A Roman Glass Spindle Whorl, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 3rd Century AD


Of translucent cobalt blue, with a white trail in a spiral pattern from center to outer edge, with a domed body and flat bottom, a vertical hole in the center.

Used during the process of spinning wool or flax into wool or thread, a spindle whorls was a disc fitted onto the spindle to increase and maintain the speed of the spin.  Glass spindle whorls were made by winding a trail of hot glass around a rod and then decorated with trails in different colors tooled into a pattern. 

Smithsonian accession number 290915 applied in white pigment.

Published: McGovern-Huffman, S. "Magical, Mystical Roman Glass, the Lenman/Stohlman Collection of Ancient Roman Glass" (2012) pg 68.

Dimensions: Diameter: 3/4 inch (1.9 cm)

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.

Provenance: Forming part of the Lenman/Stohlman collection assembled by the Washington D.C. socialite Miss Isobel H. Lenman (1845 - 1931), in the early 1900’s. Loaned and accessioned by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., between 1916 and 1921 where it was exhibited until her death in 1931. Thereafter, the collection was returned to her heirs and sold around 1937 to Dr. Martin Stohlman, remaining with the Stohlman family until 2011.

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