Ancient Roman Glass Double Balsamarium with Applied Handles


A fine Ancient Roman double balsamarium in pale green glass, decorated with applied glass trailing. The vessel is composed of two conjoined tubular phials with slightly flared and thickened rims. The lower part of the body is decorated with a thin applied trail of turquoise glass creating horizontal bands. Two handles have been applied from the body to the rim and extend upwards to form a basket handle.

The stand is for reference only.

Date: Circa 3rd-4th century AD
Provenance: Ex. Japanese private collection, London, acquired 1970-2010.
Condition: Very fine condition. Beautiful iridescence visible with some earthly encrustations on the surface. Some loss of trailing to the body consistent with age.

In stock

SKU: CY-64 Category: Tags: , ,

The balsamarium is a variant of the typical Roman glass unguentarium. Produced in large numbers, they were items of every day use for holding and storing perfumed oils, as well as other expensive liquids and powders. The small body and mouth allowed the user carefully to pour and control the amount of liquid dispensed. By the 1st century AD, the technique of glass-blowing had revolutionised the art of glass-making, allowing for the production of small medicine, incense, and perfume containers in new forms. Glass was often the preferred material for storing oils because it was not porous. These small glass bottles are found frequently at Hellenistic and Roman sites, especially in cemeteries, and the perfumes which filled them would have been gathered from all corners of the expansive Roman Empire.

Trail decoration is an embellishment technique which was a popular feature of Roman glass artefacts, and was composed of a strand of glass applied to a vessel or object. Narrow trails of coloured glass were applied in zig-zag or festoon patterns to vessels; trails of varying thickness were frequently added as rims, handles, or base rings. Trails were also used as surface decoration, usually in a spiralling pattern around the vessel which was either raised or made from a different colour of glass.

To find out more about Roman glass please see our relevant blog post:Ancient Glass and Collecting Roman Glass 

Weight 72.1 g
Dimensions L 15.8 x W 7.8 x H 3.8 cm




Reference: For a similar item,Bonhams, London, 26th April 2007, lot 260

You may also like…