Glass Signature

by Dorothea


Perhaps the world’s first “brand” logo from the first century AD


Glass is one my all-consuming passions, I collect it from all over the world, but ancient glass is perhaps the most fascinating of all. Despite its fragility, beautiful glass objects have survived the ravages of time and none are more compelling than these signed pieces by Ennion.


The phrase “made by Ennion,” otherwise translated as “Ennion made me,” is spelled in raised Greek letters within a rectangular frame or within the outline of a tabula ansata, a plaque with dovetail shaped handles. Some vessels have another inscription in addition or by itself: a tag line in Greek that translates as “may the buyer be remembered” — implicitly, that is, “by the gods.”


Active sometime between A.D. 1 and A.D. 50, Ennion is the first known artisan to have produced mold-blown glass: objects made by blowing bubbles of molten glass into patterned molds. His elegant cups, bowls, beakers, jugs and flasks decorated with geometric and botanical motifs were sought after by wealthy Romans and traded throughout the Mediterranean.


Very few of his pieces survive today and therefore it is a rare treat to see so many together as in New York’s Metropolitan Museum‘s rare exhibit on at the moment. What’s most compelling are their beautiful, translucent colors: deep cobalt blue, pale sea green, olive oil green and dark amber.


Simplicity of overall form, ordered complexity in the decoration, exquisite delicacy of the glass itself and its seductively sensuous hues: it’s easy to see why Ennion’s glass was sought after by discriminating Romans.


An interesting video (click here) by the Corning Museum of Glass shows how mold blown glass was made in Roman times. Read the full NY Times review on this amazing exhibit that runs until April 13, 2015.