A BIOGRAPHY of the Lancastrian who transformed the world's glasswares has been launched in Accrington.

Author Douglas Jackson signed copies of his book Mosaic, which tells the story of a Joe Briggs who played a key role in the development of classic Tiffany brand, at the Haworth Art Gallery.

Douglas, a 78-year-old former journalist who lives in Manchester, became interested in the tale through his friend, the Haworth's former curator Norman Potter.

His research is now into its third decade - in 1998 he was awarded a grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to pay for one of his many trips to Canada and the States.

Briggs was born in Accrington in 1873 where his father, also called Joseph, was a foreman engraver and shareholder of Steiner’s Calico Printworks and owned a row of four houses, numbers 1,3,5 and 7 Milnshaw Lane.

Joseph junior was educated at the Mechanics Institution on St James’ Street, Accrington, where he was taught both the sciences, including maths, and the arts.

At the age of 14 he joined his father and older brothers at Steiner’s Calico Printworks as an apprentice engraver, a highly-skilled craft that ensures design details and colours match perfectly when printed on to cloth.

On September 12, 1891, he set sail on the Cunard ship, Servia, for America and, after nearly nine days, he arrived at New York with just two pieces of luggage and spent his first night in a 5 cent doss house, where he met Hawley Hathaway, known as Seth, a Pony Express rider in a Wild West show, who helped him get a job.

The events included sharp shooting, lasso twirling and re-enactments of famous cowboy battles - although Joseph's first job was to hold up cards for the sharp shooters to shoot out of his hand!

During his last visit to England, Joseph and his family stayed in Accrington for almost six months, returning to America on May 15, 1901, on the SS Campania before successfully applying for American citizenship.

Douglas, who has previously written Tiffany in 1990 with Potter, said: "I went to work for a little news agency and I met an advertising manager called Norman.

"In 1975 Norman got the job as the art curator at the Howarth and when I first saw the Tiffany glass I learned the story of Joseph Briggs.

"It is an insight into old Lancashire - they had an indoor bathroom and I didn't have a bathroom in my house when I was young."

Accrington’s collection of Tiffany was first displayed at Oak Hill Park Museum.

During the Second World War, it was packed and stored away until 1951 when it was decided that it would be too expensive to refurbish Oak Hill Museum.

The Tiffany glass was transferred to the Haworth Art Gallery where it remains the largest public collection in Europe.