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 1930s Pla-pal Radio With Liquor Cabinets With DecantersLouis Xiii Remy Martin Grande Champagne Cognac Baccarat Cristal Bottle DecanterVintage Waterford Crystal Cut Glass Ship's Captain Liquor Decanter W/stopper YqzBeautiful Cut Glass Whiskey Decanter With StopperAntique 18th C Free Blown Continental Glass Floral Etched Dutch Decanter YqzAntique Solid Silver & Blown Glass Whiskey Noggin Jug Miniature Decanter 1905Northwood Grape & Cable Antique Carnival Glass Whiskey Decanter~purple~superb!Antique Signed Japanese Sterling Silver Sake Wine Ewer Pitcher Decanter JapanSusanna Barker Antique Georgian Silver Decanter Label /ticket /tag Port Hm 1792American Brilliant Cut Glass Crystal Antique Rare Tuthill Decanter 1900s AbpFor Asprey Royal Brierly Ship Decanter Susanna Barker Antique Georgian Silver Decanter Label /ticket Madeira Hm 1792Waterford Lismore Diamond Round DecanterSigned Waterford Deep Cut Irish Crystal Ringed Neck Whisky Wine Decanter Nr RarAntique Georgian Silver Decanter Label Ticket Soy Sauce Bottle John Reily C1810 Vtg Signed Tiffany & Co. Crystal Glass Liquor Whiskey Decanter W/ Stopper Nr GrmFabulous Antique Sterling Silver Russian 84 Marked DecanterConcorde[ba]-boxed Pair Of Hallmarked Silver Decanter Labels-brandy & Port-1986Waterford Crystal DecanterConcorde[ba]-boxed Pair Of Hallmarked Silver Decanter Labels-whisky & Gin-1986Sterling Silver - Antique Amethyst (opens!) 12.1g - Perfume Decanter Ly0542Crystal Ships Decanter Lismore PatternVintage Jim Beam Decanter Chevrolet Camaro Ss Pace Car 1969 Indianapolis 500Concorde[ba]-boxed Pair Of Hallmarked Silver Decanter Labels-bourbon & Rye-1986Stunning 20thc Austrian Silver Plated & Glass Novelty Bear Decanter C.1950X Rare 60s Murano Gino Cenedese / Venini Design Art Glass Decanter & StopperVintage Blenko Art Glass DecanterRare Edinburgh Cut Crystal Glass Thistle Round Cordial Decanter Scotland Nr Baccarat Crystal Harmonie Round Decanter & Stopper Excellent ConditionOld Rip Van Winkle 23yr Bourbon Glencairn Crystal Decanter Set (pappy)Vintage Jack Daniels Old No.7 Riverboat Captain's Decanter Bottle W StopperWaterford Cut Crystal Lismore Ships Decanter 10 1/4" Heavy, Signed Ec1974 Michigan Wolverine Mccormick Whiskey Decanter BottleColonial Williamsburg Blenko Blown Glass Bottles Decanters Amethyst And BlueTiffany & Co Crystal DecanterVintage - Silver Bottle Decanter Label - Port - Hallmarked.Rare Limited Edition Miniature Secretariat Horse Kentucky Derby Decanter BottleHennessy Gold Barrel-shaped "bras D'or" Cognac Decanter Bottle Vtg 1970 Rare! Rare Cambridge Glass Farber Bros. Decanter Set In Case No Reserve Must See!!Signed Venini Unusual Murano Vase Decanter & Stopper From Private CollectionVintage Estate Find Baccarat Decanter Acid Marked No Stopper - NrPair Of Antique 19th C Green Glass Decanters With Silver Tops Birmingham 1840Waterford Deep Cut Irish Crystal Square Whisky Spirit Bar Liquor Decanter Rar NrAntique Glendour Somerville Whisky Advertising Glass Decanter Leith BottleVintage Amethyst Purple Glass Vases Decanter Pitcher Some Hand Blown 6 PiecesLarge Waterford Cocktail Shaker/decanter Glandore Pattern 10.5" Tall With LidSterling Silver Decanter Label For Port Waterford Crystal Decanter + 6 Lismore Cordial Pieces ( Liqueur Glasses) Rare!Vintage Nib Waterford Crystal Spirit Decanter I Dream Of Jeannie Jim Beam Bottle Smoke Color Glass Decanter Tv Show Item 1964 Bohemia Czech Cranberry Red Gold Gilt Wine Decanter Shotglass Cordial & Tray S/mVintage Glass Decanter Wine Stopper Bar Liquor Whiskey Crystal Like Bottle X Rare 33cm Murano Venini Empoli Art Glass Claret Decanter Jug Vase Dark PurpleVintage Blown Glass Blenko Stopper For Decanter Yellow Stopper OnlyMccormick Elvis Presley 750 Mil "elvis Hound Dog" Full Size DecanterMccormick Elvis Presley 750 Mil "gates Of Graceland" Full Size DecanterVintage Glass Pink Peach Genie Decanter Vase Bottle Vintage 1973 Hamm's Beer Bear Decanter - Excellent ConditionJim Beam Volkswagon Beetle DecanterOdd George Iii Cruet Decanter. Facet Cut Glass With Silver Handle