How to Research Antique Decanters

Written by mark saga
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Decanters, stylish containers for serving wine, have been produced for hundreds of years, and because of their beauty and assortment, are collected worldwide. The great variety of material and design makes researching them a challenge, but fortunately there are reference works that discuss them, professional appraisers, and one key resource online, the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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  1. 1

    Consult Decanters 1760-1930 by David Leigh, which follows the various styles in decanters between the Georgian period and the Art Deco style that emerged in the 1930s, encompassing lead crystal, silver and ceramics. Leigh is part of the Leigh Antiques of Oxford family that has focused on tableware for the last thirty years. This is a concise, handy guide, introducing the basics of collecting. It is available on for £3.20-$10.00.

  2. 2

    Look up your glassware in Decanters (2004), by Andy McConnell, a 575 page, authoritative guide to European glass decanters from 1650 to 1950, and it also covers American efforts in this art. Thousands of decanters are shown through drawings and photographs from museums and private collections. The changes in design over the years are covered, as are different patterns, and new social uses for the glassware. An extensive glossary names all common shapes and terms related to collecting. The author has long experience selling decanters, and writing about them in publications like Country Life. For the serious collector, only a few of these are available at averaging over £65.00 each.

  3. 3

    Consult a professional appraiser with years of experience in cut glass by using the list provided by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). The ASA makes sure that its appraisers have experience in their areas of expertise. Estate lawyers and businesses use the site to find experts. Fill in the chart under the Antique and Collectible Glass tab to find a professional in your region.

  4. 4

    Search the database of the Victoria and Albert Museum, located in London, England, which has one of the largest collections of decanters in the world, from all areas of the world, along with photographs and descriptions available online. Searches can be narrowed by quality of photograph, or no photograph. Descriptions include details about materials, maker, style and period, even what inspired the artist or manufacturer, and there are additional details about exhibitions, so collectors can visit the museum itself to see the pieces in person.

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