A superb collection of 16th - 19th century Germanic glass drinking vessels in the collection of Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass.
A Humpen is a large wide beaker with straight sides, a slightly projecting base and sometimes a cover. These ceremonial glasses were commissioned and used for special occasions by the nobility, and would have been passed among the group for all to use.
It would take almost one gallon of milk or close to eight pints of beer to fill this Humpen!
The decorations here were hand painted using enamel paints that were then baked onto the surface.
The vessel is adorned with symbols of heraldry, emblems and banners that represent both family and country. The Reichsadler (double-headed eagle), halos, heraldic details, cross, orb and other insignia all signified the Holy Roman Empire, and the 56 armorial shields represent the contiguous parts of the Empire.
Glasses changed from simple-shaped green glass with crude prunts to goblets with tall, shapely stems that look like architectural columns. The stems are referred to as baluster stems and the tops were often decorated with finials.
Even the size of the goblets changed. Stems were now topped with drinking bowls that commanded an image of grace.
Schwartzlot is the name of a decorating technique whereby the artist applied a diluted black enamel to a glass surface, then scratched through it with a fine tool to create the picture.
Schwartzlot painting was mostly a cottage industry done by a small number of freelance decorators known as hausmalers, who bought undecorated ware from the factory and painted it at home or in their own studio. They were often superior to the factory’s own painters.
This goblet has three medallions around the surface which contain the symbols of an hourglass, skulls, and a crown hovering over clouds. In general, these symbols suggest the passage of time, probably a lifetime.
The passage translates: Oh man beware of vanity. Prepare for death. The joys of heaven follow.
A Sweetmeat is a tall stemmed glass dish used in England in the late 17th to 18th centuries for serving various kinds of sweetmeats, or small desserts, such as chocolates, nuts, and candied or dried fruits, toward the end of a meal.
Sweetmeat dishes were intended to enhance the appeal of their contents, and were often made in boat or shell shapes as seen here.
Zwischengoldglas is a double-walled technique of sandwiching gold leaf between two layers of glass.
To create Zwischengoldglas, the outer surface of an inner glass is decorated with cut gold leaf, and a bottomless second glass is made to fit exactly over it to protect the design; a colorless resin is then used to seal the two glasses.
A dedication piece, this goblet features a portrait of a young girl. The inscription around the top translates: Dedicated to my beloved sister Clara, August 12, 1817. On the reverse, there is a neoclassical temple or church (probably Vienna), with hills, a row of poplar trees and five figures. The inscription on the gilt rim reads: The calm of the countryside. Love and friendship may crown you together with flowers of your friends. Mohn.
A Ranftbecher is a footed beaker typically with a cogwheel foot. They were popular styles for decorating during the 18th and 19th centuries and were often commissioned as presentation pieces or sought after as souvenirs by visitors to spas and resorts.
These beakers became miniature canvases for both glass and porcelain painters, and featured landscapes, portraits from life, floral symbolism and allegorical scenes.
Often, these glasses were decorated with images that had hidden messages. This Ranftbecher depicts the three highest Tarot cards and includes a political message, as it represents the three monarchs who fought against Napoleon: Emperor Francis I of Austria, King Frederick William III of Prussia and Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Thus the translation, Their Unity is Our Strength.