During the 1670's, shortly after lead glass had been perfected in England, glassmakers developed thick-walled, colorless glass in central Europe. The princely glasshouse in Potsdam, Brandenburg, was among the first to do this. Under the direction of the alchemist and glassmaker Johann Kunckel (d. 1703) it achieved a brilliant clear glass, coming as close as possible to its exemplar, rock crystal.
Like rock crystal, the thick-walled glass was ideal for cutting and engraving. Intricate designs were created by carving into the glass with rapidly turning copper or stone wheels. This covered beaker was cut in relief, as well as engraved in intaglio so that the decoration is below the surface plane. It was made for Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg (r. 1688-1713, became King of Prussia 1701), and it was probably engraved by Gottfried Spiller, who with his teacher, Martin Winter, co-founded an engraving workshop in Potsdam. Following Winter's death in 1702, Spiller became the royal glass engraver.