Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 28, 2021

Late Medieval period 12th – 15th Centuries

Probably Germany, about 1250-1350 in Glassmuseum Hentrich, Museum Kunst Plast, Dusseldorf

In the Late Medieval period 12th – 15th Centuries a new type of decoration appeared on bowls, beakers and scheuers.  These vessels of colorless and almost clear glass were decorated with bright dark blue trailing.  They probably were made in Germany and had a wide distribution in Europe.  These vessels are from finds in Mainz, Speyer, Freiburg, Strasbourg, Worms and other sites in southern France.  Fragments of similar vessels from sites in United Kingdom may be imports from southern France.  The motif of this dark bright blue trailing is very distinctive and not seen before or after.


Click on the pictures below to enlarge


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 23, 2021

116E MEROVINGIAN TRAILED BEAKER in The Allaire Collection

Date: 5-6th Century AD Height: 10.3 cm

Remarks: This is a Frankish (Merovingian) glass beaker with fine trailing. The piece is made from bubbly glass with a slight green tinge and has a bell-shaped body on a small circular pad base. At the top there is a splayed lip and below it there is a neck band of fine trailing. Intact.

Providence: Martin Wunsch collection, NYC.

Ref: Vera I. Evison Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Glass in the British Museum, Plate 3 #49 P. 131

This is a second beaker 54E in the Allaire Collection is darker green in color. Also see this link. A GROUP OF MEROVINGIAN TRAILED BEAKERS


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 16, 2021

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 Ottoman Empire 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.

Merovingian group 3

Merovingian glass 5th-8th Century of the Allaire Collection

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.


Medieval Glass at the The Metropolitan Art Museum from the Central Middle Ages

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 forestglass.  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.

Roemers group

Roemers in the Allaire Collection

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




Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 13, 2021


Date: 4th century A.D. | Eastern Mediterranean Size:↑12.6 cm | ø 8.6 cm (handles) and 5.2 cm (body) | Weight 90 g

Technique: Body pattern-blown, neck and rim free blown; handles applied; tooled

Condition: Intact, nice iridescence

Description: Olive green glass; piriform body, decorated with swirling mold-blown ribs; wide collar rim. Long cylindrical neck with horizontal disk to form a diaphragm with a central hole to allow only a small droplet to be poured out. Two extremely heavy created handles applied on the bottom of the neck, drawn up, angled horizontally and attached to the collar rim. Slightly indented base with rest of pontil.

Remarks: The long neck and the extremely heavy handles are rare for this specific form.

Provenance:  C.J. Martin (coins) Ltd. Ancient Art, London 20 June 2012 private collection UK

Exhibited: Museum Patriciërshuis Dordrecht, 11 April – 11 November 2018

References: Christie’s London, auction 28 April 2009, lot 24 (Plesch Collection of Ancient Gla Archaeological Center Tel Aviv, auction 20, 28 September 1999 lot 116, Christie’s New York, auction 5 June 1998, lot 191, The Barakat Gallery, A Catalogue of the Collection 1985 no. G14


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 10, 2021

FAÇON DE VENISE GLASS MADE IN TUSCANY of Elisabeth & Theo Zandbergen




Dimensions: Size: ↑  12,2 cm.; largest ø corpus 7,2 cm.; ø rim 7,7 cm.; weight 83,4 gram

Origin: Italy, Tuscany, early 17th century

Description: This flask has been pre-formed in a dip mould (now called an optical blow mould), forming the ribs.  The ribs in the bottom of the bulbous corpus are only vaguely present, while these maintained their elegance in the flat top of the flask. The ribs are also still visible in the elongated neck adding to the elegance of the object. The glassmaker twirled the splayed out rim slightly further enhancing the elegance of the flask. As can been seen the kick in base is quite pronounced with a pontil mark.

Remark: The way the flask was made looks like an old forming technique quite specific to Tuscany and a key characteristic for the Façon de Venise glass made in Tuscany in the de Medici glass works.

Material: soda glass

– Annna Laghi, Fragili Trasparenze, Vetri Antichi in Toscana pg. 52 nr. 5 , Museo di Arte
Medievale e Moderna, Arezzo,
– S. Ciappi ao., Vetro in Toscana, Strutture, Prodotti, Immagini 1995, pg. 97/98, fig.162

– old Italian collection,
– with Laméris, Amsterdam,
– In owners collection since 2010.


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 7, 2021


Second half of 1st century AD | Western part of the Roman Empire, probably Italy or Gaul

Size: ↑10.1 cm | ø 11.2 cm | Weight 82 g

Technique: Pattern-blown, handle applied

Classification: Isings 1957 form 37 | Morin-Jean 1977, form 93b

Description: Transparent pale olive green glass. Large straight-walled beaker with a truncated conical and wrythen-molded body, wide mouth with rim folded outward. Strap-handle attached to the upper body. Pushed-in ring base, kicked-in to form a distinctive knob in the center with pontil mark. The direction of the ribs, curving clockwise instead of counterclockwise, as is usual, suggests the mug was the work of a left-handed glass worker.

Condition: Intact, a thin creamy layer of weathering; a hairline-crack at the base

Remarks: ‘Modiolus’ is the diminutive form of the word ‘modius’, which is a grain-measure in Roman times, the equivalent of sixteen sextarii. The sextarius in liquid form was just under one pint. Since glass examples vary so much in size, however, their function is not certain. Auth says that is it more likely that modioli, the plural of modiolus, were drinking vessels or perhaps beer mugs. (Auth 1976). On the other hand, it is hard to drink from a modiolus because the ledge near the rim of many glass modioli which makes themselves unsuitable for drinking or pouring a fluid. A modiolus with wrythen-molded body is rare but when it is done by a left-handed glass worker it makes this modiolus extremely rare.

Provenance: ex-private collection USA 10 May 2004

Reference: The Constable-Maxwell Collection of Ancient Glass, no. 142, different rim Antike Gläser, M. Boosen no. 51 Histoire du Verre l´Antiquité, F. Slitine p. 133, different rim Les Verres Antiques du Musée du Louvre II, V. Arveiller-Dulong & M.D. Nenna no. 32 Boisgirard Maison de Vente aux enchéres Archéologie d´Orient et Art de l´Islam, 4 Juin 2010, lot 17Archaeological Center Tel Aviv, auction 37, 17 April 2006 lot 154


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 4, 2021

Gallo-Roman Beaker  in The Allaire Collection

115E Gallo-Roman Glass Beaker
Date: 4th –Early 5th Century AD Height: 11.5 cm

Gallo-Roman beaker 115E was made in the beginning of the Migration Period in the Western Provinces. The elegantly formed beaker is made of light olive green glass with the conical bottom standing on a flat base ring.  Intact.  Ex: Martin Wunsch collection, NYC.

Ref: David Whitehouse, Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass, Volume 1, #177 P.115, Sotheby’s Nov 20 1987 Lot 133, #81, Memoires de Verre, # 74 P. 40, Verreries Antiques der Musee de Picardie # 319 P. 5

Below is a glass which shows a design change from late Roman to Merovingian. The glass is in The Musee d Archeologie Nationale in St Germain. The museum is a major French archeology museum, covering among other areas Roman and the Merovingian period.


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on June 1, 2021

113E Facon de Venise Wine Glass in The Allaire Collection

Date: 1700 c. Height: 11.5 cm Weight: 47.5 g

Description: This delicate wine is from Northern France or Southern Netherlands and is made in the Venetian style of glassmaking. The vessel has a pointed round funnel bowl with a stem of one flattened solid knop and solid base knop attached to a foot. The foot is funnel-shaped with a turned under edge. A faint purple tint can be seen throughout this diminutive glass.

Remark: The faint purple tint of this initially colorless wine is the result of being exposed to sun light and it’s UV radiation.  A similar color change can be seen on clear colorless glass doorknobs made before 1900 which have a light purple color.  To understand why this happens you have to know something about the chemistry of ancient Roman and Venetian glass. This active link is to Chemistry on Roman Glass.  The glass makers at the time this vessel was made used manganese dioxide to decolorize the glass of its natural pale green color.  The pale green color was caused by the impurity of iron oxide in the raw materials used to make the glass.  So, what happens when a decolorized glass object is exposed to direct sun light over long time? It is generally accepted that the ultra-violet light initiates an electron exchange between the manganese and iron ions. This photochemical phenomenon changes the manganese and iron compound into a form that causes the glass to turn a faint purple.


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