How to buy the best Vintage Glassware for special occasions

Good quality crystal glass is simply beautiful, and associated with so many special occasions. Weddings, christenings, Christmas and anniversaries are all celebrations that call for the 'best glasses' and we all recognise that clinking cheers and the crystal ringing in our ears. Here at Kernow Furniture quality Glassware is something we relish in finding and supplying!

Dazzling antique and vintage wine glasses are often made from more than just glass. Crystal glass contains between 2% and 30% minerals and these minerals strengthen the material, which makes thinner, more durable glassware which will be less likely to scratch. Traditionally, one of these minerals was lead which added to the dazzle - safe to be used in drinking vessels as it isn't exposed for any significant length of time. Known for it's clarity and sparkle, crystal refracts the light and looks simply stunning when adorning a dinner table. Give it a little tap and you'll hear that bell like ring that good crystal is known for. 

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'The Master of Glass'

Lalique is one of the most iconic names in the world of glassware. By the age of 30, Rene Lalique was the most iconic Art Nouveau jewellery designer in France, had worked with Cartier and Boucheron and was making his foray into glassmaking. His techniques were unique and used clear and frosted glass, in a style that no-one else has quite been able to replicate since. He made walls of lit glass and stylish glass columns for the dining room and grand salon of the ocean liner SS Normandie, the 'Sculptor of Light' was known worldwide for amazing lead based glass art, vases and became widely known for their amazing perfume bottles and work with Coty. Lalique stemware is a spectacular addition to any collection.

Baccarat is another French glass manufacturer that is most famous for it's glass paperweights, but has excelled in glassware for two centuries. Just seven years after being founded, Baccarat was commissioned by King Louis XVIII and they have served many Royals and Heads of States throughout the years. One of their signature designs, the Harcourt glass with a hexagonal foot was the result of a request from Louis Philippe I for a ceremonial chalice, and it has continued to a staple piece of stemware ever since.

Quality Crystal Flower Bowl

Types of antique glassware


Despite the name, Rummers aren't glass for drinking rum. An anglicised version of the German word 'Roemer' meaning Roman, paying tribute to the Romans who brought wine grapes to Germany in the 4th Century. They are of the more easily usable antique wine glasses, with a large drinking glass studded for grip. Rummers evolved from the German 'cabbage stalk' glasses, just as the Berkenmeyer glass did. They are highly collectable and can range from very plain designs to glasses that commemorate the opening of the iron wear bridge known as 'Sunderland Bridge' glasses.


Similar to the rummer, but with a large flared bowl. Their stem is mainly thick and hollow with prunts for grip. Originally carved from birch branches, they dated from the 15th Century and were often used at feasts where greasy hands needed a thick studded stem to grip.

Baluster and Balustroid

Antique balauster glasses were originally heavy and has a large swelling or 'knop' in the stem. Many wine glasses today have inherited these features. In the 18th Century taxes came into effect on the weight of the glass and thus the antique balustroid glass was born, that was much lighter with a hollow stem and bubble rather than solid glass. The stem often gets thicker towards the foot.

Champagne Coupe

The champagne coupe has a wider bowl which allows for more of the aroma to escape from the surface of the wine, making a more enjoyable experience for the drinker. Media representation has helped with the popularity of the vintage coupe - think the Great Gatsby!


How to care for Vintage Glassware

Caring for vintage glassware doesn't have to take any special equipment. Dishwashers might be quick and easy, but they aren't always the best option as they can leave glasses cloudy and in need of further cleaning. They also wash at a high temperature which can cause permanent etching. The simple way to care for your glassware is to wash it by hand. Using a plastic bowl and washing one glass at a time will prevent some accidental breakages as you are handling them. Avoid extreme water temperatures by using warm water and a small amount of gentle washing up liquid. Soft cloths will clean adequately and dry your glassware immediately to keep them in pristine condition. If your glass has metal mounts, you'll want to avoid any corrosion so try not to get water anywhere near the metal.

Caring for Antique Glass Decanters

Decanters are beautiful, but with narrow necks and wide bellies, they can be a bit bothersome to clean. It really doesn't have to be a task to dread and you don't need to use any harsh chemicals to lift those red wine stains. Our favourite method of cleaning antique decanters is one that requires minimal effort and involves two low cost ingredients - uncooked rice and white vinegar. The rice acts as an agitator and the vinegar allows it to clean as you swirl the liquid around the inside of the vessel. Firstly, give it a rinse out with some warm water. Add a some white vinegar to the decanter, followed by a handful or more of uncooked rice. Swirl the combination around and the rice will work it's magic and gently loosen stains. Leave the mixture for about 24 hours, but each time you visit the kitchen give the decanter a swirl around. Dispose of the contents and use some gentle washing up liquid and warm water before giving it a final rinse. Leave your decanter upside down to air dry. Top tip - don't use strongly scented washing up liquid or bleach.

If you've picked up a glass decanter that has a stopper stuck in it, start by using some warm water on the neck of the decanter and gently pulling the stopper. If this doesn't release the stopper, try a drop of lubricating oil such as WD40 which may help to ease it out. You should only try these methods if there isn't any structural damage to the glass or you risk breaking it. Personally I think that vintage decanters can look attractive as decorative items too. 

Buying vintage glassware is a joy, many different styles and colours can be found and treasures are always being unearthed just waiting to find their way to your dinner table or cocktail party. Smoked, frosted, ribbed, coloured, milk glass, the choice is endless

Explore our vintage glassware and vintage barware.

Collection Milk Glass
August 25, 2021 — Benita Ellis-Kelly

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