The present pair of wall lights relate to the work of the leading glass manufacturer F & C Osler who specialised in the production of chandeliers and ornamental lighting. Their combination of plain facet-cut branches and rectilinear glass drops headed by octagonal glass spangles have parallels in the corresponding elements of later designs by the firm for a glass gasolier, dated 1857 and `standing lights' circa 1860, reproduced in John P. Smith, Osler's Crystal for Royalty and Rajah's, Mallett, London, 1991, pp. 85 and 86. It is also relevant that the firm made all their own metal work including ormolu mounts such as those to the finials and sconces here. A pair of tall candelabra supplied by the F & C Osler for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, in 1848, display a similar arrangement of drops to the present lot. Regrettably the design for the Osborne candelabra or other lighting contemporary to the offered lot, is not published as Osler's pattern book did not start until 1858 (see John P. Smith op. cit., p. 45).
F & C Osler was founded in Birmingham in 1812 to manufacture, cut and supply drops for chandelier designers and manufacturers. They published their own catalogue in 1812 showing and listing their complete range of drops together with sizes, prices and names. This has become a valuable record for glass historians. In 1831, the running of the company was entrusted to the founder's twenty-three year old son, Abraham Follett Osler. Follett was a man of great energy. He moved the company to larger premises, opened his own metal working department and went into production on his own account making chandeliers and wall lights. By 1843, he had already opened a branch in Calcutta to supply the Indian Raj.
About this time, he also opened a showroom at 34 Oxford Street in London and exhibited at the 1848 trade show in Birmingham, which became the prototype for the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851. F & C Osler displayed a 17ft high pair of candelabra, which had been commissioned by Ibrahim Pacha, ruler of Egypt. The total weight of each candelabra was nearly 1 ton! Prince Albert visited this exhibition and commissioned a similar pair for Queen Victoria. This pair of candelabra can be seen today in Osborne House, formerly Queen Victoria's favourite residence on the Isle of Wight.
Osler designed the crystal fountain at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 and became the largest chandelier maker in Britain during the later 19th century.
The quality and detail of Osler's glass was exceptional because everything was produced 'in house'. Osler chandeliers, like the glass furniture which they also made (see lots 844-848), are superbly engineered, with every piece numbered and fitting smoothly at its appointed place. Osler was quick to take advantage of new inventions. They were among the first to make chandeliers lit by gas, rather than oil or candle and within two years of the invention of the electric light bulb, they were making lighting fittings to which they gave the inelegant term of electrolier. Osler, however, did not forget that one of their main markets was India, where such new inventions were not necessarily available to a maharajah living in a remote palace. They continued to make oil lamps until the early 20th century and their chandeliers could be lit to the customer's specification, either by candles, oil, gas or electricity.
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