So…something new, different, interesting and finally available to my hot little hands to research in the land of late Persian glass…
All of the “real” late Persian saddles have an inner seat on the lip – a recessed ridge that would have helped in sealing the bottle. The bottles weren’t sealed with cork – I don’t know if the Persians even had access to cork. What they were sealed with, according to English and French travellers of the 17th and 18th century, was a plug made of cloth and the fat from lamb’s tails. There’s a fascinating side-research project on the type of lamb, but that’s a serious segue that I’ll avoid for now.
So imagine my surprise a month and a bit ago when fellow collector Jim Eifler pointed me at a saddle flask on a US auctioneer’s web site (a live auction, not eBay). This saddle flask had a stopper – and it looked like it might actually have gone with the bottle. I’d never seen such a thing before, and the colour seemed a match, but the auction house definitely didn’t specialize in glass, so they didn’t pay much heed to it.
I left a hefty bid for it (well, I thought it was a hefty bid anyways). The auction opened and closed, and the lot sold for well under my maximum bid (well under). But I didn’t win the lot. After some prodding from Jim, I contacted the auction house. A couple quick transfers and I was talking to the head auctioneer. He apologized profusely, and said that due to “human error” they had forgotten to place three bids. Mine was one of them. Sigh. I posted an All Points Bulletin on the FaceBook “Bottle Collectors” page, hoping the bottle might turn up again, then went back to my day job.
Two weeks ago, Chris Pickerell sent me a message – had I seen the saddle flask on eBay? Same bottle. Tiny starting price. I hadn’t. So once again, I left a pretty decent bid. I was delighted at how many of you checked in with me to ensure I had seen the bottle, and to wish me well. Rick Ciralli in particular checked in several times.
This time, no human (or machine) error, and the bottle shipped successfully, and the stopper actually goes with the bottle. Same glass, same everything. Fascinating. It was blown into somewhat of a button mold – you can see where the top of the stopper was cracked off the glass in one of the attached photos. That’s a lot of work – and still not a perfect seal.
Here’s some better photos of the stopper, for your perusal and comments. More research to follow.