This oddly-shaped and ill-proportioned glass is named for the 7th Lord Elgin (1766-1841) who removed the collection of marbles that now bear his name from the Parthenon in Athens. This was at the turn of the 18th to 19th centuries, when he was envoy extraordinary at the Porte (Constantinople). It is fair to say that, although the Earl paid over £50,000 for these, the price given by the British nation when they were bought for the British Museum was only £30,000. However this lord, Thomas Bruce, who was also 11th Earl of Kincardine, was apparently otherwise a parsimonious man. He therefore had a particular type of glass designed for his use that gives the impression of holding more than it does. It has a short stem, with a tallish bowl having inward curving sides, turning out at the rims, and somewhat thick.
This type of glass – the larger size is named the schooner for no reason that I can understand – is totally unsuitable for presenting any drink except a pick-me-up to the lips of any lover of wine. The glass is too small anyway; it is on too short a stem to enable it to remain away from the heat of the hand, yet it is of a shape that does not permit the wine in it to be swirled around to release its bouquet as its outward-curving rim throws the smell away from the nose of the drinker. The mean measure usually also involves the glass being filled to the brim; which is why large numbers of people are astonished to be told that sherry has a smell – as served in an Elgin, it is impossible to be aware of this! One is told that catering establishments continue to buy this horrible glass because ‘the public like it’. It is doubtful if any intelligent drinker could like such a thing and the wise will request an ordinary Paris goblet in which to drink the wine – orspirit – for which they are paying, should a restaurant or pub put any drink into the Elgin glass. It has nothing whatever to recommend it and is not even vaguely attractive in appearance.