Victorian wine glasses are highly diverse in form and colour. Whole-coloured glasses can be found in many and varied hues: peacock blue, Bristol green, apple green, Bristol blue, yellow, amber, cranberry, ruby, amethyst, teal blue, turquoise, iridescent blue and the vivid uranium colours – and this list is by no means exhaustive.
As a general rule, the bowls of Victorian wines glasses were larger than those of their Georgian and Regency predecessors; in the 18th century, the price of wines fluctuated wildly with the political situation, mostly wars with the French and the imposition of taxation to fund them. In the 19th century the price of wine fell in real terms and the increased size of wine glass bowls gave greater license by which the artistry of engravers and new decorative techniques could be displayed. A highly competitive and growing industry created a myriad of designs showing far broader scope than ever before.
With colours and bowl decorations to the fore, stems were somewhat overlooked; whereas the 18th century mantra seems to have been “the more knops the merrier” Victorian wine glass stems became comparatively plain. From the second quarter of the 19th century onwards, the extravagant designs of Bohemian glassmakers began to make an impact, with their penchant for intense colours and marbled glass, engraving and gilding setting the stage on which extravagant creations and a tranche of intensely-coloured hock glasses would find their niches. The somewhat inane perception of Victorians being universally staid and sombre is at odds with the nature of their glassware with its polychromatic excesses, and any collection of 19th century wine glasses is sure to make for an eye-catching display.