Andy McConnell is a journalist specialising in antique & vintage glassware. His books, articles & lectures have covered the subject from ancient times to the present. He was the first glass specialist recruited to BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow, one of Britain’s most popular television programmes, for which he has now recorded 16 series. His most recent book, The Decanter, Ancient to Modern, took 20 years to research & write. It recounts their history through 544 pages and 165,000 words, illustrated by 2,640 images of 3,000+ objects.
Day - 1 10 Feb
Making glass visible
I am very lucky for having stumbled into glass, then coming to understand what a wonderful, almost magical substance it is. My first meeting, in 1978, was entirely accidental. I was a rock journalist touring Germany with the American band the Jefferson Starship when a Hamburg antique dealer asked if I could supply his shop with glassware. ‘I’d love too,’ I replied. ‘But I don’t know anything about glass.’ ‘Neither do I,’ he replied. ‘… but together we will learn.’ And that is what happened. I became an antique & vintage glass dealer, 45 years ago. But I’m also a journalist/social historian & have always considered glassware to be a dry subject without consideration of its contents. So, I gradually became absorbed by the evolving aesthetic & technical evolution of fine glass - its applications & ceremonies. My journey has involved visiting many leading fine glassmakers, in the US, across Europe & Australia. I have been constantly amazed by the beauty of glassware & engaged by its designers, makers & processes. But along that road, I also became aware of the incredible enabling powers of other types of glass. Of course, as a wearer of spectacles, I couldn't help but appreciate the visionary power of lenses, without which I would be unemployed and certainly not here, talking to you! Then I became conscious of its role in transforming architecture, medicine, communications. Indeed, I have increasingly enjoyed the feeling that I am standing in a blizzard, absorbing pieces from a vast jigsaw whose image shows the ever-expanding power & possibilities of the marvellous substance that unite us all. So, (raising a real glass of wine) here’s to glass …. CHEERS!