In about 1755 was introduced a glass decanter on which was engraved the name of the wine it should
contain. In due course decanters in blue, green and ametyst glass with the names of their proper content
written in gold lettering began to be made.
They were all suggested by a new device that had recently been put on the market by silversmiths: known
then as a bottle ticket, but nowadays called a wine label.
The dark glass bottle no longer came to polite tables, and its place was taken by the decanter. The latter
bore round its neck a small label on a chain, or announced what it held by engraved lettering on the glass
surface. The labels were made in many patterns ranging from simple lettered oblongs to elaborate shapes
embossed, chased and gilded.
The various designs were classified in twenty shapes by Dr. N.M. Penzer in his "Book of the Wine
Label", published in 1947 ("Narrow rectangular", "Escutcheon or shield",
"Crescent", "Vine and tendrils", "Goblet and festoons", "Scroll", etc.)
While the many shapes taken by labels are intriguing a similar appeal lies in the numerous names they bear.
Some are of well-known beverages ( Brandy, Port, Madeira, Rum, Sherry...), others are of long-forgotten
ones (Carcavella, Bucellas, Mountain, Bronte...), while quite a few are the result of mispellings on
somebody's part and can cause many hours of fruitless research (NIG, Cream of the Valley, Old Tom ...).
This is a page of 'The What is? Silver Dictionary' of A Small Collection of
Antique Silver and Objects of vertu, a 1500 pages richly illustrated website offering all you need to know about
antique silver, sterling silver, silverplate, Sheffield plate, electroplate silver,
silverware, flatware, tea services and tea complements, marks and hallmarks, articles,
books, auction catalogs, famous silversmiths (Tiffany, Gorham, Jensen, Elkington),
history, oddities ...|
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