A Roman Mold-Blown Beaker, ca. 4th century CE


This rare Roman vessel was produced at a glass workshop (or vitrarium) in the provinces of the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite the paper-thin walls and small flecks of encrustation, this small transparent beaker is in relatively good condition. The unusual thread decoration trailing down the rounded body in an entwined diamond or net pattern marks this piece as belonging to a distinct type of glassware produced in the 4th century eastern Empire. Exterior decoration in this fashion was executed both by moulds, into which the glass was blown, and by secondary application of hot glass. Spiraling patterns were popular in this period, ranging from the comparatively simple threads of our piece to elaborate, snakelike coils and animal forms.

Condition:  Complete, with cracks, a small hole to the body remains, two small losses breaks to the body have been professionally restored, good iridescence to the body.  Although damaged, a most charming and appealing piece with good iridescence.

Dimensions: Height: 7.5 cm (3 in)

Provenance:  Forming part of the James Stephan Snr. collection, assembled in the 1950's to early 1960's and then by descent.  Dr. Stephan was a US intelligence officer who also held a degree in archaeology.  He was posted in the Anatolian region of Turkey with the US government during this time, and acquired his collection from dealers and villagers throughout the region.

Category: Glass, Under $1000, Vessels

Type: Roman

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