When I was collecting the candlestick from the dealer, he mentioned that his brother was selling a pair of 'ship's decanter's, and promised to email me pictures of them, which is what the one above is. He knew I had an interest in antique glass and I also made the mistake of saying that, although I was not interested in them, I knew someone with a ship who might be.
They are called 'ship's' decanters because the extremely wide base makes it impossible for them to be tipped over by the high seas when sitting at the Captain's table on board. They might slide from one side of the cabin to the other, but they will not topple over.
The pair above look - to me - like well made decanters dating from around the first half of the 19th century. There are quite a few around, and over the last few years, most good-quality decanters have come right down in resale price so that only the really unusual ones fetch decent money.
I said that I had received the photos, now all I needed was a price. About three days later, he sent another message saying that his brother was looking for something in the region of £3000 for the pair, and I replied by wishing him luck, adding that he would be lucky to get £300. I started my message off by telling him not to be so silly.
Next evening, he sent another message saying that he was not being silly, and a similar one had sold in a famous London auction house for £2000 + premium, in 2003. I replied (hopefully for the last time) that I had spend well over a quarter of a million pounds in the same auction house during the last 4 years, and I knew - first hand - how they could inflate and magic-up prices seemingly at will. I also told him that the identical decanter had sold in a Bath auction house for about £45 a few weeks ago, and this reflected it's market value somewhat more accurately.
Here in the UK, there is a TV program called 'The Antiques Roadshow'. It is watched by many antique dealers, purely for it's comedy value. A team of 'experts' tour the country with a film crew, and advertise that they will be in a certain town hall or wherever, inviting members of the public to bring in items that they suspect may have value in the antique category. These items may have been in their family for years, or they may have been recently acquired at a car-boot sale. A typical valuation may go as follows, with the owners of the item sitting at a table with the TV personality discussing it at length as the camera lingers over certain salient features of the object. The couple sit like shy children, occasionally answering pertinent questions from the expert as a crowd of about 300 bystanders look on from behind:
"So tell me - how long has this item been in your family?"
(They whisper that their grandfather used to own it, and that must have been about 100 years ago at least)
"And how long have you been using it as a door-stop?"
(By this time, the couple begin to suspect that they have been mistreating it for many years, and show signs of remorse. Someone in the crowd behind begins to pick their nose)
"And how much have you insured it for? Oh - it isn't insured at all. What if I were to tell you that you should take great care when you leave the hall today, and make sure that you get it insured as soon as possible for..... £50,000!!!!"
At this point, the couple either: scream, faint, burst into tears, have an epileptic fit, wet themselves, shit themselves - or all of the above simultaneously, and the crowd goes wild. This is also the point when the antique dealers - sitting watching TV at home - fall around in uncontrollable laughter. As far as I know, none of the fortunate participants of this show have gone round to the expert's place of business when the show is over, and asked him to put his money where his mouth is by giving them anything like the amount of money for the item that he has valued it at, by purchasing it from them on the spot.
I also mentioned to the seller of those ship's decanters that he should not take episodes of The Antiques Roadshow as gospel truth when dealing with potential fools like me. Everyone is trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of everyone else these days.