Roman-Egyptian spindle whorl from mosaic glass

Object number
Object: Roman-Egyptian spindle whorl from mosaic glass

Material: Mosaic glass in black, white, green, red and yellow.

Period: 1st cent. BC to 1st cent. AD.
During the period of Roman rule in Egypt.

Description:    Cone-shaped spindle whorl made of beautiful mosaic glass. It bears an artistic patterning in black, white, green, red and yellow. It could be attached to a spindle as a weight via the central through hole.

Background: Before the invention of the spinning wheel and at least since the early Neolithic period, hand spindles were used to make yarn. They consist of a shaft and a spindle whorl. The spindle whorl was placed at the end of the shaft and served as a flywheel. The shaft usually had a raised spot where the spindle whorl could be stuck with its central drill hole. Due to the weight at the end of the rod, the hand spindle could be set in a fast, long-lasting rotation. The spindle movement and the correct feeding of individual threads enables the threads to be spun into a tight yarn. Since spindle whorls were often made of stone and other durable materials, they are common in collections, museums and on the art market. Pieces made of glass are rarer and this piece made of beautiful mosaic glass will make it the showpiece of every collection.

Dimensions: 22mm diameter.

Condition: Perfect condition.

Provenance: Acquired by us on the UK art market in 2021. Previously in a British collection. Acquired at Bonhams London sale of 1 May 2013, part of lot 214 (the entire lot sold for GBP 5000, equivalent to around EUR 6000 at the time). Previously in interim ownership. Acquired in 1998 at the British art gallery Lennox in London. Previously and since circa 1969 in the British R. Bussey collection. It was a collection with numerous glass objects from the eastern Mediterranean region, which was probably acquired on the art market at the time.

References: This piece is published in the catalogue Bonhams London 1 May 2013, lot 214.
Cf. Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. no. 10.130.2765.
Cf. British Museum, museum no. 2007,6001.10794.
For similar examples on the art market see Bonhams London sale of 1 April 2014, lot 271 (with an estimate of GBP 1500 to GBP 2000, equivalent to around EUR 1900 to EUR 2500 at the time),
and also Christie's London sale of 26 April 2012, lot 78 (sold for GBP 6250 GBP for 6 slightly less elaborate glass spindle whorls, equivalent to around EUR 7800 at the time).

Literature: Bette Hochberg, Handspindles (1993).
Almut Bohnsack, Spinnen und Weben (1981).

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.