Monday, 23 January 2012

Onion bottle

Here is a picture of a classic 'onion' bottle which is conveniently dated '1701'. The bit of glass found by the river in the previous post was the bottom part of one of these, which you would see if I had photographed it in profile, showing the massive indentation of the wide base which they all have/had.

A friend of mine collects these - I wouldn't mind one myself as a decanter, but they fetch around £300 each when intact, so I have not bothered to buy one.

I was watching a mechanical digger cut a service trench on the site of my old workshop in town some years ago, and as it dropped a bucket of hard earth onto the ground beside it, I saw a perfectly intact, Roman glass bottle roll out and come to rest on the bank. As I reached down to pick it up, a great clod of earth landed on it, smashing it to pieces. The thing had sat there for about 1800 years, then broke just as it was about to be saved.

The Eastern approaches to Bath are absolutely saturated with Roman and later remains - I saw the bones of a Middle-Eastern trader discovered in Walcot street, stuffed into a box in the cellars of the Roman Baths recently. Right next to the little cardboard box which was his last resting place, an archaeological pathologist had reconstructed his face using the skull as a base, and he stared at me across the years, down in the dark passages of the Baths. Those reconstructions are extremely accurate, as shown by modern murder cases which have been solved using the same technique.

It is crazy, but you can buy Roman glassware for a fraction of the price that the 18th century equivalent costs - cheaper than the Romans bought it for 2000 years ago. A roman drinking glass cost the equivalent of about £3000 in it's day. It would now cost you about £200.

16 comments:

  1. they are lovely... I knid of like ships decanters which look slightly similar...
    you can't spill them!!!

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    1. You can't spell them either, John.

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    2. not after a night shift certainly..... mind you I can't spell worth a shit when I am awake!

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  2. I think the chance of finding Roman remains must be one of the most exciting things about living in Bath Tom. I love that vase.

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  3. What would that bottle have been used for Tom?

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  4. I've often seen really beautiful delicate pieces of Roman glass on sale for very little money. It made me rather suspicious.

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    1. I know, but they are rarely faked - unlike 18th century ones.

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  5. Wine? And I was wondering how they got those onions in there. Seriously, how exciting. I once saved a glass ball door knob from a 19th mansion in Cleveland. You all have been leaving artifacts around for such a long time.

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    1. I once had one surgically removed, Joanne.

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    2. I ought to explain - it was during a game of 'Sardines' in an English country house, and I backed onto the door in the dark, losing my footing.

      The A & E Department didn't believe me either.

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    3. Thankfully you weren't on duty that night.

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  6. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

    Nice stuff.

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    Replies
    1. And a friend in need is a pain in the arse.

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