Whitefriars Glass Forum

Animals of Vicente Boffo. (Whitefriars and after).

Animals of Vicente Boffo. (Whitefriars and after).
« on: September 07, 2014, 10:07:55 PM »
Please note that this page has been started to try to show the work of this Master glassblower. As with all glass it can sometimes be hard to give a firm attribution to items but many of these pieces shown here have good provenance.

 A system of rating will be applied .

Rated * possible connection to Boffo.
Rated ** possibly Boffo
Rated *** probably Boffo
Rated ****  definitely Boffo

There are a few grey areas and pieces without provenance can be discussed by starting a NEW TOPIC and when a conclusion is made those pieces can be added. With this in mind I have the Topic 'locked' and will add members images to it.

Born 17/07/1907 Vicente (Vincenzo) Boffo started work aged 14 in a glasshouse that made glass animals; this was probably in Murano Italy. Little is known about this period; later in Naples he is known to have worked  making chandeliers in Vetreria Auriemma, which closed May 1958. He joined Whitefriars in 1959 as a Master Glassblower and in the factory he was known as Mr Boffo. He worked with his son Ettore (known as Hector).  Ettore left Whitefriars in September1969 to join Michael Harris and Eric Dobson who jointly started Mdina Glass in Malta. Vicente  left Whitefriars to be with Ettore about a year later (1970). Known as Papa at Mdina, Vicente used his years of experience to both design pieces and  train apprentices.  Sadly on 28/12/71 Ettore died of leukaemia (aged 30).
 Michael Harris returned to England in 1972 leaving the company to Eric Dobson and Joseph Said. Boffo was unhappy working at Mdina and left in 1976/77 to work for the Chinese run Malta Decorative Glass (MDG) where he continued designing and blowing glass and was again involved in training apprentices under a government scheme. MDG was taken over by the Italians in 1978 but went bankrupt in November of that year and as far as we know that was the end of Vicente's glassblowing career at the age of 70.
Vicente sadly died in Malta (1993) at the age of 85. His work has always been of the highest quality, much admired and today sought after by collectors.

                                                                          Thanks to Wolfie Rayner for his help with the above history.......


You can see him at work in this short video.....   https://youtu.be/UxBEkB03pUM

A picture of Boffo with a Penguin.

Here are 3 images of fish from the factory photo albums.

From Domestic E ( circa 1959 )

From Domestic F ( circa 1960 )

From Domestic F ( circa 1960 )

The only catalogued Boffo animal was the large penguin that appeared in the 1960/61 edition .

His penguin was also shown in an advert in 1959.     This was the image used and the description ...........

Note the Pattern number of 1082 and the colours, Amber, Arctic blue, Ocean green, Twilight, Flint and Ruby.

The quantity of penguins that Boffo produced are as follows,

Golden Amber - 253
Twilight - 342
Flint - 496
Ruby - 803
Ocean Green - 934
Arctic Blue - 1391
                                            Total = 4219

Here is another pic from the photo albums showing the Penguin and a Fish. (Note:- The other 3 pieces were designed by him)

This  'frigger' large penguin below came from Joey Jones who was Boffo's footmaker in 1959. Made in Midnight Blue with White enamel. (the beak is sheared and not damaged)

Rated ****

This one was found by Brian Slingsby ( factory chemist ) in the factory stock room and is thought to be by Boffo.

Rated **  Private collection.

Rated **        4 1/4" high.        Private collection.   ( This penguin could be by either Boffo or Ray Annenberg. Hopefully one day Ray will be able to handle it and confirm the maker.)

His fish did not appear in any catalogues but were certainly sold in retail outlets.

 This workbook entry shows two fish samples for Mr Baxter dated  28th November 1959.

 Production started  16th January 1960 and ended 27th August 1960.
 In those eight months he made 655 Fish  A surprisingly large quantity but not as large as the 4000 plus Penguins .

The production fish are shown below.

Rated ****

Rated ****   Private collection
Whilst at Whitefriars his fish were popular 'Friggers' but they were not the same as his production pieces and he used a bubble mould for the surface finish. Below are some images of his hollow blown 'frigger' fish. They are approximately 8" long x 6" high.

Rated ****

Rated ****

« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:52:04 PM by Patrick Hogan »

Re: The Animals of Vincente Boffo,?..(Whitefriars and after).
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2014, 09:39:31 AM »
Boffo fish 'Friggers' made whilst he was working at Mdina, Malta.

Rated ****       Height 8 1/2" without plinth.  Note:- Probably a De-lux version with plinth and eye....

Eye detail................

Rated ****

This damaged fish has a label showing that it was sold in the King's Tobacconist, Sliema, Malta. I believe whilst working at Mdina he was allowed to sell his friggers as a perk of the job. Thanks to gourmetworrier.com for allowing me to use the image of this shop.

Rated ****

Rated ****               Blown Fish.      Note:- This may have been made at Whitefriars or Mdina.

A duck frigger made at Mdina

  Rated ****  Private collection

A rabbit frigger made at Mdina

  Rated ****  Private collection
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:17:59 PM by Patrick Hogan »

Re: The Animals of Vincente Boffo,?..(Whitefriars and after).
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2014, 01:43:05 PM »

It appears that Boffo made a quantity of Seals.

They do not appear in any photo albums but are mentioned here in an exhibition catalogue??.

Here are images of his seals.

Rated ****

Rated ****

They were also mentioned in a letter that had been sent to William Wilson thanking him for the offer of  2 seals and 6 penguins to the Duke of Edinburgh. I suspect that this was after a visit by the duke to the factory.

Note :-    The following pieces all have provenance directly linked to the factory.

Rated XXXX

Private collection    Rated XXXX

     Rated XXXX     

      Rated XXXX       Height 4 1/2 inches.

  Private collection   Rated XXXX   

  Private collection   Rated XXXX

  Private collection   Rated XXXX

  Private collection   Rated XXX

      Rated XXXX

Harrow Heritage Center.    Rated XXXX
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:27:27 PM by Patrick Hogan »

Re: The Animals of Vicente Boffo,?..(Whitefriars and after).
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2014, 03:10:23 PM »

  Rated XXX

  Rated ***   Private collection 

He introduced this style of fish at MDG.

And also came up with the idea of the base pads for the MDG Chinese animals........Note these may be samples and not made by him.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:22:11 PM by Patrick Hogan »

Re: Animals of Vicente Boffo. (Whitefriars and after).
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2018, 12:00:32 PM »
This pair of fish were been made before he joined Whitefriars.

I  would also like to share this story that tells of his first venture into glass blowing that happened before he started as an apprentice,,aged 14.……….
"He actually started even earlier missing school and going to peep behind the doors of a factory. He would then go home, mix flour and water then get a long macaroni and pretend he was gathering glass”

 I have been sent these 2 early images.


« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:23:00 PM by Patrick Hogan »