F. & C. Osler was a glass making company founded by Thomas Osler in Birmingham in 1817.
The glass making industry was in its infancy at this time and Osler began by manufacturing glass toys and glass ornaments, mainly for export. The following year the company began to make chandeliers for the home market.
By the 1830s, Thomas Osler & Co. was manufacturing dolls’ eyes. There was a large export market for dolls’ eyes and for every pair produced for the British market, there were ten pairs exported.
In 1831 Thomas Osler retired from the business and passed it on to his sons Follet and Clarkson and the company became F. & C. Osler.
The two brothers determined to take the company forward, investing in machinery for the precision cutting of glass which allowed them to explore more elaborate artistic and ornate design work on vases, pitchers, decanters and chandeliers. They slowly progressed to become the aristocratic designers of British industrial art glass between 1831 and 1924.
The company had a glass works in French Street, Birmingham and a retail outlet in Oxford Street, London. F. & C. Osler began to develop a market in India from the late 1830s. This was a crucial outlet for their products, supplying commissioned designed glass to wealthy Maharajahs. Most of the commissions were for crystal glass furniture. The company even opened a showroom in Calcutta in 1843.
One of the company’s greatest projects was the crystal fountain made for the Great Exhibition of 1851 held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. The crystal fountain was over 7 metres high and weighed over 4 tons. Four railway carriages were needed to transport it from Birmingham to London.
Demand for heavy cut glass diminished in the 20th century and F. & C. Osler merged with Faraday & Co. in 1924 to form Osler & Faraday Ltd. The company concentrated on the manufacture of electric light fittings.
The firm ceased trading in 1965 and went into liquidation in 1976. The remnants of the company were acquired by Wilkinson plc in 1985.