Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 31, 2022

NFB 266 OBSIDIAN SKYPHOS From Nico F. Bijnsdorp

Date/Origin/Dimensions/Weight: 1st century BC – 1st century AD. Probably Italian. H: 5.9 cm. D rim: 8.6 cm. D base: 6.1 cm. W over handles: 13.4 cm. Weight: 194 gr.

Condition: Intact with minor restoration at one ring handle.

Technique: Carved from one block of obsidian, ground and polished. Stippled decoration applied.

Description: Opaque to translucent dark green obsidian, appearing black. Everted rim with slightly beveled inner edge. Straight vertical sides, sharply curving-in at the base. Outsplayed three-tiered ring foot with concavity on the underside. Two opposite integral ring-handles carved out, forming circular finger-rings, horizontal projecting thumb rests along top edge and down-turned finger rests at bottom. The body’s exterior abundantly engraved in stippled decoration. Two single horizontal stippled lines encircle the body: one just below the rim, another one at the transition of wall to base. Below and above these lines two bands of closely set diagonal stippled lines, each framed by two horizontal encircling stippled lines. Between the bands a stippled floral motif: four waving branches with alternating a leaf and a bunch of grapes at either side, two of the branches terminating in a single fifth leaf. The thumb rests extending horizontally at the rim in a wavy pattern, decorated on top with stippled circular lines.

Acquired:  6 October 2011, Christie’s London, UK.

Remarks: (1)This skyphos is an exceptionally rare survival from the Roman period. Engraved obsidian vessels are mainly known from fragments, however the unusual stippled decoration on an intact and complete skyphos like this one is without parallel. (2) In May 1954 three obsidian skyphoi (with inlays of Egyptian scenes in gold and mosaic) were excavated in Villa San Marco, Castellammare di Stabia. They are now in the Naples Archaeological Museum (inventory numbers 294471/2/3). In 2011 the shelf on which the skyphoi were displayed collapsed and the cups were “smashed to smithereens”. In 2012 the skyphoi were restored and exhibited again. (3) Pliny the Elder wrote about obsidian a.o.: “Among the various kinds of glass, we may also reckon Obsidian glass, a substance very similar to the stone which Obsius discovered in Ethiopia. This stone is of a very dark color and sometimes transparent. Many persons use it for jewelry and I myself have seen solid statues in this material of the late Emperor Augustus. That prince consecrated, in the Temple of Concord, as something marvelous, four figures of elephants made of obsidian stone. Tiberias Caesar, too, restored to the people of Heliopolis, as an object of ceremonial worship, an image in this stone, which had been found among the property left by one of the prefects of Egypt. It was a figure of Menelaus; a circumstance which goes far towards proving that the use of this material is of more ancient date than is generally supposed”.

Provenance: The Ludwig Herinek Collection, Vienna, Austria, 1970’s.

Published: Christie’s 6 October 2011, No. 205.

Exhibited: The National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, Netherlands,  “GLASS”, 1 June 2020 – 28 February 2021.                             

References: Christie’s 5/6 December 2001, No. 626 (without decoration). Goldstein 1979, The Corning Museum of Glass, No. 858 (fragment). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Acc. Nr. 17.194.2359 (fragment). Naples Archaeological Museum, Inv. nos. 294471/2/3 (see remarks).                          


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 24, 2022

NFB 404 BELL BEAKER From Nico F. Bijnsdorp


Late 6th century AD. Western Roman Empire, probably Gaul or Rhineland.

H: 13.2 cm. D rim: 6.7 cm. D lower body: 5.6 cm. Weight: 83 gr.


Feyeux 1995: Type 52.3.kae.

Harden 1956: Group B, Type V.a.ii.


Excellent preservation. Many air bubbles and impurities in the glass.


Body pattern blown. Rim and bottom tooled. Thread and base-knob applied.


Transparent pale green glass. Opaque white thread and base-knob.

Rim rounded and thickened in flame. Concave sides with carination near base. Convex bottom with opaque white base-knob at center. A thin opaque white thread applied and wound spirally around body just below the rim. Mid-section of body decorated with faint vertical ribbing. Traces of a pontil around the base-knob.


8 December 2021, Christie’s, London.


(1) Although rare, the bell beaker is one of the most common and characteristic drinking vessels of the Merovingian period. In German language it is called Sturzbecher. It was popular for the Franks, who used it by emptying the glass in one draft and then putting it upside down on its rim.

(2) Small rectangular sticker near mouth reading “B” and another one near base reading “0024”.


The Wunsch Foundation, New York, USA, 1999.

Christopher Sheppard, London, UK.


Bonhams 21 October 1999, No. 87.

Christie’s 8 June 2012, No. 173.

Christie’s 8 December 2021, No. 133.


Stern 2001, The Ernesto Wolf Collection, No. 198.

Loudmer-Kevorkian 1985, Collection de Mr. D., No. 157.

Vanderhoeven 1958, Musée Curtius, No. 77.

Evison 2008, The British Museum, Nos. 53-54.

Hayes 1975, The Royal Ontario Museum, No. 645.

Harden 1956, The Ashmolean Museum, Pl. XVI.k.

Whitehouse 1997, The Corning Museum of Glass, Nos. 180-181.

Ourthe-Amblève 1993, Musée de la Préhistoire en Wallonie, No. 38.


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 19, 2022


From Nico F. Bijnsdorp


2nd century AD. Western Roman Empire, Gaul or Rhineland, probably Cologne.

H: 13.3 cm. W body: 5.8 x 5.0 cm. D rim: 3.2 cm. Weight: 79 gr.


Isings 1957: Form 91a.

Morin-Jean 1913: Form 131.

Goethert-Polaschek 1977: Form 138.


Intact. One handle re-attached.


Body blown into a mold with two vertical sections. Neck and mouth free blown. Handles applied.


Transparent olive-green glass.

Everted rim, rounded in flame and partly folded in. Cylindrical neck slightly widening towards the sloping shoulder. Body mold blown in the form of a naturalistic, trilobed bunch of grapes. Two vestigial, triangle vine leaves, with detailed veins, from shoulder to upper body at front- and backside. Two coil-handles dropped on shoulder, drawn up and attached with a fold to the neck just below the rim. Mold seams visible at the sides of the body and ending under the handles.


7 December 2021, Bonhams, London.


Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani, Doha, Qatar.

Harmakhis Ancient Art, Brussels, Belgium.

Collection Wilma Arpot, Maastricht, Netherlands.


(1) Mold blown glass vessels in the form of a grape bunch  were produced in both the Eastern and Western part of the Roman Empire, in the Eastern part without, but in the Western part with handles (amphoriskoi). Grape amphoriskoi were mainly produced in Gaul and in the Rhineland, more specifically in Cologne. They are very rare.

(2) Reference is made to NFB 075 for an example without handles from the Eastern Empire.


Bonhams 7 December 2021, No. 101.


Goethert-Polaschek 1977, Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, No. 1385.

Brouwer 1991, National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, Netherlands, No. 21.

Fremersdorf 1961, Römisch-Germanisches Museum Köln, Nos. 143-145.

Welker 1974, Frankfurter Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, No. 20.

Foy 2010, Musée departemental Arles antique, No. 509.

Simon-Hiernard 2000, Musées de Poitiers, Nos. 329-335.

Quiry-en-Vexin, Musée Archéologique departemental de Val d’Oise, No. 45 and p. 125.


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 17, 2022



Culture: Roman, Date: 1st century about 25-75 AD, Height:10.8cm

Place of manufacture: Probably Italy. Considered to be from the same workshop as the example in the British Museum.

Decoration: Two horizontal ground raised bands on the upper body and two on the top outer rim

Technique: Historically described as cast and cut but the modern school of thought suggests that these were blown and then ground and polished when cold. The example in the British Museum is described as blown. I am inclined to go with the blown theory. The same shapes are made in transparent glass which are obviously blown but the glass in those cases is thinner. This vessel would have required thicker glass to allow for cutting and so the glass maker may have started with a thick rectangular sheet of glass and picked it up and folded it round on the iron before blowing. This process in itself would explain the need for subsequent grinding and polishing to remove any irregularities or rough exterior from when the sheet was formed, regardless of the cut band decoration. This is the technique used to make the mosaic gold band glass bottles. Whilst the idea of casting this particular form of vessel would seem to be unlikely, nevertheless it would have been a more complicated technique than simple blowing and the skill and work involved would have put these vessels into the luxury category.

Rarity: This is a rare form in cut opaque glass. Only about 8 extant examples are known of in private and public collections Worldwide.  They are found in three opaque colors: red, blue and white. Obviously luxury items.

Provenance: Ex collection of Dr. Alexander Gonik, Switzerland 1960’/1970’s.

Reference: Benzian collection Sotheby’s 7 July 1994, two examples in white and red. ,Constable Maxwell collection Sotheby’s June 1979, two example in red., British Rail collection Sotheby’s 24 November 1997 example in red (from the Constable Maxwell collection).

Parallel: British Museum example probably from Italy as pictured below:

British Museum example of a Roman glass bud probably from Italy

British Museum example of a Roman glass bud vase probably from Italy

What happened to the Cinzano Glass collection ?

Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 14, 2022

What happened to the Cinzano  Glass collection ?

Article and Post by David Giles

 In 1971 Count Alberto Marone Cinzano, of the family that created the famous Cinzano Vermouth, decided to start collecting fine examples of ancient and antique glass. The collection was published first in 1974 and again in 1978 under the title The Cinzano Glass Collection, edited by Peter Lazarus.

In recent times the collection appeared to have gone from public view and I enquired of many glass people what had happened to it. It was suggested that it had been sold and dispersed and in fact in one recent London glass auction catalogue it suggested that a glass had come from that collection. After much searching I was delighted to discover that the collection was still completely intact and with additional glasses added after the 1974/78 publications. What however had happened was that the Marone family sold the Vermouth business in 1992 to an international drinks company which was absorbed in 1997  into the large British company Diageo and the collection of glass was included.  So now the collection is known as the Diageo Glass Collection. Diageo actually sold the Cinzano Vermouth label to Campari in 1999 but kept the glass collection. It was published again in 2005 and edited by Rosa Barovier Mentasti under the title Glass Collection Della Diageo a Santa Vittoria d’Alba. The catalogue is now out of print but can still be obtained on second hand books sites.

When the collection was published in 1974/78 there were 125 pieces in the collection but after that the Marone family added more pieces and in the 2015 publication there are 144 pieces featured. The oldest piece in the collection is a wonderful 5th century BC Obsidian lobed bowl.  There are twenty ancient vessels of Roman and Frankish origin and two Islamic glasses. Twenty Venetian glasses. Lots of glasses from Holland and Germany and also from England. Each one is illustrated with colour plate and full description in Italian and English.

The collection is now kept at Diageo meeting centre in Villa Storica a Santa Vittoria d’Alba Italy which is between Turin and Genoa, It can be visited by prior arrangement if you Email

Readers might also like to look at

Enter the site and click on Le Cantine and they will see how cleverly the glass is displayed in cut-out old wine barrels. This collection might be an idea for a future visit of the Glass Circle.

Attached are photos of 8 examples from the collection.  This article will be in the next Glass Circle News letter.

Additional read:

The Cinzano Glass Collection
R.J. Charleston, Curatorial Advisor (active link)


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 8, 2022

David Giles 1940 – 2022

Comments from fellow glass collectors

David was a very amiable person, respected worldwide as a great connoisseur of ancient glass. For years he collected Roman and other types of glass and had a very refined taste.  He considered himself a temporary treasurer who was happy to share his extensive knowledge with other collectors.

He was a real friend; kind, intelligent, honest and always interested in the other person. His knowledge of core-formed, Roman and Venetian glass was amazing. A master of glass and I, one of the glass collectors. was his student. We will miss him and his valuable advice. Hans van Rossum

Will never forget when we met for the first time in person. It was in Brussels during the BAAF where we were in the process of buying a Roman juglet from a German dealer. We couldn’t come to grips on the origin. The object was handed over to a gentleman in the shop who gently assessed the origin. Later, he put his business card on the table with the name David Giles. From then on, we became friends. We also shared our mutual interest in Venetian & Façon de Venise glass showing again David’s extensive knowledge. Always in an amiable way. We will always cherish our friendship and will miss him dearly. Elisabeth & Theo Zandbergen.

The Augustine Collection would like to express its condolences on the passing of David who has been a sympathetic colleague and advisor to us regarding the description of ancient glass. His knowledge and insights were great, and on many occasions, he was able to convince us to what time and style a piece of glass could be designated. From his collection of books on ancient glass we were able to acquire many a rare specimen.  These books will be a help in the further description and remind us of David.

David Giles Biography

  I became fascinated with Ancient Art during many business visits to Mediterranean countries in the 1980’s and 1990’s, when, in my spare time, I took the opportunity to visit many archaeological sites and museums. Out of this grew a special interest in ancient and antique glass, both as a collector and a student of the subject and I became a member of the International Association for the History of Glass and The Glass Circle. I wrote an article for Glass Circle News on collecting ancient glass and I will be pleased to email on request an electronic copy of this article with illustrations.  As a collector I have focussed mainly on the period from earliest glass of the Mesopotamians and Egyptians through to Byzantine with some later Medieval and Venetian. Over time I have tended more towards rare and special pieces even if repaired, or sometimes only fragments. I spent many years building up my own library of books on glass. In the process I discovered how difficult it was to find many of the important works, as they are long out of print. As a result, I decided to offer a service to academics, museums and collectors by supplying books on ancient and antique glass and have spent many years building up the stock before launching the service.

Examples from his collection of ancient glass:

To get more information on each of the objects click on the title above the picture.


David Giles



Lentoid core glass of David Giles







Prunted medieval glass beaker from David Giles 13-14th C


Venetian Plate or Dish of David Giles




What happened to the Cinzano Glass collection ?


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on January 4, 2022

10E on the left is the French baluster       

20E on the right is the English baluster

Remarks: The name Baluster describes a type of glass drinking vessel named for its stem. The baluster motif was adopted from Renaissance architecture and was used on glasses from Venice made in the early 17th century. Baluster glasses were first made in England soon after George Ravenscroft introduced leaded glass vessels in 1676. Early examples made from 1685 to 1710, featured an inverted baluster like the ones from Venice. Later glasses with true baluster stems date from the period of 1710 to 1735.  Glasses with baluster stems are greatly varied, with different types and arrangement of knops as well as different forms of bowls.  Balusters are also made from soda glass as well as leaded glass and come from many different countries. Paraphrased from the An Illustrated Dictionary of Glass, Harold Newman, 1977



 Renaissance (true) balusters                                             Renaissance inverted balusters

10E French Wine Glass of Allaire Collection

This French wine glass has a bucket bowl, stem with large bladed or angular knop and high folded foot. Made of soda glass. Also called Bourguignon glass.

Height : 13½ cm, Weight: 84.5 g, Date: later part of 18th C, 

Reference: Auction house in Paris, France Gros & Delettrez 2006 Lot 175

20E English Baluster of Allaire Collection

This is a wine glass with bucket bowl on inverted baluster and base knop, with folded foot. Made of lead glass.  Baluster Wines are a large group of beautiful and well designed glasses.

Date: 1720, Height: 5 ¼ inches (6,25 cm), Weight: 194 g,

Reference: Eighteenth Century English Drinking Glasses L.M. Bickerton, Suffolk, 1986  # 59, A Collection of Fine Glass From the Restoration to the Regency, C. Sheppard and J. Smith # 25

81E Dutch Baluster Wine Allaire Collection

This is a beautifully shaped baluster wine from the Netherlands made of soda glass.  It has a bell bowl with stem of two solid knops and a inverted baluster with tear on a solid base.

 Height: 17 cm Date: 1720

Ref: Eighteenth Century English Drinking Glasses L.M. Bickerton, Suffolk, 1986 # 160

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