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    

19thc Antique Bohemian Ruby Cut To Clear Glass Cruets Decanters Cologne BottlesAntique Victorian Edwardian Silver Plated Oak Tantalus 3 Cut Glass Decanters 2 Antique 19thc Victorian Cut-to-clear Colorful Bohemian Liquor Decanter BottlesRare Blown 3 Mold Geometric Pint Decanter Gii-24 Open Pontil'83 Allis Chalmers Pacesetter # 4 Big Orange Tractor Decanter Bottle CollectibleSuperb Osiris Art Nouveau Pewter Green Glass Claret Wine Jug Decanter JugendstilTall Stunning Flavio Poli Seguso Murano Glass Decanter C1950 Venini Era SommersoVintage Mid Century Modern Blenko Art Glass Twisted Decanter 5825 Tangerine 7pc. Vintage Bohemian Czech Glass Cherub & Horse Gilt Ruby Red Wine Decanter SetFab Vintage 1950's Purple Blenko Glass Husted 5427 Triple Gurgle Decanter BottleVintage Baccarat Crystal Remy Martin Louis Xiii Cognac Bottle Decanter Excellnt Pottery Barn Wiskey Barrel Decanter Carafe7pc. Vintage Bohemian Czech Glass Cherub & Horse Gilt Ruby Red Wine Decanter SetRare Antique 18th C Wine Ships Decanter Bell Bottle Dutch English Glass FlaskAntique Signed Japanese Sterling Silver Sake Wine Ewer Pitcher Decanter JapanBaccarat Crystal Canterbury Decanter /w Stopper: Exquisite Quality! No Reserve!Heavy Sterling Silver Overlay Glass Cordial Liqueur Bottle Decanter 6 GlassesHandcrafted Dollhouse Miniature Clear Glass Decanter Ferenc AlbertBlenko Peacock Blue& Cobalt Blue Stopper, Hustead Hand Blown Genie Decanter 12" 1983 International Pacesetter # 2 Big Red Tractor Decanter Bottle CollectibleVintage Baccarat Crystal Remy Martin Cognac Louis Xiii Bottle Decanter StopperMonumental Presentation Civil War Veterans Gar Medal Canteen Flask Decanter 1890Waterford Crystal Gorgeous "lismore" Ships Decanter 495$ Retail...Estate Sale - Heisey Orchid Decanter - Pristine ConditionLarge Antique 19thc Hand Blown & Cut Flint Flip Glass & Decanter BottleAntique Baccarat Crystal Talence Decanter. Circa Late 19th Century.1983 Ford Pacesetter # 3 Big Blue Tractor Decanter Bottle Collectible1983 Massey Fergusen Pacesetter # 6 "mf" Tractor Decanter Bottle Collectible Blenko 920 Turquoise/teal Decanter 16 1/4"Perfect Waterford 11" Tall Fine Irish Crystal Liquor Decanter W/ Stopper - AlanaVintage Japanese Chinese? Sterling Silver Overlay Bottle Decanter Bamboo Solid Silver Whiskey Decanter Label Birmingham 19731983 John Deere Pacesetter #1 Green Machine Tractor Decanter Bottle CollectibleRiedel Black Tie Face To Face Decanter No Reserve !!Vintage Royal Doulton Captain Cook Character Decanter Jug Beam WhiskeyVintage 1964 Jim Beam I Dream Of Jeannie Genie Smoke Glass Bottle Decanter1983 Case Pacesetter # 5 Case Tractor Decanter Bottle Collectible AgricultureC.1830 Boston & Sandwich Glass Blown Molded Bullseye Sunburst Decanter AntiqueRemy Martin Louis Xiii Baccarat Crystal Decanter Bottle Stopper Cognac FranceFrankoma Ivory #84 1-qt Thumbprint DecanterSuperb Orginal Art Deco Glass Decanter Set & 6 Glasses, C1920-30, Shots /liqueurFine 19th Century Large French Art Nouveau Brass Parrot Head Decanter TopAntique King George Iii Mark Sterling Silver Liquor Bottle Decanter Labels Tags Solid Silver Port Decanter Label Hallmarked Drinks Label Lsu Tigers Ncaa Football Helmet Working Music Porcelain Whiskey Decanter VintageElvis Presley "sgt. Elvis- Mccormick Distillery Company Musical Decanter W/ BoxAntique Georgian Facet Prism Cut 3 Ring Glass Decanter & Mushroom Stopper 1820'sRare Mid Century Old Grand Dad Genie Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Decanter American Brilliant Cut Glass Crystal Antique Decanter Circa 1910 AbpMuhammad Ali Signed 1981 Porcelain Figurine Decanter Bottle Auto 13" Jsa Loa Vintage Royal Doulton Old Mr Turveydrop Character Decanter Jug Beam WhiskeyVintage Silver "burgundy" Decanter Label London 1962 Ref 1127/1Rowland Ward Queens Lace Big Game Wild Life Safari Series Crystal Decanter1972 Texas Longhorns College Football Mascot Bevo Original Mccormick DecanterStunning Ships Decanter Jug/pitcher Deco Style Fh Epns LidVintage Mcm Italian Guildcraft Cased Glass Turquoise Genie Bottle DecanterWaterford Crystal Decanter With Stopper Wat 10Solid Silver Sherry Decanter Label Hallmarked Drinks Label Jim Beam 1957 White Corvette Decanter Super Nice W/ Box BeautifulPair Of Antique Solid Silver Decanter Labels By Deakin & Francis,birmingham-1938