Wine Bottles

During the early years of married life, when our house was overrun with babies, children and teenagers, my wife and I rarely opened a bottle of wine. Now, as children have flown, to make their own nests and tranquility has come to our happy home, we find ourselves with time to enjoy the occasional bottle. We never discuss the bottle though, just the contents. Bottles are, however, a very interesting topic for discussion.

Early wine bottles were made from darkly coloured glass, which had a hint of brown when held up to the light. This glass is known as ‘Black Glass’ and was used in wine bottles between 1650 and 1800. These early bottles are very collectable as they represent the earliest stages of consumerism in Britain. Due to their age there is usually surface deterioration, ranging from severe pitting to simple dullness. However, unlike many collectables, damage is acceptable in these old black glass wine bottles, so rare examples in very poor condition still produce good results in the saleroom.

Although not mass produced until the early 1800s, the production of glass was increasing throughout this early period with many glass houses opening up and different manufacturers gaining recognition for certain styles and shapes of bottle.

The commonest shapes in these early wine bottles are the ‘globe and shaft’, the ‘onion’ and the ‘mallet’, with rarer shapes, such as the octagonal being more collectable. More collectable still than the rare shape is the sealed bottle. These are bottles applied with a seal during manufacture which bears a family crest, a date or initials.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Wine Coolers

I must admit, I do rather enjoy a glass of wine. In fact, I will go further, I absolutely love a glass of wine. In fact, I will go further still, on a lovely summers evening, on a deck chair in the garden nothing is better (almost nothing) than a glass of perfectly chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

First produced in the late 17th century, wine coolers were part of a widespread fashion for serving chilled wine and punch. They were introduced into Britain from France and made mostly by Huguenot Silversmiths. Placed on the sideboard or table for chilling wine between servings, they remained popular throughout the 19th century.

Wine coolers developed from the wine cistern made in the 17th century. The cistern was a very large and impressive oval silver basin, which stood on a spreading base and four feet with massive drop ring handles, or handles in the form of mythical creatures. It was used for cooling several bottles of wine in ice or for washing glasses. Few of these cisterns have survived though as they were melted down due to their high value as bullion.

In the 18th century cisterns for washing glasses became redundant owing to the production of larger sets of flatware and glasses and also due to their replacement with smaller single bottle wine coolers which could be set on the table instead of the sideboard.

During the mid 18th century there was a lull in the demand for wine coolers, probably due to increased popularity of claret and port, which was drunk at room temperature. However, the cooler was revived in the 19th century with sets of four being particularly popular and many being made in Old Sheffield Plate.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Sweetmeat Glasses

Within the field of glass collecting, drinking glasses have always commanded the greatest interest from enthusiasts, but there is a whole sphere of glass production which is equally as exciting and readily available to the collector.

The Georgians loved their desserts and the taking of dessert was an important occasion in it’s own right. The late 18th century was a time when the wealthiest members of society entertained with
parties incorporating a large and varied amount of food, as well as generous amounts of wine and desserts.

Desserts may be taken with the meal or served away from the table in a kind of buffet form which could be directly after the dinner or later in the evening. The kind of treats on offer included
candied fruit, marshmallows, crystallised citrus peels and almonds.

These desserts would be served in glasses on tall stems known as suckets that resemble drinking glasses. They would also be served on footed and stemmed plates and saucers known as tazzas
and comports. Shorter thicker glasses with practically no stem were also used for holding jelly and ice creams. Custard cups, another variant on the jelly glass, were used for syllabub ( a creamy
alcoholic sweetmeat ), egg custard and egg trifles. Sometimes all of these vessels would be presented on large stemmed salvers placed in the form of a pyramid.

These wonderful Georgian occasions and marvellous Georgian sweetmeats have provided the modern collector with an enormous wealth of collecting opportunity.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website