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    

Awesome Rare Purple Vintage Glass Genie Bottle - Retro Decanter - ItalyRare Lifebuoy Decanter Signed Hawkes 1401pattern American Brilliant Cut Glass NrBlenko Glass Wayne Husted Design Cat Decanter 1955 Mid CenturyHandblown Bulbous Green Decanter Pontil Mint Cond Glass Ground Stopper BubblesEdinburgh Crystal 'thistle' Square Spirit Decanter1976 Anheuser-busch / Budweiser / Clydesdale Decanter Cs- 33 Ceramarte HtfAntique 1880's Cranberry Opalescent "big Windows" Syrup Pitcher Buckeye Glass Co19c German Bohemian Cut Crystal Decanter Bottle Sterling Silver Mounted No ResSigned Waterford Irish Lead Crystal Cut Glass Alana Ships Decanter Vintage Mid Century Art Glass Blenko Wayne Husted Decanter Vase Etched Dark BlueSigned Waterford Alana 1952 Irish Deep Cut Crystal Ships Alcohol Liquor DecanterSigned Baccarat Harcourt Square Crystal DecanterRare Baccarat France Crystal Ribbed Neck Liquor Decanter CrystalRare 1958 Holt Howard Whiskey Decanter Cruet No Cracks Crazed Bot. Excel Cond.Hm 1799 Silver Port Decanter Wine Bottle Label Ticket Antique Phipps & RobinsonAntique 2 Bottle Oak Tantaus , Decanter Set Hm Sheff 1887 Silver Orange Liqueur Decanter Wine Bottle Label Ticket Antique 1800s Victorian Moser Glass Decanter Set Bohemian Bottle Enamel Tantalus Liquor~Tiffany & Co. Crystal Whiskey Decanter With Stopper Plaid Design ~antique Wmf Silver Filigree Cranberry Glass Tankard Pitcher Decanter Set ClaretBlenko Art Glass DecanterStunning Art Nouveau Jugendstil Pewter Claret Jug Decanter Pitcher Green GlassFaberge Decanter W/ Stopper Cobalt Blue Cased Cut To Clear Orig. Box SignedRuba Rombic Emerald Green Decanter (missing Stopper!)Magnificent Pair Of Extra Large And Tall Bohemian Glass DecanterWaterford Cut Crystal Curraghmore Decanter New Old Stock Perfect ConditionLouis Xiii Remy Martin Champagne Cognac Crystal Baccarat Decanter W/ Stopper Signed Waterford Irish Lead Crystal Cut Glass Decanter Lismore Pattern 1964 I Dream Of Jeannie Jim Beam Smoke Green Genie Bottle Decanter NiceKosta Boda Decanter *signed By Kjell Engman*Dug's The Shady Lady Brothel Decanter Prototype Broken Hand Scotty's JunctionAntique Baccarat Crystal Freneuse Decanter. Circa Late 19th Century.Lot 3 Collectable Empty Kah Skull Tequila Decanter Bottle 750ml Day Of The DeadLouis Xiii Remy Martin Cognac Baccarat Crystal Decanter Rare Steve Abee Folk Pottery Swirl Decanter & Four Goblets - Catawba Valley Nr!!Remy Martin Baccarat Louis X111 Cognac DecanterVintage Fenton Charleton Perfume Bottle/decanter Hand Decorated Red Bead WorkVintage Val St Lambert Crystal Cut To Clear Cranberry Decanter ~ Signed Baccarat Crystal Whiskey Decanter Signed Cut Glass France Art European CrystalLouis Xiii De Remy Martin DecanterPurple Power Kansas Football Whiskey Decanter 1971 - No ReserveThomas Cains Flint Blown Glass Chain Decorated Decanter C.1820Vintage 1964 I Dream Of Jeannie Bottle Decanter Beautiful Orrefors (sweden) Cut Crystal Tapering Decanter ~ Bernadotte PatternJim Beam 1964 Smoked Genie I Dream Of Jeannie Bottle Decanter Tv Series2 Decanters Rolls-royce Mulliner Phantom Corniche Seraph Arnage Etc As ShownElvis "let Me Be Your Teddy Bear" Musical Decanter EmptyRalph Lauren Glen Plaid Decanter Crystal Barware Liquor SpiritsWatterford Crystal Decanters Mai-kai Decanter - Rare Don Q Eldorado Rum Kentucky Wildcat No.1 Whiskey Decanter Rare 1978 By Wilbro Inc - Uk BasketballVintage 13 1/4" Cobalt Blue Glass Siamese Cat Bottle Decanter 1950's Tom Ford Empty Neroli Portofino 250 Ml Flacon DecanterLarge Crystal Decanter With Etched Stopper - Signed Lalique, FranceNew Orrefors Intermezzo Blue Martini Glasses Mint ConditionMichigan Wolverines Vintage College Mascot Decanter From 1974Jim Beam's Duesenberg Model "j" Car Liquor Decanter - Original EverythingAntique Renaissance Revival Cherub Figure Silver Mounted Engraved Decanter NpaHofbauer Byrd Crystal DecanterRare Vintage 1972 Texas A&m Aggie Football Mascot Ceramic Mccormick Decanter