That is the Question :





Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

Through a tad of washing and polishing ....

Or to take arms against that thought of complete sensory delight

And let "convenience" rule with disposable paper and plastic?



The Early Vessel :

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Great Britain's Shakespeare and most certainly the Danish Hamlet

would both have imported casks of wine from the warmer -

and sunnier! -

grape-growing regions of Europe.

(In fact, British wines were then considered quite poor).

And although Henry VIII is said to have had a

wine fountain with heads of 40 golden lions and brass taps,

wine would have been decanted from a wooden barrel

to a bulbous and maybe brown

Rhineland earthenware pitcher  -


but often lacking in much visual pleasure or stimulation -

and with no recognition of the beautiful colored liquid therein -

a rather "matter of fact imbibing" of a very expensive beverage.


"Sealed" Wine Bottle, c1660, Courtesy Woolley Wallis, Salisbury, UK

During the mid-17th century, glassmaking was re-introduced into Britain

(that art having been largely lost from the earlier Roman era).

However, 17th century "decanting bottles" were dark, matte and heavy,

the wine within indicated by lettering on a "ticket'"

a piece of parchment tied with a string on an applied ring at the bottle  neck -

still no visual pleasure of container

or the wine itself -- rudimentary....


With George Ravenscroft's late 17th century introduction of clear lead glass

 emerged the early (incredible) British wine decanter -

the elegant transparent glass "carafe", in use by 1720 -

a parchment ticket still tied round the neck for identification.


Early George II Cruciform Carafe Decanter England, c1740,

Having 4 wide and 4 narrow moulded panels ;

Collection Bernard Watney


For the first time,

the beauty of the red and amber wines within clear reflective glass vessels

combined visually to elevate wine drinking to a new sensual level.



 At this point we should probably explain the practical side of decanting :

pouring wine into a decanter not only eliminates any sediment,

but aerates the wine, improving the taste, the aroma and the blend.

In short it can make a 20.00 bottle of wine seem like a 50.00 bottle of wine,  

and so on.



The Stoppered Decanter :


The carafe (pictured above) was stoppered by a simple cork.

During the mid-18th century the glass stoppered decanter was introduced -

many of today's forms being based on these mid-late 18th century decanters.

Fine engraving and cutting were added to further reflect light,

and enhance the color of the wine.


Imagine the light of the fireplace and candles

being refracted by the engraving and cutting, the glint of the silver,

and the wine within adding color variations to the refractions :



George III Engraved Sugar Loaf Decanter

Jacobite Interest, England, c1770


George III Cut & Engraved Sugar Loaf

Masonic Decanter, England, c1780


George III Cut Glass Sugar Loaf Decanter, c1770 George III Cut Glass Pint Decanter, c1780 George III Cut Glass Mallet Form Decanter, c1770

George III Cut Glass Sugar Loaf Decanter, England, c1770

George III Cut Glass Pint Decanter, England, c1780

George III Cut Glass Mallet Form Decanter, England, c1770



The Drinking Glasses - Also Essential to the Experience :


The story of early British drinking glasses is a lengthy one,

entwined with Royal support, politics and taxation.

What I wish to impart (herein) is that there is, to early British wine glasses,

a softness and warmth that must be experienced to be fully understood.

I cannot explain it.

The glass itself seems to impart a special quality to its contents.


George II Airtwist Wine, Folded Foot, England, c1740 George II / III Enamel Twist Ratafia Glass, England, c1760 Early George III Engraved Dougle Series Opaque Twist Stem Wine, with grape vine on stakes amongst grasses One of 9 Individually Pricef c1750 Heavy Weight Drawn Trumpet Wines George II 6-Sided Pedestal (Silesian) Stem Wine, England, c1740 George II / III Multi-Spiral OpaqueTwist Wine, England, c1760 George III Terraced Foot Opaque Twist Firing Glass, with engraved rim, c1760

Above is a selection from our current stock - click each glass, if desired - for details.

(However, viewing & "reading about" are not the same as "using").



... As Well As The Accessories :


The Labeling - As afore mentioned, from the Tudor period through the early 18th century,

stringed parchment labels were used to identify decanted wines. In the early 17th century,

British potters of Lambeth and Southwark also began labeling tin-glazed

 earthenware bottles to identify the wines - often with a date added.

These bottles are said to be another step toward for the 18th century

"bottle ticket" - later known as the "wine label" -

and apparently a uniquely British thing.

About 1730 the lettered jug and the parchment on string were transformed into silver,

the early escutcheon-form silver tickets suspended from silver chains :

and perhaps the first true "wine jewelry".

This further enhanced visual anticipation with color, texture and reflection,

enabling a total transformation from "beverage"...

 ... to glorious "ritual"!


Pair of George III Silver Neck-Ring Bottle Tickets, Garrard, 1807 Pair of George III Silver Neck-Ring Bottle Tickets, Garrard, 1807  William IV Silver Neck Ring (Collar) Wine Label George III Silver Neck-Ring Bottle Ticket, Phipps & Robinson, 1798 Good George III Irish Silver Bottle Ticket, Benjamin Tait, c1790 Good Pair George III Irish Silver Bottle Tickets,  Stoyte, c1788 Good Pair George III Silver Bottle Tickets,  Stoyte, c1788,  Brockwell, 1811


From our selection of Georgian Bottle Tickets - click individual images for details



Adding further function - and pleasure - to the wine "ritual" are

wine tasters (tastevin), wine funnels, and wine coasters :


Above, (from our past stock) a noteworthy

Rare c1670 Charles II Provincial Silver Wine Taster

Prior to the mid-17th century,

wine tasters were usually imported from France - along with the wine.


Two Wine Tasters (Tastevin) from our current stock : 


Louis XV / XVI Provincial Silver Tastevin, Mid 18c, Twisted Serpent Handle Early 19th Century South American Silver Tastevin, Probably Brazil, Serpent Dependent Loops

Louis XV / XVI Provincial Silver Tastevin, Mid 18c, Twisted Serpent Handle

South American Engraved Silver Tastevin, Sea Serpent Dependent Loops

Early 19c, Probably Brazil


The wine funnel aids in properly decanting wines.

The curved spout reduces splashing,

and the inset strainer eliminates larger pieces of cork and sediment.


George III Silver 2-Part Wine Funnel, Beaded Rim

London, 1783, Marks Rubbed (an early example), together with a

Scarce Early George III Irish Silver Wine Funnel Stand

Beaded Rim, William Bond, Dublin, 1761


About 1770, the silver wine coaster came into being,

most being made in pairs, often pierced and engraved -

yet more "jewelry" to reflect and refract light,

as they protected both glass and table surfaces.


Pair of George III Irish Silver Wine Coasters, Dublin, 1782

Crested with a stag's head attired or erased / Maker's Mark Pierced


Set of 3 George III Silver Wine Coasters John Rowbotham, 1775, Sheffield

 An early set, crested for Everard and an Unknown Family



The above elements all combine to vastly enrich the experience of wine drinking -

 far beyond simply :"it is what it is and I want another glass".

We all know that dining is visual - not just food.

We all know that the atmosphere wherein food is served becomes part of the experience.

Then why not indulge our eyes and nose, as well as our palette,

when partaking of a ritual almost old as mankind itself :




The New York Times ran a recent article entitled "The Tyranny of Convenience".

It ended with this thought :

"We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult,

the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest."

(...as, perhaps a tad of rinsing and polishing...

to make an afternoon or evening even more superb?)


Good Pair George III Three-Ring Cut Glass Decanters, c168801810 Pair George III Irish Silver Crested Decanters, Dublin, 1782 South American Engraved Silver Tastevin (Wine Taster), Probabaly Brazil, late18-early 19c George II 6-Sided Pedestal (Sliesian)Stem Wine, c1740 George III London Wine Funnel, beaded rim; George III Irish Funnel Stand, beaded rim

We encourage all convenience-oriented doubters ... just to try!





As usual, inventory images are individually linked. Click the desired for detail pages.

Please click the above images or titles for more information and images.


901-761-1163 (gallery) / 901-827-4668 (cell)



Hours : Wed.-Sat. 11-6, or by appointment

Complimentary Gift Wrapping


mfcreech@bellsouth.net  or  mfordcreech@gmail.com



To receive our periodic email catalogs, please click here


American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Discover accepted




Home     Accessories    Ceramics    Early Asian Ceramics    Fine Art    Furniture   Glassware    Silver






© The above images and text appear here for your enjoyment only.

Please do not reproduce without specific written permission.


To Decant, or Not To Decant - That is the Question ; M. Ford Creech Antiques