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Antique wine glasses & decanters: How to toast the New Year in style


Whether you're planning an elegant English-style party or a Mad-Men-themed vintage bash, antique wine glasses can be a charming touch to your New Year's toast.

Purveyors of fine wares are fortunate - a surprising amount of antique wine glasses survive to this day, varying from champagne flutes to goblets. Here’s what those in-the-know are filling their antique cocktail cabinets with.

Antique wine glasses

It was the Romans - as is often the case - who introduced pale green and blue-tinted drinking glasses towards the end of the 2nd century BC. But it wasn’t until the Venetians introduced their clear glass in the 15th century that glasses became a popular drinking vessel.

Many antique wine glasses for sale date back to the 18th and 19th century, when they were made in steady streams of ornately decorated wares. The 18th-century antique wine glasses are keenly sought after by collectors - especially rare and unusual examples. A big name is Beilby - an English glassworker who made enamelled glasses - which fetch between £1,000 to £50,000 today.

In Europe, antique wine glasses were commonly made in Saxony, Silesia, Bohemia and central Germany. Simple glasses from this period can value for £1,000 upwards for each piece. For fancier, more elaborately decorated antique wine glasses, auctioneers can bring the hammer down to six figure values.

Antique champagne glasses

When the subject of bubbly arises, glass shape is everything. In the 18th century, antique champagne glasses were generally shallow and broad-rimmed with stems - known as coupe glasses. They became flute-shaped in the 19th century, when artists at Imperial Glassworks in Russia began to experiment with champagne-specific designs. When browsing antique champagne glasses for sale, look for the glassmaker to identify its genuinity. Glassmaker marks books are invaluable when it comes to spotting a signature, symbol or trademark. Google can be just as helpful.

Antique decanters

There’s a certain pleasure in decanting wine into antique decanters, pondering its previous owners and the parties they once held. Antique decanters for sale are widely varied in style and decoration, ranging from 18th-century ‘Bristol’ blue glass to clear Georgian decanters. The latter, if sold in a pair, can sell for between £200 and £1,000. Value, as always, depends on size, decor, glass-style and whether they come with original stoppers.

Where to find antique wine glasses for sale

Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, you probably won’t land upon 200-year-old decanters and antique champagne glasses on the highstreet. Fairs and auctions are great places to find quality examples, as are specialist dealer stores. If you want to fill your antique cocktail cabinets with the whole gamut of glassware, you’ll be astonished at the collection housed at Hemswell Antiques Centres. Room after room, building after building - all showcasing glorious, genuine antique treasures at reasonable prices. Visit us yourself to see all of our wares or have a look at the antique wine glasses on our website.

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