Europe's biggest Louis Comfort Tiffany collection is in Accrigton, Lancashire - less than 38 miles from forsyths Lytham
Here's the story of how this fine collection of Tiffany glass ended up in the North West of England.
Accrington born Joseph Briggs was educated at a local Sunday School and then Accrington Mechanics Institution. As a student he was taught science, including maths,
and especially art. This prepared him to work within the town’s calico printing trade as an apprentice.
Joseph remained in this apprenticeship until three months before his 18th birthday when, on 12 September 1891, he sailed from Liverpool to New York on his own. This move over to America would make his name in the history of Tiffany Glass.
Purely by chance in New York city whilst he was looking for work, Joseph met Louis
Comfort Tiffany. After testing Joseph’s drawing skills, Tiffany liked what he saw and immediately offered him a job. Naturally he had to start at the bottom,he taught himself how to handle brittle pieces of glass and create simple mosaics. Tiffany was impressed, and decided that Joseph should be thoroughly trained in mosaic and stained glass fabrication. In due course he became head of the mosaic department as well as personal assistant to Tiffany himself. He was also a trustee of the Tiffany Foundation,
set up to encourage young artists.
By the 1930s Joseph was running an ailing company, and he filed for bankruptcy in 1932. When Tiffany died a year later he left $10,000 to his friend Joseph Briggs, but this was small consolation. By now Joseph’s main task was disposing of large stocks of unwanted Tiffany glass, and he was throwing much of it away. But it is perhaps no coincidence that around this time he also started to send some of his finest pieces back to Accrington – he was probably saving them from the rubbish dumps of New York.
Meanwhile, back in Accrington, the Tiffany collection was displayed in the town’s first museum in Oak Hill Park. By this time, however, it was distinctly unfashionable and when it was sent to the Haworth.
The collection is on permanent public display in four themed-rooms at the Howarth Museum in Accrington, Lancashire.
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