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A Roman Blue glass Acetabulum, ca 1st century AD
Reference No: RG160
A Roman Blue glass Acetabulum, ca 1st century AD
Price : $ 850
EUR 793.31 GBP 670.65 AUD 1,285.71


This piece is such a delight!  Pale blue glass, with steep sides; out-curved rim with wide fold on underside; tubular pushed-in foot.  Smithsonian museum accession number: 299751 applied in black ink on side of vessel, collection identification label attached to the foot with thread.

Background:   These cups, known as acetabulum, were named from the Latin word acetum meaning vinegar.  The Romans believed vinegar was good for the constitution and were served diluted vinegar and water from such examples while eating. However, they were also used at table to hold sauces, honey etc and in the kitchen for measuring ingredients.  For example, where a recipe today would call for a cup of flour, the Roman recipe would call for an acetabulum of flour.  The terracotta equivalent of acetabulum were also used in a “thimble-rig” game, a slight of hand entertainment in which spectators would guess under which acetabulum was hidden a stone or similar small object.  

Reference:  Kunina N. Ancient Glass in the Hermitage Collection. ARS Publishers, LTD, St. Petersburg, 1997, cat. #290; Hayes J. W. Roman and Pre-Roman Glass in the Royal Ontario Museum. Toronto, 1975, cat. # 196. 
Condition:  The cup is in excellent condition. There is fragile iridescence on the outside and inside, much of the inside is covered with a layer of iridescence and dirt. No apparent sign of damage.

Dimensions:   Dia. 2-3/8" (6 cm),  Height:  2 inches (5 cm)

Published: McGovern-Huffman, S. "Magical, Mystical Roman Glass, the Lenman/Stohlman Collection of Ancient Roman Glass" (2012) pg 40.

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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