We have a large collection of antique, vintage and contemporary silver decanters and claret jugs, with a style to suit every home decor and personal taste.
Our selection includes single decanters and claret jugs, matching sets of claret jugs and goblets, and even includes ale jugs, flagons and wine ewers!
All of our pieces are the finest examples of their type that we have found, and are all in stunning presentation condition.
Our claret jug and wine decanter collection features vessels from all over the world, from across recent history and in a wide variety of styles, including some heavily decorated items, and some with delicate, subtle detailing.
The name 'Claret' has a French origin meaning bright or clear and refers to the bright colour of French Bordeaux wine. Although glass had been used as a receptacle for beverages of all kinds for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the ‘Claret Jug’ in the form we recognise it now began to appear.
Silversmiths began replacing glass stoppers with silver hinged lids at the start of the 19th Century. In the second quarter of the century, silver handles were added, though the glass maintained the traditional design and bottle-like shape. From the middle of the century claret jugs became a method for artists and craftsmen to display their talent and sometimes flamboyant design ideas.
Claret jugs were produced throughout Europe and, although France had a large production of fine silver and glass jugs, most of the diverse and often beautiful designs that we are able to appreciate today are British. As 18th century progressed, claret jugs were frequently being produced that had become indistinguishable from the original and traditional bottle – like shape.
Claret jugs provided the artists with the opportunity to embellish their work with the intricate naturalistic motifs that were so popular with the Victorian consumers. Flora and fauna were especially prevalent during this period, and the widespread appreciation of art from the Far East began to influence the aesthetic of all kinds of art produced in this period - the claret jug was favoured as a canvas for the delicate designs and floral decoration that is dominant in artwork from this region.
Toward the end of the 19th century- from around 1880- some of the most rare and elaborate claret jugs were created. So few were produced because the level of craftsmanship and the length of time that must be dedicated to the process was extraordinary. Some of the most extravagant claret jugs were glass which had been engraved with an astonishing level of detail, such as single strands of animal hair being realistically recreated. However, the grandiose nature of the design and obviously, therefore the price would be the downfall of the claret jug.
At the turn of the 19th century, the market shifted from the fashion for exotic furnishings of the Victorian era an age of austerity, which led to curbing the expenditure on unnecessary items in many households. This, coupled with the high cost of producing fine antique glassware meant that the claret jug industry suffered to the point of extinction. From the 1920's no more claret jugs were produced.
All this history leads us to the current day market for the Claret jug, which continues to flourish due to the popularity of object d’art. However, claret jugs do have a second use as presentational trophies, particularly in sporting events. An example of this is the Open Trophy, now known commonly as the claret jug, which was made by Mackay Cunningham & Company of Edinburgh and was hallmarked 1873.The claret jug is usually more ornamental now and rarely is used for serving the wine for which it was first intended.
An antique claret jug is comprised of silver and/or glass and originally used for decanting and serving French red Bordeaux wine, otherwise known in Britain as claret. The seventeenth century examples were known for having a pewter lid, however the mid-eighteenth century saw the rise in fully glass or silver jugs.
There are many differences between a decanter and a claret jug. The simplest difference is that a claret jug was designed to serve claret, whereas a decanter is a more generic term used to describe a container used for pouring various alcoholic beverages, including wines, spirits and liquors.
A claret jugs composition typically incorporates a handle and a pouring spout, in addition to a stopper or lid to preserve the wine; however, the shape can be tapering or bulbous, and typically rather ornate or ornamental. A decanter typically has a wide base and a narrow neck, and this allows for the aeration and separation within the wine or spirit within.
One further characteristic difference is the functional use of the two. The claret jug is often kept for formal or ceremonial occasions, including fine dining and special gathers. The decanter, however, is more casual and used for everyday use, often displayed on a side board, table or home bar setting.