Esoteric London

No. 408: Charterhouse Street, EC1

Posted in London Labour, Markets by esotericlondon on September 21, 2011

Smithfield Market, Charterhouse Street, London, EC1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

The Busy Hives Around Us: A Variety of Trips and Visits to the Mine, the Workshop and the Factory,1850:

We call our good pioneer’s attention to a tub full of old broken bottles, and bits of glass in lumps, bottoms of decanters, stopples, and a little multitude of different things.

‘Oh,’ he cries, ‘I forgot to say that we mix up with the new glass a good deal of that sort of stuff.’ We step outside of the door at his hint, and find a long, open-air passage pretty well stopped up with tubs and boxes of these odd fragments. At one end also two old women are at work, washing and sorting them. ‘We buy a great deal of old glass,’ the man says; ‘and we can’t get enough of it’. ‘Does it improve the metal?’ we inquired, using his own terms quite knowingly. ‘Oh no,’ he answered; ‘but it is much cheaper. Glass is never so good the second time of melting, but if we used nothing but the new glass you saw in the trough, it would make everything very dear.’ It is to supply this demand that we see the bills and boards of the marine store-dealers in the back streets of London, announcing the best price for old bottles and broken glass. For the very best glass, virgin materials only are used. All the substances we have named, well mixed together, form what we are taught to call a batch. All of them are opaque bodies, yet by their transfusion become crystalline and clear.

During the melting the glass assumes different appearances. After ten or twelve hours, it is a very white and perfectly opaque honeycomb.


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