Gold foil glass signs have a long history all over the world. The earliest example of watering glass or “Verre egolmise” with gold is believed to have originated from before the Roman period, but its name comes from Jean-Baptise Glomy (1711-1786), an 18th-century French decorator and art dealer chain. It is responsible for refilling. One of the main historical periods of art was in Italy during the 13th and 16th centuries. Small glass panels with a design formed by engraved gold plating were applied to fossil and portable altars. The method used is described by Cennino Cennini. It has also been used all over Europe since the 15th century and has been used for painting, furniture, wine glasses and jewelry. Gold leaf on glass is often seen in the form of mirrors, decorative panels on the clock face, and window displays and advertising mirrors in recent history. You can see some of the best examples in pubs and hotels across Europe.
The facade of the facility is fully decorated with plate glass design and gold letters. Some of the best examples of the 1800s in London were manufactured by Messinger & Son, R. Morris and Sons, Cakebread Robey, Walter Gibbs, Joseph hollyer, James Carter or Jones and Firmin. In 1849, when the British master guilder and autograph writer John J. Edward immigrated from London to New York, gold letters on glass were introduced to the United States. At the time of his arrival, only one gold plate was found throughout New York. He immediately opened a signage store on Canal Street and began making colorful polished samples. As these demands increased, his business flourished. New York’s traditional autographers wanted to know Edward’s “secret” that permanently stuck gold to glass as Ward succeeded.
These artists will pay $100 each to learn their skills. Edwards was pleased to earn additional income from his knowledge. In the late 19th century, this industry flourished. During this period in American history, in large cities such as Chicago and New York, it was not uncommon for the building facades to be fully decorated with exquisite glass signs. As the century changed, Rawson and Evans’ decorative glass designers and manufacturers had showrooms in New York City and Chicago. According to historical records, the company began in 1880 and continued until 1920. According to the rare 1896 catalog of Rawson and Evans, it specializes in sandblasting, shattered decorative glass signs. The company made the most sophisticated decorative glass in the country at the time. Their work is still being pursued by collectors today.
The largest supporters of elaborately decorated glass signs were vendors of alcohol, tobacco, pharmacies and anyone who wanted to show their products and storefronts. Unfortunately, the Great Depression, along with Rawson and Evans, affected a thriving industry, and Chicago Sandblasting had to close.
They were a small part of the individual autograph repertoire, but until the 1980s, autograph artist Rick Glawson was dedicated to rediscovering the long-lost skills and materials. Glawson was the owner of the Fine Gold Sign Company and Esoteric Sign Supply in Wilmington, California, and was recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on glass decoration technology. Rick had an unprecedented time studying the tools, tricks and techniques of glass signage technology. His specialty was to restore vintage glass advertising signs, especially those from the 1880-1910 era.
Rick Glawson organized an annual glass sign event known as “The Conclave” in his studio. Sign artists from all over the world will share their ideas and information on glass sign art. Since Rick’s death in 2003, Conclave maintains his honor every year and the everlasting technology of gold foil glass signs has survived by a handful of dedicated glass signage artists. Some of the authors of gold leaf glass with past traditions are Roderick Treece of California, Larry White of California, David Smith of England, John Studden of California and Noel Weber of Idaho.
After the glass is cleaned, a thin, water-sized cleaning solution is brushed onto the glass. Water size is the glue that glues gold to the glass. The water size of glass plating consists of distilled water and a very small amount of pure gelatin. Once the water size is allowed to flow into the glass, a sheet of gold foil is picked up with a special brush and applied to the wet glass. After the water size is completely dry and the gold is attached to the glass, it has a gorgeous mirror finish to give it a dazzling shiny quality. With the popularity of gold leaf glass, Rawson & Evans or Chicago Sandblasting’s original antique beer and tobacco advertising glass signs can make a lot of money at auctions today.