Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on April 26, 2019



The Augustinus Collection of Ancient Glass

 Shape: AcoaG no: 56.   Isings form 8/27 | Morin-Jean type 19,

Date:  2nd/3rd. century A.D.

Size: ↑ 14.15 cm, | Ø Mouth out : 2.05 cm / in: 0.51 cm | Weight: 24 g  |

Technique: Blown to a square body with a long tubular neck by means of a mold; with a broad rim folded out, down and in, flattened on top surface, a small sprinkler hole created; sloping shoulders to the body; corners rounded; body indented equally on four sides to ensure a certain grip.

Description: Toilet bottle or Unguentarium with square indented body at one-half of total length (body: 7.2 cms, neck: 6.95 cms long); four vertical indentations of equal lenght and depth; base plain, with small concavity at center, no pontil mark visible. The bottle can stand on its own, while the neck is slightly excentrical in position. The opening of the mouth is restricted to a diameter of 0.51 cms, creating the possibility to use it, as with all of the sprinkler-flasks, to let precious liquid drip out, drop by drop, and for that reason it is called: Guttus | ’Tear-drop bottle’ in a non-technical context. (1)

Provenance & Condition: This Roman Glass Unguentarium was found, – following a written detail in the AcoaG-archive -, in Cologne in a grave situated near the church of Saint Severin, Sankt Severinskirche, along the road leading south out of the CCAA-Castellum, in two parts; body and neck were found separately, but closely lying together, with no parts missing; in 2015 an acurate assemblage was made by Restaura, Heerlen | Maastricht, NL. (2)

With silvery and golden iridescence; weathered allover, making the once clear colorless glass impossible to see through. The flask shows a similarity to the square-sided ‘Mercury flasks’, (Isings form 84) a taller shape with a trademark on the base that from the first century on did persist into the fourth century A.D. (3),

A remark is given by C. Isings that the Cologne-finds are not too trustworthy in their registration (read the text with form 27), but Fremersdorf states that the area near St. Severin’s Church was searched between 1923-1943, and once more in 1955, during a rather long period of time, so to speak, but no clue is given or could be found when the bottle came to the Augustinus collection. Acquired in Cologne before 1955; from a private dutch collection, first publication.


1). Closer information on the meaning of the tear-drop bottles, in connection to the burial-ceremony and the mourning ritual, can be found with: Vessels of Tears | the history of Emotions an exhibition organised in Aarhus, Denmark in 2017.

 2). Saint Severin’s Church | Sankt Severins-Kirche, see the reconstruction design of phase one | Rekonstruction von Bau I, (Greven Verlag Koeln, 1966) below, from ca 320 A.D. after the emperor Constantine the Great had given freedom to the Christian Religion in 312.

3). Mercury-flasks, see : ‘A Container of Grief? The Myth of the Tear bottle’ by: Ethnografica-blog, september 2017, the exhibition: ‘The Presence of Absence’. |

Philip Houben, Roemisches Antiquarium, Xanten 1853.


  1. Isings, form 8/27, 1957; Fremersdorf 1957, p 27 pl 24, no N253; Goethert-Polaschek 1977, form 76a ; Stern 1984, p 136, fig 5 ; De Tomaso 1990, type 64; Whitehouse 1997: CMG Volume 1, 237.

AcoaG 56.2)  Reconstruction drawing of Saint Severins Church , phase 1 ca 320 AD Fremersdorf cs. 1966.


(AcoaG 56.3) Philip Houben, Roemisches Antiquarium , a lithografic illustration from 1853. Tableau XXXIX.


One Response

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  1. Hans van Rossum said, on April 28, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Dear Titus,

    Very special bottle and rare form and what an interesting provenance. It has, indeed, some elements to compare it with a Mercury Flask. The four sides with indentations in combination with the long neck. About the same height…


    Hans van Rossum

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