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'Nailsea' Witch Ball

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A rare and wonderful 'Nailsea Glass' witch ball.


English circa 1860.


8 inches in diameter.


The Nailsea glassworks was established in Somerset in 1788 and ran until 1873, essentially producing bottle glass; this type of decorative glass presumably inspired by the Venetian forerunner. Similar was produced throughout the UK and the 19th century.

The witch ball and its attendant folklore grew over much the same period. The silvered equivalent variety first produced on the continent and installed in the garden for decoration and perhaps as bird scarers. The name probably derived from 'watch ball' as a very wide angle of view is achieved. The lore of the witch ball grew over the late 18th and 19th century and is based on the idea that the witch cursed her own image or was scared off by what she saw; hence they are hung in windows or above doors. An extension of this lore is based on the idea that a witch can be occupied to distraction by having to follow threads in a glass, thereby glass balls can be found stuffed tight with cotton threads, or jars with a mysterious arrangement of never-ending thread. The trails of white glass in this ball may be presumed to perform a similar function.


Item Code: 3340

£ 550

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