Types of Glass

Image: Glass Pots in which the ingredients used in glassmaking were fired. These were made from Stourbridge clay in controlled conditions to ensure that they were free of air bubbles and dried very slowly. The Useful Arts and Manufacturers of Great Britain of Great Britain, Vol. 1 (London, SPCK, 1846?)

Image from: Science, Technology and Management, Birmingham Central Library

The three types of glass that Chances produced were crown, plate or sheet glass and flint glass.  The bases for all three were silica and a metallic oxide.  The proportions of ingredients varied according to the kind of glass made and the individual practice of each glass producer, who guarded their recipes carefully.  Generally the ingredients and proportions were as follows:

  • Crown glass: 63 % white sand, 7 % chalk, 30 % soda
  • Plate glass: 55 % white sand, 35 % soda, 8 % soda, 2% lime
  • Flint glass: 52% white sea sand, 14% potash, 34% oxide of lead


The glass was produced in cone-shaped glass houses with wide open-top chimneys.  Inside there was a central furnace surrounded by six to eight pots made of Stourbridge clay. Raw ingredients were placed into these pots and heated and mixed until the “metal” fused into a soft mass. The exhibition The Smethwick Glass Works of Chance Brothers, West Midlands (Theme: Industry and Innovation) provides a further insight into manufacturing processes.


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4439-0The Infinite Uses of Glass: Chance Brothers, Glassmakers of Smethwick 3892-0Chance Brothers and Company 3891-0The Arrival of Expert Workers 2078-0The Chemical Works 2370-0Types of Glass 3900-0Crown Glass 2039-0Plate or Sheet Glass 3895-0Flint Glass 2077-0New Technology 4444-0Glazing the Crystal Palace 4445-0Glazing the Crystal Palace 4438-0Lighthouse Production 4442-0Lighthouse Production 4443-0Lighthouse Production 4441-0Lighthouse Production 2079-0Company Philanthropic Activity 2041-0Relations between Workers and the Company 2038-0French and Belgian Workers 2075-0Description of the Glassworks 2034-0Description of the Glassworks