Osler & Co.

Manufacturers of electric light fittings

F. & C. Osler & Co., were a firm of Birmingham glassmakers founded in 1807. By the mid-19th century they were widely acknowledged as the pre-eminent makers of chandeliers and spectacular glass 'exhibition pieces', such as the 4-ton cut-glass crystal fountain for the Great Exhibition of 1851. They supplied massive chandeliers for civic buildings such as St George's Hall, Liverpool (1856), and invented complex glass-cutting techniques in the 1870s and 1880s. 1 Their high-quality, frequently ostentarious products, for example mirrored furniture, were popular with Indian royalty, as well as Europeans. 'The expansionn of the company was largely [due to] a method of building up solid glass around a metal core, creating objects of a size and complexity previously thought impossible.' 2

Oslers registered as a private company in 1906, but despite having showrooms in Bombay and Calcutta (Mumbai and Kolkata), they only advertised a Glasgow agency from 1908, at 93 Hope Street. 3 Agents George D. Hardie, earlier of Potier, Stewart & Hardie, dealt in electric light fittings, Osler's principal product after they closed their increasingly unprofitable Birmingham glassworks in 1922. 4

In Scotland, Osler's supplied wall-lights to Dunglass House, East Lothian, 5 and cut-glass shades to complement the cast-iron lamp standards (1840s) by the Shotts Foundry in front of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. 6 At the 1888 Glasgow International Exhibition, Osler's displayed 'gasaliers for the electric light' and 'a small fountain ... in cut crystal ... on Corinthian columns with electro gilt and chased metal', which was apparently admired by Queen Victoria. 7

Notes:

1: 'F. and C. Osler', Grace's Guide: British Industrial History, 2007, www.gracesguide.co.uk; 'F. & C. Osler' Artist Biography (Accompanying Description of Ten-Light Chandelier, Ref. No. B57880), 2012, www.adrianalan.com [both accessed 10 and 11 July 2012].

2: National Art Collections Fund, 'Glass Etagere, F. & C. Osler, Birmingham Museum, 1882' (Cat. No. 1988M160), 2011, www.artfund.org; Online Galleries, 'F. & C. Osler Glassworks of Birmingham', Artists, Makers and Schools', www.onlinegalleries.com [both accessed 14 July 2012].

3: 'F. and C. Osler', Grace's Guide: British Industrial History, 2007, www.gracesguide.co.uk [accessed 10 July 2012].

4: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1908–9; 1909–10; online galleries, 'F. & C. Osler Glassworks of Birmingham', in 'Artists, Makers and Schools', 2012, www.onlinegalleries.com [accessed 11 July 2012].

5: Fritz Fryer, 'Osler – The Great Exhibition, Crystal Fountains and Chandeliers', Antique Lighting Blog, 20 April 2011, www.theantiquelightingblog.co.uk [accessed 10 July 2012].

6: John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984, p. 288.

7: Glasgow Herald, 23 August 1888, p. 9; 25 August 1888, p. 9.