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Barware From Yesteryear In Vogue

Photos Provided Collectors appreciate the elegance and design of vintage bar ware.

Barware and cocktail party gear are always in vogue and offer a fun way to celebrate with friends. Vintage cocktail shakers add a touch of elegance to making a drink and also are a conversation starter.

Cocktail stemware, wine glasses and novelty glasses are endless and easy to find at second hand stores, antique shops and estate sales, so this collectible doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

The old-time shakers, the retro stirrers, trays and accessories also populate popular online auction sites as new fans discover the classic elegance of yesterday’s barware.

There is a wide variety of cocktail shakers in the world of antiques. Some are glass bodies and others are chrome or silverplate. Many have handles and spouts. But all are distinctively made to allow hosts and hostesses to mix up some fun.

My favorites are the vintage glass shakers that come with matching drinking glasses or ice buckets and are very colorful. Clear glass bodies are often decorated with aqua, pink and green images of parties and recipes of drinks popular in the 1950s. These are fun to bring out and share with friends and great to work into your decorating scheme.

I’ve also seen shakers that look like a ladies’ leg, some decorated with pink elephants, and lots of colored glass that would make for a fascinating collection. It’s easy to see why this category of bar accessories is popular with fans of retro!

When shopping second hand though, steer clear of any damaged goods that are rusted, pitted or cracked since these have little value. Condition is always tops in collecting.

I was surprised to learn of the big names that produced barware of distinction. Glassware names like Cambridge, Heisey, Hazel Atlas, Duncan Miller, Imperial Glass, West Virginia Specialty Glass, Owens-Illinois are some of the ones that made unique cocktail shakers and serving ware.

Top names in metal barware include Manning Bowman, Napier, Farber Brothers, Revere, Bernard Rice’s Sons, Wallace Brothers, Mappin & Webb, Barbours, Meriden S.P. Co., Derby S.P. Co., and Gorham. These firms made gorgeous sterling, silver plate and chrome shakers that are elegant, unique treasures.

It seems that shaking cocktails came into vogue about the same time as prohibition and drinking “at home” made-up for the lack of bartenders. Anyhow, many of the antique shakers reveal an art deco, modernist appeal that teams up well with trends in kitchenware today and reminds you of the jazz age.

Some of these old shakers resemble skyscrapers and modern architecture. Others are shaped like bullets, zeppelins, bowling pins and penguins.

Drink recipes go in and out of fashion too and old drink recipe books, shot and jigger glasses and even retro cocktail napkins and cocktail picks for olives are now collectibles.

If you’re looking for the bible on vintage bar ware, find a copy of Stephen Visakay’s book, “Vintage Bar Ware,” which includes 300 color photos and tips for caring and finding lovely old bar ware.


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