Absinthe Glasses

Absinthe glasses fall into two categories – ordinary bistrot glasses of the era, which could have been used for absinthe, but which were also used for wine, cordials and other apéritifs; and glasses specifically made for use with absinthe, usually with a clear demarcation to indicate the size of the dose.
It’s the latter category that is eagerly collected. These glasses are never cut crystal: they were made for everyday use in busy bars, so low cost and ruggedness was a priority. They are usually heavy, and often quite crudely hand blown, something which only adds to their charm as far as the keen collector is concerned.

Larger (20 cm) Yvonne-style glass with publicity for Absinthe Barnoud.

Yvonne-style absinthe glasses from the Verreries Croismare catalogue.

A large wide mouthed, dose-marked glass used in the east of France.

An unusual sand-moulded reservoir glass.

Small publicity glasses for Absinthe Barnoud with two different lettering styles.

Three men with cordon glasses.

Cordon glass, with a raised band marking the dose.

Pontarlier glasses

Pontarlier style reservoir glasses take their name from their appearance in this picture, by Charles Maire (1845 – 1919). This ubiquitous print advertising Pernod Fils – with the local Pontarlier newspaper in the foreground – once hung in almost every bar and café in France.

Two styles of Pontarlier glasses.

An imposing, large Pontarlier-style glass with etched publicity for the Alsatian distillery Thann-Belfort.

Bubble Reservoir Glasses

The rarest and most interesting style of absinthe glass – “bubble” reservoirs. Hand-blown, and generally of artisanal or small scale production, they were made in the 1880’s and 1890’s but, probably because of the difficulty in cleaning the bubble, were never widely popular, and seem to have been discontinued by the early 1900’s. In most cases the entrance to the reservoir is only a few milimetres across.

The classic bubble reservoir shape, with only a small hole at the top of the reservoir.

A bubble-style absinthe glass, with a relatively open reservoir.

An unusually large (21cm) and fine example, more elegantly proportioned than most of these glasses.

An unusual thistle-shaped glass with a large open bubble reservoir, possibly for absinthe, although short-stemmed beer glasses with a similar (albeit larger) reservoir, are also recorded.

A sample of circa 1960 Pernod Tarragona louches dramatically, as ice-water enters the bubble.

Uranium Glasses

A selection of absinthe-related glassware, all made from glass dosed with uranium dioxide. Under ultraviolet light this glass shows a characteristic vivid lime-green fluorescence. Because of its mysterious greenish tinge even in daylight (caused by the ultra violet rays present in sunlight), this type of glassware, first manufactured in the mid 19th century, was particularly appropriate for use with absinthe.

A Baccarat liqueur set with two glasses, topette, sugar bowl and tray all in gilt-rimmed opaline glass dating from 1830 – 1860, possibly made specifically for use with absinthe. Baccarat made this opaque milky glass from around 1830 to 1890, although towards the end of this period it was usually more heavily gilded, rather than relatively plain as here. It fluoresces a bright lime-green under long-range UV-light (on the right).

3 Swirl glasses, a Cote Baritel spoon-holder and an Absinthe Mugnier carafe, all made from pale lime-green uranium glass.

The same glasses under ultraviolet light, showing the fluorescence caused by the presence of radioactive compounds (uranium dioxide) in the glass.

An unusual uranium glass spoon-holder made by Cote-Baritel, a Lyon based glassworks.

An etching from an 1863 journal showing the use of small glasses and a topette or small carafe for the absinthe, similar to the Baccarat set on the previous page. Larger glasses and spoons only came into widespread use later in the century, from the 1880’s onwards.