Outlander Drinking Glasses | Which glasses did the cast use & how accurate were they?
“Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone,
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, 'til our Life shall be Done.”
Let us take a look at the most eye-catching scenes from the Outlander TV series to answer some of those burning continuity and authenticity questions. “Is the glassware used in the period drama really of that period?”,“Did they get any wrong?”,“Are the glasses 'special' in any way?” Perhaps, most importantly, “What are they called? So I can get one!"
The Iconic Outlander ‘Baluster’ Glass
This is the oldest British glass used in the Outlander series and belongs to the ‘Baluster’ category. Large in stature, these glasses have carefully proportioned ‘knops’ on the stem, giving elegance to an otherwise robust style of glass.
This scene makes for a very memorable start to Claire's journey. Certainly among the most visually impressive glasses of the 18th century. Being a clan chief, it could be expected that Colum Mackenzie would own such fine tableware, especially for such occasions as entertaining time travellers.
The Baluster glass was first produced around 1685 and was immediately popular, not least because of the clarity and brilliance of the glass. This was due to a never before archived high lead content in the glass, causing it to shimmer and dance by firelight. Not only that, but it was also far more able to withstand the rough and tumble of 18th-century life than the more fragile wares available at the time.
18th Century ‘Baluster’ Glass
Baluster goblets are significantly larger than the baluster wine glasses. The bowl atop a baluster goblet is typically large enough to hold what some may consider to be a ‘modern measure’, with many goblets easily exceeding 250ml. Baluster wine glasses hold a more modest 125ml on average - the amount you would receive when ordering a standard small glass in the U.K today, and close to the 150ml American standard.
The Outlander ‘Balustroid’ Glass
“To a lady of grace, a woman of strength, and a bride of astonishing beauty. My wife, Claire Fraser.”
Everybody's favourite, feel-good relatable scene. The glass itself is a fantastic choice, commanding attention with a small gesture that encapsulates the couple's romantic and intimate moment. The attention to detail here truly leaves a lasting, out-of-time, fairytale impression.
Not just any old glass either, this is a replica of one of the most sought after antique drinking glasses found anywhere in the world. The iconic three ‘knops’ you see on the stem are a distinguishing feature of the ‘Balustroid’ family. It is most certainly a historically accurate glass for this scene and a great fan favourite.
This ‘Balustroid Glass’ would have been produced from c.1730 to c.1740. Claire’s crash landing in 1743 perfectly suits having such glass at the Glencorse Old Kirk, which may even have been brought from Clan Mackenzie's House, as the glass would’ve been of substantial value.
Author's note: Try to imagine being Scottish and a glass specialist watching this scene for the first time, I was both impressed with the accuracy and in sheer glee that I could go visit… I vow to live out this moment.
18th Century ‘Balustroid’ Glass
Both of the above wine glasses are perfect examples of the iconic Outlander glass, with the difference being that you can be certain the engraved Carnation flower (above right), represents a coded sympathetic view towards the Jacobite cause.
Glasses found with documented cryptic engravings are referred to as ‘Jacobite Sympathy’ glasses.
Cryptic and treasonous, the Coronation (‘Carnation’) of Bonnie Prince Charlie was embodied in a typically Scottish tongue-in-cheek way, letting it be quietly known that the Stuart Coronation was nigh.
18th Century 'Balusters & Balustroids'
The above drinking glasses are authentic 18th-century examples of ‘Baluster’ and ‘Balustroid’ drinking glasses. These would have all been available at the time of Claire's landing in 1743. The tallest glass in the above photo (back left), is neither a baluster or balustroid and gives you an idea of what a striking difference the ‘knops’ really make.
The Outlander ‘Air Twist’
Above are tall replica examples of an 18th century ‘Air Twist’ and seem to be used by just about every cast member who can get their hands on one. Dazzling columns of air spiralling in unison give these glasses their unique appeal.
If you’d like to own an antique original of this exact glass, the form is based on the ‘18th-century English single series multi-ply spiral air twist’, it's a mouthful but a specialist will... ‘kehn yer meaning’. Below you’ll find some examples of the real deal offered by Exhibit Antiques.
The 18th Century ‘Air Twist’
First produced around 1740-45, some later examples of this stem type are particularly elegant, however, as any true glass collector will tell you, it's all about the feel of it. I can attest to that. The glass is of a surprising weight and has a slight natural chill to the material. Sipping from such a glass, you appreciate the unmistakable quality like a Michelin star meal, in that, it’s an experience in and of itself and it simply tastes better.
A variety of forms from Exhibit Antiques are shown above showcasing Outlander period air twists used for wine, ale, champagne and spirits. To the left are four glasses showing the classic ‘outlander twist’ (the multi-ply spiral). To the right are three further glasses with some more rare and intricate designs. If you're going shopping, the difference is referred to broadly as being either a ‘single series’ air twist or a ‘double series’ air twist.
We thought you may also like to see these examples. Museum quality and rarest of the rare, beautifully coloured enamels in combination with the air twist. Striking and expensive, one recent example realising a value of over £18’000 at auction.
The Outlander ‘Opaque Twist’ Glass
The historians have done a fantastic job in highlighting the era in this scene, and again - I cannot fault their research or taste.
If you’re mesmerised by the stem, you are not alone. The glass is called an ‘opaque twist’, referring to the vividly white spiral enamel encased within the stem. The opaque twist stem seems almost impossible, not to mention the vast array of pattern choices. That’s probably why, of all the 18th-century English drinking glasses, the opaque twist is one of the most popular among collectors.
Authors Note: These glasses being shown in Season 4’s America emphasise the depth of storytelling, as many settlers would have brought prized possessions from their homeland. The glasses would have also been available through the British-American trade market.
18th Century ‘Opaque Twist’ Glasses
The opaque twist was first produced around 1755, which leaves plenty of time for some glasses to have made their way to the American shores. Since Jamie and Claire are now set in the 1760s, the historians have perhaps chosen the most accurate and beautiful glasses of the era to showcase.
Above left is an authentic example of the ‘Outlander Opaque Twist’ glass used in Season 4, Episode 2: Do No Harm. The centre photo shows a pair of glasses with the same form as the aforementioned ‘Outlander Air Twist’ glass used in Season 2, Episode 4: La Dame Blanche, they also happen to have ‘Jacobite sympathy’ engravings. Finally, above right, we have the ‘Outlander Balustriod’ form with its triple knopped stem - all perfect combinations for the Outlander fan.
The Outlander Engravings
A well-recognised aspect of the Outlander series is the attention to detail - and the glassware is no exception. The engravings you see on those glasses throughout the Jacobite rebellion, in particular, are worth discussing. The design is taken directly from those engravings created by the original ‘Jacobite engravers’.
The traditional Jacobite rose is based on the Royal Badge of England and was produced for only a short while during the Jacobite uprisings.
A ‘flowered glass’ as they were so named, could have been obtained from a skilled engraver working locally. If you could afford the transport cost, Dutch engravers working in Holland produced the highest quality craftsmanship of the era. The vast majority of the Jacobite engravings were produced by only a handful of craftsmen based in London. Those glasses which can be identified as such, have therefore become known as ‘Jacobite Glasses’.
The first written account of these glasses comes in 1742, just before Claire’s arrival. To our current knowledge, there has not been a single opaque twist glass attributed to the 5 major Jacobite engravers. This would suggest that perhaps all of the original Jacobite rose glasses were produced before 1747 and certainly during the crucial years of 'the 45 rebellion'.
Jamie’s toasting to the ‘King over the water’ in Season 2, was a well-known practice among the banned Jacobite societies. Production or ownership of these glasses would have amounted to an act of sedition, the punishment for which had been reduced in the 18th-century to imprisonment or a good old-fashioned flogging… The last thing Jamie needs.
Other Jacobite engravings include the thistle, taken from the Royal badge of Scotland, the oak tree and leaves, a star, fleur-de-lis feathers, a crown, butterflies, bees, a compass, and a bird. As well as an assortment of mottos, portraits and crests.
The glasses known to have been engraved after the final uprising, and not attributed to the major engravers, are referred to as ‘Jacobite sympathy’ glasses. The engravings remain encrypted and beautiful, keeping to original themes and motifs.
European Outlander Glass
Outlander | Season 2, Episode 2: Not in Scotland Anymore | Façon de Venise Glasses
“Mark me...” this scene is historically accurate. I’m sure the Brothel meeting had attention diverted to the background between whispers, so hopefully, you didn’t miss the show in front.
As the Bonnie Prince and Jamie talk Rebellion, you may have caught glimpses of the beautifully engraved ‘Façon de Venise’ glasses. Clearly we are not in Scotland any more, a delicate glass in both style and material, very much suiting the refined nature and origins of the Prince.
1724 Map of Venice by Joan Blaeu
‘Façon de Venise’ is a French term meaning ‘Venetian Fashion’ or ‘Way of Venice’. Such was the influence of the Italian Renaissance and extraordinary trade routes of Venice. Façon de Venise glassware exhibits the height of fine elegance in European culture - and a well-researched example of what could be found in Paris at the time.
First produced in the 16th century (1500’s), this Italian style of glassware remained popular for centuries, being produced prominently in the Netherlands, France, Bohemia and Germany.
Authors Note: All I’m saying is... Charles Edward Stuart very clearly liked the glasses so much, that he is seen here to have nicked one from the brothel, a true Scotsman at heart.
Museum Façon de Venise Glasses
Left | Façon de Venise glass goblet most likely produced in the Netherlands, diamond-point engraved, dated 1678, signed J.W. Kaldenbach.
Centre | Façon de Venise glass goblet probably produced in Italy. The glass is diamond-point engraved with the inscription 'Aurea Libertas'. From Latin, this translates as ‘Golden Liberty’ referring to a political system enacted in the Kingdom of Poland between 1570-1760.
Right | Dutch-engraved Façon de Venise wine glass with a portrait of Queen Mary II. Possibly being produced in France or the Netherlands where ties were strongest with the Scottish monarchy.
Façon de Venise glass goblets were produced prominently in the Netherlands, Italy and France, however, the glasses are not always engraved in the country of origin. Façon de Venise was also the first style of glassware produced in London, England, from 1573, it was, in fact, a Venetian man by the name Jacopo Verzelini who gained a Royal privilege for the production of such glassware. Very few examples of such glass are in existence or intact today, though it is a wonder how any glass survives the test of time.
The Outlander TV series is perhaps the most engaging historical drama produced to date. The team has certainly gone to incredible lengths, creating authentic character and charm. From the tartan to the treachery, we have found this to be a remarkably enthralling and unpredictable show. If you have any questions about your favourite Outlander glasses, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the Exhibit team. We would be delighted to help and encourage anyone to find out more.
Related books of interest
Eighteenth-Century English Drinking Glasses An Illustrated Guide
Published by Antique Collectors Club
The Jacobites and their Drinking Glasses
Published by Antique Collectors Club
Article Author | Nicola Smillie