Scripps Howard News Service
This tall glass decanter is decorated with a pewter band.

Dear Helaine and Joe: I've attached pictures of a bottle that has been in my family for years, but no one seems to remember the history of it. It is about 12 inches tall with no signature and it has a pewter band around the center of the bottom portion.

Thank you, —R.S.

Dear R.S.: This is the first time we have answered an e-mailed question, and we want to remind everyone that all letters — and now e-mails — must be accompanied by clear, in-focus photographs and complete information about the object in question, or we cannot offer an opinion.

We have been fascinated by pieces of pewter-clad glassware since we first saw a piece some 30 years ago. We think they have a really good look to them but we have never found an authoritative written reference to identify positively their specific manufacturer or manufacturers. We are, however, fairly sure of the general origins, which can vary.

Doing research on this piece, we found pewter-clad bottles marked "Made in Denmark." This was not a surprise since we see these items (generally pinch bottles pewter-clad with representations of leaves and grapes) with some regularity and the pewter is less well made than the metal work seen on the example in today's question.

Another difference between the Danish bottles and the piece owned by R.S. is that the pewter on the Danish pieces is much brighter in color. In addition, the "Made in Denmark" mark suggests that these bottles were made after the end of World War I, and R.S.'s piece is somewhat earlier than that.

Doing a little more delving into this subject, we discovered that some 19th-century, pewter-clad glasses was made in Germany, but the pewter covering tends to be elaborate open work that is quite unlike the design seen on the piece pictured here. On the German pieces, the pewter covers most or all of the glass surface and there seems to be a desire on the part of the maker to reference the German Renaissance in the decoration. This is not the case with R.S.'s decanter.

When we first became interested in this type of glassware, antiques dealers told us fairly consistently that pewter-clad ware of this type was made in Birmingham, England, and we have always thought that to be correct. The design of the band of pewter on the piece in today's question is Arts and Crafts in nature, and this probably dates the piece to the late 19th or early 20th century.

Because it has a beautifully polished pontil on the base, we know that this glass decanter was hand-blown.

The pontil, incidentally, is where an iron punty rod was originally attached during the manufacturing process. The punty rod was used as a handle while the glass was being shaped and finished after a bubble of air had been blown into the molten glass.

This piece is a lovely shade of green glass that is often associated with English wares made in the Bristol region. It is possible that the green glass was blown in Bristol and then the decoration was added in Birmingham, which is known for its metal work.

As for the insurance replacement value, it is rather modest and a piece of this sort is usually valued in the range of $250 to $300.


Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, PO Box 27540, Knoxville, TN 37927. E-mail them at [email protected].