Britain: Pilkington Shines Again

Glassmakers of ancient Venice maintained world superiority quite simply: craftsmen caught spiriting trade secrets out of Venice were made galley slaves or killed by hired assassins. In the modern world of sheet glass, Britain's Pilkington Brothers, Ltd., maintains a comparable superiority in a more humane way: the company consistently outdoes rivals in research and development.

Pilkington, sole survivor of the 24 glassworks that thrived in Britain in the 19th century and then died because of competition, made its first major contribution to the industry in 1935 by developing a grinder that smoothed both sides of the glass simultaneously —...

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