Decanters are sometimes associated with wine, whose sediments such as lees sink to the bottom of these usually clear containers when poured from their original bottles. But cut- or blown-glass decanters are more often used as decorative serving objects, even if the liquid within them is not strictly in need of decantation.

The widespread use of decanters dates to at least the Middle Ages, when wines and ales were stored in unwieldy wooden barrels, heavy stoneware bottles, and leather skins. For the upper classes, pouring or scooping directly from these bulk containers to one’s cup or goblet would be unacceptable, so decanters served the role as an intermediate delivery device. By the 17th century, blown-glass decanters, known as shaft-and-globes, had long necks and round, flattened bases, perfect for storage on cool, sandy cellar floors.

The Venetians, of course, led the way in glass decanters, but glassmakers in Germany, England, Spain, Scandinavia, and Bohemia also made important contributions to the form. Some of the most identifiable decanter shapes include the bulbous ewer with a handle and gooseneck spout; the flagon, which is similar to an ewer but lacks the spout; the Rodney ship’s decanter, whose flat base was extra wide to give it a low, tip-resistant center of gravity; and various decanters shaped like classical urns and cylinders.

Decanters were also designed to complement the properties of the liquids inside them. For example, powerful spirits were poured into modest-size square or flat-sided bottles via funnels, while more frequently filled claret jugs had wide mouths so that a funnel would not be necessary. While many decanters were enameled to decorate them, and others were blown or cased in colored glass, cordial or liqueur decanters were usually left clear, since the color of the liquid inside them made their contents so instantly identifiable (Chartreuse is green, Campari is red, etc.).

Some glass decanters have metal mounts attached to their outsides. Made of everything from silver to gold, these mounts can give decanters feet, handles, and fittings for stoppers. Sometimes, though, they are purely decorative, as in the chased and pierced silver mounts than adorn some decanters like frilly skirts.

The most respected glassmakers of the last couple of centuries produced decanters. The 17th-century English glassmaker George Ravenscroft, who introduced lead into crystal, made decanters, as did later glass pioneers, including Barovier, Moser, Baccarat, Gallé, Lalique, Tiffany, Steuben, and Northwood.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Bill Lindsey's fantastic bottle identification and information site. Loaded with detailed descriptions and diagrams… [read review or visit site]

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

There's a ton of information here, but as with bottles, you have to dig to find the best stuff. Start with the famo… [read review or visit site]

Bottle Cap Index

Bottle Cap Index

Assembled by Gunther Rademacher with the help of several other contributors, this collection of over half a million… [read review or visit site]

Plopsite.de

Plopsite.de

Norbert Lamping's collection of 600+ ceramic bottle stoppers, Hutter stoppers, swingtops, swivel stoppers, and ligh… [read review or visit site]

Old Spice Collectibles

Old Spice Collectibles

Lather up with Creighton Fricek's complete chronology of collectible Old Spice shaving products. Start with the bot… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Victorian Oak Games Compendium Tantalus 3 Cut Glass Hobnail Decanters Extremely Fine Quality Antique Persian Islamic Solid Silver Open Work DecanterBlenko Mid Century Art Glass Decanter #566 Jade Green ~ 1956 Wayne Husted Remy Martin Louis Xiii Baccarat France Crystal Glass Cognac Liquor Decanter SmsCharming Antique Persian Islamic Qajar Style Open Work Brass Decanter13" Blue Blenko Glass Decanter With Stopper, Sticker, And Original Price StickerVintage Wayne Husted Design 1956 Blenko Art Glass Decanter #566 Turquoise BlueVintage Moser Emerald Green Cut To Clear Gold Gilt Fancy Wine Decanter Nr BdmAntique Victorian Tiffany Wave Edge Sterling Silver Cut Crystal Pitcher DecanterAntique Welsh English Hallmarked Silverplate & Etched Glass Wine Decanter SetBeautiful Waterford Cut Crystal Decanter W/ Stopper - Lovely Design & ShapeStunning Large Waterford Cut Crystal Decanter W/ Stopper - Lismore PatternAntique Vintage 1964 Jim Beam Smoke I Dream Of Jeannie Genie Bottle DecanterJim Beam Decanter, 1978 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car, Black, With Original BoxVintage Waterford Crystal Roly Poly Decanter2 Hallmarked Sterling Silver Wine/decanter Labels Whiskey Sherry London 1966Signed Waterford Cut Crystal Lismore Boat Ship Alcohol Liquor Glass Decanter SbcBaccarat Gilt Glass Glasses Decanter Set No ReserveStunning Waterford Cut Crystal Ship's Decanter - Brandy W/stopper - Lismore1971 Kansas Ku Jayhawk Figural Colonial China Liquor Bottle DecanterLalique Alger DecanterVintage Retro Funky 1960s Pink Genie Bottle Decanter Fruit Basket 22" Italy Duncan Miller Cobalt Silver Overlay Decanter Set , Golf Motif - Bobby JonesPair Of Large Gilt Bohemian Moser Cobalt Heavy Cut Blue Glass Decanters Bottle Beautiful Tall Tiffany & Co. Cut Crystal Decanter W/stopper - GranadaAntique Pair Of Hobnail Cut Crystal Tantalus Decanters With Stoppers C1880.Superb Antique French Enamel Brandy Marc Bottle Decanter Label Madere MadeiraOld Large Art Deco Nude Lady Decanter Amethyst Czech Glass Purple Lalique Era7 Pc Vintage Frosted & Silver Overlay Glass Liquor Decanter Set W/stopper Nr YqzPr Antique Cut Crystal & Sterling Silver Overlay Liquor Decanters BottlesWaterford Crystal Decanter & 2 Old Fashioned Tumbler Barrel Shape Glass ClarionBaccarat Crystal Harmonie Liquor Decanter- No ReserveWaterford Crystal Lismore Decanter Sterling TopBlenko #6224-s Blue Decanter In Square Design W/ Beautiful Square Stopper9" Blenko Blue Glass 669 Decanter With Stopper, Sticker And Price Sticker Vintage Table Top Drinks Cabinet. Three Decanters.Riedel Grape Varietal Sommeliers Hand Blown Glass Wine Smile DecanterVintage Empoli Italian Glass Purple Cased 25" DecanterJapanese Sake. Silver Decanter And 3cups. #156g/ 5.49oz. A Japanese Antique. Gorgeous Vintage / Retro Italian Art Glass Decanter Stopper - Blue / Teal Signed Waterford Cut Crystal Lismore Art Glass Wine Alcohol Liquor Decanter SbcVintage Us Navy Naval Miliatary Academy Seal Usn French Crystal Liquor DecanterVintage Bohemian Czech Ruby Red Cut To Clear Glass Crystal Decanter No StopperWaterford Tramore Crystal Decanter Signed Excellent!Sterling Silver Vintage Decanter Engraved LabelsAmber Bubble Glass Decanter By Empoli Rare Color Vintage Genie BottleMarquis By Waterford S/4 Crystalline Double Old Fashioned Glasses & Decanter NewVintage Cobalt Blue Cut To Clear Bohemian Crystal Glass Wine Liquor Decanter AbvRare Antique Volkstedt Jasperware Cherub Art Nouveau Porcelain Decanter20" Blenko Glass Wayne Husted Decanter Amberina Mid Century Art Modern A Fantastic Victorian Decanter With Large Hallmarked Silver Top & NeckAbp Cut And Engraved Glass Large Perfume Bottle/ Decanter George Lorenz Ca. 1890Rare Pair Antique 18th C George Iii Crystal DecantersAntique C1840 American Georgian Cut Glass Decanter * Harvard Pattern1976 Anheuser-busch / Budweiser St. Louis Decanter Set W / 6 Cups - Cs-38 Htf Cranberry Coin Dot Ruffled Spout Vintage Hand Blown Glass Decanter Or CruetVtg Fostoria American Crystal Glass Square Decanter W/ StopperJack Daniels Silver Cornet Bottle Decanter With Cork - Old No. 7 Original BoxRoyal Doulton Dewars Whisky Decanter Flask Jug W/ Stopper & Opener - MicawberJim Beam "empty" Chicago Cubs Mascot Decanter "cubby" Vintage