Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Glasses I Plan To Secretly Break in the Near Future

When I moved to Germany I naturally examined the glasses I “inherited” with a critical eye. 

Few were acceptable. Fortunately I was enamored with a set of 19 French amber glasses with clear bases, possibly from the 1960s, that are so badly made that some of them lean at a 20-degree angle. They range in size from mouth-full to fruit cup, and they are now characters in my everyday life.

But the majority of their cabinet mates had to go. In America I would just deliver them to the Salvation Army. Here my only possible choice is sadly the garbage toter. Thus, they have to be broken. A friend who tells me he breaks glasses easily has been invited on multiple occasions to visit and wield his skill, but he always politely declines. So I have stashed the offenders away, planning to secretly break a few glasses every month until they are gone.

Meanwhile I found a lovely set of green wine glasses at the second hand shop around the corner. Ten cut crystal beauties for 15 Euro – a bargain made even sweeter when an antiques dealer who was also browsing asked the shop owner “How-much-ya-want for those Römers?,”and she had to say, “Sorry, they are being bought by the young lady.”

I skipped home feeling young and happy, which is just the way a person should feel after scoring a deal on a fine antique.
I think the dealer was using the term Römer very loosely, as a traditional Römer has a ribbed base and a thick stem sometimes decorated with raised glass berries. You often see these pale green glasses tipped casually over in Dutch still life paintings from the 16th and 17th century.

My glasses are of a petite scale and the bowl, which is cut with a basket-like pattern, is mica thin. The four-faceted stems reflect light like chandelier prisms. If I am very lucky my new treasures date back to 1900 or possibly a little earlier. They could have been made in Germany, but I am so close to the Czech Republic it is possible they come from Bohemia. A recent glance in a shop window in Karlsbad tells me the Czechs are still busy making similar patterns today, in every color and for much higher prices.

I stand by my plan of covert ugly glass destruction, but I now have a new problem. When I cradle one of these green beauties in my hand, they just seem too fragile and pretty to use. Since I don’t want to be the one to drop them in the sink and shatter their long history, I’ve been admiring their sparking beauty from the safety of my china cabinet. It could take years, and a very special occasion, but maybe someday I’ll work up the courage to raise one in good cheer. 



  1. If I was there, I'd break the ugly glasses for you. A little smashing of things can be good for the soul.

  2. Agreed. I imagine covert-breaking-of-glassware is a primary reason why the Germans are so laid-back as compared to our twitchy existence in the States. That, and the close proximity to cheap Czech vodka.

  3. Those green glasses are lovely. I am trying to imagine actually using them, but nothing intimidates me like lovely "mica thin" stemware. Hence I drink everything from water to fine wine from my 1970s Looney Tune tumblers (though now that I see they are selling on etsy for $10-$12 each I may want to rethink that preference).

  4. It would be fun to invite all of you to a glass breaking party - but with good Czech beer, Michele. Looney Tune glasses are going for that much now? Did we originally get those at a gas station or Burger King? Next time I'm in the States I must dig those out...