The Decanter, An Illustrated
The decanter occupies a unique position
in glass history. Though its name was not coined until
around 1700, the decanter has been the fount of wine
drinking for 2000 years, and it remained the principal
vessel in the repertoire of British table-glass for
centuries. These talks place the decanter within
glassmaking history, chart its stylistic evolution and
the life and times of its users.
The subject is so rich and covers such vast territory that
it is generally delivered as two or even three separate
‘The Decanter, Part 1’: Rome-1800. This deals with Roman
antecedents, the development of the robust ‘English
bottle’, Ravenscroft’s perfected formula for lead crystal,
1676, the earliest decanters and 18th century drinking and
dining rituals, both in taverns and the great houses.
‘The Decanter, Part 2’: 1800-present. This examines the
proliferation of styles, changes in etiquette that led to
the decanter becoming the iconic centrepiece of British
drinking and dining between 1770-1970. The talk also shows
how the decanter, its matching glasses, and indeed,
glassmaking itself, has developed since 1800.
The above two can also be delivered as a single talk: ‘The
Decanter, An Illustrated History’.
‘The 20th Century Decanter’. Whilst the
decanter began to fade from common usage during the
1960s, it generally remained the most expensive and
luxurious vessel in the glassmaker’s repertoire.
Examples were shaped by all the leading designers,
from Harry Powell at Whitefrairs, London, from the
turn-of-the-century to Frank Thrower for Dartington
into the 1980s. This talk examines the decanter from a
20th century glass perspective.