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Sulphide Scratch


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EDIT: Well, I glopped all this together back in 2010.  It's now 2017.  There was too much for me to sort through that day so I said to myself I'd come back to it.  So it has  been invisible and unedited all this time.  I may never fix it, but it has cool links, so I'm making it visible.  Maybe I'll clean it up 7 years from now.


Inlaying porcelain in glass appears to go back to the late 1700's. (Other items such as Ivory as far back as 1584.)

James Tassie is connected - and has a publication with the word "sulphur" in the title - which might be the inspiration for the name "sulphide". Not sure yet how closely connected Tassie's creations were to the little figures which we see in marbles. It's a catalog. If it describes the method I haven't seen that yet.

1775: A catalogue of impressions in sulphur of antique and modern gems from which pastes are made and sold

This describes how sulphur was used: History of Tassie

In 1818 in France and 1819 in England there were patents filed for Cameo Incrustation, aka Cameo Encrustation.

The figure intended for encrustation must be made of materials which will require a higher degree of heat for their fusion than the Glass within which it is to be incrusted; these are china clay and a super-silicate of potash,* ground and mixed in such proportions as upon experiment harmonize with the density of the Glass; and this, when moulded into a bas-relief or bust, (in plaster of Paris moulds,) should be slightly baked, and then suffered gradually to cool; ....





*By super-silicate of potash is meant, sand exposed at high temperature in a crucible, with a small portion of carbonate of potash, sufficient to fuse it partially, for grinding into an impalpable powder.


The French patent was filed by Pierre-Honoré Boudon de Saint–Amans. The English patent was filed by Apsley Pellatt.

Early versions of the process were called cristallocéramie or variations such as "crystallo ceramie" or "crystallo ceramic".

The 1819 is given the most credit from what I see online, but this might be an error entrenched early and perpetuated over time. French patent predates the Enlish and one online source suggests that the English patent is a copy. That source says the name sulphide comes from bad cameo inlay work - a flaw giving rise to art. No date is given for the origin of the "sulphide" name though. Not that I can see. The author appears to translate the 1818 patent title to include the word "sulphides" but I don't see it there. Another sources says the name came from sulphur being used in making sulphides.

Art of Sulphides and Cameo


Is this the title of the Boudon patent?

Mémoire sur le perfectionnement de l'incrustation dans le cristal des camées

"Sulphide" is said to have entered the vernacular because the micro-thin layer of air between the ceramic figure and the glass gives the figure the appearance of a silver sulpide.

Very interesting: Art of Sulphides and Cameos


an html version of mostly the same material?: http://paperweights.cristallerie-hartwig.com/history.html

That might cast a completely different light on the material I originally posted, which is basically as below:

This page presents a history of sulphides in general, Sulphide Technique.

They mention an 1821 book written by Apsley Pellat on the subject. He took out a patent on "crystalo ceramie" in 1819. Also mentioned is an 1849 book he wrote, Curiosities of Glass Making. In that book there's a section on "cameo incrustation" beginning on p. 119.

The tile of the 1821 book is, Memoir on the origin, progress, and improvement of class manufactures: includ. an account of the patent crystallo ceramic, or, glass incrustations. It is 42 pages long. (source)

Some good date info for future reference - from the table of contents of a book, it appears.

Pellat - Apsley Pellatt on Glass Making





1807: Patent No. 3058: Lighting the interiors of ships, buildings






1819: Patent No. 4424: Ornamenting glass



1821: Memoir on the origin, progress and improvement of glass manufacture



1831: Patent No. 6091: An improved mode of forming glass vessels



1838: Proc. Inst. Civil Engrs: Heating powers of coke and coal in melting glass



1840: Proc. Inst. Civil Engrs: On the manufacture of flint glass



1845: Patent No. 10,669: Improvements in the manufacture of glass



1848: Curiosities of Glass Making





Another little bit on Pellatt, with some discussion of trends in sulphide making. Not sure what to make of it. Good chance this will get edited out. But it's here at least as a bookmark for now.

Apsley Pellatt Glass, from the Glass Encyclopedia

1968: Sulphides: The Art of Cameo Incrustation, by Paul Jokel

Baccarat of France is also known for them. Boudon might be forgotten.


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  • 2 months later...

2017 EDIT -- I don't know if this has anything that's not mentioned above.  This was a couple months after what I wrote above, so maybe I was trying to write a clean draft and didn't get far, or maybe it was new stuff.   Well, it's another link to play with. 


About sulphides

Specifically about the name "Sulphide". I wondered how and when figure marbles came to be known as sulphides. Couldn't find much in my normal online search areas. I found just enough to make me suspect that the name came through the French.


L'art et le goût sous la restauration, 1814 à 1830

Jacques Robiquet

Payot, 1928

"«Camées Incrustés », des soi-disant « Sulfures»" ===> "'Cameos Encrusted', with so-called 'Sulphides'"

(Translation by Babel Fish)


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  • 8 years later...

Sulphide appears in an English-language estate sale ad in 1954.  One of these days I need to actually read one of the history books on this subject.  Might be time for a trip to the library to check out interlibrary loan. 

Democrat and Chronicle, September 13, 1954




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