*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.
This is a rare Bristol bird-shaped nursing bottle donated by the Mead Johnson Company. It is purple glass with gold decorations on the outside. The glass is Venetian-styled glass, circa 1790. According to the information from Mead Johnson, Levin August Gottlieb (Theophil) von Benningsen, or Count Benningsen, purchased this piece in England. There is no information on how Mead Johnson acquired the nursing bottle.
Benningsen was born in the Duchy of Brunswick, modern-day Germany, on February 10, 1745. Benningsen served in the Hanoverian Army, until 1764, and aligned himself with the Russian Army from 1773 to 1818. In the Russian Army, he started as a field officer from 1773 to 1787 until his promotion to colonel in 1787 and general in 1802. His crowning achievement was fighting in numerous wars against Napoleonic France in the War of the Third Coalition (1805-1806) and Sixth Coalition (1812-1814). He fought two battles against Napoleon: Battle of Eylau (1807) and Battle of Friedland (1807); however, Benningsen was not able to defeat Napoleon. He garnered a few victories in the War of the Sixth Coalition at the Battle of Borodino (1812) and Battle of Leizpig (1813). Benningsen retired in 1818 until his death on December 3rd, 1826 (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 1998a).
Venetian glass has endured the test of time. Beginning in Venice, Italy in the 13th Century, it was an extremely popular glassware style. How? It was because of the technique used and addition to color and enamel. By the 19th Century, production declined and they reproduced past glassware designs (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 1998b).
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (1998, July 20). Leonty Leontyevich, count von Bennigsen. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonty-Leontyevich-Graf-von-Bennigsen
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (1998, July 20). Venetian glass. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/art/Venetian-glass