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    

Rare Giant Georgian English Blown Glass Three Ring Decanter Bottle Cut Stopper Blown 3 Mold Decanter Keene, Olive Green "attic" Condition Rare!!! Must SeeVintage Pyrex Aqua Turquoise Apple Tree Juice Pitcher Carafe Decanter 32 OzVintage Blenko Art Glass Sun Face Decanter #6218 Light Green 20.5" Tall (*)Antique Victorian Edwardian Oak Gaming Tantalus 3 Glass Decanters & Games Czech Bohemian Glass Ruby Cut To Clear Coin Dot Decanter Cordial Liquor Set YqzVintage Blenko Wayne Husted #561 Amberina Decanter With Stopper 22 1/2" TallAmerican Brilliant Cut Glass Crystal Antique Goose Neck Decanter Circa 1905 AbpMid Century Modern Tall Blue Glass Genie Bottle Decanter W/stopperAbp Cut Glass Crystal Decanter W/a Whiting Sterling StopperLarge Antique Chinese Export Silver Decanter & 3 Cups Glasses Yeching Tien TsinExtra Rare Wayne Husted Blenko Flask Decanter Bottle 14 1/2 Sandblast 1958-61 Hoffman Nebraska Football Decanter RareVintage Blenko Tangerine Glass Decanter & Stopper ~nice~Lct Favrile Liqueur Set | Tiffany Studios Decanter With Pinched Cordial GlassesAntique Georgian Marnier Enamel On Copper Decanter Label Tag Chain Bilston ?Antique C1850-1900 Victorian Cut Ruby Crystal Decanter * Best On EbayAntique 20thc German Solid Silver & Glass Pair Of Decanters, London C.1927Vintage Blenko Art Glass Green Decanter #6417 Slipper Stopper 16" Tall (*)Massive 20thc Spanish Solid Silver & Ruby Glass Novelty Decanter C.1950Waterford Crystal Footed Claret Decanter With Stopper Prestige Master CutterRare Antique George 3rd 1794 Hallmarked Silver Decanter Label = Hollands - GinVintage Bohemian Czech Cut To Clear Ruby Red Crystal Glass Decanter Cordial SetFostoria American Whiskey Decanter- Excellent- OsSet Of Four Antique Silver Decanter Labels Birmingham 1918 Ref 1129/1Vintage Antique Sterling Silver Pitcher Jug 11" 729 4 1/2 Pint DecanterStylish Asprey Solid Silver Bottle / Decanter Label For Port, Hallmarked 1967Czech Modernist Art Deco Decanter , Liqueur Bottle And 6 Glasses Karl PaldaSchafer Vater Germany Skeleton Shroud Figural Decanter Whiskey Bottle Brown 9.752 Blenko Decanters Aqua Blue & Red Husted Anderson Flame Stopper Mcm Vtg 50s 60s1983 Pacesetter Vodka Big Orange #2 Allis-chalmers Tractor Empty Decanter W/boxJack Daniels Old No.7 Maxwell House Decanter With Hang Tag - New ConditionC1830 Antique Boston & Sandwich Flint Glass Three Mold Decanter Shell & Ribs22" Tall Azure Blue Bubble Glass Decanter/ Genie Bottle Baccarat Crystal Louis Xiii De Remy Martin Cognac Decanter With BoxAmerican Brilliant Cut Glass Crystal Antique Triple Ring Neck Decanter 1900s AbpLot 1548 - Vintage Pair Of Cut Crystal Decanters - St. Louis France & AtlantisBaccarat Remy Martin King Louis Xiii 750ml Crystal Decanter BottleLot Of Crystal 2x Baccarat Vases, 1 Atlantis Decanter, 1 Vase 1 Pitcher FrancVintage Mid 20th Century Modern Blenko Amberina Glass DecanterAntique Georgian Silver Chilli Sauce Bottle Label Wine Decanter Phipps Robinson Dorothy Taylor Fenton Encore Miniature Decanter Set With Goblets Child GlassHold Howard Pottery1958 Whisky Decanter Bottle WhiskeyBaccarat French Clear Crystal 5.5" Decanter Bottle W/ Stopper3 Small 2" Antique French Crystal Perfume Bottles Decanters * Diecut Emb TokensStylish Asprey Solid Silver Bottle / Decanter Label For Sherry, Hallmarked 1967Lot 1547 - Vintage Crystal Cranberry Cut To Clear DecanterJim Beam Decanter - 1953 Series Corvette - White - #lw061 - Complete - Empty6 Stieff Williamsburg Sterling Liquor Decanter TagsMid Century Modern 27" Blenko Charcoal Gurgle Decanter / Vase W/ StopperTiffany & Co. Heavy Crystal Glass Atlas Carafe Bedside Decanter With Tumbler LidBunn Commercial 12 Cup Coffee Maker Vpr Series Decanter Easy Pour 2 Hot PlatesHarley-davidson Logo Glass Decanter Gift Set Bar And Shield H-d Barware1972 Vintage “hamm’s Bear” Decanter / Bottle Head – Hamm’s Beer Collectible6 Antique Bottle Decanter Cork Stoppers With Mother Of Pearl Labels - Ex MuseumWaterford Lismore Cryatal Whiskey Liquor Wine Decanter 10-3/4" 3 Lbs 3 Oz Mint Duncan Miller Ruby Glass Cordial DecanterDollhouse Miniatures Great Hand Blown Glass Decanter Very NiceLot 1552 - Vintage Pair Of Heavy Cut Crystal Decanters, 1 W/ Stieff Sterling Tag1964 Jim Beam I Dream Of Jeannie Decanter W/labels Excellent Nr