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VICTORIAN

The start of the Victorian era saw the removal of the Excise tax on glass, where glass was taxed by its weigth at the mouth of the furnace. This tax had the effect of making heavy glass more expensive and consequently glass produced before 1845 tended to be thinner and less heavily cut. Cutting glass was effectively cutting away glass that had already had tax paid on it. Free from the constraints of the glass tax, initially the glass industry went into overdrive producing heavy glass with deep cutting.

In a push back against what was seen as the artificiality of heavy cut glass, art movements such as Arts & Crafts, Aesthetic and Art Noveau went completely the other way, eschewing cutting for thinly blown glass where form was all. For decanters the Victorian era if one of extremes and innovation with heavy cut glass and thinly blown and trailed glass. To assit with identification, I have created a separate section in the website for the glass from these art movements.

In the traditional world of glass collecting, decanters are all pre-1830, and Victorian is seen as vulgar. Look through what I have included here and decide for yourselves. If you are looking for a decanter to use at home, there are bargains to be had in the Victorian era, and the balance of quality, practicality and cost, is definitely on the buyers side.

Decanters

This is a shaft and globe shaped decanter, in uranium green. The body is cut with geometric shapes with enclosing printies, panel cut shoulders and the neck has a single applied ring at the base and is slice cut along its length. The stopper is a blown ball vertically slice cut and a flat cut top. Probably made in the 1840s or 50s.

Shaft and globe or onion shaped decanters were resurrected as a form from the mid-18th century in the Victorian period and most people now consider this to be a typical shape for the Victorian period. This shape of decanter is not that practical to use. Althought they can be wide and use plenty of table space the rounded bottoms may them slightly less stable than flat bottomed decantners. Further the necks are long and narrow in comparison to the body making them difficult to clean all the way out to the sides.

This colour is known as uranium green as it is actually made by adding uranium minerals to the glass in the furnace. Bright yellow and green uranium glass will glow in ultraviolet light, but are not particularly radio active.

Height: 8.75 inches

Width: 3.5 inches

This is a fancy shaped decanter. The body of the decanter has two rows of cut lens with vertical lines cut between them, and panel cut shoulders. The neck has a solid downward frill about the base and vertical slice cutting the length of the neck. The stopper is hollow flat cut vertical romboid coming to an oblick point. Probably made in the 1840s or 50s.

This heavy decanter is typical of the early Victorian decanters that were made once the tax on glass by weight was removed. Some people consider these decanters to have no artistic merit, but they are good solid practical decanters that should sit well on anyones table.

Fancy shape is a term coined to describe decanters with this kind of frill near the base of the neck. At the time it must have been considered fancy.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 313 & 330

Height: 11 inches

Width: 4 inches

This is a shaft and globe shaped decanter, with a blown ovoid stopper. It has no cutting and some simple leaf type motifs etched on the body. Probably late 19th Century.

In terms of buying antique decanters, this one is pretty close to the bottom of the pile, being thinly and crudely made for the lowest expense. The marks you can see on the neck are not etching but from faults during manufacture. The step in shape near the base that gives an impression of a foot is there to allow a gadget to grip the bottom of the decanter in manufacture and thus avoid the need to use a pontil that adds to the manufacturing process. There is no cutting and polishing involved in the making of this decanter.

Whilst I have been fairly derogatory about the qualities of this decanter, to me it still has historic value. As crudely made as this is, someone felt the need or compulsion to have some form of decanter on their table in order to make their place a home. Considering how thinly made it is, it is a survivor of probably 10s of not 100s of thousands that have long since bitten the dust and you don't actually see many like this.

A gagdet is the technical term used by glass makers to describe devices used to grip the bottom of glasses and decanters to obviate the need to use a pontil.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 378

Height: 12 inches

Width: 5 inches

This is a shaft and globe shaped decanter. The body is cut with one row of oval printies. The stopper is a blown ovoid with a single row of printies. Made late 1800s.

This decanter is one step up on the scale of quality from the previous one, so whilst this does have cutting, it is pretty minimalist.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 313

Height: 11 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a shaft and globe shaped decanter. The body is cut with three rows of oval printies, and the neck is scale cut along it's length. The stopper is a blown ball cut with panels and printies. Probably made 1850s to 70s.

This might be considered the typical Victorian decanter. Whilst these shaft and globe decanters were very popular, and this is a quality item that can be bought cheaply, there are issues with this design type. The practicality problem with these decanters is particularly apparent in this one; the neck is long with a thin throat, and the body is wide, consequently cleaning inside the body of the decanter is awkward. In the days when you had servants to take things away and clean them straight away this wasn't problem. So if you get one of these decanters and use it, remember clean it straight away as if anything drys out inside it will be difficult to shift afterwards.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 314

Height: 11 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a shaft and globe shaped decanter. The stopper is a blown ball. Probably made 1880s to 1900s.

The shaft and globe decanters I have been showing you here have been getting progressively better in quality. You may now be thinking what is he talking about, this one has no cutting at all. The think about cutting is that it can be used to hide a plethora of glass quality issues, but when you blow something as fine as this there must be no glass quality issues or they will be immediately apparent.

if you compare this decanter to the first shaft and globe decanter in this sequence, they are both finely blown, but the similarity ends there. That decanter as some serious quality issues, most are not really that visible in the picture but the most obvious is the scuff marks in the glass of the neck of the decanter. That is not surface dirt that is a problem with manufacture.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 314

Height: 11 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a bell shaped decanter, with a stopper that reflects the shape inversely. It has thick vertical moulded ribs to the body and stopper. It also has notches cut out of the ribs on the body and panels cut into the shoulders. Probably made in the 1850s or 60s.

These bell shaped ribbed decanters are relatively common and must have been very popular. This is of superior quality to most in that it is heavier and also has some additional cutting.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 401

Height: 13 inches

Width: 3.5 inches

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This is a bell shaped decanter, with a stopper that reflects the shape inversely. It has thick vertical moulded ribs to the body and stopper. Probably made in the 1850s or 60s.

From a bell shaped ribbed decanter point of view this one is at the other end of the quality spectrum from the previous one. Not only is it a smaller decanter the moulding and general quality of it is not at good. The large piece of frit that is visible in the middle of the body says something about the quality control in it's manufacture.

Frit is either unmelted glass material such as sand, or general bits of rubbish, such as soot or bits of furnace wall, that have got into the glass mix. In early glass making frit is a more frequent occurrance, by the time you get into the Victorian era, it is usually a sign of poor quality.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 401

Height: 12 inches

Width: 4 inches

These are gothic bludgeon decanters, cut with V's and printies to the body, panel cut shoulders, a thick bordered neck ring, and ring of printies on the neck. They also has tall panel cut hollow spire stopper. Made circa. 1850-60s

Bludgeon turns out to be a apt name as it's very heavy. It has real Gothic appeal and for the patient sets can be made as they must have really churned them out at the time. For the less patient harlequin sets would be easy to form.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 313

Height: 13.5 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a gothic bludgeon decanter, cut with V's and printies to the body, panel cut shoulders, a thick neck ring, and ring of printies on the neck. It also has tall panel cut hollow spire stopper. Made circa. 1850-60s

This decanter is probably from the same manufacturer as the decanters above. Whilst there are plenty of this type of decanter around, there are slight variations, so it is possible to make up sets of them but you need to remember carefully what you are looking for as the variations differences are not large but are obvious when you put decanters next to each other.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 313

Height: 13.5 inches

Width: 4.5 inches

This is a bottle shaped decanter with columns of lens cut in the body, cross hatched cutting to shoulder, slices and diamond scales cut into the neck. It also has a frilled pouring lip and tall cut stopper. Made circa 1850-60.

Tall thin bottle shaped decanters such as this one are not very stable on the table and were made to fit into silver or silver plate stands. These must have been made for people that trusted their servants as you can't lock the stands to prevent pilfering as you can on a tantalus.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 332

Height: 13 inches

Width: 3 inches

This is a bottle shaped decanter with a row large printies cut in the body, cross hatched cutting to shoulder, and diamond scales cut into the neck. The stopper is cut to match the cross hatching on the shoulder of the decanter and is shaped like ball with a spire rising from it. Made circa 1850-60.

The stoppers with spires rising from them have been desribed as a transitional shape in many books I have read, however, I look at them as a perfectly valid shape in themselves. As with the previous decanter this was made to fit in a silver or silver plate stand.

Reference: The Decanter, Andy McConnell, page 332

Height: 13.25 inches

Width: 3 inches

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