Are Decanters Worth Anything? A Brief Guide To Valuable Decanters

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Wine decanter with wine glass and bottle of wine

    Table of Contents

    If you are a decanter collector, you’re probably curious how much you will get if you decide to sell your decanter. Depending on the manufacturer or the rarity, a complete set of crystal decanters can cost thousands of dollars.

    Decanters are valuable to red wine as they can aerate the drink making it more tasty and aromatic. Plus, decanters can enhance the aesthetics of your whiskey because of its elegant structure and color.

    While decanters can be worth a lot, their value is not given much recognition. This article will look into the worth of decanters and why having them is a good investment.

    A Look Into the Past

    The use of decanters can be traced up to about 2,500 years ago. Back then, wines were served in earthen vessels since the glass vessels were yet to be made. In the 17th century, it would have been rude to serve the wine from the bottle. 

    Decanters became more popular during this period. By the 18th century, decanting had become a tradition in England. This tradition then spread throughout Europe.

    Types of Decanters

    Different spirits need different decanters. However, other spirits do not require decanting. Some decanters are more straightforward in appearance and come with a stopper, preventing the drink from becoming flat.

    Several wines need to breathe to soften the tannins and remove the sediments. Among those that could use a decanter are young red wines, red wines with visible residues, white wines, and vintage ports.

    Most Expensive Decanters

    Different types of crystal decanters

    The most expensive decanters are crystal decanters. Suppose car lovers dream of owning a Rolls Royce, Bugatti, Lamborghini, or Aston, while wine lovers dream of Waterford, St. Louis, Baccarat, and Orrefors.

    These exorbitant whiskey decanters range from $25,000 to $3.5M. Here are a few of these very expensive decanters.

    • Highland Park 50-Year Old

    The first on the list is the Highland Park 50-Year Old decanter designed by Maeve Gillies, inspired by the wind and sea movement. It sells at US$25,000, although only a few bottles are still for sale. Aside from that, the empty bottle reveals the famous rose window of the St. Magnus Cathedral in Orkney, Scotland.

    • Baccarat Crystal

    Another is the creation of a Baccarat crystal made for the centenary of Kilian Hennessey. The decanter is housed in a liquor chest and comes with four whiskey glasses. It sells at US$190,000 at Schiphol Airport Retail in Amsterdam. 

    • Tequila Ley .925 Diamond Sterling

    The gem of them all is the Tequila Ley .925 Diamond Sterling decanter and is known as the world’s most expensive decanter. It is sold at US$3.5 million for a decanter with a capacity of fewer than 1.4 liters. This decanter is made with hand-blown glass covered in silver and pure platinum and inlaid with 4,000 cut diamonds.  

    Are Antique Crystal Decanters Worth Anything?

    Antique decanters are usually lead crystals. Online auctions sell antique crystal decanters for a few hundred or thousand dollars, depending on the era. Sites like invaluable.com and 1stdibs.com sell beautiful antique crystal decanters.

    If you search for antique crystal decanters, here are a few tips—no need for special equipment since most are visible to the naked eye.

    1. Seam

    Antique crystal decanters are seamless, each clear and polished.

    2. Weight

    Since antique crystal decanters are infused with lead, they are heavier than their glass counterparts. 

    3. Appearance

    When held under a light, rainbows form on it, the crystal acting as a prism. They are also usually very ornate with metallic and gem embellishments on their body. 

    4. Markings

    Turn over the suspected antique decanter on a plain surface lined with a soft cloth to protect its rim from chipping. Use a magnifying lens to look for markings. 

    5. Sound

    The metallic content on antique crystal decanters has a ring to it when tapped with a teaspoon. 

    6. Internet search/books

    Most antique crystal decanters or antique crystals have been cataloged in books or internet sites. Etsy has a pervasive list of antique crystal decanters for sale, too. Books like Glass of the World by George Savage and Miller's Antique Encyclopedia by Judith Miller. It also has companion handbooks for the current price of antiques.

    How to Find Out Your Decanter's Worth

    Different kinds of decanters

    Identifying the maker of your decanter will help determine its value. Place your decanter on its side between two books so it won’t roll. By using a magnifying glass, examine its base for the maker’s mark. Pay special attention to the center and along the edge. 

    You may also use a loupe to scrutinize the flat surface of the bottom. Once you find a mark, a decanter price guide will come in handy for reference, such as Miller's Antique Handbook and Price Guide and Jim Beam Figural Bottles: An Unauthorized Collector's Guide.

    If you’re planning on selling your decanter, another factor to consider is its condition. New in the box or mint decanters are more valuable than used ones. Damages, especially around the lip and base, will devalue your decanter. 

    Additionally, engraving may reduce its selling price. You may also check for rarity and artistic merit as unusual designs are more prized by collectors than common ones.

    Do Old Whiskey Decanters Have Value?

    Two old whiskey decanters on a tray

    If anything, old whiskey decanters have the same price trend that other antiques follow. When the interest in them lessens, the price also lowers. 

    Design always seems to dictate the cost of the decanters, whatever their age may be. For example, a 1970 whiskey decanter that is plain to the site used to sell at $245, but after a time, it sells only at $221.

    Another dismal sale is Silver and Cut-Glass Claret Jug. Dating back to 1887, the jug dropped 52% from the $1,450 price. Despite its craftsmanship and excellent condition, this Victorian jug still lost so much of its value. 

    Another is the number of units produced and still available in the market and the decanter state. Chipped or cloudy decanters fetch a lower price than its counterpart that was kept in pristine condition.

    Are Wine Decanters a Fine Investment? 

    A man using a wine decanter

    Taking into consideration the additional expense of wine decanters, are they worth it? Well, unless you desire your red wine harsh with sediments, then a wine decanter is not needed. But since no one wants that, a decanter is a good investment for any wine lover.

    Decanting is not merely a whim; it is science. After being aged for several years, wines build up sulfites and a combination of other chemical reactions within them. Decanting allows the wine to breathe, resulting in softer tannins and fewer sediments.

    Wine connoisseurs and scientists, though, argue that the result of decanting is a matter of perspective of the drinker. Some may believe that decanting has improved their wine’s value, while others can drink the wine by just swirling it in a wine glass.

    What is the Worth of Old Jim Beam Decanters?

    Jim Beam Decanter with a separate whiskey decanter

    Jim Beam decanters were made following a themed series - the Ram, Glass, State, and Wheel. The antiques dating from the early 20th century do not fetch much - from $20 in 1964 to $40, 2021 is not much different. But some items on the Wheel series do bring a fair price. The most expensive was the Gold Semi 18 Wheeler, which lists for $3,000. It was made in 1991. 

    Another very valuable Jim Beam decanter was made in 1964, created exclusively for First National Bank of Chicago board members. Because of their exclusivity - each bearing the name of a board member - it lists for $1,584.

    They can be a good investment if you know how to seek one. However, just like any collectibles, the price of antique crystal decanters is volatile, depending on the market demand. One example is a Jim Beam decanter that was first listed at $160 in 1976 but is now valued at $40. Be sure to consult price guides before splurging in antiques. 

    Conclusion

    Whether you decide to buy an antique or contemporary decanter, the bottom line is that you know its benefits. If you want more options, here is a selection of carefully curated whiskey decanters and wine decanters.

    Will you be selling your antique decanters? Share with us your thoughts about purchasing rare and expensive decanters in the comments.


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    • Louise Diane Recchia on

      I have 3 wine decanters that were my Mom and Dads – probably over 70 years old. Where can I bring to find out. I live in Waterbury, CT.
      203-7590336
      Louise

    • Robert Maples on

      I have a Christmas jim beam decanter with jumping trout never been opened.

    • Heather on

      I have a crystal port decanter with a hall marked silver collar which tells me it was made in London and 1964. How do I find out it’s worth please?

    • patricia morris on

      I have two glass cabinets full of crystal decanter and glasses how can I get them valued

    • Okeine Lewis on

      How can I find out how much my decanter is worth



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