On the internet, one thing leads to another. This time, we ended up, via a Wikipedia wormhole, on the Dutch-language page for ‘Pasglas’.
Here’s what we got from Google Translate, tidied up a bit:
A pasglas is a tall beer glass from the 17th century used for drinking games. The glass gets its name from the passen (stripes) marked around the beer glass with the intention that, during a drinking game, each competitor would try to drink down to the next line… The pasglas is common in paintings of the 17th century in which it can symbolise the temptations of life. The quality of the glass itself was poor and often contain air bubbles; this, and the low appreciation of the glasses, means that few have been preserved.
There are indeed lots of pictures of these peculiar glasses, such as ‘An Allegory of Taste’ by Petrus Staverenus, that was auctioned at Christie’s in 2012 (and from where we nicked the picture):
It looks a bit like a modern-day brewing sample jar, a vase, or maybe a distant relative of a German wheat beer glass.
There’s a lot more information on the website of ALMA, a Dutch project which aims to connect physical objects from history with paintings that depict them. Its essay says: ‘The eight-sided green pass glass is found regularly in archaeological excavations, not only in the Netherlands but also in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and even in the United States.’ It also includes the rules of the drinking game gleaned from a poem inscribed on a glass in Vienna:
The verse makes it clear that the pass glass was used by a group of drinking companions who passed the glass round and everyone must take a swallow from it. The drinker was challenged to go from measure to measure in one gulp and if he missed, then he had to go on to the next measure.
Sounds like fun, and all very sociable. Someone making these today would clean up at Christmas, wouldn’t they?
The main image up top is a detail from ‘Vrolijk Gezelschap’ by Jan Miense Molenaer, c.1660 – 1668, from the ALMA website.