A Forest Green Glass Drinking Boot

By Judy Stuart

There is an old saying in southern Germany, that a man who cannot drink his boot full of beer is not a true Bavarian.  Because of the popularity of this saying and the probable dis-like of people drinking from their own boot, manufacturers in Germany made drinking vessels in the shape of boots primarily from glass and ceramics.

While not exactly a drinking boot, this vessel represents a woman’s leg with an elegant slipper.  The glass is considered forest glass, made to look as unadulterated glass would look if clarifying and decoloring agents had not been added to the molten mixture.  The design of the glass is quilted both inside and out. Such patterning took extra time and effort and was done when the object was blown. The elegant silver plate slipper and top rim were made especially for this piece by WMF (Wurtembergische Metallwarenfabrik), as marked on both the rim and the heel.  WMF is a very prestigious Wurtemberg firm still in business today making kitchenwares but which made elegant table ware, presentation items, etc. in the late 1800s.

The foot of the slipper is engraved to Ernst Herzmann who served as an officer in an organization which presented this drinking boot to him on September 27, 1896. Drinking boots were common drinking vessels in German pubs at schools, universities and other locations for groups of younger drinkers.  Insignias of fraternities, nine pin teams and commercial logos were often added to the boots.  They were used in drinking games and as challenges to ‘outsiders’ who were unaccustomed to drinking from a boot.  Unknowing drinkers may raise the boot with the toe up or toe down and find themselves covered in a bath of beer as the air lock has to break to bring the liquid to the lips.  But when one takes a drink with the toe to the left or to the right, there is no sudden flood of beer.

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