Growing up my father had a number of these stationed around the house. Later I would come to realize how cool they actually are. Also, known as a "soda syphon" this device is used to dispense soda water or carbonated beverages. It originated in France around 1790 with the introduction of self-pressurized beverages, but it wasn't until 1829 that they created the design you see today. The glass bottles have a hollow corkscrew which allows a certain amount of the beverage out while the remaining contents stay carbonated. These beautiful glass syphons were most popular in the 1920's-1930's, but the advancements in production and materials, and the destruction of many manufacturers in Eastern Europe during WWII led to their ultimate demise. That makes them not only a nice addition to your table top or bar area, but a collectors item as well.