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Vintage Cocktail Glasses


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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:15 PM

Over the last several years, I've collected over 100 vintage cocktail glasses at thrift stores, yard sales, and the like. A few dozen are 5 oz coupes in the middle style shown here, which I use for classes. (The rounder bowl coupe on the left is also 5 oz; the more conical one on the right is 4 oz.)

Posted Image

The rest of them are a wide-ranging set of highballs, Old Fashioned, Nick and Nora, and other styles -- and I know little to nothing about them. Indeed, I'm not even sure I have the correct names for many of them. There are tiki mug forums, galleries, and discussions galore out there on the internets, but I can't find anything on vintage cocktail glasses. Meanwhile, only Dale DeGroff's Craft of the Cocktail and Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide have more than a measly page on glassware: DeGroff's isn't vintage, and Vic's is, well, idiosyncratic.

I know I'm not alone among Society members as a collector of these glasses; from their posts, many people here enjoy just the right glass for a cocktail (or rocks drink or...). So I'm hoping that together we can find a way to name, describe, even identify these things, and find resources for all of those activities too.
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#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:21 PM

For starters, I have three of these 5 oz etched Martini glasses that have, to my eye, an Art Deco style. I also got them at a thrift store in Miami, which tends to push me Deco:

Posted Image

It's one of my favorite glasses. The inverted teardrop stem feels fantastic in my hand, and the design features a pair of straight-line chevrons connected to a pair of curved arcs.

I don't really know what else to make of them. Are they truly Deco? When were the likely made? By whom? Is there any way to find that out?
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#3 evo-lution

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:57 PM

If there's a good antique dealer in your area, that's the person to talk to.
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#4 jmfangio

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 04:34 PM

Have you looked around the web for a glass collector's forum?
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#5 slkinsey

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 05:01 PM

cocktailDB has a good guide to glassware, etc, right here.
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#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 05:15 PM

Thanks, Sam. jmfangio, I have snooped around, and can't find a thing. Adam, the antiques folks around here aren't up to snuff on this matter. I've asked around.

So what's the verdict on that glass above? Any idea on dates? When did the conical Martini shape take hold?

ETA: Shoulda read cocktaildb:

The popular conical cocktail glass, though the form had seen happenstance use for other purposes previously, was introduced for its current purpose in Paris at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (The International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Industrial Arts) which was the debut of the Art Deco movement. Its use was initially in Europe during American Prohibition, only being really embraced in the States after World War II.


A goldmine, that db.
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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 03:25 PM

Moving on, I'd love to hear opinions on these two:

Posted Image

I have over a dozen of these 10 oz glasses, which I assume are a highball glass of some sort -- unless there was an era during which people did 10 oz shots. Has anyone seen these sorts of things before? It's hard to nail the era in which you'd have both "rye" and "scotch" but not "bourbon": 1940s?
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#8 vice

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 04:18 PM

Perhaps whoever owned them originally kept the bourbon ones and ditched the rest because he/she didn't care for rye or scotch?
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#9 Dorek

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 04:41 PM

When/wherever they're from, they're awesome.

#10 KatieLoeb

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 08:49 PM

Moving on, I'd love to hear opinions on these two:

Posted Image

I have over a dozen of these 10 oz glasses, which I assume are a highball glass of some sort -- unless there was an era during which people did 10 oz shots. Has anyone seen these sorts of things before? It's hard to nail the era in which you'd have both "rye" and "scotch" but not "bourbon": 1940s?


Chris:

Is it possible that there were bourbon glasses but those all broke or didn't get sold because someone else (obviously a bourbon aficionado) kept them?? Do you have reason to believe they never existed?? Seems to me there's every reason to believe that they did but just didn't make it to you...

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#11 jmfangio

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 09:03 PM

-- unless there was an era during which people did 10 oz shots.


I believe that's colloquially known as 'Spring Break.'
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#12 KatieLoeb

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 09:17 PM

These are two of my favorite glasses in my collection.

StarryNightR.jpg

I have two of these crystal beveled hollow stemmed coupes that were gifted to me by a friend that had a very large set of them that had been given to her by someone she knew that had passed away. These were my thank you gift for helping to cater her wedding in 1996. I know nothing else about them.

These others I found on eBay awhile back and they were a steal. I think I paid under $2/glass for them with the shipping included!

Posted Image

They're delicate and pretty and the etched patterns on the sides look really lovely when there's a brightly colored cocktail in the glass. Again, no clues on their age, but I'm guessing they're from the 40's or so.

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#13 Kent Wang

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 11:00 AM

Do you think these coupes were originally used for cocktails or champagne, or both? I understand that champagne was served in coupes instead of flutes nowadays -- what's the reasoning for that? It seems like the greater surface area -- compared even to the standard wine glass, much less modern flutes -- would cause the bubbles to escape faster.

#14 rather be travelin'

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 11:40 AM

Posted Image
Recently found a few of these at one of my favorite flea markets (Route 13, New Castle Delaware). They're in perfect condition, though I have absolutely no idea how old they are, they're definitely my favorite "I Had A Bad Day" Manhattan glasses.
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#15 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 01:22 PM

Do you think these coupes were originally used for cocktails or champagne, or both? I understand that champagne was served in coupes instead of flutes nowadays -- what's the reasoning for that? It seems like the greater surface area -- compared even to the standard wine glass, much less modern flutes -- would cause the bubbles to escape faster.


My hunch/educated guess on the coupe (lovely Marie Antoinette fable notwithstanding) is that they are a relic of a time when gas in wine was seen as a flaw--Dom Perignon devoted his life to trying to rid Champagne wines of their bubbles--and so the coupe shape originally facilitated the release of the CO_2. Once the winemakers of Champagne improved the clarity of their wines (Mme Clicquot pioneered the process of remuage, which removes the yeasts from the bottles) and figured out how to market them in the right way to the right people (the Czars of Russia were early adopters), the bubbles became the reason why Champagne was cool and different. Then it took another century and a half to optimize the glass shape to retain the bubbles, but thats nothing compared to the hundreds of years the Champenoise stood frustrated in the shadow of their Burgundian neighbors, always trying to improve their wines to the same standard. Sometimes it's just about figuring out what you do best rather than trying to beat someone else at their own game.

Not sure how much of that is actually tied to the glass shape tradition but it has long been my assumption.
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#16 KD1191

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 01:26 PM

Do you think these coupes were originally used for cocktails or champagne, or both? I understand that champagne was served in coupes instead of flutes nowadays -- what's the reasoning for that? It seems like the greater surface area -- compared even to the standard wine glass, much less modern flutes -- would cause the bubbles to escape faster.

It might not have been as big of an issue in the past, before the super-sizing of drinking vessels. Consuming 3-4 oz of Champagne before it went flat probably didn't present as much of a problem to our forefathers.
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#17 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 08:23 PM

Perhaps whoever owned them originally kept the bourbon ones and ditched the rest because he/she didn't care for rye or scotch?


Chris:Is it possible that there were bourbon glasses but those all broke or didn't get sold because someone else (obviously a bourbon aficionado) kept them?? Do you have reason to believe they never existed??


I bought them from the daughter of the original owner at a yard sale after the owner died, and she said that this was the entire set -- no bourbon. Could be wrong, of course....

Posted Image
They're delicate and pretty and the etched patterns on the sides look really lovely when there's a brightly colored cocktail in the glass. Again, no clues on their age, but I'm guessing they're from the 40's or so.


Why do you guess the 40's? I'm not doubting; I'm just interested to know how people date these things, as I'm really unsure about it.
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#18 KatieLoeb

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:54 PM

Why do you guess the 40's?


Only because other sets I've seen in antique shops or online start getting the larger capacity bowls (like these) at around that time. Or at least are so described. It could easily all be bullshit however, since I don't have a clue about either the providence of these glasses, nor whether the folks describing the other ones I'm comparing them to had a clue either. Most of the glasses prior to then seem to be of the much smaller sort. But if you think back to the 50's photos of the Rat Pack, it seems the larger capacity "birdbath" glasses were already in vogue...

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#19 haresfur

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 11:11 PM

Chris:

Is it possible that there were bourbon glasses but those all broke or didn't get sold because someone else (obviously a bourbon aficionado) kept them?? Do you have reason to believe they never existed?? Seems to me there's every reason to believe that they did but just didn't make it to you...


Maybe "bourbon" was too hard to spell or didn't fit on the glass :rolleyes:
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#20 Shamanjoe

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 11:31 PM

A couple pictures when I get home. I have to punch bowl sets (the bowl, glasses and ladle) that I inherited from my grandmother that I'd love to know more about. They are fairly small bowls, which makes me think that they are more recent (when punch became a more intimate and less social experience).
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#21 Kim Shook

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 08:18 AM

I love this thread and the pictures of all the wonderful glassware!

I have some glasses similar to Katie’s that I just love:
P1030717.JPG

P1030716.JPG

I have 4 of each and found them at a local flea market. I think that I paid about $2/stem for them.

#22 KatieLoeb

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 04:00 PM

Kim:

Those are just lovely!! I particularly like the elaborate stems and oh so delicate etching pattern on the second ones. Great find! I'd have a hunch that those and my set are from a similar time frame.

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#23 Dan Perrigan

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 09:01 PM

My wife bought me six of these at a local antique shop. They're the best cocktail glasses ever. They have a perfect weight in your hand, they're comfortable to grip, and perfect for sipping a nice Aviation (or Daiquiri or Corpse Reviver or ...)

IMG_5147sm.JPG

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#24 KatieLoeb

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 10:41 PM

Dan:

Those are gorgeous! What is the actual liquid volume of the glass itself? Are they smaller (like pre-Prohibition era and soon thereafter) or over 6 oz.? Hard to tell from the photo...

Edited by KatieLoeb, 24 January 2010 - 10:42 PM.

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#25 Dan Perrigan

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 07:01 AM

What is the actual liquid volume of the glass itself? Are they smaller (like pre-Prohibition era and soon thereafter) or over 6 oz.? Hard to tell from the photo...


A four ounce (pre-shake) drink (Corpse Reviver #2) will fill it up to within 1/4 inch of the rim. But your question made me curious so I just measured them and they'll hold exactly 6 ounces of liquid.

This is the perfect size for me, since just about any classic or modern recipe will fit just right. Anything larger would be unnecessary.

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#26 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 12:57 PM

The key feature for these last three glasses -- and one that's now often missing -- is the perfect, tapered grip. I especially like that double bump on Kim's first set.
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#27 KatieLoeb

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 11:41 PM

The perfect two fingered grip so you can drink whilst holding out your pinky, no? :rolleyes:

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#28 Chris Amirault

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 01:58 AM

Perhaps, but I'm just a dork, so two is better than one for the full fist approach.
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#29 ChrisN

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 03:13 AM

About the glasses labeled by specific drink--I wonder if region could matter. In other words, when they were produced, could they have been produced in an area where Bourbon was still considered a southern drink? I sort of doubt this, but I don't really know the history of Bourbon's diffusion throughout the states.

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#30 Shamanjoe

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 09:58 PM

The key feature for these last three glasses -- and one that's now often missing -- is the perfect, tapered grip. I especially like that double bump on Kim's first set.

I agree. With a smooth, modern glass, half the time I end up just holding it from the base, or saying "screw it" and grabbing it around the drink well, warming be damned. It's nice to have a delineation between the drink well and the stem. It has good function, and I think it adds to the class of the glass..
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