Description and History of Finest lead crystal tableware
While trying to find the definition of decanters, we have found many good answers, these are probably the best:
"Basically, it’s to aerate your wine and avoid sediment in the bottle. OK, great, what does that mean…well, just as a wine “opens up" in your glass, it would also do that in a decanter. If you pour the entire bottle in the decanter you give all the wine a chance to open up and breathe, get oxygen and really come to life. For older bottles, you can slowly pour the wine into it to avoid sediment." http://wine.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Wine_Decanters
"As delicious as red wines can be, they all share one condition -- sedimentation. As red wines age, crystals of potassium bitartrate form in the liquid and eventually settle to the bottom. This can cause vintage red wines to taste bitter and prevent younger red wines from reaching their fullest flavor potential. The solution to this problem lies in a vessel called a decanter.
A decanter does not address the sedimentation problem directly. Instead, it receives the clarified wine after the contents have been carefully and slowly poured from the original bottle. A wine enthusiast will start the decanting process by unsealing a red wine held in storage. Traditionally, a candle is lit for low-level illumination. The original bottle's neck is positioned in front of the flame in order for the pourer to see the darker sediments.
The decanter itself is placed under the lip of the bottle to receive the clarified wine. Once the majority of the red wine has been poured into the decanter, it is stoppered to prevent spillage. A small portion of the wine remains in the original bottle along with the insoluble crystals and sediments. Some may choose to leave the decanter unstoppered for a time, especially if the wine is relatively young.
A decanter's appeal is not always in its function, but often in its form. A decanter is quite often carved from lead crystal or other decorative glass. The neck is usually narrow and tall, which gives the decanter a certain elegance and fragility. A quality bar set with a wine service should always feature a decanter and red wine glasses.
Many wine enthusiasts will not use a crystaldecanter until the very day a vintage red wine is due to be opened. A crystaldecanter is not necessarily suited for long-term storage of wine, but rather as a receptacle for wine served during a dinner or other event. A newer red wine intended for table use may benefit from the aeration created during decanting, but experts say swirling the wine in a proper glass will provide more aeration. A crystaldecanter allows other flavors to blossom within the wine, which some wine experts call allowing the wine to 'breathe'." http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-decanter.htm
“Concerne les vins rouges. Opération consistant a verser le vin de sa bouteille d"origine dans une carafe afin d'amplifier et stimuler le bouquet. Un vin parfaitement oxygéné s'ouvre au nez, ses arômes se développent, le fruité s'exprime et ses tannins s'arrondissent." www.vitis.org/LEXIQUE.html
UNUSUAL GLASS DECANTER TYPES
Whisky decanters are usually square shaped glass or crystal flasks designed to hold decanted whisky, scotch, or bourbon and to be used as server. The Gaelic name of whisky, visgebeatha, was progressively developing to usky, then whisky.
Scotch was unpalatable to outsiders more familiar with sweeter brandies, until Lowlanders devised a crude continuous distillation process in the mid-8th century. Their mild, cheaper spirit was blended with pungent Highland malts to create a drink not far removed from today’s whiskies. Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey consumption began to increase rapidly internationally when French cognac vineyards were destroyed by phylloxera around the mid-1860s. Square bottomed bottles, have the greatest volume in the smallest space. Plain, square-sectioned, dip-moulded bottles were popular in Europe in the 17th century. The rising demand for whisky made the glass decanters become heavier, wider, shorter and the pourer more pronounced. By the mid-19th century the classic form of whisky decanter was developed. Whisky decanters" appeared in many shapes. Mechanically blown squares are the most common, cut with diamonds, hobnail or cane-cut pattern. Cane cutting was named after its resemblance to the pattern of seat caning, and is also often referred to as ‘chair bottom’. Thistle flower-shaped versions with matching stoppers probably first appeared in the beginning of the 20th century. Square spirit decanters have been the first to be fitted with faceted ball stoppers, usually with seventy-two facets, each one polished from a moulded blank. The ancient practice of grouping squares in boxes was maintained in the late l9th century by the wooden or metal-framed locking tantalus containing three decanters or perfume bottles. Tantalus frames were generally made of hard wood with silver or plated mounts. Luxury boxed versions held decanters and a set of glasses that emerged as the lid was opened.
A claret jugs is usually a large bottle with narrow mouth made of lead crystal or simple soda-lime glass suitable for serving wine often decorated with hand-cut patterns like carved animalistic motifs.
Wine-serving glass jugs some mounted in precious metals decorated with gems, were already popular a couple of hundred years ago. As the price of table glass began to decrease and increasing availability of silver from the beginning of Victorian period resulted in the appearance of the metal-mounted glass claret jugs.
By the end of the 19th century the prestige of the finest mounted jugs drew the attention of designers, silversmiths and glassmakers like Fabergé, Tiffany, Daum and Gallé.
Gold and silver-mounted rock crystaljugs were widely popular in England.
Many silversmiths were soon producing variations, using clear, frosted and coloured glass jugs blanks cut in the most striking and fashionable forms. The glassware used for silver-mounted claret jugs was often of the highest quality. These jugs were often decorated with the most elaborate and expensive techniques, including casing, ‘rock crystal’ engraving, cameo, etc. reflecting latest fashion.
Mounted jugs moulded in the shape of wild animals rank amongst the most striking of claret jugs. The idea was not entirely original; gin and schnapps bottles in animal forms had been produced since the Middle Ages. London silversmith Crichton’s first animal jug, an owl was followed by at least fifteen others among them walrus, duck, drake, eagle, parrot, crow, dodo, carp, otter, bull, penguin, monkey, pheasant, cockatoo and crocodile.
Amongst the finest of the silver mounted claret jugs was a koy carp, with a silver mount by Carl Fabergé and a ‘rock crystal’ glass. John Northwood mentions four examples in his book, a fish and three birds. These jugs and similar articles with shaped bodies in the form of a bird, principally, although some were made with animal or fish forms proved to be quite popular. Other claret jugs were decorated with a series of cameo carved animalistic motifs.
Of course, the mounted jug’s popularity caused the appearance of numerous cheap imitations with plated base-metal mounts, usually manufactured in Bohemia and Germany.
Carafes are decorative beverage containers typically with wide mouth and without a stopper.
The word carafe comes from the Arabic gbarafa, meaning drinking pot. Carafes usually hold wine for immediate consumption in homes, taverns, clubs, restaurants and palaces, and can be identified by abnormally wide mouths and an absence of stoppering marks. Whilst conjuring a short-necked sphere or onion-shape among Anglophones, English carafes have generally mirrored contemporary decanter shapes.
Carafes usually hold wine for immediate consumption in homes, taverns, clubs, restaurants and palaces, and are normally identified by abnormally wide mouths and an absence of stoppering marks. Georgian carafes were relatively common until certain antique dealers, finding them difficult to sell between 1950 and 1980, fitted them with stoppers to pass them off as decanters. The inner necks of decanters once fitted with polished-in stoppers usually have slight ridges, often detectable only by touch, where the stopper once sat.
Carafes enjoyed their heyday in the latter half of the 19th century as integral components of glass services, for the provision of water for public speakers and at the bedside. Carafe and tumbler duos were listed for example in a Waterford ledger in 1817. In the United States, carafes are ‘termed bar bottles’, whether intended for domestic or commercial use. Today, the most common antique carafes are thin walled, funnel-mouthed models, produced by Val St-Lambert amongst others, which wholesaled in Britain in l9l0.
Champagne decanters is defined as sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. US wine producers use the term 'sparkling wine' and indicate that it was made by the French 'methode champenoise'. Other countries that produce the same thing will call it by another name, such as "Sekt."
Good champagne is expensive not only because it`s made with premium grapes, but because it is made by the extraordinary method. Champagne is a type of wine indeed that is bottled before the fermentation process is complete, thereby acquiring a natural effervescence as opposed to an injection of gas after fermentation. Other countries that produce the same thing will call it by another name, such as "Sekt."
Champagne decanters first appeared around the middle of the eighteenth century. At that time more than half of champagne bottles exploded during maturation, requiring cellarmen to protective masks and suits to protect them from flying glass.
Eighteenth century champagnes contained sediment and therefore required decanting. Early ice or champagne decanters, around 1750, are rare and idiosyncratic.
Decanting champagne may appear unnecessary, but if done well, only a little sparkle is lost when poured carefully. Around that time it was widely accepted that bottles should be opened fifteen minutes before drinking to give room to the air and yet prevent too great evaporation of its spiritous parts. Until the beginning of the 19th century champagne had always suffered from a sediment of dead yeast cells that appeared in the bottom of the bottles. Later by storing bottles upside down, the sediment was ejected when the bottle was opened. It was then topped up and resealed. This process was called remuage.
The first bottle-shaped champagne decanters appeared in Richardsons’ 1847 pattern ledger, available in ruby and amber, captioned diamond moulded Champagne Bottle fluted necks. Versions dating around 1900 were clear with star-cut bases and silver mounts mimicking bottle-foil, and were often stoppered with airtight and, sometimes locking stoppers.
As modern champagne lacks sediment completely, champagne decanters are very rare and are used exclusively by connoisseurs. Champagne decanters are supposed to allow the flavour of the sparkling wine to develop and to raise its temperature above the point that numbs taste buds.
From 1860 pressed glass had slowly expelled cut-glass from fashionable homes. Huge quantities were produced for export and for those who had less wealthy people. Most Victorian service-ware featured localised cutting. At least some engraving appeared on most types of decanters, others included acid-etched patterns. Services were staple lines for Victorian glassworks, cut, engraved, etched and plain. A growing demand for plain table glass emerged and standard eighty-seven piece suites were offered, comprising port, sherry, claret, hock and champagne glasses, tumblers, quart and pint decanters and a claret decanter. Victorian luncheon sets consisted of a tray, a biscuit box, sherry glasses, ports and pint decanters, while cabaret or water sets matched a claret decanter or jug with a pair of goblets.
By the l870s previously common glass engraving was completely out of fashion. So were looking for original contours and colours, others preferred the new style of cutting: rich cut glass. Rich cut glass was the contemporary term for the combinations of deep-cut, crisp, complex motifs that first appeared at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876. Brilliant and rich terms are the most appropriate to describe this style, a pattern patented by American cutters.
The electrical cutting wheel was applied freehand with mathematical precision, small elements were used in extraordinary complexity to create an overall effect of great luxury.
Rich cutting is generally viewed as an American style, associated with the Hawkes companies, with several hundred employees. The rich cutting style spread quickly to Europe. In Bohemia for instance it is produced even today.
The rich cut style combined the traditional cuts, like prisms, diamonds, etc, in a deep density. Most distinctive motifs are the cane-cuts, hobstars and pinwheels. Cane cutting first appears on British glasses. The hobstar the evolved from the Brunswick star, as applied to the bases of some Bohemian decanters and wineglasses.
The pinwheel cut-glass motif, is distinguished by a series of tapering v-grooves, or vanes, radiating at 45° from a central circular motif, often a hobstar. The widespread appearance of vessels made from preformed figured blanks made the pin wheel go out of fashion. Until the beginning of the 20th, all cut-glass was derived from mouth-blown blanks. With figured blanks however, the basic shape and decoration were pressed and bought-in by cutting shops where variations to the preformed pattern were wheel finished.
Even with the electric wheel the entire pattern still had to be re-cut amid smoothed free-hand with ever finer wheels then hand or acid polished. The reason for the success of figured blanks was that they halved production costs. Rich cutting proved popular across Europe. American pieces are distinguished by curved mitres, hobstars and pinwheel in combination with other geometric patterns introduced at the end of the 19th century.
The ‘Russian’ was one of the most popular rich cut glass patterns. Its designer remains unknown. Based on a diagonal axis with multi-mitred central diamonds, English and American makers both produced deep and shallow versions. Rich cutting helped to bring back cut-glass for those seeking status symbols.
At the beginning of the 20th century French, Belgian and, most notably, Bohemian table glass was ascendant. The consistency, ingenuity, quantity and diversity of Bohemian table glass have been unrivalled all around the world of glassmaking. Bohemians have reinvented and copied the entire craft of glass decorating and colouring techniques. Bohemiancrystal from low-quality cheap crystalwares to masterpieces for kings and politicians, have been sold globally. Some vessels were exported finished, others as blanks to be decorated to later, often by Bohemian artisans. Actually most of the world’s glassmaking centres applied Bohemian craftsmen.
The Bohemian region had everything that is needed for fine crystal glassmaking: fine sand, clay and furnace wood. Bohemian glassmaking began to boon from the mid-l9th century and is attributable to the increased demand for fine luxury crystalware from the Habsburg empire’s prosperous mercantile classes. Glassmaking schools were founded in various Bohemian towns (Kamenicky Senov in 1838 and Novy Bor in 1870). Josef Lobmeyr and Ludwig Moser had probably the largest influence on Bohemian glass.
Lobmeyr was inspired by the Biedermeier period and Rococo, Classical and Renaissance revivals. Soon the company received imperial commissions and the real success came from 1859 a period that was hallmarked by his son, Ludwig. Lobmeyr produced mostly tablewares pokals, and Römers, commonly in green or amber colors. Lobmeyr’s designers, developed a vast range of fine quality clear crystal and coloured Bohemian table and art glass that was recognized worldwide.
Ludwig Moser was another reknown crystal maker who contributed to the fame Bohemian glass, making and decorating some of the world’s finest and most distinctive tableware. The quality of Moser glass was widely recognised and acquired by Europe’s royal and noble families. Moser introduced the new styles, producing floral engraved and cased effects alongside its more traditional tablewares.
French glass decanters, carafes, mostly appeared after the Napoleonic Wars. France’s most distinguished l9th century maker of table glass was Baccarat. The works was founded at Baccarat on the River Meuthe in Lorraine in 1765. Baccarat was actually bought by d’Artigues, a former director at Saint-Louis, previous owner of Voneche works. After the acquisition of Baccarat, d’Artigues changed production from soda to crystal.
The company Baccarat produced amongst others ‘moule en plein’ wares that resemble to rock crystal and agate and opaline glass, mostly in Neo-Classical style.
Grace to high quality and design standards, Baccarat was successful in surviving the economic depressions from the 1830 and 1848 revolutions and the Prussian War between 1870 and 71. Baccarat produced that time fashionable Greek revival and Oriental-inspired engraved glass, during the l860-80s. The company also produced lighting glass and monolithic pieces, mainly for Russian customers. Baccarat still exists and is still producing above average quality crystalware spreading the fame of fine French crystal.
After 1918, with many of its glass craftsmen lost to the war, France turned to moulding and pressing. The 1925 Arts Décoratifs exhibition in Paris formalised and gave a name to the emerging Art Deco style that dominated international design until 1939, dominated by Swedish table glass, which proved highly influential on the world’s fine glassmakers.
Bored with British crystal the world’s sophisticated customers turned to more interesting designs from France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria and Sweden.
In 1924 a critic wrote about Swedish glass: ‘Who could resist the charm of these airy pieces. seemingly conjured up with playful ease? Gaining in international repute, Hald and Gate’s designs reflected the mood of the times.
As elsewhere, the designers and makers of Swedish table glass faced an immutable contradiction: though they espoused egalitarian principles, the rich provided their market. As Ostergard observed: ‘Even simple stemware promoted as “inexpensive" was not for those of limited means. Few lower income families had the means or the need to purchase a variety of wineglasses, champagne flutes, aperitif glasses ... they were created for those whose lifestyles required them’.
As far as British glass of that time is concerned the Whitefriars product range included scores of new decanters, with thirty illustrated in its 1938 catalogue alone. Less traditional than previously, the company’s designs featured a wide range of tints and effects, including ribbing, thread and ribbon-trailing. bubbles, streaking, denting, and diamond and pea-moulding, as well as cutting and engraving.
Stuart Crystal’s early 20th century product range covered hundreds of enamelled, cut, engraved and etched designs. Led into the 1930s by the aesthetically aware Geoffrey Stuart and Ludwig ‘Lu’ Kuy, its chief designer between 1918 and 1937 most of the company’s six hundred vivid enamel designs were introduced between 1928 and 1931 with many remaining in production for years. Pre-1939, the firm’s enamelling was applied manually within a transferred outline, and bore the ‘Stuart’ add mark introducedin 1927.
Whilst Kny and Stuart both used bold red, orange, yellow. green and blue, Kny’s traditional flowers, birds, fruit, butterflies, fish, spiders and fighting cocks, gave way to Stuart’s dynamic geometric patterns, triangles, spots, chevrons and zig-zags often complemented by add etching or sandblasting.
Hunting and riding scenes and farmyard animals appeared on a wide range of European glassware including decanters in the 1920s and 1930s. Confusingly both Stuart and Royal Brierley produced versions, the most distinctive being Brierley’s horseshoe-shaped spirit decanter with a fox-head stopper, designed by Will Capewell which retailed for 50s in 1935.
Yet for all the effort dedicated to improving British glass designs few compare positively with equivalent work by Lalique, Gallé, Baccarat, val St-Lambert, or even lesser known figures such as Curt Schlevogt.
In the 19th century, plain continental glass was imported into England, mostly from Belgium, to be cut, engraved or etched, and English-made glass cut in Ireland. Later, Stourbridge blanks were decorated in the United States and sold as ‘American’. However, British glass usually contained a high lead content, whereas continental makers concentrated on soda-based wares. Soda glass is distinctly lighter than lead-based metal but the only certain test is under ultra-violet light. Lead glass shows blue/purple under ultra-violet light whereas soda shines bright yellow.
Based on the books of:
Andy McConnell – The Decanter Published by the Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd.
Victor Arwas – Glass Art Nouveau, Art Deco Published by Abrams
Mark West - Antiques Checklisz – Glass Published by Mitchell Beazly