“Ye Jacobites by Name” is a rousing Jacobite folk song from the 1700s.  You may never have heard of the secret society of the Jacobite’s but if you’re an Outlander fan (the book series by Diana Gabaldon and now a tv series on Starz) you know them very well.  The Amen glasses are one of the few tangible remnants of that network.  Until very recently their creator was unknown and unnamed.  Read on to find out how modern technology and forensic analysis gave us the name of their Jacobite creator.

The backstory:  First, a (very) brief history of the Jacobite movement. In 1688 the then king of England was James II, a Scot, who was deposed because he was a Catholic. In 1689 he tried to get his kingdom back and failed.  In 1715 and 1719 his son in exile, James III, also tried and failed.  Finally in 1745 his grandson, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, tried again with the help of the Highland Clans and some Irish and French (also Catholic.)  He was also defeated and a Highland genocide, both physical and cultural followed. The Scottish Highlands were forever altered.  All of these rebellions, known as “risings,” were supported by a Jacobite spy network in Scotland, Ireland, England and many European countries. (Jacob is the Latin form of James which is how they came to be called Jacobites in case you were wondering.)  The Amen glasses were used in their rituals and toasts.

Photo Credit: Outlander Starz

What: The Amen glasses are a group of wine glasses, approx. 7″ high which were heavily engraved with Jacobite symbols and propaganda. They were used in Jacobite rituals such as a toast to the “rightful King over the water,” a reference to King James living in exile.

The link below is a clip from Outlander showing that toast.  Click on the second clip listed “To His Majesty Over the Water” which shows Jamie & Claire Fraser petitioning his cousin Jared for admittance into the Jacobite spy network – the toast is at the end of that clip if you want to skip right to it.  

Deleted Scenes – Season 2

They were called Amen glasses not after their creator (for to name the glasses after their creator would risk his life as a traitor) but because all were engraved with the royal crown, a symbolic combination of JR and 8 – which stands for James the 8th Regent (he was James VIII of Scotland and James III of England) followed by the word “AMEN” (let it be so.)

Each glass also has two to four verses of the Jacobite Royal Anthem engraved on it which end in the word “amen” as well.  The complete lyrics are at the end of this post.

The Jacobite Royal Anthem

When: They were engraved 1743 – 1749, some are dated and some are not.  The glasses themselves are English made, they do not all match and were not made to be used as a set. 

The rest of the story: In the 1970s, experts, including a forensic handwriting analyst, examined the glasses in essence “under a microscope” and were able to show that the Amen glasses were the work of a single engraver. They also proved that four of the known 41 Amen glasses were forgeries, for even then they were valuable and valuable antiques will always be faked. This brought the number of recognized Amen glasses down to 37, further increasing their value.

Then, in 2010 additional study gave the Amen glass creator a a name: Sir Robert Strange.  He was not only a famous Scottish line engraver but also an ardent Jacobite.  He had served in Prince Charlie’s army in the ’45 rebellion and fought in the final battle at Culloden Moor. Unlike the majority, he survived it and capture by the English.  The Jacobite creator of the Amen glasses now had a name.  And of course, determining the engraver further increased the value of the glasses.

What’s it Worth: As you would expect, most of these glasses are held in museums and they rarely come up for auction.  In the late 1990s (pre identification) two Amen glasses sold for approximately $55,000 each. The most recent example, the Lennoxlove Amen glass, sold in 2012 for close to $80,000 (final price + 17.5% buyers premium.) Given their rarity and the tumultuous history wrapped up in the glasses one can only expect their value to continue to rise.

Where:  Here in the US you can view Amen glasses at The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Corning Museum of Glass in NY.  

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The Jacobite Royal Anthem  (Sung to the tune of present day “God Save the Queen)

God Save the King I pray
God bless the king I pray
God save the King.
Send him victorious
Happy and glorious
Soon to reign over us
God save the King.

God Save the Church I pray
And Bless The Church I pray
Pure to Remain
Against all Heresie
And Whigs Hypocrasie
Who strive maliciouslie
Her to Defame

God Bless the Subjects all
And save both Great and Small
In every Station
That will bring home The King
Who hath best Right to Reign
It is the only Thing
Can Save the Nation

God bless the Prince of Wales
The true born Prince of Wales
Sent us by Thee
Grant us one favour more
The king for to restore
As thou hast done before
The family. Amen.

 

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