from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A large stoneware jug with a capacious belly and narrow neck, decorated with the face of a bearded man, originally designed as a caricature of Cardinal Bellarmin, who made himself obnoxious to the Protestant party in the Netherlands as an opponent of the Reformation, in the end of the sixteenth century and the early part of the seventeenth.


  • One particular transitional bottle, worth noting, dates to the last quarter of the 17th century and is a bellarmine with horseshoe-like impression in place of the usual bearded face.

    An American Witch Bottle

  • Visitors can see models of the original palace as well as 30 objects dating from the Tudor dynasty, excavated from the grounds of the Royal Naval College, on display for the first time. Included is a rather gruesome ‘witch bottle,’ a 17th-century Bellarmine jug containing fingernails, a lock of hair, iron nails and urine — intended to be used as a potion to ward off a witch’s curse.

    Pam Kent, ‘Surfacing History in Greenwich, England,’ The New York Times, April 19, 2010


The ‘bellarmine’ is also referred to as a ‘graybeard’ or ‘longbeard.’