Vintage crystal: diseased or dirty?

Why gulp your whiskey in a recycled mustard jar, when auction prices for vintage European crystal can have you sipping in style?  Second-hand glassware can, however, sometimes look disturbingly ‘cloudy’.  Is the glass ‘diseased’ or just ‘dirty’?  If it’s simply oxidation sickness, get out grandma’s denture cleaner, an electric toothbrush and get to work; but if the crystal is ‘crizzled’, we are talking a terminal situation.

Crystal tumbler or mustard jar?

Recycled mustard glass (left) vs. Baccarat ‘Harmonie’ (right). It’s all in the light bouncing off the facets. 

I am embarrassed to say that for years, if you asked for a scotch in my house, you were served in a recycled mustard glass. (You know the ones.) It was only when our daughter went to university in Scotland and began arriving for the holidays bearing distilled Highland gifts that I thought to invest in vintage tumblers to do justice to a vintaged whiskey.

No mustard glass for ‘James Bond’. Daniel Craig with his Cumbria ‘Grasmere’ tumbler, the English glassware favored in the ‘Poldark’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ series, as well.


Twenty-four Baccarat tumblers (in their original boxes) for 180 euros (Drouot Estimations, 01/10/16).

To my surprise, I found auction prices in France for second-hand glassware (even prestigious names like Baccarat, Daum or Lalique) extremely reasonable, i.e.  (14) water glasses, (11) red wine, (12) white wine, (8) champagne coupes and (2) carafes in Baccarat’s prestigious ‘Talleyrand’ design…100 euros.

Second-hand Baccarat ‘Talleyrand’ at two euros per glass (Daguerre 22/04/16).

It’s not that the flavor of the libation changes, but endulging in using vintage crystal daily is all about the aesthetics – and in these days of questionable taste (even at the highest levels), aesthetics might be all we have left! Read more