Thursday, December 7, 2017

Types of wine/bottle labels - Overview

Wine labels (also known as bottle tickets), are a popular collecting area.

The earliest form - an Escutcheon label by Louis Hamon, circa 1750
With my main interest being in antique sterling silver, I have focussed on labels made from the precious metal. They can also be found made from other things such as mother of pearl and porcelain. 


Early collectors, such as Dr N. Penzer suggested 20 categories for labels.

The Wine Label Circle, which is a collecting club for those interested in wine and sauce labels, reclassifies the categories, dividing the types of labels into 23 different categories in their authoritative book, Wine Labels:1730-2003, a worldwide history. 

These categories are helpful for the majority of labels, although there will always be exceptions that will fit in to two or more.

The 23 categories listed are:

  • Escutcheons
  • Rectangles
  • Scrolls
  • Ovals
  • Crescents
  • Stars and Buttons
  • Sun in Splendour
  • Bottle Collars and Neck Rings
  • Single Letters and Cut-out Words
  • Bacchic Revellers
  • Barrels
  • Anchors
  • The Balloon Label
  • Bugles
  • Crowns
  • Harps
  • Hearts
  • Goblets
  • Shells
  • Vine and Other Leaves
  • Armorial
  • Commemorative
  • Military and Navel

Of these various types of labels, the most commonly occurring are Escutcheons, Rectangles, Crescents, Single Letters and Vine Leaves.

A Crescent label by Margret Binley, circa 1770

Monday, January 30, 2017

What's the rarest? Silver from Scottish Provincial towns.

Antique Scottish Provincial silver is one of the most interesting and confusing areas of silver collecting. There were numerous towns that were producing silver in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There were no regulations governing these towns, so each town (or silversmith) came up with their own marks. These were often related to town symbols or coat of arms.

It is often the question of rarity that wildly affects the value for these pieces of silver. Below is a table of suggested rarity:

Scarce
Rare
Very Rare
Aberdeen
Arbroath
Cupar
Dumfries
Ballater
Ellon
Dundee
Banff
Fochabers
Glasgow (pre-Assay office)
Canongate
Forres
Inverness
Elgin
Leith
Perth
Greenock
Nairn
Iona
Peterhead
Montrose
St. Andrews
Paisley
Stonehaven
Tain
Wick
This list is published by antiquesilverspoons.co.uk and is based on the research of Richard Turner (who's book, A Directory of Scottish Provincial Silversmiths and Their Marks, is the authority reference on these towns and their makers). 

I have found Aberdeen is by far the most common to turn up (especially the work of William Jamieson!). The towns of Iona and Ballater are both modern producers (late nineteenth/early twentieth century). And the other 'Scarce' towns also turn up somewhat regularly. 

Check out my website for examples of silver from some of the towns listed above.