5 Unique Examples of Victorian Glass

  • 01 of 05

    Beginning With the Epergne

    Cranberry Glass Epergne from the Collection of Barbra Streisand
    Shaan Kokin / Julien's Auctions

    Objects deemed as Victorian were popular during the reign of Queen Victoria of England from 1837 through 1901. Whether beautifully colored or clear, the glassware items from this period can be quite fancy and even peculiar by today's standards.

    About the Epergne Shown Above

    An epergne (pronounced ey-purn) is an ornamental stand that was popular in the Victorian era, usually made of glass or silver, designed to hold vase-shaped dishes or trays. These were made to be decorative centerpieces for serving sweetmeats and fruits or displaying flowers.

    Large examples were popular during the Victorian era for use on elaborate dining tables, while smaller versions usually date to the early 1900s. Popular examples include those made of cranberry and other colored glass. Some less elaborate and more affordable versions were later marketed by Fenton. 

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  • 02 of 05

    Victorian Glass Barber Bottles

    Three Colored Glass Barber Bottles
    Morphy Auctions

    These decorative bottles were used extensively in barbershops from the 1870s through the early 1900s. They were designed to be refilled so they were used over and over again to hold everything from hair tonics to rosewater in their day, including some concoctions barbers mixed on their own. Bottles of different colors were used to distinguish what was inside.

    Some wealthy barbershop patrons had their own barber bottles made with their names on them. Like occupational shaving mugs, these stayed in the shop for the convenience of the customer. Demand for barber bottles decreased as more men took care of their shaving needs at home when the safety razor was introduced in 1903. The Food and Drug Act of 1906 also made it illegal to refill non-labeled bottles, according to an article by Steve Charing published by the Baltimore Bottle Club, and use further declined in the years following.

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  • 03 of 05

    Victorian Glass Cigar Tubes

    Victorian Glass Cigar Tubes with Silver Caps
    Morphy Auctions

    These fancy glass items meant to hold an upper-crust gentleman’s stogie were usually made of clear ribbed glass with sterling silver tops like the examples shown here. They were employed to transport cigars so the bands were kept neat and clean and served to keep a cigar a bit fresher once it was removed from the humidor than it would be otherwise. When a cap is not decorated with a blown-out design, it will often have the initials of the original owner engraved in it. 

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  • 04 of 05

    Victorian Glass Sugar Shakers

    Victorian Glass Sugar Shakers
    Morphy Auctions

    These shakers, far larger than the salt shakers made in similar styles during the Victorian era, were made in all the popular colors of the day. From milk glass and black amethyst decorated with colorful florals, to transparent glass in blue, green or pink, an array of varied Victorian glass types can make up a sugar shaker collection. When a metal shaker top is threaded, it screws into a base that is plastered in place. Tops without threading can be found as well. Pieces to match sugar shakers in coordinating colors and patterns can sometimes be found including cruets, oil bottles, toothpick holders, syrup dispensers, and mustard jars.

    Larger shakers were made later, like those made of Platonite and other types of glass for kitchen use in the Depression era, but the Victorian examples have a flair all their own.

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  • 05 of 05

    Victorian Glass Wedding Bells

    Victorian Wedding Bell - Green Handle with Cobalt Blue Base
    Morphy Auctions

    Popular as wedding gifts during the Victorian era, these decorative glass pieces have colored bells with applied glass handles. The handles are many times clear but can be done in contrasting colors (like the green handle on a cobalt blue bell shown here) or the same hue as the bell. 

    Some have patterns whether part of the glass, engraved, or applied. Older wedding bells are made of glass blown in two parts that were joined together by plaster of Paris. Sometimes the clappers, also made of glass, were removed to preserve the integrity of the bell. Wedding bells were made in all the popular colors of the day including the cranberry and cobalt blue glass.