Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Collecting Decanters

Have you considered collecting antique decanters? Decanters, jugs, and carafes are not only practical, but sometimes very inexpensive. You can find them at auctions, yard sales, and estate sales for under $50. The least expensive are pressed & cut crystal (no color) decanters from the Victorian period.

Carafes and jugs have been with us since ancient times, but decanters arrived on the scene in the 15th century. The term 'decanter' was first used in England in the early 1700's. In the 1830's, decanters with matching wine glasses were introduced.

There are a wide variety of shapes, which changed over the years. In all countries, shape and decoration followed the prevailing shapes of the period: neoclassic and Georgian, for example. Some are barrel-shaped, cut with flutes to imitate hoops and staves. Others are tapered, or square, or are 'shaft and globe' (bulbous with long necks). The claret jugs have graceful looped handles and lipped mouths. Then there are ship's decanters, made with wide bases to add stability at sea.

The more expensive decanters are made of colored glass, and/or mounted with silver. In Germany and Bohemia, enameled designs were used. In Ireland, decanters were deeply cut and engraved. In the early nineteenth century, in America and England, the strawberry diamond pattern was very popular. In the 1830's, the Boston and Sandwich Glass Co., known for it's lacy pattern glass, turned out decanters in several blown mold patterns.

In the 1870's, elaborate cut glass became the fashion. In America, the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 inspired patriotic motifs and symbols. Around 1900, the popularity of colorful art glass extended to decanters and wine goblets. The Art Nouveau period, 1890-1915, produced designs in silver deposit on colored glass. Decanters became status symbols when they sported silver mountings from Gorham or Tiffany.

Reproductions are out there, but a little research will go a long way. Pressed diamond and strawberry decanters have been reproduced; the originals have a gray cast. Repros of the early three-ring English decanters exist, as well as cranberry and cut glass color-overlay.

The Daisy & Button spirit decanters shown are available in our web store: Hourglass Antiques at eCrater

~ Evelyn