Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection

Roman Cup with Thumb Rest Handle

Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on October 12, 2018

(62R) Cup with Thumb Rest Handle  Date: Third-Fourth Century H: 9 cm


Remarks: This light green bulbous cup has a single handle ending in a thumb rest at the rim.   A fine trail circles the neck and the rounded body has a flat base. It is the thumb rest that set it apart from just bulbous cup

Ref: MUSÉE DE PICARDIE IN AMIENS FRANCE (active link object:)  Picardie #305


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on October 10, 2018

A Roman glass ornament in the form of a fish of Elisabeth & Theo Zandbergen

An ornament in the form of a fish, blown from almost clear glass with some silvery iridescence


Origin: Western Empire probably Köln, late 3rd early 4th century AC. Dimensions: H = ~ 2,5 cm.; length ~ 6,5 cm.; weight 6,3 grams. Condition: intact.


Remarks: This ornament is from a so-called Konchylienbecher, hence the slightly curved form.  Konchylien from the Latin konchylion meaning shellfish. The decoration on these bowls shows a combination of fish and shellfish. The bowls are of a large diameter. A number of these bowls have shellfish – clams – as footing. (See: Trier & Naumann-Steckner, Zerbrechlicher Luxus pg. 127)


The intriguing question is; what was the purpose of these bowls or in what context were these used?   Kisa mentions in vol. 3 on pg.768: “… die Konchilienbecher von Trier der in einem altchristlichen Coemeterium(graveyard) des IV Jahrhunderts zu Pallien gefunden wurde …”.

Quite non descriptive as to the person.

A quite expensive funeral gift as these bowls were already pretty rare in those days. Haven’t found (yet) any relation of the by Kisa mentioned burial gift and the role or status of the buried person. A high ranking cleric?

As said, I really don’t know what the function of these heavily decorated bowls was. One could make the hypothesis, based on the fish elements, that these bowls were used in the Christian rites. This as the fish was and still is a token in the Christian tradition. Expanding the hypothesis into the role of these bowls in the religious councils having a communal function ie. sharing wine or the likes thereof.

(Latin: Konchylion; Latin: concilium evolving to council, having quite some affiliation, at least for me. So, a possible connection of this bowl to some “rites” in the early Christian hierarchy?)

Parallels: (no direct parallels found yet)

  • Whitehouse, Corning Museum of Glass vol.II pg. 237, nr. 824,
  • Reflections on Ancient Glass from the Borowski Collection pg.102 plate V-64,
  • Kisa, Das Glas im Altertume, vol.3 pg. 768, 769, pict. 314 pg. 776, pict. 314a pg. 777,
    315 pg.781,
  • Trier & Naumann-Steckner, Zerbrechlicher Luxus pg. 127,
  • Fremersdorf Band VI tafel 20/21,
  • Saldern, Hentrich collection nr. 105,
  • Stern, Römisches, Byzantinisches und Früh Mittelalterliches Glas, pg. 173, nr.68,
  • Arveiller-Dulong & Nenna, les verres Antiques du Musée du Louvre, pg.371 nr. 981,
  • Bijnsdorp, Fascinating Fragility (2010) pg. 229, nr. NFB 166,
  • Wight, Molten Color, pg. 100 nr. 70.


  • Ex Collector Antiques (Bron Lipkin)
  • Ex David Giles collection.


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on October 9, 2018


Roemers (Dutch) or Römer (German) are a type of wine and beer glass that evolved in the Rhineland and the Netherlands from the 17th Century.  They have their roots in the Waldglas particularly the Berkemeyer, Krautstrunk and Nuppenbecher of the later Middle Ages which were produced in northern Germany, the Low Countries and central Europe.  The Roemer style glass is still being produced today.

The forerunners of the Roemer were made in the 15th C as short beakers with an inverted conical shape bowl attached to an open stem decorated with pulled drops or prunts.  These are called Berkemeyers. Over time the glass on these vessels became thinner and the bowls developed into a hemispherical shape on a wider hollow base decorated with pulled or flatten prunts.  In the early 16th C this truly became an early Roemer when a foot was added formed by a trailed thread wound round a conical core.

The following examples are all from the Allaire Collection and are arranged more or less in chronological order. Things to look for in these examples are: bowl shapes, stems open or solid, prunts pulled, flatten or raspberry, engraving, and finally the type of foot. Below these pictures there are additional notes taken from Henkes-Glass Without Gloss, Utility glass from five Centuries excavated in the low countries 1300-1800. Harold E. Henkes, 1994 on factors on how to determent the age of a roemer.

Notes from Henkes book

* Roemers which have a convex bowl came into use before 1600.

* Until shortly before 1650 both berkemeyers and roemers retained pointed prunts.

* Raspberry prunts had been made prior to 1600.

* With few exceptions berkemeyers retained pointed prunts.

* Pincered notch foot rings used for all types disappeared before the mid 17th C (1650) being replaced by fused coil thread.

* Roemers with an egg-shaped bowl and coil foot became popular by 1600-1650.


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on October 8, 2018


56 R Footed Jug with Thumb Rest H: 15 cm Late Roman 4th to 5th C. AD


Description: This distinctive jug has a spherical body which rests on a thick base. A tall tubular neck extends upwards from the body and terminates into a splayed lip. Below the lip is a thick glass trail. A wide handle is pulled up from the shoulder where it is tooled into an elaborate triangular finial.

Ref: Shining Vessels #127,LACMA # 127,Hermitage # 188 and 196,Corning Vol. 2 # 714

Amber Roman Bottle

Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on October 7, 2018

21R of Allaire Collection

R20 H: 11.5 cm, Roman First Century

Remarks: During the First Century, glass artists were using colored glass to a great extent.  The most popular colors used were blue, auberegene and amber.  This bottle is a simple globular shape decorated with a thin white trail spiraling around the body and bottom of the base.


Ref:Oppenlander #645 & #648, Kevorkian, Loudmer, Paris 1985 #150-155, The Bomford Collection,1976 #58, Illustrated Dictionary of Glass 309, Christie’s Kofler-Truniger Collection #127


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on October 1, 2018

The Middle Ages is a period of European history between the decline of the Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D. and the dawn of the Renaissance in 15th century Italy.  The Western Roman Empire ended more or less at the end of the 5th century The Eastern Roman empire, Byzantium, ended basically in the 15th century when the Mores conquered Constantinople and formed an Islamic state at the eastern borders of Europe. But, let’s not forget that the crusaders in the early part of the 13th century contributed to the decay of what was left of the Eastern empire. Glass and history go hand in hand so to say.

Fortunately, there was still something going on in the field of glass making after the western part of the Roman Empire had vanished. The Romans brought their own glass makers with them in the respective settlements. Those glass makers didn’t vanish after the western empire crumbled in what we now call western Europe. It is almost sure that the roman glass makers had local pupils who also learned the trade and took care of the continuity in making glass. In the simple writings about history it is often stated that after the Romans the “Dark Ages” came about. Those “Dark Ages” came to an end with Charles the Great or Charlemagne (742 – 814) and the formation of the Carolingian empire/kingdom.  The Carolingian Empire was a large empire in western and central Europe during the early Middle Ages. It was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty, which had ruled as kings of the Franks since 751 and as kings of the Lombards of Italy from 774.

The Merovingian were a Salian Frankish dynasty that ruled the Franks for nearly 300 years in a region known as Francia in Latin, beginning in the middle of the 5th century.  The Merovingian kingdom was in place from approx. 450 till 750 AC.. The name comes from Merovech a legendary king of de Salish Franks. Clovis the first king (465 – 511) was baptized in the “cathedral” of Saint-Remi and made the Christian religion to the religion of the Merovingian kingdom. The name of the later kings of France (Louis with a “serial” number) is a corruption of Clovis. The French name for Clovis was Hlodovic which sounds when pronounced in French a bit like Louis.  Both pronunciations where difficult to the French as spoken in those days hence the final result Louis.  The later kings always claimed to be descendants of Clovis and many were crowned in Saint-Remi.

Clovis basically united the largest part of Gall north of the Loire. He defeated the Aleman’s close to Zülpichin 496 ( his experiences on the battlefield are said to have influenced his conversion) and the Visigoths at Vouillé in 507 and reigned over a large kingdom. It is even said the kingdom stretched from the present Netherlands to the Pyrenees and across the Rhine in Germany.

All in all, they were basically Franks who adopted the name of Merovech to become Merovingian’s (source Wikipedia). That is the reason that glass from that period is often called Frankish-Merovingian.

During the 1,000 years of the Middle Ages also referred to as the Dark Ages, Europe underwent profound changes. David Whitehouse in Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasant the book for the 2010 exhibition at The Corning Museum of Glass divides this period of history into three sections.  The Early Middle Ages from the fifth to the eighth century, the Central Middle Ages starting with the eighth to the eleventh and the Late Middle Ages 12th to 14th centuries. Some scholars refer to Early Middle Ages also as the Migration Period.

Glass from the Early and Central Middle Ages is mostly a story of drinking vessels, bowls, cups, beakers, drinking horns, and bottles.  In the later period drinking vessels start to decline in importance with the rise of stained glass used for the windows of cathedrals. The oldest-known fragments of medieval pictorial stained glass appear to date from the 10th century. The earliest intact figures are the five prophet windows at Augsburg Germany, dating from the late 11th century. At Canterbury and Chartres Cathedrals, a number of panels of the 12th century have survived. Most of the magnificent stained glass of France is in the famous windows of Chartres Cathedral, date from the 13th century.  So important and beautiful are stained glass windows in the Middle Ages that generally, that is all you hear about on the subject of Medieval glass.  Most of the glass vessels produced in the later Middle Ages in northern Germany, the Low Countries, and central Europe were made of transparent green Waldglas or foresglass.  The color came from the presence of impurities (iron oxide) in the raw materials.  This type of glass particularly the Berkemeyer and Krautstrunk evolved in the 17th century into the Roemer.

This blog will concentrate on drinking vessels and the magnificent windows of the Chartres Cathedral near Paris and oldest stained-glass window in the German city of Augsburg.  The examples that follow are from The Corning Museum of Glass, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum, Musee des Art Decoratifs, The Allaire Collection and contributing collectors to this blog.

Parts of this article come from the book written by David Whitehouse, Medieval Glass for popes, Princes, and Peasant,2010 and an article in Glashistorisch Tijdschrift nr.138. By Theo Zandbergen

Click on the photo to enlarge. Read the write-up for each glass (if there is one) by looking up the number with the letter (A,E, or R) or name of glass in the search bar. Search bar is found on the right side at the bottom of, “The Pages”. The search bar is for this blog only and will not take you off site.





There was very little glassware manufactured in Europe between the mid-8th to mid-10th century.  The Carolingian glass below is from  THE MUSEUM OF ART AND HISTORY IN SAINT-DENIS, FRANCE








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