses
The Crown Crystal Glass Company provided affordable and attractive glass to a generation of Australians. Look into anyone's cupboards anytime between the 1920s and the 1960s and you would be sure to find them brimming with wares from the Crown Crystal Glass Co.
Australian culture derives much from our heritage as poor Irish convicts. Rebellious improvisers, cheerfully resolved to make the best of whatever has been dealt, the attitude is summed up by the cliche: "She'll be right, mate!". It's interesting how much of this comes through in our glass, especially as the glass was produced with imported expert tutelage from Germany and England. This glass, like us, was solid, robust, innovative and reliable.
Although, particularly in the midst of the depression and just after the war, the glass could be a little rough around the edges, Crown Crystal nevertheless produced some wonderful, unique patterns. The quality never reached that of American pressed glass (1)). Most of the early designs are Crown's own, reflecting Australia's emerging identity and personality, with motifs featuring native flora and fauna like waratahs, kangaroos, emus, flannel flowers and moths.
The patterns can be divided into three distinct production periods, the first (roughly from the early 1920s to 1935) produced lacy, ornate patterns which owed much to the Early American Pressed Glass. Most of the traditionally collected patterns appeared at this time. The second period (1935 to WWII) saw the development of some quite striking Art Deco patterns. Not much is known publicly about this period, as there are no catalogues in public hands from this time. The war saw production domestic drop right down to bare bones levels, with most of the production servicing the war effort (including some contracts for the US Navy). After the war, some of the early patterns made a reprise, but much of the production line turned to ceramic glazed, colourful but streamlined and less decorative items, as was the fashion in the 1950s. Crown was taken over by the American company Corning in 1972, to become Crown Corning.