Fabulous Glass

By Karen Parr Moody

 

The sumptuousness of antique and vintage glass cannot be exaggerated, particularly when used to decorate the dining room. This low-lit room, dressed up in finery, has historically been a stage for displaying one’s wealth and taste, so that is where one’s most precious pieces of glass were displayed.

 

Upper-class Victorians kept a dizzying array of dining trappings on hand, right down to a dozen or more forks used for different foods. A refined manner of eating was one way to display one’s social bearing, so any Victorian of good breeding would know how to use a pickle castor, of which there a gorgeous example from Black Diamond Antiques at the original GasLamp ($175; B-235).

 

The pickle castor was a glass jar about six inches in height that was seen in the better homes from the 1870s to around 1910.  Each castor had a frame that was typically made of silver or silver plate. It was topped by an arched handle, on which was added a small hook that held a pair of tongs.

 

From The Middletown Plate Company, an American silver company founded in 1864 in Middletown, Connecticut, this pickle castor’s stand is decorated in a garden gate design with a pierced flower and leaf cornice. On the rope-style handle sits the head of a bird designed for holding the tongs, whose ends are fashioned into ornate bird talons.

 

Each of these opaque blue glass lustres, also known as a “lusters,” is decorated with dangling crystal prisms (pair, $295; Booth B-106). Such glass beauties were found more than 100 years ago in the dining and living rooms of the more prominent homes. They were expensive, even back then.

Pre-dating electricity, lustres were used to hold candles and were set in pairs on a mantle or sideboard. Whoever owned this particular pair kept them together all of these decades, which was not always the case. A pair of lustres would often get split up between daughters as part of an inheritance.

 

Among the glassware finds at Black Diamond antiques are two whiskey decanters. Such crystal pieces have long been considered must-haves among one’s dining and entertaining accoutrments, alongside a complete set of china, a tea-and-coffee service, cake plates and silver.

These decanters are similar in style: Each one was created in a square design with deep, crosshatch and elliptical cuts on the body. One comes with a faceted, ball top stopper while the other features a ball stopper that is finished with vertical cuts. It’s the perfect set for ending an evening in front of a roaring fire.

 

If you want to greet your guests in style, you must have a dining room trimmed out in style. Adding some gorgeous glass to the décor will add glamour and sophistication to any dinner party.