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Liquor Glass

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REF No. B62931
A Gilt-Bronze and Cut-Crystal Liquor Set in the unusual form of a Railway Carriage
French, Circa 1900.

Height: 33 cm / 13 inches
Width: 48 cm / 19 inches
Depth: 28 cm / 11 inches

A Gilt-Bronze and Cut-Crystal Liquor Set, in the unusual form of a Railway Carriage, by 'La Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat'.

The Nineteenth Century was the first great era of railway travel, with the introduction of the steam locomotive at the beginning of the century and the foundations for an electric network being laid by the end.

With steam came passenger rail travel and the glorification of the railways. The upper classes and the new burgeoning middle classes now had an alternative to the glamour of sea travels.

The development of the railways in France was slower than much of Europe, with the first railway starting operation in 1832. However, France under Napoleon III (1852 - 1871) saw a particular period of fascination and development in the railways as increased government money was invested and between 1852 - 1887, the national railways were converted in to six separate companies. This trend continued so that by the 1900's Frances railways were the most highly developed in the world.

During these times of rapid change, the railway represented more than simply a means of transportation. It quickly became imbued with a complex reflective symbolism tied to abstract notions of nationhood, economic wealth and progress. For Baccarat to produce a decanter set in this form is therefore not only apposite to the period but embodies a charming sense of the novel.

Baccarat is the world's leading manufacturer of crystalware.
Founded in 1764 under the patronage of Louis XV as Renault et Compagnie, the firm became known as the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat during the Nineteenth Century.

The company began to flourish at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, as the effects of the Napoleonic Wars abated, and its reputation was consolidated by the official approval from various sovereigns and heads of state. At the 1823 Exposition Nationale in Paris, it was Baccarat's crystalware that Louis XVIII was said to have particularly admired, appreciating its 'beautiful workmanship'.

It was Charles X's visit to the crystalworks in 1828 however that had the most significant repercussions for the company. The crystalworks presented the monarch with a gift of two magnificent Medici Vases, a large crystal Ewer, a fifteen piece Tea Service and a five-piece Water Set. The king then ordered a dinner service for the Tuilleries, while the Duchess d'Angoulême personally chose a set of eighteen glasses, described by her as '..sturdy, balanced, perfect'. Later Louis-Philippe and Napoleon II also visited the crystalworks and were followed by a succession of French presidents and foreign heads of state.

François-Eugène de Fontenay (who joined the company in 1841) discovered that by the addition of the nickel oxide in the manufacturing process, a perfectly clear product, 'crystal glass', free of discolouration and imitating precious rock crystal was produced. This is just one of many technical innovations and improvements discovered by Baccarat,
that make it the company it is today.

The Baccarat company was awarded a Gold medal at the French Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie in 1855 and has continued to carry off the top prizes ever since. In 1867 they exhibited a gigantic fountain twenty four feet tall, with a basin ten feet in diameter, which it was said 'simple took visitors breath away'.

With the continuing improvement in their manufacturing standards, the quality of Baccarat's 'crystal glass' improved and reached the highest level by the end of the Century, competing successfully with the Bohemian glass industry. Baccarat 'crystal glass' is highly regarded, not only for its unusual clarity, but also for its great solidity and weight.

Battie, D. and Cottle, S., 'Encyclopedia of glass', Conran octopus, 1997.
Curtiss, Jean-Louis, 'Baccarat', Thames and Hudson 1992.

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