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Culture:Bohemian or German
Date Made:1790-1820
Type:Food Service
Materials:non-lead glass
Place Made:Bohemia or Germany
Measurements:overall: 11 5/8 x 4 1/8 in.; 29.5275 x 10.4775 cm
Accession Number:  HD 74.018
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Blown, colorless glass decanter with a flared mallet form with sloping shoulders, tapering neck with a tooled lip, and flat polished bottom, which belonged to Williams family of Deerfield descending from Dr. William Stoddard Williams (1762-1829) through Ephrain Williams (1797-1870) to Mary Williams Fuller. Decanters of this style were once attributed to John Frederick Amelung, whose factory was in New Bremen, Maryland, and went out of business in 1796; but the composition and style of engraving are very different from documented Amelung examples. Perhaps inspired by English and Irish glass but made in Bohemia for export abroad, these decanters were shipped in large quantities to America after the Treaty of Paris in 1783. America primarily relied on imported glass in the 17th and 18th centuries, and after the Revolution, German and Bohemian glass factories quickly found a large market here. Glassmakers in Bohemia and the German states used a lightweight, non-lead glass for their products, which was cheaper than similar English and Irish wares, despite higher transportation costs. Many were shipped through Hamburg, and thus were described as German. Tumblers and beakers begin to appear in Connecticut Valley estate inventories after the Revolution (usually two or more listed), many decorated with crudely engraved floral designs. These items were imported from New York and Boston by Connecticut Valley merchants beginning about 1770. Frederick Rhinelander (1743-1805), a New York ceramics and glass merchant, supplied Valley merchants with tumblers during the 1770s, and the Deerfield firm of Williams and Upham bought tumblers and wine glasses from Burling and Haviland of New York City in 1783. Similarly decorated glass wares also appear in two illustrated glass catalogues dating around 1800 (now in the Winterthur Museum library), which were discovered on Gardiner's Island, New York, where they had a long history of ownership; the catalogues have 217 ink-and-wash illustrations of glass objects and chandeliers captioned in German. The catalogues were probably given to an American merchant by a German glass manufacturer or glasshouse agent; the name "Johannes Schiefner," a resident of Parchen, Bohemia, is inscribed on one of the accompanying price lists. Schiefner has been linked to an international export and commission business in 1805; one of his employees, Franz Anton Zahn, sold glass on commission for him from 1791-1793. The decanter has a flat pear-shaped stopper with a facet-cut edge; cut, overlapping petal shapes extending down the neck to the shoulders; a band of wheel-engraved small vertical, tightly packed flowers intersected on two side with two star-like designs from which hang two swags and tassels around the mid-section; and a plain base.

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