Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 31, 2020


2020 has been a year unlike any other in our memory. Although it was a year of uncertainty and anxiety, it was also a year punctuated by moments of resilience and hope. So, let’s raise our glasses together in hope and celebration of a safe, joyous and healthy New Year!


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 27, 2020

The Met on 5th Ave New York

The Met on 5th Ave New York

A courtyard in the Met

A courtyard in the Met

Size and type of the Glass Collection: approx. 11,000 pieces from 2000BC to present.  It covers Western Europe, Near East and North America. This museum has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of glass in the United States.

The departments in the Museum with glass holdings include:

American Wing:    American glass has been newly re-installed on the balcony of the Charles Engelhard Court. Glass and other American objects are also available for study in the Henry R. Luce Center for study of American Art. To view this collection click on the link below.

Glass in the American Wing(active link)


Glass of the Byzantine, Early Middle Ages, and Middle Ages

The Metropolitan Museum’s collection of medieval art, one of the richest in the world, encompasses the art of this long and complex period in all of its many phases, from its pre-Christian antecedents in Western Europe through the early Christian, Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic periods.  This is the period between ancient and modern times in Western civilization, known as the Middle Ages. Extends from the fourth to the early sixteenth century, which is roughly from the Fall of Rome to the beginning of the Renaissance in Northern Europe.  The Cloisters museum and gardens, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The Cloisters itself was assembled from architectural elements that date from the twelfth through the fifteenth century. Located in a spectacular four-acre setting overlooking the Hudson River with views of the George Washington Bridge, the building incorporates elements from five medieval cloisters. Follow the link to the page on the


Glass of Byzantines, Franks, Langobards, Visigoths and Anglo-Saxons

In the Fall of 2000 new galleries for Byzantine and early European art opened at the Museum in a dramatically expanded and redesigned space that includes an intimate gallery under the Grand Staircase.  The period of time this covers is from the late 300’s to 800’s and shows the glass of the Byzantines, Franks, Langobards, Visigoths, Anglo-Saxons, and other peoples.  The examples are from these galleries. Follow the link with a click to see these pictures.

Glass of Byzantines, Franks, Langobards, Visigoths and Anglo-Saxons(active link)

Ancient Near East

Egyptian: Most of the glass collections of shown comes from archeological excavations from the ancient Egyptian/Roman city of Karanis in the Fayum region. Date: 3rd to 4th century

Egyptian glass(active link)

Greek and Roman:      The newly renovated galleries of the Greek and Roman Department have an exemplary display of glass from this period.

Follow this link  to see pictures of  the Roman glass collection.

Glass of the Romans(active link)

Islamic Art:   The grand reopening of a suite of 15 dramatic New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia not glass at this link see next link took place at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on November 1st 2011. The greatly enlarged, freshly conceived, and completely renovated galleries will house the Metropolitan’s renowned collection of Islamic art—one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of this material in the world. Design features within the new space will highlight both the diversity and the interconnections of the numerous cultures represented here; multiple entryways will allow visitors to approach the new galleries—and the art displayed within—from different perspectives. The following link is to our in the new Arab Lands Galleries.

Study Gallery pictures of the Islamic glass(active link)

The Robert Lehman Collection:This comprehensive collection of European glass from 15th -17th C. is highlighted in the publication:  Glass in the Robert Lehman Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dwight Lanmon with David B. Whitehouse, 1993

Medieval Art: Displayed in this department is glass from the Frankish period, stained glass and European vessel glass dating from 500 to 1500 AD.

Spanish Glass: It is glassware made in Spain from the Roman and medieval eras, but mainly made in the 16th and 17th centuries in many glassworks throughout the country.  These were principally in Catalonia, Castile, Andalucía and the Royal Factory at La Granja De San Ildefonso.  Spanish glass shows Moorish influence and later that of Venice, and to limited extent Bohemia, but local styles were developed making it quite unique. The examples shown here are from The Metropolitan Art Museum and the Allaire Collection. In addition to the Met’s collection there is another fine collection of Spanish glass in New York City at The Hispanic Society of America. To see pictures of this collection follow this link:

SPANISH GLASS 16th and 17th CENTURIES(active link)


The Cloisters Museum and Gardens In Northern Manhattan

This separate Museum also in New York is a branch of the Metropolitan displaying Medieval Art.  The glass includes stained glass panels and vessels. The Cloisters itself was assembled from architectural elements that date from the twelfth through the fifteenth century. Located in a spectacular four-acre setting overlooking the Hudson River with views of the George Washington Bridge, the building incorporates elements from five medieval cloisters

Cloisters museum, gardens and glass(active link).

Twentieth Century Art: To be added



Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 24, 2020

We toast the Holiday Season and friendships with drinking vessels made in ancient times.  May we raise our glasses together in celebration of a safe, joyous and healthy New Year!

Hans van Rossum



Elisabeth & Theo Zandbergen



Joop van der Groen



The Windmill Collection of Roman Glass



Nico F. Bijnsdorp



David Giles

Cinzano Glass


The Augustinus Collection of Ancient Glass





Wynkin Collection

Wynkin, is the blogs most prolific commentor and Ouraline glass collector. This is a 19th century, French, handblown, ouraline, torsade wedding glass, seven and a half inches tall. It is fluorescing in ultra violet light, due to the pitchblende (uranium rich naturally occuring ore, containing UO2) it contains. I will raise a glass to you both… Here’s to your health and happiness in 2021!


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 21, 2020

Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire

6th century


The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in 330 transferred his capital from Rome to Byzantium, an event that marks the de facto division of the Roman empire into an eastern and western half and the beginning of the Byzantine period in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Much enlarged and renamed Constantinople, the city was the seat of the Eastern Roman Byzantine empire until its demise in 1453.

Glass vessel shapes in the Byzantine period did not deviate greatly from those of the Roman Empire high point. Beginning in the late fifth century, glassblowers in the near east produced increasingly larger vessels. They also introduced the folded, stemmed foot. In the sixth and seventh centuries Byzantine glass vessels typically feature a delicate u-shaped mouth. A number of “classical” Roman glassware shapes were phased out by the fifth century including: bowls, flat- bottomed cups and beakers, and footed wine jugs featuring trefoil mouths.

  A major innovation of the Byzantine period was the invention of the glass lamp. Glass lamps were first attested in the first half of the fourth century CE in Palestine, where they began to replace the clay lamps in use at the time as they were much more efficient. By the middle of the fifth century their use was rapidly spreading westward. Initially these lamps were shaped just like drinking vessels, though the number of shapes expanded over the course of the sixth and seventh centuries.

Chemical analyses of Byzantine glassware have demonstrated that Byzantine glass was composed of the same basic materials as Roman glass as well as various coloring agents. Roman and Byzantine glass-making was divided into two separate steps. The first, involved the conversion of sand and stabilizer into raw glass. The raw glass was shipped to many separate workshops which would then re-heat the glass and shape it into objects. Although there is considerable archaeological evidence establishing primary glass-making sites, secondary glass-making sites remain difficult to pinpoint. It is also the reason why chemical analyses can’t give you exact information on where an object was made.

Roman Republic 510 BC-27 BC

Roman Empire 2BC-476 AD

Roman Empire high point 96-192 AD

Western Empire 476-480 AD


The information above and following examples are from the book: Roman, Byzantine, Early Medieval Glass 10 BCE-700CE, Marianne Stern, 2001. The Ernesto Wolf Collection

(Click on the pictures to enlarge and back arrow to get back to this page)


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 18, 2020


Prunted Medieval Beaker of David Giles


Germany or adjoining region to the South or East.

8.5 cm max height. 9 cm max width

13th/14th Century AD

Technique: Free blown, handle tooled

Description: Clear glass blown with applied prunts. Band of glass applied where body meets rim. Claw foot created by a ring of glass applied to base and individual spokes pulled out with tweezers.  Base kicked in. Pontil mark on base.

Condition: Intact with a silver & rainbow patina.

Parallels: Whitehouse-Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes and Peasants, David Whitehouse, The Corning Museum of Glass, 2010 illustrations 23/24/25/26

Reference: Previously in German collection 1960’s.

Additional examples of colorless prunted beaker of the Late Middle Ages 12th to 14th centuries

Most of the glass beakers of this type were found in dated excavations in parts of central and southern Europe. They are from the medieval period of late 12th to 14th century. It is thought that their use was for serving and consuming liquids in the homes.  The beaker examples shown here, made of colorless glass, illustrate a common form from the period decorated with horizontal rows of prunts.



Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 15, 2020

Merovingian claw beaker


Above: 5th-6th-century Merovingian claw beaker, found in Bellenberg-Vöhringen (Bavaria) Germany. This example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is unique for this period due to the claws being in a contrasting color and the body of clear transparent glass.



Claw beaker is a name given by archaeologists to a type of drinking vessel often found as a grave good in 5th to 7th century AD in Merovingian and Anglo-Saxon burials.  Found in northern France, eastern England, Germany and the Low countries. It is plain conical beaker with small, claw-like handles or lugs protruding from the sides made from gobs of molted glass applied to the beaker’s walls. The unique shape may have been derived from the bag beaker pictured below showing similar form to the second vessel which has the beginnings of lugs on its sides.


The center of manufacturing was probably in Germany.  The glass beaker can be found in tints of brown, blue, yellow, light green and colorless.  The earliest date of these being made seems to be around 400 AD and this unusual glass form remained popular throughout the 5th, 6th and 7th Centuries. These claw beakers are the most complex of glass vessels from the early Medieval period and although their popularity survived almost into the 8th century very few complete and intact examples survive.  Below are an amazing group of these beakers which clearly demonstrate the advance glassmaking skill needed to create their features and also show how they have miraculously survived the burial conditions some even unbroken and intact. Paraphrased from Journal of Antiques and Collectables.

Click on the photographs to enlarge and for more information on the object.



Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 12, 2020

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 December 8, 2020

It is with great pleasure that we dedicate these three posts to our daughter-in-law Tori Randall. Due to her interest and vast knowledge of rocks and minerals she has been our inspiration for writing these posts.

Aventurine Glass (active link)

Ancient Agate Patterned Glass (active link)

Ancient Glass That Imitates Rock Crystal

Ancient Glass that Imitates Rock Crystal

Hellenistic cast glass Kantharos First half of 1st C. AD in The Louvre

Rock Crystal is a colorless and transparent or translucent variety of quartz (SiO2). It is colorless because it practically has no other trace minerals. The cryptocrystalline (extremely small crystals) varieties are either translucent or mostly opaque, while the transparent variety tend to be macrocrystalline (small crystals).  The crystallinity is caused by rate of cooling as the quartz is formed.

In ancient times rock crystal was used to make beads, amulets and other types of jewelry for its transparency and beautiful clarity. Occasionally it was cut into small vessels. Because it was rare to find a clear crystal large enough to make a vessel, production was limited.  Glassmakers in antiquity were able to imitate rock crystal with glass. Glass, which at the time was a relatively new material is made with quartz and could be cast into vessels and cold worked.  But most important production was limited. For additional information on the chemistry of ancient glass click on this link.

Below are examples of objects carved from Rock Crystal, followed by containers made of glass to imitate it. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Rock Crystal Objects


Glass Vessels Imitate Rock Crystal



Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 5, 2020

It is with great pleasure that we dedicate these three posts to our daughter-in-law Tori Randall. Due to her interest and vast knowledge of rocks and minerals she has been our inspiration for writing these posts.

Aventurine Glass (active link)

Ancient Agate Patterned Glass

Ancient Glass That Imitates Rock Crystal (active link)

Ancient Agate Patterned Glass

J. Paul Getty Museum Ribbed Mosaic Glass Bowl 1st century B.C., A.D.

The mineral agate, with its colorful undulating patterns and colors was sometimes copied by glass workers in Ancient times.  Agate is a common rock formation of quartz (SiO2). It is a fine-grained variegated chalcedony having its colors arranged in stripes, blended in clouds, or showing moss-like forms.  This mineral best describes the patterns, colors of the mosaic glass objects in this post. The agate patterned glass was used in the 1st C. B.C.- 1st C. A.D. to make cast bowls, bottles, jars and core form vessels.

Below are examples of vessels carved from agate rock, followed be those made of glass in imitation of the agate’s patterns. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Agate Rock Vessels

Vessels made of Agate patterned glass

Below are two views of the three vessels. All of these are from the Sammlung Erwin Oppenlander collection of ancient glass now in J. Paul Getty Museum located in the Getty Villa Malibu, CA  The singular example is from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dates: 1st C. B.C.- 1st C. A.D.


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on December 2, 2020

18R Roman Glass Aryballos of  The Allaire Collection

18R Aryballos

Date: Late first or second century Height: 7.5 cm Weight: 46.8 g

Remarks: This two-handled globular flask was used for carrying oil to the public baths during the first centuries of the Roman Empire. Many of the remaining examples still have the bronze rings or chains attached to the handles. This example is not typical of the more common heavy aryballoi, but is thinly blown and has a delicacy which is enhanced by its fine proportions and silvery weathering.

Reference: , Ancient and Islamic Glass, Paris, Loudmer, Kevorkian 1985 Paris Sale #277, Romeins Glas, Joop van der Groen page 201, Fascinating Luxury from Antiquity, The Windmill Collection of Roman Glass, page 162, Roman and early Byzantine Glass by Hans van Rossum MA page 202

ARYBALLOI and the bath rituals in Roman times

Author: Hans van Rossum English rendering by: Theo Zandbergen

Roman Bathhouse (Thermae) in Bath (UK)

Roman Bathhouse (Thermae) in Bath (UK)

“One should not bring the bath oils to the public baths in a glass container as these can break and cause injury.” (Derekh Erezt Rabbah ~ 160 – 220 CE)

The above advice by the Jewish scholar was, probably, not so much followed. The glass container undoubtedly referred to the aryballoi. Exactly that type of container was frequently used in the Roman thermal baths. The word thermal stems from thermós, meaning warm. Thermal baths were complexes with warm and cold baths more or less like our modern sauna’s or baths. Massages were also available perhaps using the (fragrant) oils brought from home. The baths were quite important to the Romans. These were not only facilities to get rid of the dirt and grime but, also meeting points for discussions, making deals or debating politics. The baths played an important social and business role. Large complexes have been unearthed like the one in Heerlen in the Netherlands. The largest one in the Low Lands.

The aryballos was during Roman times an inseparable accoutrement for the visitors to the baths. She or he carried the aryballos from home with a small attached handle or with e.g. a bronze chain and stopper. Entering the baths one would at first go to the apodyteria, the respective changerooms for female and male visitors. The smaller baths usually had only one apodyterium and used different opening hours for females and males. The clothes were nicely stored away and the visitor went to the a caldarium. A space with a temperature of approx. 40º C. and a humidity of around 80%. Just like our nowadays sauna’s. The plunge pool was called the alveus. From there one went to the sudatorium, the sweat room. Just like our modern sauna’s. From there one could go to the tepidarium, a room with a moderate temperature. One could also see the masseur handing him the aryballos with the fragrant oils brought from home which could be applied.

The room shown above is to store the clothes nicely away and other one of the bath’s in the Thermae, complex

The masseur would disperse some sand over the oily body followed by cleansing using a strigilis, a scraper made of bronze, steel or glass to finish the cleansing process. The body got a nice smell from the applied oils. To finish off one visited the frigidarium, the cold room. There was enough time in the whole process to socialize. One would get dressed again and go her or his way. This cleansing ritual was followed for quite some centuries and ended somewhere in the 4th century CE, probably due to the influence of Christianity.

To see the complete article click on this active link. GLASS ARYBALLOI and the bath rituals in Roman times

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