If a little is good, a lot is better. That’s especially true of miniature liquor decanters. There’s something fascinating about these miniature works of art that collectors just can’t resist.
Called nips and minis, they typically contained a shot or 1.5 fluid ounces, and are often referred to in size as 4/5. They range from approximately three to five inches, and although small, some command big prices.
Several companies who manufactured them include Garnier, Grenadier, Hoffman, Lionstone, Luxardo, Schafer, and Ski Country. At the high end and considered some of the most beautiful are the Ski Country decanters designed by Barbara Foss. Her Native American series decanters, produced from 1974 until 1983, are the most prized, but her birds and wildlife decanters are equally as beautiful. Ski Country released them in limited quantities in specific locations, which certainly drives up their value. The Native American decanters are in the hundreds of dollars.
As for all the others, the presence of a tax stamp indicates bottles from the early 1980's and older. The tax stamps changed over time which aids in dating the decanters. Prevalent bourbon distillers issued limited edition miniature decanters that often mirrored their full-size decanters, among them were Jim Beam and Austin Nichols Whiskey Wild Turkey Bourbon.
Others were very prolific. Dugs Nevada issued a brothel series of miniature decanters, and even the KLM, the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands, has done their part to contribute to the miniature decanter collector market. Since the 1950s, every World Business Class passenger is presented with a a Delft Blue miniature, Dutch house, filled with Dutch gin known as genever. Every year on October 7, the airline celebrates the anniversary of KLM’s founding in 1919, by presenting a new house.
On average, these smaller decanters typically start at around ten to twenty dollars, but decanters produced by exquisite china manufacturers like the 200-year old English company Royal Dalton, would be considered high end. The Sandeman black decanter pictured top left in photo, is just one example. It’s approximate value is $40.
Sets are always difficult to find, like the miniature skeleton decanter with skull shot glasses, and the rare Scheibel Obstwasser chess set, which is valued at $100 (also shown in photo). The miniature crystal set by Galway (bottom left) goes for $300.
Also pictured are a couple of porcelain miniatures by Beswick for Beneagles Scotch Whiskey...a squirrel, circa 1979, and the Loch Ness Monster believed to be a newer decanter. The unique Michters Whiskey King Tut gold miniature decanter dates back to 1978. All three are valued at between 15 and 20 dollars.