Books about Decanters and Antique Glass


I have listed the books here in cronological order. Just because a reference book is old that doesn't mean it is useless. There are some great older books that are real value reference material. Also many older books have a section at the back on modern glass. These modern glass sections may have been contemporary when they were written but they are great historical references now. I have to admit though, the quality of some of the modern books is great.

Title Author Publisher Age Comments
Early English Glass Daisy Wilmer The Bazaar Exchange & Mart 1911 This is a great little book written by a collector full of pictures from her and husbands collections and the collections of others. There aren't that many pictures of decanters, but as a history of glass collecting 100 years age, including discussions on prices, it's great. The adverts for glass dealers of the day are pretty cool. Enthusiasm oozes off the pages.
English Table Glass Perry Bates B.T.Batsford 1913 This man pretty much says decanters are boring. Only 3 decanters are pictured and 2 of those have the tops smashed off. My copy is leather bound and looks good on the shelf.
English and Irish Glass W A Thorpe The Medici Society 1927 A well illustrated book with a scattering of decanter illustrations. W A Thorpe was the curator of the V&A so probably as trustworthy as you are going to get for an older book.
Old Glass Beautiful Thomas Rohan Mills & Boon 1930 Don't buy this book for knowledge, buy it for the flowery narrative, and fancy thick paper.
Old Glass and How to Collect It J. Sydney Lewis T Werner Luarie Ltd. 1934 Some illustrations of Irish decanters I haven't seen elsewhere.
English Glass W A Thorpe A & C Black 1935 A good history of glass from the Assistant Keeper of the V&A. Not so good for decanter collectors.
Old Glass European and American N. Hudson Moore Hodder and Stoughton 1935 An interesting book as he talks about various people he consulted whilst making the book and one is Elizabeth Graydon-Stannus, who tells him there are lots of fake Irish glass about from the Continent whilst in fact her glass company was producing fakes. Has a good section on early American glass.
English Glass W. B. Honey V & A Museum 1946 This is really a V&A Museum souvenir, so flip to page 45 in the modern glass section there is a Webb Corbett decanter I haven't seen illustrated elsewhere. You're done.
Glass W. B. Honey V & A Museum 1948 A good historical book, unfortunately he seems not have strayed far the usual V&A examples that are used by other books.
The Manufacture of Glass L M Angus-Butterworth Pitman 1948 If you want to know about UK glass production in 1948 this book is for you. Some contemporary pictures that include decanters.
Chats on Old Glass R A Robertson Benn 1954 One of the first books on antique glass I bought. A totally charming book, but not much help to the decanter collector.
From Broad-Glass to Cut Crystal D R Guttery Leonard Hill 1956 A good history with lots of small details about those involved in the glass industry. The pieces of "modern" glass illustrated make it well worth it as a reference.
British Table and Ornamental Glass L M Angus-Butterworth Leonard Hill 1956 Lots of contemporary pictures of glass, including decanters. For some of this glass I haven't seen it illustrating in any other book. Lots of details of glass manufacturers from the time of writing of the book. Because it is an old book that is mainly about contemporary glass this is a good book to have today. Nice book.
English, Scottish and Irish Table Glass G. Bernard Hughes Bramhall House 1956 A good book with lots of well described decanter illustrations. Not having the detailed descriptions with the illustrations is a bit of pain. It does feel like not a lot of effort and research went into the illustrations. Having a page full of decanters and saying they are all first half of the 19th century feels lazy. Especially as one looks to be 18th century. It also stops at 1820, so it is really an old school collectors book.
English Glass for the Collector 1660-1860 G. Bernard Hughes Lutterworth Press 1958 Mr. Hughes strikes again, a dense pack of knowledge and illustrations. Good Book.
English Table Glass E M. Elville Country Life 1960 Originally published in 1951, the one I have was published in 1960 and is a revised version. There is a lot of museum quality glass in this book, but it does have some nice illustrated descriptions features, cutting patterns etc.. Also the way some of the illustrations are laid out is quite nicely done. Has some what might be considered modern glass from 1951. Althought the book is called English Table Glass, he obviously couldn't help himself as there are two and a half pages illustrating Irish decanters.
How to Identify English Drinking Glasses and Decanters 1680-1830 Douglas Ash G.Bell & Sons Ltd 1962 Good little book with pictures and explanatory diagrams. Unfortunately it does stop at 1830, which historically is where previous glass connoisseurs decided that the golden age glass antiques ended. Totally arbitrary as we know that the golden age of glass never ends.
The Country Life Book of Glass Frank Davis Country 1966 A very generic glass history book full of museum quality stuff.
English Glass Sydney Crompton Ward Lock 1967 Well illustrated book, with a good, illustrated, section on decanters.
Glass Philosophy and Method John Burton/td> Pitman 1967 This is a bit of a weird book. It's kind of "my travels with glass" mixed with "I can make glass things". When I say things I mean things. Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but this book doesn't stand up strong in the harsh daylight.
Old Glass O. N. Wilkinson Benn 1968 Don't start hunting this book down, it has all the standard history stuff in it, and all the usual museum stock photos you see elsewhere.
English and Irish Glass Geoffrey Wills Guinness Signatures 1968 A great book, as in addition to have having a chapter on decanters, decanters are used as examples in many other chapters. Also many of the illustrations are from dealers stock, auction houses and collections, so it's not the usual museum fodder you sometimes see.
Hallmarks of Antique Glass R. Wilkinson Richard Madley Ltd. 1968 A great book, must buy for any serious glass collector. Great value reference book, written by someone who has long experience of working in the glass industry and obviously loves it.
Investing in Georgian Glass w Lloyd T Werner Luarie Ltd. 1969 Gets to page 28 before getting to the matter in hand. Doesn't always date the items illustrated, frustrating.
Irish Glass Phelps Warren Faber 1970 Nerdvana for Irish glass collectors. A great book with lots of details and decanter illustrations. If you have any interest in Irish glass you must have this book as I haven't seen many of the illustrations elsewhere. What is especially nice are the collections of crappy bits of glass that belong to the author's collection. Forget all that museum crap, lets see what real people collect and see some of it identified, thank you very much.
Antique Glass for pleasure and investment Geoffrey Wills John Gifford 1970 This book goes completely off the deep end, showing things that are either not for sale or totally impractical to store or display unless you live in a mansion.
Antique Coloured Glass Keith Middlemas Ferndale 1971 Not a good book for decanter collectors, but if you want to go off the beaten path of plain old English glass this is a nicely illustrated book with a lot of continental old and art glass.
English Bottles & Decanters 1650-1900 Derek C Davis Letts 1972 A great little book for any decanter collector. Lots of well photographed decanters from private and local collections. There are a few dodgy stoppers, but who am I to talk. Well worth a punt. Also, I would like to point out that although Derek said this was English Bottles and Decanters, he couldn't help himself and sneaks a couple of Irish ones in for good measure.
Victorian Glass Betty o'Looney V & A Museum 1972 A nice souvenir from the V&A but not great if you wanted a bit more info than a few pictures.
Collecting Glass Norman W. Webber David & Charles 1972 It has a chapter on decanters, but don't expect revelations of knowledge in it. Some illustrations, but not well attributed, or dated.
English Drinking Glasses Ronald Gabriel Letts 1974 This has no decanters but it is from the same series of books as the slightly earlier Derek Davies one on decanters. It's going to be a cheap little book but it is a nicely illustrated reference and you can't go wrong buying it (if it's cheap).
A Background for Glass Collectors Sylvia Coppen-Gardner Pelham Books 1975 This is really a history book about glass making and is not really going to help you identify any pieces you encounter. It didn't particularly have any new revelations for me.
Glass Ruth Hurst Vose Ebury Press 1975 This is a book that has the works ordered by manufacturing technique. All I can say is that this is not a good way laying out a book such as this, as it has resulted in some very strange bedfellows rubbing up against each other. If you were looking for anything in particular you are not going to find it in a hurry, as nearly all glass is made using multiple techniques.
The Glass Collector Herbert Jenkins M Perceval 19?? Not much for the decanter collector.
An illustrated Dictionary of Glass Harold Newman Thames and Hudson 1977 Theoretically a great idea, in practice not so great. If you are going to read the whole thing it's quite good, but not so good if you really want to find something. When you collecting, so see something and want to know what it is, at that point you don't know the word you are looking for. He tried.
Irish Glass Dudley Westropp Alan Figgis 1978 The original Nerdvana for Irish glass collectors, this was originally printed in 1920, but I have the slightly expanded reprinted edition edited by Mary Boydell. A great book with lots of details and decanter illustrations. If you have any interest in Irish glass you must have this book as I haven't seen many of the illustrations elsewhere. It seems Dudley Westropp started that tradition of showing their own bits form their own collection, and I say, "good on you Dudley" for kicking off such a great tradition. Buy this version of the book as it has extras added by Mary Boydell.
The Art of Feat and Mystery H.W. Woodward Mark and Moody 1978 This is a book about Thomas Webb & Sons. Thomas Webb is so under represented in reference books, and I am afraid this slim volume of a book doesn't really take you forward. Way too slim, and far too few illustrations.
Historic Glass Ian Wolfenden Merseyside County Council 1979 Just a few decanters. One is marked Cork Glass Co. from the Graydon Stannus collection....Hmmmm. Google "Fake Irish Glass" for background.
Collecting Decanters Jane Hollingworth Studio Vista/Christie's 1980 This is published by Christie's and it shows. It's a good book if you have deep pockets. On the plus side the drawings to help identify/name features are very good. . I am also a little surprised at what she hasnít identified in some of the genres that have been included.
The Arthur Negus Guide to British Glass John Brooks Hamlyn 1981 Whilst this has Arthur Negus's name in the title it was written by John Brooks. In general a decent book with a section on decanters. My only criticism is that some of his dates seem a little off when compared to other books.
Decorative Vistorian Glass Cyril Manley Ward Lock 1981 The title is a lie as there is plenty of post 1900 glass in this book. This is not the type of reference book that is going to tell you everything you need to know about antique glass, but it does have lots of great illustrations and nuggets of information I have not seen elsewhere. This is illustrated from the authors collection, so it is not filled with museum pieces, but with what is acheivable by a long term collector. If you already have several glass reference books this one will fit in nicely.
Phaidon Guide to Glass Felice Melhman Phaidon 1982 A good book for general glass collecting, but not great for decanters. Also if I see another book with a picture of that Penrose Waterford decanter with stars on, I will out the writer as a lazy author.
Nineteenth Century British Glass Hugh Wakefield Faber & Faber 1982 A good title, it's a pity he stuck to museums to illustrate this book. There are some interesting decanters but you can see them illustrated in other books. A bit of a lazy book.
The Krug Collection of Glass Part IV Sotheby's Sotheby's 1983 If you want a glimpse of glass collecting by multi-millionaires then this is the book for you. Don't expect to see any of this stuff in your local antiques centre.
English Glassware to 1900 Charles Truman Victoria and Albert Museum 1984 The are a big museum so they must be able to do better than this. It's mainly the stock pictures that are used in other books. There is only one exciting page and that is the page of factory drawings from John Blades. If you see if for a pound, buy it for that page.
The Book of Wine Antiques Robin Butler and Gillian Walkling Antique Collectors Club 1986 If you have all the decanters you possibly want (not possible) and want to branch out into accessories then you need this book, as it has lots of boys toys to go with your decanters and make owning them a more enjoyable experience. To top it off it has some good stuff on decanters too.
Glass Signatures Trademarks and Trade Names Anne Geffken Pullin Wallace-Homestead 1986 A must have book for any serious glass collector. This is the most comprehensive guide I have seen to glass marks. Don't expect it to cover everything as I have found a few marks it didn't have that were in other books.
English Glass and the glass used in England c.400-1940 Roger Dodsworth Dudley Leisure Services 1987 If you are interested in British art deco glass then you must this book. It is not so much of a book but more of a big programme of exhibition at the Broadfield Glass Museum in Dudley. Lots of good references in this book too.
British Glass between the Wars Felice Melhman Phaidon 1982 A good book for general glass collecting, but not great for decanters.
A Beilby Odyssey James Rush Nelson & Saunders 1987 This not a book to help you buy decanters, it s a book to slaver over the contents of, it is glass collecting porn. You are never going to get any of this stuff at any reasonable price, it would be like winning the lottery, however it is a great book if you want to know the details of glass making in the 1700s. A well researched book written with an obvious love of the subject.
Glass Antiques Checklist Mark West Miller's 1994 For a small pocket book this quite good, with a nice little section on decanters. I wish it had attributed more of the pictures as there are some decanters not seen in other references.
British Glass 1800-1914 Charles Hajdamach Antique Collectors Club 1995 A really good book, as you would expect from the Antique Collectors Club. There are lots of original factory illustrations for designs and illustrated descriptions of various glass making techniques. The key problem is it tells you how much you don't know, you now know there are lots of books of factory line drawings of designs and you are desperate to know what is in them, or at least I am.
Five Thousand Years of Glass Hugh Tait British Museum Press 1995 If you are a decanter collector this is a useless book. If you like antique glass it's a great book. Hugh Tait has impeccable taste in selecting items as there is very little here I wouldn't want to grace my mantle piece, a part from a few massive pieces that wouldn't fit. Also the section at the back demonstrating the manufacturing techniques is great. Nice one Hugh.
Whitefriars Glass, The Art of James Powell & Sons Lesley Jackson Richard Dennis 1997 Sometimes you think; who cares about the writing, give me lots of pictures and tell me what things are. From a collecting point of view you can have all the flowery descriptions you like, but without pictures you might walk by a thing and not know what it is. This book supplies in spades and if you are a Whitefriars collector it is a must have book. I don't think all the main decanters produced by Whitefriars are in here as I have few that I know to be Whitefriars that are not in this book. See it buy it.
The Glass of John Walsh Walsh 1850-1951 Eric Reynolds Richard Dennis 1999 A great little book written by an enthusiast. If you don't have enough material just print the pages of every factory pattern book you can get your hands on. It works for me. My only criticism would be that either the book format is too small or you shouldn't have tried to cram 4 pattern book pages onto every book page, as the drawn pictures are tiny. Still a good book though.
Antique Glass John Sandon Antique Collectors Club 1999 I have to say I am dissappointed by this book. It is from the Antique Collectors Club "Starting to Collect Series". This is not a book for people starting to collect, this is a book for people with deep pockets. To me, starting to collect, for the vast majority of people, means they have a few spare pounds and would like some advice on buying something nice. For most of the stuff in here, it's really nice stuff but you are not realistic going to buy it unless you are attending high end auctions or going to fancy dealers, and even then you might not find it. John needed to get real.
Glass of the '20s & '30s Frankie Leibe Miller's 1999 Although this book doesn't have many decanter illustrations, it does have some I haven't seen elsewhere and they are well identified. The glass marks reference in the back is handy and it also has a couple I have not seen illustrated elsewhere. Handy book.
20th Century Factory Glass Lesley Jackson Rizzoli 2000 I am a fan of the Lesley Jackson Whitefriars book but I found this book frustrating. Visually it gives you a sniff of a lot of glass manufacturers. It could have done with being twice as thick and just had more pictures. It does have a load of decanter pictures I haven't seen else where. In this case more is really, more please.
A Wine Lovers Glasses, The A.C.Hubbard Jr. Collection Ward Lloyd Richard Dennis 2000 This book straddles a single mans collection. Take it from me it is nothing like my collection. This is a demonstration of what you can do with very deep pockets. There is some really nice glass though, and it looks to be well attributed.
Decanters 1760-1930 David Leigh Shire Books 2002 Shire Books are the purveyors of those slim cheap reference books you often find on stands near the entrance of antiques centres. I have quite a few of them and they are great little books and this one is no exception. David Leigh does the business for Shire with a well illustrated mix of the great and humble. Adds a few decanters I haven't seen illustrated elsewhere.
The Decanter Andy McConnell Antique Collectors Club 2004 Should be called The Decanter Bible. All decanter collectors should have this, but unfortunately it is out of print and hideously expensive. If you are a decanter geek you still have to get this book as it has lots of information not seen elsewhere and rather authoritatively squashes some of the assumptions of other books. If you can't afford this book, write to Mr.McConnell and tell him it needs a rerun, and whilst you are about it, ask him when he is going to do volume II.
Great British Wine Accessories 1550-1900 Robin Butler Brown & Brown 2009 This is really a book for people with deep pockets, however there are a few nearly affordable things in it. I think Robin has spread himself a bit too thinly with this book as even me, a lowly cheapskate collector, has spotted a few incorrect attributes amongst the decanters. This makes me wonder about the rest of the book.
Glass Making in Ireland John M. Hearne Irish Academic Press 2010 This is not a well illustrated book glass-wise, but if you are into the history of Irish glass making this is a great book. Also the reference section is really detailed, so you know this is a properly researched book.
Whitefriars Revisited 1935-1969 Chris Woolman Haybarn Glass 2016 Somewhere I have said that this site is based on the premise that, in this world, people want see a picture of something and have a description of what it is. Collectors are not interested in all those fancy words, they just want to know; what it is? This pamphlet does that, and it has some things not in the other Whitefriars books. So if you are a Whitefriars collector, contact Haybarn Glass and get your copy of it.
The Decanter Ancient to Modern Andy McConnell ACC Art Books 2018 Mr. McConnell finally came good and produced a monster book. I have about 100 glass books and I think this is the best. If you don't collect decanters you may not think so, but if you are a serious glass collector this is a reference you must have, as it is better illustrated than any other glass book I have. Like a said, what glass collectors need is illustrations and descriptions and this book has it in spades.