JAJ - James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd.

About JAJ - James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd.

Pyrex was first marketed in 1915 by Corning Glass Works in the US, using the trade mark 'Pyrex' to sell the new glassware to the domestic market. Pyrex bowls could withstand oven temperatures without cracking and made better use of heat, reducing cooking times and making sure of even cooking. In the UK Pyrex cookware was available from Harrods as early as 1919. The original advert from Harrods stressed that you could see the food in Pyrex bowls, making them more attractive to serve food in than old pots and pans. The original Pyrex range of bowls and oven glassware included Pyrex oval and round casserole dishes, Pyrex round baking dishes and pudding dishes, a Pyrex covered stew pot, Pyrex au gratin dishes and a flat Pyrex serving tray.

From 1923 the English glass maker James A Jobling of Wear Glass Works, Sunderland, started to make Pyrex under licence in the UK. Harrods stocked the full range of Pyrex ovenware made in the UK by J A Jobling. Harrods' 1923 offerings included Pyrex oblong utility dishes for roasting Yorkshire pudding, Pyrex casserole dishes, Pyrex round cake dishes, Pyrex tart dishes and Pyrex oval eared dishes for fish. Pyrex was such a novelty that it was advertised as a leading product in these top British department stores. In those days it was more often bought by the lady of the house for use by her servants. Its unbreakability was a key selling point.

Pyrex was also manufactured in Germany in the interwar years. William Wagenfeld studied design at the influential Bauhaus School of Design and in the early 30s he produced a range of new designs for Jenaer Glaswerk, which manufactured Pyrex in Germany. The designs were simple and elegant and a significant advance over what James A Jobling was producing in the UK. UK consumers had to wait another twenty years for more modern looking Pyrex cookware.

Pyrex glassware in the 50s, 60s and 70s

Like many companies J A Jobling continued with designs little changed from the pre-war days in the early years after the Second World War. However, in the early 50s they engaged Milner Gray and Kenneth Lamble of the Design Research Unit  to revamp their range. Milner Gray help set up the Design Research Unit in the War years to produce Utility designs for the Government. After the War it became a design business. Gray and Lamble's designs were simple and modern. They designed the very familiar Pyrex casserole dish with a flat lid for J A Jobling, as well as a range of Pyrex tableware. Designer John Cochrane also worked for J A Jobling in the 50s. His designs included Pyrex oblong roasting dishes, and Pyrex round bowls.

J A Jobling found other uses for Pyrex glass in the 50s, introducing a range of fashionable tea and coffee making equipment. Drinking tea was a suburban ritual in the 50s but coffee was the drink of the time with coffee bars springing up all over Britain and coffee became the drink of the young in the 1950s. The Pyrex coffee set would have been purchased by a young couple in the early sixties as the design, with a pattern of gold stars, was a very fashionable look and a departure from the elegant, but functional, look of the Pyrex cookware. From the late 50s, glamour, as well as modern design was an important selling point.

In the 1960s J A Jobling produced patterned Pyrex casserole dishes on ‘opaline’ white glass which represented a development of the clear cookware the company had previously made. Pyrex sold well in the 60s, but J A Jobling was keen to maintain its selling price. However, in 1965 J A Jobling announced that it would no longer enforce retail prices and that the retail price was a recommendation only. Supermarket chain Victor Value immediately cut prices of Pyrex cookware by fifty percent.

For the 70s Pyrex produced attractive tumblers with a coloured plastic base and handle. There was a brief fashion for this type of glassware in the 70s. There were cheaper imitations as well as this Pyrex classic.

 JAJ Pyrex

Although, Pyrex sold well in the 60s and 70s, its profits were dependent upon raw material costs. In 1973, J A Jobling's parent, the Thomas Tilling Group, sold its majority share to the original US makers of Pyrex, Corning Glass Works. Pyrex in the UK had come full circle back into US ownership. For collectors a clue to the date of UK Pyrex glassware is the presence or absence of the letters JAJ of James A Jobling. Older Pyrex is often referred to as JAJ Pyrex by collectors.


Credit: www. retrowow.co.uk