Ancient Roman Basket Handle Double Balsamarium

£ 1,250.00

A magnificent and good sized Ancient Roman aqua coloured glass double balsamarium with two co-joined tubular phials. The piece features a tall basket handle, applied to the out-folded rim and a third down the body each side. A single fine trail applied and wound in a spiral around body, ending below the rim. Traces of luminous silvery blue iridescence cover the item, further embellishing it. Balsamaria usually came with glass or bronze applicators used to extract precious oils and creams from inside.

Date: Circa 4th-5th Century AD
Provenance: Private London collection, Mayfair, acquired 1990s.
Condition: Very fine. Complete and intact with minor earthy encrustations. Beautiful iridescence on the surface.
Product Code: RGS-56
Category: Tag:

Balsamaria were small bottles, used as containers for ointments, powders, balms, and other liquids associated with the toilet, especially perfumes: the small mouth of the two flasks are ideal for slow, careful pouring, while glass was preferred for holding liquids, due to its non-porous, non-absorbent nature. Balsamaria were made through the glass blowing process, which involved using a hollow clay or metal tube to gather molten glass into a sphere. By blowing air inside it, the glass worker created a hollow sphere, which would have been then stretched with the aid of gravity and metal tools into an elongated tube. Lines can be seen on the handles: these were created when the glass worker stretched the glass with tweezers.

To discover more about glass wares used to store cosmetics and ointments, please visit our relevant blog post: Roman Glass: Unguentaria and Cosmetics.

Dimensions W 6 x H 16.5 cm

Southern Europe


Blown Glass

Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, accession number X.21.161.

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