April 22 Art Minute: “Trick Glass with Stag Siphon”

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Germany, Trick Glass with Stag Siphon (detail). Glass, blown, late 17th to early 18th century. H. 13 3/8 in. (34 cm); W. 5 1/8 in. (13 cm). Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 2004.89A–B. Gallery 23

This trick glass was designed to make it as difficult as possible to drink from the vessel without spilling the alcoholic beverage within. The insert of the stag glass functions as a siphon (a sort of straw) whose multiple openings challenge the drinker to figure out which holes need to be covered in order for the siphon to work. The intent was to amuse the onlookers at the expense of the drinker. Communal drinking games often demanded that if any liquid was spilled, the unlucky drinker was required to pay and start again with a full glass.


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