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Glass

time, manufacture, kinds, duties, common, rates and plate-glass

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GLASS. There are five distinct kinds of glass, which differ from each other in regard to some of the ingredients of which they are made, and in the pro cesses of manufacture. These kinds are flint-glass, or crystal ; crown-glass, or German sheet-glass ; broad-glass, or com mon window-glass ; bottle, or common green glass ; and plate-glass. The princi pal ingredients used for the production of each of these kinds of glass are silex, or flint, and an alkali. The differences in the various kinds result from the descrip tion of alkali employed, and from the addition of certain accessary materials, usually metallic oxides.

The time at which glass was invented is very uncertain. The popular opinion upon this subject refers the discovery to accident. It is said (Plin., Nat. Hist., lib. xxxvi. c. 26), "that some mariners, who had a cargo of nitrum (salt, or, as some have supposed, soda) on board, having landed on the banks of the river Belus, a small stream at the base of Mount Carmel in Palestine, and finding no stones to rest their pots on, placed under them some masses of nitrum, which, being fused by the heat with the sand of the river, produced a liquid and transparent stream : such was the origin of glass." The antient Egyptians were certainly acquainted with the art of glass making. This subject is very fully dis cussed in a memoir by M. Boudet, in the Description de l'Egypte,' vol. ix., Antiq. Memoires. The earthenware beads found in some mummies have an external coat of glass, coloured with a metallic oxide ; and among the ruins of Thebes pieces of blue glass have been discovered. The manufacture of glass was long car ried on at Alexandria, from which city the Romans were supplied with that ma terial ; but before the time of Pliny the manufacture had been introduced into Italy, France, and Spain (xxxvi. c. 26). Glass utensils have been found among the ruins of Herculaneum.

The application of glass to the glazing of windows is of comparatively modern introduction, at least in northern and western Europe. In A.D. 674 artists were brought to England from abroad to glaze the church windows at Wearmonth in Durham ; and even in the year 1567 this mode of lighting dwellings was confined to large establishments, and by no means universal even in them. An entry then

made in the minutes of a survey of Aln wick Castle, the residence of the Duke of Northumberland, informs us that the glass casements were taken down during the absence of the family to preserve them from accident. A century after that time the use of window-glass was so small in Scotland that only the upper rooms in the royal palaces were furnished with it, the lower part having wooden shutters to admit or exclude the air.

The earliest manufacture of flint-glass in England was begun in 1557, and the progress made towards perfecting it was so slow, that it was not until near the close of the seventeenth century that this coun try was independent of foreigners for the supply of the common article of drinking glasses. In 1673 some plate-glass was made at Lambeth, in works supported by the Duke of Buckingham, but which were soon abandoned. It was exactly one century later that the first establishment of magnitude for the production of plate glass was formed in this country ; and works upon a large scale were erected at Ravenhead, near Prescot in Lancashire, which have been in constant and successful operation from that time to the present day.

At an early period of its history in this country the glass manufacture became an object of taxation, and duties were im posed by the 6 & 7 William and Mary, which acted so injuriously, that in the second year after the act was passed one half of the duties were taken off, and in the following year the whole was re pealed. In 1746, when the manufacture had taken firmer root, an excise duty was again imposed, at the rate of one penny per pound on the materials used for mak ing crown, plate, and flint glass, and In one farthing per pound on those used for making bottles. In 1778 these rates were increased 50 per cent. upon crown and bottle glass, and were doubled on flint and plate-glass. These rates were further advanced from time to time in common with the duties upon most other objects of taxation. The precise rates of duty charged upon each kind of glass in 1793, 1806, and 1834 were as under :— 1793. 180G. 1834.

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