The cocktail craze has taken on a decidedly retro feel with craft cocktails and beverages taking pages from drinks from days gone by. And why not? There’s nothing wrong with taking a sip from the past and adding a modern twist.
To keep the vibe going, serve guests their beverages of choice and, while you’re at it, their hors d'oeuvres and more in and on vintage glassware. While disposable drinking vessels and dining ware may be easy on the cleanup end of things, they’re no gift to the environment. Using glassware, while it has its limitations (washing, storage, chipping, etc.), increases a gathering’s festive notes with a bit of class and shimmering beauty. Plus, who doesn’t love the tinkling of glasses as friends and family bid each other good cheer?
Kate Roberts, an antiques dealer from Victoria, has some of her treasures for sale at Chaska’s Shop 501 & Company. She shares some insights into vintage glassware and how to incorporate it into today’s entertaining landscape.
What are some fun ways to incorporate vintage pieces into bar sets and dining tables?
We have large families, so it’s not uncommon to set up a “help-yourself” beverage station for the adults and children to use. We set out serving trays, filled with barware glasses, ice buckets, stir sticks, cocktail fixings and snacks, and, of course, pretty napkins. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and sizes to create a variety of options. When we set the table, the centerpiece usually involves a vintage-footed silver tray, delicate glass ornaments from the 1940s and 1950s, flowers and candles. We simply extend the sparkle by adding vintage barware and silver flatware to the place settings.
How do you blend vintage pieces with current dishware?
Pieces should be used and shared. We often let our kids, age 9 and 11, use our “special” glasses for a weekend dinner. We house some pieces in our China hutch and many in our kitchen cupboard, so they are easy to grab and use. Sometimes pieces break, and it can be sad, but we also can celebrate the life it had and the joy it brought in using it.
What items are high on the collectable meter for glassware?
Glassware encompasses a huge variety of products, and the demand is constantly changing. If you appreciate Culver Glass, other favorite barware manufacturers are Dorothy Thorpe and Georges Briard. If you would prefer a more budget-friendly selection of barware options, check out Libbey, [it has] so many fun patterns to choose from, its hard to pick just one.
How is Culver Glass identified?
Culver Ltd. was founded in Brooklyn, N.Y. in the late 1930s and, in the 1980s, moved to New Jersey. In the mid-1990s, the company was sold to Moderne Glass Company Inc. Culver Glass features 22-karat gold decoration, and the application of the roll-on process of the gold remains a secret today. Pattern options are endless, from gilded wildlife, to geometrics, holiday designs and leafy patterns, to name a few. Culver Glass from the 1950s and 1960s is typically signed, however some later pieces are not. The patterns are typically textured, and the gold work is refined and opulent.
Replacement or add-on pieces can often be found on Etsy, Ebay, or replacements.com. Moderne Glass still creates Culver designs with a contemporary twist. Because the original manufacturing process of applying the gold is still a secret, the vintage Culver pieces look and feel much different than the recreated pieces of today.