Saturday, May 21, 2011

Collection: Bottle Tickets (aka: Decanter Labels or Bottle Tags)

Wine and liquor bottle tags first appeared in the mid-1720s and were known as bottle tickets back then. At that time they replaced the paper tickets, or labels, that were hung on or attached to bottles to identify the contents. While these started off as plain silver rectangles, cartouches or escutcheons, by the end of the 18th century these had become quite ornate at times. 

By the beginning of the 1800s these fancier tickets became known as decanter labels to reflect the better quality of the spirits being kept in the bottles as well as the higher degree of design that was exhibited. In 1860, the English made it legal for shops to sell individual bottles of wine and spirits, provided that the bottle had a paper label describing its contents. Bottle tickets disappeared and decanter labels were used only when wine or spirits were decanted and kept in a separate, and usually fancier, container. In the twenties, and again in the forties, every bar had to have its selection of decanters containing scotch, whiskey, sherry and port, appropriately marked with hanging bottle tags.
While the vast majority of the collectible bottle tags are silver, there are many interesting specimens made of enameled metals, porcelain, brass and even glass. Also, the practice of hanging a label on a bottle was not limited to wine and spirits. Caster sets, vanity bottles and perfumes were also marked with hanging tags, albeit these were typically smaller than those for their alcoholic cousins.

The book Collecting Small Silver by Stephen Helliwell devotes a whole chapter to tags and other spirit related silver items. Here are a few of the photographs from his book, showing 18th century silver labels.

Bottle tickets, decanter labels or bottle tags (whatever you prefer) make a wonderful collection, as they are small and lend themselves to many different forms of display. Each one is a little piece of art all by itself, and they can be used as well!
We have a nice selection of bottle tags available here at Vintages in sterling silver, as well as silver plate, brass, porcelain and even pottery.
Sterling Silver Bottle Tags (from $45.00 to $69.00 each)
Porcelain Bottle Tags ($9.95 each)
Silver Plate Bottle Tags ($18.00 each)
Brass Bottle Tags ($14.00 each)

Bottle tags are still made today in silver and silver plate. But today's artisans do not stop there. These pottery labels give the genre a new twist. They convey greetings such as Happy Birthday and Thanks, as well as Paris and the Eiffel Tower. These work wonderfully when hung from a nice bottle of wine or spirits as a gift, or used as napkin rings. They would look great on a leather cuff as a bracelet.
Pottery Bottle Tags ($9.95 each)
Another trend we have seen is the use of tags on jewelry, hung on necklaces and attached to bracelets. So crafters, get ready!
Hand Crafted Silver Bottle Tag Necklace offered on
Hand Crafted Bottle Tag Bracelet offered on
Bottle Tag using one of Susan's Soldered Pendants
Another Solder Pendant Bottle Tag

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