Fall cup

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Two fall cups from Straubing (approx. 6th / 7th century)

A fall cup is a cup or cup which, due to its shape, cannot be set down without a foot, but instead falls down , ie resting on the rim of the drink.

It consists of the hollow cup part and a handle-like handle part that tapers to a point or rounded at the bottom, which means that the tumbler cup can only be placed backwards when empty. When full, it must be held in the hand or a special stand.

Fall cup in ancient times

As early as late Roman times, glass beakers were made that could only be placed upside down on the edge. Typical fall beakers from the early Middle Ages were used as grave goods in well-equipped burials. Numerous specimens from this period have found their way into museums and collections.

Fall cup in the early Middle Ages

The early medieval tumbler is the main glass shape of the early Middle Ages and has no direct precursors in the late Roman. The shape probably developed towards the end of the 5th century AD from the wide, bell-shaped beakers via various intermediate shapes, in which the vessel body was increasingly structured.

The fall beakers of the early Middle Ages are cup-shaped with a concave or cylindrical wall, the bottom is clearly separated from the rest of the vessel. The bottom can be rounded or have differently shaped tips. Racks for holding the fall cups are not known from the early Middle Ages.

The rounded bottom is the most common. Bottom tips can be drawn out spherical, teardrop-shaped or as fine as a needle. Above all, spherical bottom tips can be decorated with opaque-white glass mass. For this purpose, either an existing bottom tip is dipped into a differently colored glass mass or a differently colored glass drop is placed on the floor and rounded off. Sometimes an opaque white spiral of thread can be laid in one to three turns around the tip of the floor.

In addition, a distinction is made between model-decorated tumblers with numerous fine ribs and those with a smooth wall. Smooth walls can be decorated with spiral threads.

The early medieval fall cups are mostly light green, yellow or olive green or blue green. As a rule, these are natural colors that can be traced back to contamination of the quartz sand required for production with iron oxides. The color could also be achieved in a targeted manner, for example by adding copper oxides. For the opaque white decorations of the glasses, antimony was added to the glass mass. The glasses are also often and very heavily riddled with bubbles, black soot particles and streaks. This could be an intended type of ornament.

The early medieval fall cup is divided into three types: Type A, Type B and Type D.

  • Fall cup A with concave wall
  • Fall cup B with conical wall
  • Lintel cup D with an almost cylindrical wall


In order to produce the tumbler, the glass picked up with the glassmaker's pipe was expanded into a small glass bubble and then pressed in with pliers in the middle of the wall, resulting in the constriction characteristic of the tumbler. The cup was expanded by further blowing, then the base was pressed onto a marble plate while rotating in order to reach the expansive base area. A bottom tip could be pulled out with a pair of pliers or some other pointed object.

In order to produce glasses with model decorations, the glass mass was blown into longitudinally ribbed forms made of wood, stone or clay. The glass was then pulled out with rotating movements, which resulted in an oblique corrugation.

Later fall cups

In the 14th century, Siegburger potters developed a special form of the fall cup from the funnel neck cup developed there . This stoneware vessel was made in Rhenish pottery centers until the 17th century and was used for entertainment during drinking parties.

A special form from the 16./17. Century is the maiden cup or bridal cup, in which a second bowl is rotatably attached. With this form, which is widespread in the Nuremberg area, a bridal couple had to drink both bowls at the same time without spilling their contents.


The term has also established itself as a family name over the centuries, partly in linguistic variations such as 'Stürzebecher' and ' Störtebecker '.

The Stirrup Cup ( stirrup cup ) known in Great Britain has a comparable design , where it was given to riders before the hunt (saddle drink).


  • Birgit Maul: Early medieval glasses of the 5th - 7th / 8th centuries Century AD: Sturzbecher, bell-shaped tumbler, tumbler and bell tumbler (= university research on prehistoric archeology , volume 84), R. Habelt, Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-7749-3088-0 (dissertation University of Bonn, 2 volumes: 244 pages and pages 252-528).
  • Gisela Reineking-von Bock: Steinzeug (= catalogs of the Kunstgewerbemuseum Cologne , Volume 4), Kunstgewerbemuseum, Cologne 1971, 1976, 1986, DNB 458229008 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. According to Etymologie-Duden, in Old High German to fall means something like knock over , turn over , fall
  2. ^ Gisela Reineking-von Bock: Steinzeug . Decorative Arts Museum of the City of Cologne, Cologne 1986, p. 100
  3. Frequency distribution of the family name in Germany