Ugly shelf fillers, or undervalued, beautiful and useful?

Antique and vintage cut glass has a place in every home, and should never be ‘kept for best’ argue antique experts Craig Wharton and Philip Traves.
Val St lambert Art Deco green overlaid vase – £325

We have always been attracted to antique glassware.
Quality glassware from the past 200 years is still very reasonably priced; decanters dating back to the early 1800s can be purchased for under £50. Top quality makes like Waterford can still be less than £40 a glass.
Beautiful fine Art Deco cocktail glasses are very popular at the moment, as are sets of kitsch Babycham glasses (with matching Babycham plastic deer, of course. So much so that the 60-year-old giant Babycham
Bambi is back in pride of place in Shepton Mallet).

200 years of surviving
The quality of Regency cut glass is so high – it’s all hand blown and then cut, with a lovely grey colour due to the high lead content. It is amazing how much glass has survived over 200 years and is still usable today.
Take the lovely glass ‘rinsers’ – small bowls with two lips – which were used in the 18th and 19th centuries for cooling glasses with ice, the melted ice being poured away.

New uses for old glass
Old and chipped cut glass decanters can be used in the kitchen. Why not store olive oil infused with garlic, or use them for sloe gin? An antique glass decanter with polished silver wine label looks very elegant and always improves the look of any ‘value’ gin!
Cut glass bowls are great to use for a homemade trifle – didn’t all our grandmothers use one for this? Cut glass or etched vases never disappoint when filled with some fresh flowers in a sunny window, with sunlight refracting through the glass facets.

1. 19th century cut glass rinsers – £22 each
2. Victorian cranberry glass epergne (dining table centrepiece; used to serve pickles, fruits, nuts etc. Occasionally for candles, casters, or cruets) – £220
3. Waterford glasses – sets of six from £160 Regency cut glass bowl with matching dish £125
4. Three George III cut glass decanters, £30-50 each

Don’t keep it in a cupboard
Why not use your better quality glassware more? I discussed this with my mother and her Inner Wheel group a few years ago. My mother is of the generation who grew up post- World War II, and they of course never waste a thing. So her ‘everyday’ glasses were the ones which we all remember – they came free with petrol tokens in the 1970s …
She of course had her ‘for best’ glasses packed away, and frankly she never used them. I asked why not, and she really didn’t have a good answer. She now uses her ‘good’ glasses every single day, even the
bedside water glass is a pretty cut glass tumbler.
And she says the wine tastes so much better!
Craig & Phil

by Craig Wharton & Philip Traves

Sherborne Antiques Market is open 7 days a week: Monday to Saturday 10 till 5, Sundays 11 till 4. www.sherborneantiquesmarket.com

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