A finely made Roman hair pin in blue glass. The long fine cylindrical body has been twisted on itself to form an attractive corkscrew appearance; a flat circular finialone end, the body tapering to a fine point at the other.

Circa 1st century AD


Very Fine condition some light accretions.

Length 16.1cms (6.3 ins)


Provenance: From a private UK collection, acquired prior to 1990 See Bonhams antiquities sale of 29th April 2009; lot 94 where they comment: The closest parallel to this delicate object is a purple 'bastoncino' from Aquileia, Italy, which is smooth in the centre and twisted at the ends, cf. M.C. Calvi, I vetri romani del Museo di Aquileia, (Aquilea 1968), pp.51-52, no. 122.


Another similar example in pale green glass comes from the necropolis of Zara and is now in the Museo Vetrario, cf. G.L. Ravagnan, Vetri antichi del Museo Vetrario di Murano. Collezionidello Stato, (Venice 1994), p. 121, no. 227. Although it has been suggested that these rods were used as cosmetic implements (R.W. Smith, Glass from the Ancient World, (Corning 1957), pp. 175-6, no.365) it is more probable that they were used as hair pins.


These rods or hairpins must also be closely related to delicate glass needles, for nine examples from graves in north Italy and Switzerland, that mostly date from the 1st-3rd quarter of the 1st Century A.D., cf. S. Biaggio Simona, I vetri romani provenienti dale terre deell'attuale Cantone Ticino, (Locarno 1991), pp.226-8, fig. 32, pl.49.


That these needles were used as hairpins is further supported by the discovery of two needles together with some bone rods near the skull in a female grave at Samothrace, cf. E.B. Dusenbery, 'Ancient glass from the cemetery of Samothrace', Journal of Glass Studies 10, 1968, p 49, fig 52.

An exceedingly rare Roman glass hairpin

SKU: H514
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