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Covered Tankard
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Unknown
Possibly northern Bohemian, 1578
Free-blown colorless (brownish-green) glass with enamel and applied decoration
H: 10 5/8 in.
84.DK.553

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Under the inscription King Herod has the innocent children miserably killed, King Herod sits enthroned in a curtained enclosure, witnessing four soldiers murdering small children while their mothers struggle. In addition to such biblical scenes, other common subjects for enameled drinking vessels included hunting, allegorical, genre, and heraldic themes.

Large vessels such as this tankard usually held beer, which had been consumed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Europe since the Middle Ages. A French visitor to Germany in 1688 provided this commentary on Germanic drinking habits:

You know the Germans are strange Drinkers; there are no People in the World more obliging, civil, and officious; but they have terrible Customs as to the Point of Drinking…Every Draught must be a Health [toast], and as soon as you have emptied your Glass, you must present it full to him whose health you drank….Do but reflect a little on these Customs, and see how much it is impossible to leave off drinking.


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