The Decanter, An Illustrated History

Decanter-1815 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. This talk places 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 talks:

‘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’.

Decanter-1960 ‘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.