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Leaf Beakers and Roman Mold-blown Glass Production in the First Century A.D.

All About Glass

Unknown Leaf Beaker, 1st century A.D., Glass 7.3 × 6.4 cm (2 7/8 × 2 1/2 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los AngelesIn 1985, The J. Paul Getty Museum acquired a Roman mold-blown vessel that dates to the first century A.D.1 Made of pale yellow-green glass, the beaker was blown in a three-part mold.2 Its exterior decoration consists of a simply designed foliate relief frieze of four vertical plants, each of which is a straight stem with nine alternating plain and decorated leaves. This frieze is bordered above and below by two horizontal raised bands, and the stems of the plants descend into the space between the bottom bands, suggesting that this continuation of line is the root of the plant below the surface of the ground.

The beaker is 7.9–8.1 centimeters tall, and the diameters of its base and its slightly everted rim are 6.0 and 6.15–6.3 centimeters, respectively. The base, which contains a raised concentric ring (exterior D. 3.7 cm), also has an extremely small ring at its center.3 Dirt is encrusted on the exterior and interior, and there is a small amount of iridescence. The beaker has been broken at the rim and repaired, and one section has been replaced with a manufactured fill.4

It is difficult to say precisely which variety of plant or tree is represented on the beaker. There are three different lanceolate leaf patterns on each plant. The largest of these patterns has a smooth interior and a border consisting of a series of short lines that are angled to the edge of the leaf. These lines may indicate that the leaf has an undulating or serrated edge. This pattern is found in combination with completely smooth leaves and a single, slender leaf, located at the top right of the plant, that has veins branching from a central vein. The leaves at the very top of the plants vary slightly. Those that are bisected by the vertical mold seams of the vessel are more rounded than those on the other two plants. In addition, they have a central line formed by the mold seam, while the other two are plain.

A quick survey of plants and trees found throughout the Mediterranean did not help to identify the plant or tree shown on this beaker. One possibility is that it is the branch of an almond tree. The lanceolate leaves on an almond tree are similar in shape to those found on the beaker, and, like the small leaf at the top right of this vessel, the almond leaf has a central vein with radiating veins. The almond nut is encased within a softer, fleshier fruit (pericarp) that dries up and splits to reveal the nut. The patterning on the beaker's leaves with "serrated" edges might represent this cleft fruit, although the almond fruit appears to be rounder and shorter. The top, central leaf on the beaker is more rounded than the rest of the leaves, and it might represent an almond fruit that has yet to mature and split to reveal the nut inside. However, the pattern of the smooth leaves on the vessel cannot be found on an almond tree except on the back side of its leaves. There are enough inconsistencies between the appearance of an almond branch and the design on the leaf beaker to make this identification tenuous at best.

While the plant depicted on the beaker may be intentionally nonspecific, a comparison with floral designs found on similarly shaped and manufactured vessels suggests that this is an unlikely possibility. In most instances, the type of plant shown in these designs is readily identifiable. For example, a flask formerly in the Constable-Maxwell and British Rail Pension Fund Collections is encircled by three rows of floral decoration.5 The bottom frieze shows a vine entwining an ivy leaf or a cluster of grapes, while pomegranate and barley stalks are paired in the two rows of decoration above it. A flask in Cologne's Römisch-Germanisches Museum combines floral decoration with other ornaments, and the floral friezes are easily recognizable as an ivy tendril with leaves and clusters of berries at the top, and laurel branches with fruits and leaves at the bottom.6

On these two examples, as on the leaf beaker, the plants are carefully articulated to be identifiable. But on other vessels, the designs are more generic and relate to decorative patterns found on precious metal and ceramic vessels. Some of the mold-blown glass vessels associated with the workshops of Ennion and his contemporaries, for example, have standard designs of palmettes and floral sprays that can also be seen on Arretine wares and late Hellenistic and Roman silver vessels with repoussé decoration.7 These kinds of designs have served a purely decorative purpose for centuries. The uniqueness of the design on the leaf beaker seems to preclude its inclusion in this latter group, and further botanical research will undoubtedly lead to the identity of the plant it depicts.

Only four other examples of glass vessels bearing this design are known. One is a beaker in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, another was formerly in the Antiken-Abteilung in Berlin, and the other two have made multiple appearances on the European art market.

Glass Beaker, Early Imperial Roman, 1st century A.D., Glass, diameter: 2.5 inches, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1881. 81.10.222.The Metropolitan Museum's beaker (H. 7.9–8.3 cm, D. [rim] 6.3–6.4 cm)8 is from Cyprus, and it was found by Cesnola at Idalion.9 This object is illustrated in Wilhelm Froehner's 1879 catalog of the Charvet Collection,10 and it came to the Metropolitan from that collection.11 Cesnola's discovery is the earliest known example of the group, and the illustration in Froehner's catalog is the first known publication of a leaf beaker. The molded design of the Metropolitan's vessel is extremely crisp, and the beaker must have been one of the first inflated in its mold. The glass is pale green, and it has a few inclusions. The object is complete, with two reattached fragments.

The dimensions of the Metropolitan's beaker correspond almost exactly to those of the vessel in the Getty, and it is probable that they were made in the same mold. Another parallel between the two beakers is the way they sit on their base-ring: both incline slightly to one side. It appears that the carving of the base-ring in the bottom segment of the mold was not uniform, and that one side of the ring was carved slightly deeper than the other.

The Berlin beaker was published in the 1939 catalog of an exhibition of late antique and Byzantine material held at the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum in Berlin.12 According to information provided by the Antikensammlung, the piece was formerly in the Merle de Massoneau Collection. This collection was acquired by the Antiken-Abteilung in 1907.13 The Antikensammlung's records state that many of the pieces in the Merle de Massoneau Collection came from southern Russia. The leaf beaker disappeared from the Antiken-Abteilung during, or shortly after, World War II, and its current whereabouts are unknown. The height of the beaker, which has been reconstructed from numerous fragments, is given as 8.5 centimeters, and its color is described as light blue (Hellblaues Glas).

Two other leaf beakers appeared on the European art market during the 1980s. The better known of these examples was formerly in the Kofler-Truniger Collection, and it was sold at auction in March 1985.14 This beaker (listed H. 8.5 cm, D. 6.4 cm) is made of yellowish green glass. It has been broken and repaired. The current location of this object is unknown.

The last beaker in the group has appeared on the European market four times. Judging from photographs, its color appears to be yellow-green. When it was first sold at auction in 1980,15 its height was listed as 7.6 centimeters. It appeared on the market again in 1982 at Galerie Günter Puhze,16 where its height had increased to 8.1 centimeters. The beaker was up for sale again through Christie's, London, in 1989 and 1990, with a listed height of eight centimeters.17 It is now in the Saïd Motamed Collection in Frankfurt.18

These five vessels form the entire corpus of this variety of beaker. I know of one other leaf beaker that appeared on the art market in the mid-1990s, but its current whereabouts are unknown. It may be the beaker formerly in the Kofler-Truniger Collection, whose current location is also unknown.

The dating of the leaf beakers can be based on two bodies of evidence. One is the shape and patterning of the beakers as compared with similarly sized and decorated wares, and the other is the color of the glass itself.

There is a large group of Roman mold-blown vessels that are similar in size and shape to the leaf beakers. The most closely related examples contain Greek or Latin inscriptions, or have similar decorative motifs but no lettering. Harden concluded that the majority of these vessels were manufactured in the eastern Mediterranean. He was unable to date them precisely, placing only some of them in the early part of the first century A.D. and the rest sometime during the first and second centuries A.D.19 A group related in size (but not in imagery) to the inscription wares is the large assortment of sports cups that depict gladiatorial combats and circus events. They seem to have been produced primarily in the western regions of the Roman Empire. The overwhelming majority of these objects bear Latin inscriptions and were found in western contexts. Only one fragment found in the east can be assigned to this group, and it contains, appropriately, a Greek inscription.20 Harden concluded that the sports cups, too, were manufactured during the first century A.D., perhaps first in the eastern half of the empire (based on the evidence of the fragment), but then almost exclusively in the western half.21

Jennifer Price has been able to date the earlier mold-blown wares more precisely than Harden, and she divides them into three chronological groups.22 The first she calls the Tiberian-early Claudian group, and she places in it two or three types of cylindrical Ennion cups, one category of motto (i.e., inscription) beakers, and juglets, along with other hemispherical bowls and amphoriskoi. One of the juglets included in this period contains a floral spray of single-pointed leaves alternating with berries, a design similar in style to that found on the leaf beakers. The piece comes from the site of Magdalensberg, which was abandoned around A.D. 45.23 In addition, a fragment of an inscription beaker was found at Cosa in a context dating to about A.D. 40–45.24 Price dates the group of sports cup fragments to the Claudian to mid-Neronian and early Flavian periods, as fragments have been discovered in datable strata at Knossos, Vindonissa, Valkenberg, Brandon Camp, and Camulodunum.25 The juglet fragment from Magdalensberg appears to provide the closest relative date for the group of leaf beakers, and in conjunction with the color of the surviving vessels (see below), a late Neronian-Flavian date seems most likely for the group.

The colors used for glass in the imperial period provide additional information about the dating of the leaf beakers. In the Augustan and Julio-Claudian period, glass colors were generally bright, with blues and greens being especially popular.26 In addition, opaque glasses, particularly white, were frequently used for small flasks and unguent bottles.27 This color fashion changed during the Neronian period, and "natural" glass—glass without additives introduced to a batch to make bright colors—became more prominent. By the early Flavian period, almost all vessels were composed of "naturally" colored glass, and only an occasional piece was brightly colored deliberately. The various batches of glass from which the leaf beakers were made are described as yellow, greenish, or light blue. They fall into the category of "naturally" colored, which dates the vessels to the third quarter of the first century A.D.

All of the known leaf beakers, with the exception of the Metropolitan's beaker and the piece formerly in Berlin, made their appearance on the art market. There is meager information regarding their place of manufacture. The Kofler-Truniger beaker is said to be from Syria, and the Getty's vessel was labeled by the dealer as "Sidonian." These eastern Mediterranean placements may not be too far off, especially when combined with a known Cypriot findspot for the Metropolitan's piece and a possible southern Russian provenance for the beaker formerly in Berlin. The likelihood of an eastern Mediterranean origin for the group is strengthened by a comparison of the simplicity of their design with that of the inscription vessels that Harden assigns to the eastern Mediterranean.

Fig. 1: Inscription beakerOn many of the inscription beakers, decorative elements are designed to mask the mold seams on the sides of the vessels. On a beaker in The Corning Museum of Glass (Fig. 1 [55.1.4]), for example, the central shafts of the palm fronds that separate the words of the inscription conceal the mold marks. This same method of concealing mold marks is used on the leaf beakers: the side mold seams are hidden by the stems of two of the plants and bisect the top central leaves. It is hard to know if this careful rendering of the design on the part of the moldmaker is any indication of what vessels were made in which workshop. Some glass artisans may have been more particular than others about the designs of the vessels they made. But for every example of a mold pattern in which the seams are concealed, there are others in which no effort was made to hide the mold seams.28 It seems unlikely, therefore, that any sort of workshop identifications can be made for vessels with different designs on the basis of their mold seam treatment.

Not all of the multi-paneled mold-blown glass wares produced in the eastern Mediterranean are as simple in their patterns and molds as the leaf and inscription beakers. A quick survey of the vessels attributed to the workshop of Ennion, for example, illustrates the complexity of the designs and the more than adequate capabilities of the moldmakers and glass artisans working in the eastern regions of the Roman world. The multi-paneled molds used to manufacture the vessels of Ennion and his followers are much more complex in their shapes, arrangement, and decorative motifs than the three-part molds of such other artisans as Jason, Meges, Neikais, and the anonymous manufacturers of the leaf beakers. The designs and shapes of the latter group are much more straightforward, primarily vertically walled and open-mouthed vessels.

Multi-paneled mold-blown glass objects such as those described above can be divided into two stylistic groups on the basis of their decoration. Wares such as Ennion's are decorated with ornamental patterning commonly found on precious metal and ceramic vessels, including palmette friezes, tongues, and ivy tendril friezes. In contrast, the simpler decorative patterns of the leaf beakers can be compared with contemporaneous molded clay vessels with similar relief decoration; among them are some of the lead-glazed and terra sigillata wares produced in the eastern reaches of the Roman Empire.29

A piece with patterning very similar to that found on the leaf beakers is in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.30 It is a handleless cup with an offset flaring rim, resting on a stemmed foot. The vessel, glazed in a dull silver color to resemble metal, is dated to the first quarter of the first century A.D. Encircling the exterior of the bowl below the rim are vertical plants with simply delineated oval leaves. It is hard to ascertain from the published photograph, however, whether all of the plants are vertically arranged, as on the leaf beakers, or whether some bend to the side. In any case, the similarity between the renditions of the sprigs on the terra-cotta and glass vessels is readily apparent.

The resemblance between relief-decorated metal, ceramic, and glass objects has often been noted. The designers of molds for terra sigillata and other ceramic relief wares undoubtedly had a direct impact on the designers of molds for glass vessels—if they were not the same artisans. The decorative patterns used on vessels produced in all three media are strikingly similar, and they form a coherent stylistic vocabulary for the period. It would surely prove very useful to re-examine the existing corpus of Roman terra-cotta molds to see if some that are currently thought to have been used for ceramic production might, in fact, have been employed for glassware. The study of glass molds is hindered by the lack of excavated first-century glass workshops, as one would expect to find mold materials at such sites. Where glass workshops have been discovered and methodically excavated, glass waste and tool fragments, rather than mold material, are usually uncovered.31 However, this may be because the excavated workshops produced free-blown rather than mold-blown wares.

The number of excavated molds that were used in Roman glass production has been increasing steadily over the past decade. The most recent compilation of these molds has been made by E. Marianne Stern.32 In addition to those listed by Stern, I would add base molds of stone and terra cotta in the collection of the Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Cologne.33 This list shows that molds made of stone, fired clay, plaster, wood, and bronze were used to manufacture Roman glass. Price, who discusses the mold evidence preserved on the surfaces of the glass vessels, says that the clay inclusions and "slightly pock-marked effect" found on some exterior surfaces suggest "contact with friable or granular moulds, such as stone or clay."34

Molds constructed of limestone, gypsum plaster, and terra cotta that were employed in the production of molded ceramic vessels and lamps have survived from antiquity.35 Donald M. Bailey believes that gypsum plaster would have been the predominant material used for the making of lamp molds, but that, because of the friability of the medium, not many have survived.36 He bases his hypothesis on the evidence preserved on the surfaces of many ceramic lamps—evidence that takes the form of "raised globules caused by the broken air bubbles which form when the plaster is mixed and poured."37 In his discussion of terra-cotta molds used for molded ceramics such as Arretine wares, Donald Brown maintains that many of the designs and figural patterns found on these ceramics were derived from silver vessels with repoussé patterning on their exteriors.38 The numerous surviving examples of these lamp and vessel molds contribute to the hypothesis that glassmaking molds were fabricated of like materials.

The technique used to produce wares such as the leaf beakers was mold blowing. Building on the work of Harden and Price, Stem dates the beginning of mold blowing to the first decades of the first century A.D. and places it in the eastern Mediterranean.39 In theorizing about the life span of the molds used to make multi-paneled wares, she has calculated that a hexagonal bottle in the collection of The Toledo Museum of Art could have been manufactured as early as A.D. 13.40

More extensive studies of glass vessels blown in multi-paneled molds have been undertaken,41 but questions remain about exactly how this process was achieved. In one experiment that was designed to determine how a group of first-century A.D. beakers with mythological figures might have been manufactured, the vessels were inflated in a five-part mold that consisted of four side panels and a disk-shaped base section.42 One goal of the experiment was to determine what material was best suited for glassmaking molds. Another was to suggest how multi-paneled molds with a disk-shaped base section might have been designed. The working hypothesis was that (1) side panels containing the high-relief decoration were placed within a container that had decorative elements on its base,43 (2) the parison was inflated, (3) the vessel was lifted out of the container, and (4) the side panels rose with the glass and fell away once they were outside the container.44 In this way, the relief decoration would be preserved without any disfigurement caused by the removal of the mold.

Mold panels containing the same high-relief decoration that appears on the mythological beakers were constructed of terra cotta, bronze, and wood-materials that were available to first-century glass artisans. First, four side panels with relief decoration based on the design on the mythological beaker in The J. Paul Getty Museum45 were sculpted in modeling clay (Fig. 2). Next, a plaster cast was taken of the clay panels (Fig. 3). From the plaster cast, a silicon impression (Fig. 4) was made as a positive for the pouring of the panels in beeswax. The wax panels (Fig. 5) were then used to make cast bronze panels at a local foundry. The silicon impression was also employed as the master for terra-cotta panels, which were fabricated by pressing wet clay into the silicon mold and then separating the clay into four panels prior to firing (Fig. 6).46 For the construction of the wooden panels, a block of hard wood (H. 15.2 cm, W. 10.2 cm, Depth 10.2 cm) was lathed into a tapering cylinder on the interior, and then cut into four vertical pieces. Next, the interior surface was carved with relief decoration to match that on the mythological beaker (Fig. 7). After all of the trial molds had been manufactured, they were tested.

Fig. 1: Modeling clay panels made for the construction of a mythological beaker mold. (Photo: author)
Fig. 2: Plaster cast of modeling clay panels. (Photo: author)
Fig. 3: Silicon impression made from plaster cast of modeling clay panels. (Photo: author)
Fig. 4: Beeswax panel and disk made from silicon impression and used for the casting of bronze panels. (Photo: author)
Fig. 5: Terra-cotta mold panels and disk made for the reproduction of a mythological beaker. (Photo: author)
Fig. 6: Wooden mold panels made for the reproduction of a mythological beaker (only one side of the panels was carved with figural imagery). (Photo: author)

Fig. 7: Bronze panels placed in a small coffee can. (Photo: author)The terra-cotta panels demonstrated that a container mold would work as a means of holding the side panels. A small coffee can was employed as the container. It was packed with wet newspaper to provide support for the panels, which were inserted into the can in the correct orientation, with their seams in alignment (Fig. 8). When the hot glass had been completely inflated against the panels, it was pulled out of the can, with the side panels still adhering to the glass. Since the panels would not drop off by themselves, they were pulled off by hand, which produced some warping in the shape of the vessel. The relief decoration, however, was distinct and clear, much as it appears on the ancient beakers. The problem of the terra-cotta panels adhering to the hot glass was probably caused by two separate factors. One was the rather coarse type of clay, with large inclusions, that was employed in the manufacture of the mold panels. The use of a finer, better variegated clay would have mitigated this effect.47 In addition, if the panels had been preheated and perhaps rubbed with wax to provide a less granular surface, they might have dropped off the glass vessel in the proposed manner.

The bronze panels were successful in every way. Before they were used, they were placed next to the furnace to preheat for 20 to 30 minutes, and then they were lightly rubbed on the interior with wax. Next, like the terra-cotta panels, they were placed inside the coffee can. After the hot glass had been inflated, the vessel was lifted out of the can. The bronze panels rose with the glass one or two inches above the rim of the can and then fell off on their own. The resulting high-relief design on the glass was clear and unwarped by the weight of the bronze panels. The glassblower who inflated the test pieces has suggested that the bronze panels did not have to be as thick as those that were employed in this experiment (approximately 0.6 cm), since the heat of the glass would not distort the shape of thinner metal.48

The wooden mold panels were soaked in water for two days to saturate the wood and to inhibit charring as the glass was blown. Because the wooden mold was square, it would not fit inside the coffee can. During inflation, the blocks were only weakly held together on the outside with a wet, folded newspaper. This rather precarious method of clamping inhibited the blower from inflating the glass as forcefully as he would have liked. A better clamping device would have held the mold together more securely. When the glass was blown, it failed to take on any of the decorative patterning; instead, it showed only the four mold seams of the wooden blocks. A number of factors contributed to this failed effort. First was the inadequate clamping mentioned above. Second, the steam that was produced when the hot glass met the wet wood forced the glass away from the surface of the mold. Vents through the walls of the panels would have helped to channel the steam to the outside of the mold and away from the glass. Third, because the decorative elements were not carved into the wood deeply enough to allow the glass to inflate into them fully, none of the design was transferred to the glass. These somewhat disappointing results do not diminish the possibility that wood was used by Roman artisans for their molds, since all of the problems that resulted with this particular test mold could have been alleviated.

While the experiment failed to establish which material was best suited for glassmaking molds, it did prove that the proposed technique was a viable method for the mold blowing of a multi-paneled object. The placement of the individual panels inside a container enabled the blower to inflate the glass forcefully enough to attain the high-relief decoration in the mold, and the decoration was not damaged when the vessel was removed from the container because the panels rose with the glass and either fell off or were removed by hand. This process also permits the production of a number of vessels with various panel decorations, since the side panels can be easily changed within the container. Examination of the characteristics of disk-shaped base molds on a variety of mold-blown wares confirms that many of them are decorated with different numbers of concentric rings. In comparing the precise measurements of various mythological beakers, the dimensions of the figural and ornamental designs on the sides were quite close, but the base decorations were different. This suggests that the side panels might have been reused in containers whose base designs had varied numbers of concentric rings.49

I have begun a study of some first-century mold-blown wares to look for similarities in base molds.50 Precise measurements will be taken and compared to determine the different types and sizes of these molds. By gathering this data, vessels with the same base designs and dimensions but different side panel decoration can be assigned to the same workshop. This study may establish some hitherto unrecognized workshop relationships and conjoin vessels that have been discussed as separate groups.

In the manufacture of the leaf beakers, a three-part mold was utilized. The walls of the mold were constructed of two panels with repeating decoration. The third element was the base mold, whose underside was decorated with two concentric rings. The sides of the base mold continue up to the bottom of the two relief bands encircling the beaker below the foliate frieze.

Mark Taylor and David Hill, glassmakers based in Hampshire, have been extremely successful in reproducing first-century mold-blown Roman vessels.51 One such vessel is a chariot cup, which they blew in a three-part mold.52 In designing their mold, Taylor and Hill first lathed a blank vessel that included the horizontal bands of the frieze and the foot-ring on the base. This blank also featured a domed shoulder and a cylindrical neck, but Hill believes that the original Roman molds were likely "open."53 A plaster mold consisting of a base cylinder and two side pieces was taken of this blank. After the mold had dried, the design was carefully carved into its inner surface. A clay archetype, which was then made from the plaster mold, served as the master from which other molds could be made, presumably of clay. Taylor and Hill make their molds of bronze, citing durability and ease of use, and the objects they produce are extremely faithful to the originals. The relief images are much as they appear on ancient vessels, and the vessels themselves are as thin-walled as the Roman pieces. It is hoped that Taylor and Hill will continue to experiment with mold-blown reproduction vessels—and that they will expand their moldmaking designs into more complex patterns.54

Unfortunately, few ancient glassblowing molds have been preserved, and those that have survived do not answer questions about how multi-paneled objects were made. The evidence found on the vessels themselves, primarily in the form of mold seams, does not demonstrate how a mold with more than two sides was utilized by the Romans. This mystery will undoubtedly be solved as more glass production sites are unearthed, but until that time, the technique remains unclear.

With the publication of this group of glass vessels and the raising of questions about their method of manufacture and their relationship to other vessels that were similarly produced and decorated, I hope that other glass scholars will be prompted to re-examine the corpus of mold-blown glass made in multi-paneled molds. While iconographic studies abound, there is much work to be done in relating diverse groups to one another in new ways. Examining the characteristics of base molds used in the manufacture of mold-blown glass is one possible method of forming new relationships, for distinct similarities exist between vessels whose bases are the same but whose wall decoration varies. Likewise, the theory of a container mold used to hold multiple panels in place will set scholars thinking along new lines when considering mold-blown manufacturing techniques.

This article was published in the Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 42 (2000), 61–79.

1. Inv. no. 85.AF.91. I thank Marion True for allowing me to publish the vessel, which was acquired on the New York art market. Its only other publication is in "Acquisitions Supplement," J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, v. 14, 1986, p. 195, no. 68.

2. In addition to the base mold, two panels were used for the sides.

3. This center ring (D. 0.27 cm) is slightly depressed. The larger ring, which is in high relief, serves as the resting surface of the base of the beaker.

4. The presence of the fill was ascertained with the use of ultraviolet light. Whoever was responsible for making the fill had skillfully molded the section, taking the design from an undisturbed portion of the pattern on another part of the cup. What is missing from the design, however, is the continuation of the mold seam through the two raised bands at the top border to the edge of the beaker's rim.

5. See Important Ancient Glass from the Collection Formed by the British Rail Pension Fund, London: Sotheby's, November 24, 1997, pp. 20–21 , lot 7, and works cited there.

6. See Donald B. Harden and others, Glass of the Caesars, Milan: Olivetti, 1987, p. 157, no. 79.

7. For glass vessels, see ibid., pp. 158- 159, nos. 80 and 81. For Arretine wares, see, for example, George H. Chase, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Catalogue of Arretine Pottery, Boston: Houghton and Mifflin, 1916, rev. and enl. by M.B. Comstock and C. Vermeule, Cambridge: Copy Quik Corp., 1975, pl. XXII, no. 115 (for hanging garlands and floral tendrils); and idem, The Loeb Collection of Arretine Pottery. New York, 1908, pl. XV, no. 351 (for a palmette frieze at the rim of the bowl). For Roman silver, see, for example, Andrew Oliver Jr., Silver for the Gods: 800 Years of Greek and Roman Silver, Toledo: The Toledo Museum of Art, 1977, pp. 132–133, no. 84.

8. Inv. no. 81.10.222.

9. See Luigi Palma di Cesnola, A Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1903, v. 3, pt. III, pl. LXXVIII, no. 1, and accompanying text. Cesnola describes this beaker, along with three others, as "found in Greek tombs at Dali (Idalium)." The Cesnola beaker is also mentioned in Gustavus Eisen, Glass, New York: W.E. Rudge, 1927, v. I, p. 274, pl. 60. Cesnola describes as serrated the complex leaf pattern with bordered edge that appears on the beaker he excavated.

10. Wilhelm Froehner, La Verrerie antique: Description de la Collection Charvet, Le Pecq: J. Charvet, 1879, p. 65, illus. p. 63.

11. See Donald B. Harden, "Romano-Syrian Glasses with Mould-Blown Inscriptions," Journal of Roman Studies, v. 25, 1935, pp. 184–185, Appendix B, no. 2a. Harden lists the Metropolitan's beaker as the only example of this type, and he may have been unaware of the beaker in Berlin at the time of his publication. The beaker, along with other pieces, was donated to the Metropolitan Museum by Henry G. Marquand, who purchased the Charvet glass collection.

12. Kunst der Spätantike im Mittelmeerraum. Spätantike und byzantinische Kleinkunst aus Berliner Besitz: Ausstellung aus Anlass des VI. Internationalen Kongresses für Archäologie, 22 August bis 30 September, 1939, Berlin: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, 1939, p. 70, no. 200, pl. 73, no. 200.

13. The beaker was assigned the inventory number 11863, 559.

14. This beaker has been published in 3000 Jahre Glaskunst: Von der Antike bis zum Jugendstil, Lucerne: Kunstmuseum, 1981, p. 80, no. 271; Ancient Glass. Formerly the Kofler-Truniger Collection, London: Christie's, March 5–6, 1985, p. 72, lot 117, illus. 73; and Fine Antiquities, London: Christie's, December 10, 1986, lot 19.

15. Fine Antiquities, London: Christie's, June 11, 1980, p. 21 , lot 88.

16. Kunst der Antike, Galerie Günter Puhze, catalog 4, Freiburg, Germany: the gallery, 1982, p. 28, no. 297, illus.

17. Fine Antiquities, London: Christie's, December 12, 1989, lot 37; Fine Antiquities, London: Christie's, July 11, 1990, lot 20.

18. I thank Saïd Motamed for allowing me to publish his beaker and for providing me with a photograph of the object.

19. Harden [note 11]; idem, "Two Tomb Groups of First Century Date from Yahmour, Syria, and a Supplement to the List of Romano-Syrian Glasses with Mould-Blown Inscriptions," Syria, v. 24, 1944–1945, pp. 81–95 and 291–292.

20. Donald B. Harden, "New Light on Mold-Blown Glass Sports Cups of the First Century A.D. Bearing Both Chariot Races in Bigae and Gladiatorial Combats," Journal of Glass Studies, v. 24, 1982, pp. 30–43, esp. pp. 31–34. The fragment in question comes from Egypt, and it has an epoie (Greek for “[so-and-so] made it") inscription with only the last three letters of the maker's name.

21. Harden also used this evidence to further his argument for the migration of craftsmen from east to west, bringing their designs and technology to new markets.

22. Jennifer Price, "Decorated Mould-Blown Glass Tablewares in the First Century A.D.," in Roman Glass: Two Centuries of Art and Invention, ed. M. Newby and K. Painter, London: Society of Antiquaries of London, 1991, p. 64ff.

23. See Barbara Czurda-Ruth, Die römischen Gläser vom Magdalensberg, Kärntner Museumsschriften, no. 65, Archäologische Forschungen zu den Grabungen auf dem Magdalensberg 6, Klagenfurt: Verlag des Landesmuseums für Kärnten, 1979, pp. 144–145, no. 1055, pl. 22.

24. See David F. Grose, "Roman Glass of the First Century A.D. A Dated Deposit of Glassware from Cosa, Italy," Annales du 6e Congrès International d'Etude Historique du Verre, Cologne, 1–7 juillet 1973, Liège: Edition du Secrétariat Général, 1974, pp. 31–52.

25. Price [note 22], p. 67.

26. For outstanding examples of brightly hued cast and blown wares, see Harden and others [note 6], pp. 21–52, esp. nos. 20–24, and pp. 109–111, nos. 42–44.

27. For an example of a mold-blown pyxis of opaque white glass from Sidon, dated to the first quarter of the first century A.D., see ibid., p. 158, no. 80.

28. See, for example, ibid., pp. 168-169, nos. 89 and 90 (two sports cups). No. 89 conceals the seam in the turning post of the circus, and no. 90 makes no effort to hide the seam.

29. For examples of lead-glazed wares, see Anne Hochuli-Gysel, Acta Bernensia VIII. Kleinasiatische Glasierte Reliefkeramik, Bern: Stämpfli, 1977.

30. Inv. no. 8163, published in Schatten uit Turkije, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, Leiden: The Rijksmuseum, 1986, p. 165, no. 236, and p. 264, no. 236.

31. See, for example, Yael Israeli, "The Invention of Blowing," in Roman Glass [note 22], pp. 46–55; and Gladys Davidson Weinberg, ed., Excavations at Jalame, Site of a Glass Factory in Late Roman Palestine, Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1988.

32. E. Marianne Stern, The Toledo Museum of Art. Roman Mold-Blown Glass: The First through Sixth Centuries, Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider in association with The Toledo Museum of Art, 1995, pp. 45–47.

33. Stone base mold, inv. no. 70, 6a, from St. Apemstrasse (Fig. 10); terra-cotta base mold with concentric rings, inv. no. 27, 1264, from the Rudolfplatz (Fig. 11).

34. Price [note 22], p. 58.

35. For an example of a terra-cotta mold used for the making of Arretine bowls, see Donald Brown, "Pottery," in Roman Crafts, ed. D. Strong and D. Brown, New York: New York University Press, 1976, pp. 78–80 and figs. 137–138. For examples of lamp molds and mold archetypes in various materials, see Donald M. Bailey, "Pottery Lamps," in Roman Crafts, pp. 94–100 and figs. 157–159, 162–164, and 170–173. See also idem, Catalogue of Lamps in the British Museum, London: British Museum Publications Ltd., 1975, v. 1, p. 2ff.

36. Bailey, Catalogue [note 35], p. 94.

37. Ibid.

38. Brown [note 35], p. 78. He illustrates a plaster cast of a silver vessel (fig. 133) that is now in the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford. For a discussion of plaster casts used for silver production that were excavated at Begram, see Michael Menninger, Untersuchungen zu den Gläsern und Gipsabgüssen aus dem Fund von Begram/Afghanistan, Würzburg: ERGON Verlag, 1996, p. 93ff.

39. Stern [note 32], p. 65ff.

40. Ibid., pp. 65, 84, and 115.

41. Most recently in Stern's admirable work on first-century mold-blown glass at The Toledo Museum of Art: ibid.

42. The experimental vessels were blown by Rhys Williams at his Cactus Glassworks, a one-man workshop in Claremont, California. See Karol Wight, "Mythological Beakers and Roman Glass Production in the First Century A.D.," Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1991. While Stern ([note 32], p. 185ff.) places the mythological beakers in the second century A.D., I have dated them (in chapter 8 of my dissertation) to the second half of the first century A.D.

43. The bases of the leaf beakers, mythological beakers, and many other similarly produced glass vessels have various numbers of concentric rings.

44. A container would not be needed if enough assistants were available to hold and retract the side panels of the mold. Stern ([note 32], p. 45) discusses the use of an as yet unidentified clamping device, rather than a pontil, to hold vessels once they were cracked off the blowpipe. A similar clamping device might have held the side mold panels in position during inflation. If a workshop had a limited number of workers, the method examined in my experiment might have been utilized.

45. Inv. no. 85.AF.83. For dimensions and a full description of the piece, see Karol Wight, "Mythological Beakers: A Re-examination," Journal of Glass Studies, v. 36, 1994, p. 42ff. I thank Katharine Untch for her help in the preparation of the different molds.

46. I thank Mrs. Toby Schreiber for making and firing the terra-cotta panels used in the experiment.

47. In general, ancient terra-cotta molds are made of finely variegated clay.

48. This opinion supports the belief that the bronze mold from Samaria (Fig. 12) was used as a glassmaking mold. The British Museum's silver and cobalt blue glass vessel also illustrates the use of thin-walled metal as a receptacle for hot glass; see Harden and others [note 6], p. 156, no. 78.

49. Wight [note 45). All of the mythological beakers in Groups I, II, and III have two different base designs.

50. Stern ([note 32), p. 28) has created a chart showing various types of mold construction. This chart illustrates many kinds of multiple-panel molds, but it is limited to examples in the collection of The Toledo Museum of Art.

51. Mark Taylor and David Hill, "Making Roman Glass Today," The Colchester Archaeologist, v. 11, 1998.

52. Ibid., figs. A–C and accompanying explanation of how the mold is made.

53. David Hill, fax to author, May 24, 1999.

54. Taylor and Hill have already reproduced a lotus bud beaker with a base mold and three side panels. Hill [note 53].

Published on June 25, 2013

Karol Wight
President and Executive Director
Dr. Karol Wight became executive director at The Corning Museum of Glass in August 2011 and served as curator of ancient and Islamic glass from August 2011 through July 2017. In January of 2015, she was promoted to the position of President and...