We’re smitten with antique demijohns’ oversized scale and vintage charm and the way they can add drama to any space. Find out how to decorate with them as well where to find them!
I’m sure you’re familiar with these bottles, even if you didn’t actually know the name for them. Antique demijohns have grown immensely popular in the last several years. So much so that reproductions abound. You know when the chain stores start copying them that they have morphed into a full-fledged trend!
I wrote about my love for these charming bottles a couple of years ago (I mean, I love wine and antiques, so what could be better than something that marries the two?!) However, I got a lot of questions from readers about where to find them, and I didn’t really touch on that in the original post, so today I’m revisiting them!
Simple and beautiful! They’re shape is so dramatic they don’t need anything else to make them look stunning. Via Wolfe Rizor Interiors.
The word demijohn is French and is used to describe any large, narrow-necked bottle used to hold liquid. Antique or vintage demijohns are from Europe and were most often used to transport or store wine. Sometimes they are still covered with their original wicker, but often times they are not.
I love when they have painting of wine names on them, or when the original label is attached! They come in a myriad of colors, but the antique ones are most often green.
Here I grouped a few of mine on the dining room buffet.
A collection massed together in this kitchen is stunning. I would love to have this many! Via Farmhouse Manduria.
Aren’t they charming?!
Now many of the demijohns you see nowadays are actually reproductions, which isn’t surprising since the authentic ones are a little pricey. I like any bottle, even a new, green, pretending-to-be-old one since I love using them in decorating. However, the old ones have imperfections and glass bubbles that do give them much more character. For that reason, I prefer to use an actual vintage one when I can.
And since almost any large bottle can hover around $100, why not get one with more character?!
You can see I also display a few on the fireplace hearth. The large one with the writing is a reproduction, while the wicker covered one next to it is vintage.
Pottery Barn is one of the places you can sometimes find true vintage ones!
This room full of all kinds of antique bottles in different shapes is amazing! via Country Living magazine.
Most of the examples I’m showing are vintage, but I’ve seen reproductions at TJ Maxx and Home Goods, online catalogs, Pottery Barn, Wayfair, and even Magnolia. Yes, Joanna Gaines is a fan, too!
Here I used one of mine in a tablescape for fall.
Via Fixer Upper. These are reproduction but the labels do add some extra oomph.
Photo by Sjoerd Eickmans. I love the drama they add!
This is one I recently purchased. Originally I thought I only wanted the larger ones, but I’m actually loving it’s smaller size.
I would never have thought to use them in a bathroom, but I love this! Via Better Homes and Gardens.
One of my favorite wicker wrapped bottles in a winter display on the kitchen table.
So the next question is, where to find them? The antiques can be expensive, especially if they are in an antique store or a site like 1st Dibs. However, I have gotten some at flea markets for very good prices.
And, as I mentioned above, they are carried by the likes of Pottery Barn now, as well. And they aren’t reproductions (though they may have those, too). They carry actual vintage ones, usually fairly reasonably. And then, there is always Etsy or Ebay. I find Etsy to be an amazing source for all things vintage!
I’ve included both vintage and reproduction here, just so you can see the price differences. You might be surprised at how some of the repros are more expensive than the real antiques! But either way, I have bought both and own both and I think if you buy what you love, you can’t go wrong.
It’s really about the drama that a large bottle or vase adds to a table or vignette, and that can be accomplished with either. 😉
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How to Find French Farmhouse Antiques – for Less!
Vintage French Bread Boards & How to Decorate with Them
Five Essential Textures that Every Room Needs
Rick Allen says
I was stationed in southern Germany in 1970, fortunately with my new wife of just a few months. One of our first “ventures out” was with a military friend looking for old car parts for a vintage German Mercedes he bought. In the junkyard were stacks of old demijohns, very large bottles, some dark green, some light green. A few had screw tops, but most had been there a while, pretty dirty, were hand-blown, and had cork-tops. We decided on the spot to buy two of the large ones (one dark green, one light green), for the astounding cost of about 7 German marks, or about $1 each at the time. We’ve hauled them all over the place as we moved and changed careers….but they’ve made it unscathed for 52 years and are decorative in our current home. I suspect they are probably from the 1930’s-1940’s. May be among the best $2 we ever spent.
Oh my gosh, I love that story Rick!! Thank you for sharing!
YOU are the reason I fell in love with demijohns… when I saw one in one of your tablescapes! I knew I had to have one. You are also the reason I now love and have to have a biot jar! Yes, you are the source of a number of things I now “need” that I never knew existed before! lol.
Oh my gosh, that is so sweet Lina! You made my day! I love hearing that the blog is inspiring you.
Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by!
my husband makes wine we could use a few more thank you so much
Marion Roberts says
Hello from Catalonia, Spain. I regularly find these Antique ‘Demi Jarras’ at our local rubbish tip, I have 12 large, vintage in green and clear glass. I’d like to sell a few, but am at a loss on how to package them well enough to withstand export.
How can you tell if they are old/antique and authentic aside from the colour green. Mine have Villani embossed by the lip and some have ve vab. Are these brand for demijohn old enough to be an antique?
I also love Demi johns and am collecting the ones with the wicker baskets around them. They are just such a simple yet versatile way to decorate.
I couldn’t agree more! And I love the wicker-wrapped ones – I’ve been wanting to add more of those. Love the texture they add!
Thanks for stopping by!
Vikki O’Hara says
Thank you for this! It reminded me to start looking for these again and within a week I was lucky enough to spot this huge one (26” tall) an an antique mall for $84 (included tax.) it was tagged 19th century French demijohn and definitely still had some wine residue in the bottom! I found another smaller one that is clearly also very old for $18 – – from someone who had no idea what it was!
Oh my gosh Vikki, you are one lucky gal!! Good for you – what a find!
Marjorie Dossey says
Sheila, when looking for demijohns how do you tell if it is a real antique?
Hi Marjorie! I did address this a little in my article on French antiques here: https://maisondecinq.com/french-farmhouse-antiques/
but mainly it’s intuition and buying from trusted sources. There ARE some hints to look for though! The true antiques are hand blown, and since they are made by hand, they are imperfect. Look for waviness and unevenness as a positive sign that it is a vintage bottle. Bubbles are also a sign that it was handmade (all of mine have bubbles). Those imperfections just aren’t reproduced in newer ones, even ones trying to pass as vintage. Also, the lip of the bottle is usually crude and irregular in vintage bottles, even broken looking in the older versions. And most of the older ones are shades of green or blue-green, rarely are they clear. Hope that helps!
Nancy Brantley says
Love demijohns. I started collecting before they became sought after. I have 4 huge ones that I love and several medium to small ones. All mine are wicker wrapped. Yours are pretty displayed with greenery. Thanks for sharing other sites to drool over…lol
Ooh I love the wicker wrapped ones!! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment – I’m so glad you found some inspiration!
Cindi McBride says
I am curious if the demijohns are more desirable with or without the basket? I have one with a basket and I really want to take it off but…
Hi Cindi! I’m actually really not sure – I have both and like both. I will say the demijohns that are the very large ones (with no basket) seem to be higher priced than most of the wicker covered bottles, however, I’m usually more of a purist about changing antique items! I’d probably leave it on but find another one without a basket and display them together! 😉
Marianne Peyrard says
Hello ! Gorgeous blog !
In France, we call then “Dame-Jeanne” = Lady Jane. So I don’t know where exactly comes the english name. 🙂
Have a nice day !
Thank you so much Marianne! And thanks for stopping by!
Tory L Byrd says
WE were stationed in Italy…and I hit the mother load on the property we rented. I had a time cleaning several of these….they still had dried up wine in the bottom!!!
Daryl Traylor says
Love Love Love antique demijohns!! Used to find quite a few when antiquing on Cape Cod years ago. Unfortunately I sold most of mine, but I JUST found another on Every Thing But The House! Thanks for a great article!!!❤
I’m so glad to hear that you love them, too! And how lucky that you had so many – if only I had bought them before they were more expensive, haha! But glad you’ve found another:)
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Mike burden says
Hi Sheila. I have bought a house in Italy and have several huge demijohns in wicker baskets and other glass and stoneware bottles etc. What are they worth / do u want some as I don’t need so many!
If you are interested in selling a large demijohn, let me know. I would love to have one from Italy. Thanks!
I have one to sell but have no idea if it’s antique or vintage —- it’s very large and very green – it has the bottom half of a wicker basket around it. I’ve had it 50-60 years but in the midst of downsizing. I see many on eBay with a wide range of prices — apparently some are put together i two pieces.
Well if you’ve had it 50 years then at the very least it’s vintage – vintage is anything that is at least 20 years old and antique has to be over 100 years old to be considered antique. I’m thinking yours could be either – It sounds amazing with the bottom half being wicker!!
I have an Old Tiara Glassware, amber, hand blown, Demijohn which I purchased when I was 16…47 years ago. I don’t have anyplace for it in my new house so I’d like to sell it. I haven’t seen one like it on line anywhere. Any idea what it’s worth?
Do you know if the cobalt blue ones are rare?
Hi Jenna, thanks so much for your comment! As far as I know, French demijohns used for wine (which is what I collect) do not come in blue. I believe antique blue bottles are more rare, but were usually used for medicine or perfume, though I’m no expert!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Love, love, love that gorgeous picture of sheep!
Will you please tell me who the artist is?
I am a big fan of demijohns as well and will be looking for one at the Roundtop Antique show next month.
Thank you! That painting is an heirloom my husband inherited. It’s French and the artist is Maurice Rousseau. Old, but I’m not sure of the date. Hope that helps!
And good luck at Round Top! I’m dying to go!!
Tammy Davis says
Did you enjoy Round Top? I wanted to go to find a demijohn as well but the last day we could go, that really cold front blew through and 20mph winds so we did not go. Did you find a nice demijohn?
Hi Tammy, thanks for stopping by! I never went to Round Top – it is on my list though! I’m dying to go!
I have bought quite a few at Round Top over the years. Not quite as plentiful now that everyone wants the more. I got mine pre-Joanna Gaines, lol. Now I’m feeling chic and smart. 😀😀
Haha, you SHOULD feel chic and smart!! Wish I would have bought them before they were popular (and more expensive, too!)
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Jenifer Sharkey says
How do you clean and dry these without leaving spots? I have one as a light fixture from RH and can’t get it clean on the inside for anything.
I don’t clean mine to be honest. I clean them when I first buy them using rice and no water, or very little water with a brush and no soap. After that I just turn them upside down to get rid of dust but I don’t like to ruin the labels, etc so I stay away from water for the most part. Maybe a skinny feather duster or soft brush could work for you?
Love how you use your demijohns around your house. That mottled green color is so pretty and works so well everywhere! I have been keeping my eye out for them at my local antique stores but apparently the rest of the world has caught on to them as well and I never see real ones! I’ll check out Homegoods!
Yes, so true! They are harder to find now for sure! I got two more when I was in France which was great because they were way cheaper! However, I still think Etsy is your best bet. Usually better prices than any antique stores! Good luck!
Love your beautiful bottles! Such a interesting and pretty post!
Thank you – I’m so glad you enjoyed it~
Love them all!
I’m so glad- thanks so much!