Better late, than never.
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A Killer Collection Poison Bottles. By Mike McLeod. Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly when the method of making glass was discovered, evidence suggests that it began several millennia ago. Hollow glass artifacts do not appear in the records of world history until about B. In Egypt, glass was used as part of the outer glaze in figurines and ware from about B.
These appeared in a New Zealand bottle auction list a few years ago with the description copied below. It becomes clear that the number on many of these bottles likely refers to contents instead of volume. Hexagonal poisons: Small Arrow. Photos kindly provided by Vernon Erwin.
At least one size in this series was produced in the typical emerald green used for Victorian poisons. Hexagonal poisons: Large Arrow Hexagonal blue poison. Etched Admiralty Arrow Bottles: Machine made acid etched green hexagonal poison with 3 ribbed panels. This bottle was originally found in Cyprus. These bottles have also been found in blue and probably date sometime between the first and second war.
Dating poison bottles, dating bottles by their tops and bases
Base 2. These bottles were part of a military surplus sale in London just after the second war. I have a few extra examples of these bottles. Height: A user must be cognizant of the fact that the number of exceptions to this or any medicinal bottle classification is so large that it defies any systematic organization system; there simply was too much variety.
Instead, the point of this webpage is to cover major stylistic bottle types that are at least somewhat closely identified with a particular product and to just provide a general overview on the universe of medicine bottles.
Some particularly interesting ones are listed here, all of which are out of print though most are available via used book websites on the internet:. Fike Excellent book that provides some historical information and codified descriptions for several thousand medicinal bottles during the era covered by this website.
Note: This book is now in print again; check the References page for more information. This is a fantastic overview on the history of druggist or pharmaceutical containers including poison bottles, shop furniture, and much more.
Also includes a large listing of the makers markings found on druggist bottles. An in depth overview of the "age of quackery" prior and up to the passage of the first Federal Food and Drug law in Follow-up to the above book, but dealing with the post, increasingly regulated world of patent medicines. Walker Bingham This is a "coffee table" type book showing the diversity of claims and products - as represented by the advertising - of the patent medicine era.
Lots of full color pictures of the advertising. Holbrook Classic work on the subject of patent medicines, medicine shows, and the state of medicine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Fascinating insider account of the patent medicine and medicine show industry from an admitted medicine show con-woman herself. Heetderks, MD. Another "coffee table" type book that covers the subject of its title with loads of full color pictures.
A series of articles by the muckraking Adams, originally published in Collier's Weekly in and combined into a book inviciously but intelligently attacked the gross malfeasance of the patent medicine industry. The outcry and government action taken after the furor catalyzed by the Adams articles led to the passage of the "Pure Food and Drugs Act of " and ever increasing government regulation and enforcement in the decades following passage. Interesting and well done book on the subject noted in the title - Lydia Pinkham and her patent medicine empire - as well as just the general subject of patent medicines in the 19 th and early 20 th centuries from the female perspective.
Click IGCo. Catalog to access the page that links to all the scans of this very useful catalog. Medicinal bottles are listed primarily on pages, This page is divided somewhat arbitrarily into the categories and sub-categories listed below.
A user must be cognizant of the fact that the amount of shape and style crossover between categories and the number of exceptions to this - or any medicinal bottle classification - is large enough to defy any systematic organization.
Instead, the point of this page is to cover major stylistic types that are at least moderately identified with use as a specific type medicine container. Each of the pictured bottles has a relatively short description and explanation including estimated dates or date ranges for that type bottle and links to other view pictures of the bottle. Additional links to images of similar bottles are also frequently included. The array of references used to support the conclusions and estimates found here - including the listed dating ranges - are noted.
Additional information and estimates are based on the empirical observations of the author over 50 years of experience; this is often but not always noted. Various terminology is used in the descriptions that may be unfamiliar if you have not studied other pages on this site. If a term is unfamiliar, first check the Bottle Glossary page for an explanation or definition. As an alternative, one can do a search of this website. The first recorded use of molded proprietary embossing on an American made bottle body was around on a Dr.
Robertson's Family Medicine bottle McKearin This category is primarily based on age as reflected by the bottles exhibiting the manufacturing related features typical of bottles made in the U. The few shapes and styles briefly discussed here are just a small sampling of the shapes produced and are not usually exclusive to this period; bottles of very similar shapes were also made after the Civil War when the diversity of shapes was many times richer. This early medicinal bottles section is essentially an overview of the diagnostic features that typify bottles made during the first half of the 19th century; see the Mouth-blown Bottle Dating page for more information.
All pontil types are possible on early medicinal bottles, though blowpipe and iron pontil scars are the most frequently observed. See the Bottle Finishes page for more information on bottle finishing techniques. Of course, many of these imperfections can be observed on later mouth-blown bottles and even some machine-made bottles in the 20th century.
However, the earliest bottles will have a higher number of these traits present on the same bottle and usually the trait is more distinct, i. The early, dark olive green almost black glass medicine bottle pictured above left is embossed on four sides with C. This product was advertised between and as a cure for consumption tuberculosisliver complaint, asthma, colds, coughs, and pains in the side and chest Odell This bottle has a crudely applied short oil finish, was blown in a two-piece "hinge" mold as indicated by the mold seam crossing diagonally across the entire basehas a sand pontil scarand of course, no evidence of mold air venting as this bottle pre-dates the widespread use of that technology by many decades.
The dark olive green color as well as the overall crudeness of manufacturing is very indicative of an early manufacturing date. Click on the following links for more images of this bottle: base view showing the fairly distinct sand pontil scar; side view ; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.
The last two pictures show some of the body crudeness typical of earlier mouth-blown bottles of all types. The large, dark olive green black glass square medicinal bottle pictured to the right most likely dates from the s or early s and is covered in the "Sarsaparilla" section later on this page. It is a bottle shape that was relatively commonly used for medicinal as well as other products particularly liquor during this early era. Medium to dark olive green or olive amber glass was a common color for the earliest types of bottles, including medicine bottles as this and the prior bottle Brinkerhoff's indicate.
This bottle is rectangular with arched and indented panels on the three sides with embossing and a flat, non-indented panel on the reverse for the label which is often called the "label panel" on paneled bottles. The body is also several times taller than the neck height. These features rectangular with beveled corners and one or more indented panels are a very commonly repeated pattern of conformation for medicine bottles made between the s and the s, the latter period which would include machine-made bottles.
Click the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the very distinct and large red iron pontil scar which is scored into the glass; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish. What was "searched" for in the blood is lost to history but does reflect the boundless creativity that patent medicine producers found in describing their products. It was advertised in the Hollidaysburg Register in as good for cancer, scrofula, scald head, liver complaint, low spirits, paralysis, syphilitic diseases, and other maladies Odell Sounds like it was high in alcohol which was very common.
It has a crudely applied patent or extract finish, blowpipe pontil scar, was blown in a hinge mold as indicated by the mold seam crossing diagonally across the entire baseand has no evidence of mold air venting. The grouping of small 3" [8 cm] to 5" [13 cm] aqua bottles pictured to the left are an assortment of very typical pontil scarred "utility" type bottles that date from the s to mid s all were excavated in the Westhave no embossing, and were most commonly used for medicinal products.
All of these small bottles exhibit the characteristics noted earlier: pontil scarred bases all blowpipe style"true" two-piece molded "hinge" molds, though one bottle is not moldedand various early style finishes rolled, thinly flared, early applied. The first from left to rightthird laying downand sixth bottles are sided which was a common configuration for utility medicinal bottles of the era. An example of one of these generic paneled bottles with the original label is described below.
Five of the six bottles are molded, with one 5th being free-blown or possibly dip-molded. All have relatively thin glass which is a typical characteristic of these early type medicinal bottles.
In fact, these bottles are most often only found as fragments. A few other images of early medicinal bottles bottles, many of which are used and discussed elsewhere within this website, are available by clicking on the following links.
This helps show a bit of the diversity of shape found in these bottles: DR. Sarsaparilla's are covered specifically below though this particular bottle is a classic example of an early medicinal dating from about, i. OLD D R. An example of the "knock-off" competitor to the Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla. It dates from the same era as the bottle noted abovebut was made in a deep emerald green color and has very heavy "whittle marks. It has a crudely rolled finish, crudely "whittled" aqua colored glass, and was made in a two-piece "hinge" mold as evidenced by a diagonal mold seam across the base.
It is not pontil scarred though many are.Dating your beer bottles ( ^x^)
Given these physical features which are very typical of medicinal bottles made during the midth century and the context of where it was found this particular bottle likely dates from about to possibly the early s which would be the later end of the "early" era discussed here.
The company did, however, produce several other medicines for clearly internal use including a couple types of sarsaparilla, "Itch Ointment", "Kreosote Toothache Drops", and "Balm of X Thousand Flowers" - some of which could have been contained in this generic type bottle Odell This is another relatively common bottle from the same company as the bottle above but produced in a larger cylindrical shape.
It also dates from the s and is embossed vertically with G. It was produced in a post-bottom mold and exhibits the same general manufacturing characteristics as the example above including a lack of a pontil scar though many of these bottles are pontiled. The cylindrical Merchant's bottle likely date from the s through the s, but seem to have not been produced after that time, though other styles were Odell ; empirical observations.
It also could have held any of the products of this company. Click the following links for additional images of this bottle: base view ; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.
Dating poison bottles
Although this particular bottle is very uncommon, the oval in cross-section flattened shape is common to medicinal bottles made during the mid 19th century as well as later. This example has a blowpipe pontil scar, was blown in a key base mold, has an applied double ring finish, and the overall crudeness of an earlier mouth-blown bottle.
It likely dates from the s to possibly as late as the mid s Odell These big early cylinder medicinal bottles are relatively commonly found on midth century historic sites on the Eastern Seaboard and occasionally elsewhere.
Earlier bottles are typically various shades of medium to dark green like the pictured example which is from the late s or s with later similar shaped ones later s and early s being shades of aqua.
The pictured example is not pontil scarred but many are with both sand and iron pontil marks. Swaim's Celebrated Panacea claimed to cure many diseases, including those induced by the ingestion of too much mercury.
However, the product was later found to actually contain sublimate - a mercury containing compound! Click on the following links to view more images of this early medicinal bottle: base view ; reverse view ; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.
It is just over 6" tall, has a blowpipe pontil scar click side and base viewan early style thin flared aka wide prescription finish, and was blown in a non-air vented mold. These type aqua paneled bottles in various sizes are commonly encountered on historic sites from the noted period, though rarely encountered as pontiled bottles on post-Civil War sites.
This bottle likely dates from a bit later than that time though could possibly date as early as Photos courtesy of www. Some of same shaped bottles carried over from the "early" period well into the decades after the Civil War; the Swaim's Panacea noted above is a good example of a bottle that straddles both eras. During this transition many or most of the manufacturing based diagnostic features apparent on the bottles would change with the times.
Overall, the dating of these type bottles follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.
At the time of writing, this book was still available from the author; see the References page for Odell's website address. In addition, Hume's book "A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America" has some good early history and illustrations with dates of early pharmaceutical and patent medicine bottles.
Return to the top of this page. The general group of patent and proprietary medicine bottles certainly includes the largest number of different shapes within the massive group of bottles covered by this webpage. Very few 19th and early 20th century medicines were actually formally patented; thus, the use of the term "proprietary" as most of these products were simply the proprietary product of a particular individual or company AMA Although technically incorrect, the generic term "patent medicine" was and continues to be the most commonly used name applied to remedial agents sold without prescription and the term is still associated with this group of bottles Munsey ; Fike Incidentally, the first patent issued for a medicinal product in the U.
Dozens of "categories" that could be covered separately are not simply because there are too many. Fike used over 40 categories in his classic medicinal book! Other references, like those noted above and on the References page, must be consulted to get a more complete picture of the scope of this group of bottles and the history behind them.
During the period from the s through the first several decades of the 20th century, "bitters" and "tonics" were very common medicinal products that usually contained alcohol, very often in a high proportion.
Click Hostetter's label to view an original label noting the alcohol content of that product and the "reasons" why it was that high. Bitters and the related "tonics" were presumably originated during the 18th century in England as way to avoid the heavy taxes on liquor by adding various harsh tasting herbs to gin, claiming medicinal qualities, and calling it "bitters. The popularity of these products in the U. As that author noted - "The celebrated claims of a specific remedy and cure were always more enjoyed when one experienced a reassuring warm glow.
Also, for many years women as well as men regarded whiskey as essential for health.
The use of the word "tonic" in the name of these products was likely an enhanced attempt to imply medicinal qualities to basically the same product. Many used both terms in their name e. One example was the midth century product named Old Sachem Bitters and Wigwam Tonic which came in an attractive ringed "barrel" shaped bottle.
By the s and beyond, driven by the increasing regulations prompted by the Pure Food and Drugs Act, bitters as a medicinal product diminished and the product became more of a flavoring for mixed drinks which is the primary use today e. A few tonics continue as medicines to this day, though they are not common empirical observations.
It was made in an attractive log cabin shape early marketing savvy and is embossed on the different levels of the roof with S. Click on close-up view for an image of the upper half of the above bottle and the embossing.
These bottles were always mouth-blown in post-bottom molds, have applied finishes tooled finishes are possible but never observed by the authorand have no evidence of mold air venting - all consistent with the era of popularity. Probably several hundred different molds were used to produce very subtly different versions of these bottles in an array of colors, though by far the most common glass colors are various shades of amber.
The product was produced until at least Fikethough the cabin shaped bottles appear to not have been used after the s. The image to the right shows the two primary mold variations of the Plantation Bitters : the "6-log" left which is the earlier and more common type s and s and the "4-log" right which is the later, slightly narrower body style which dates from the late s into the mids empirical observations.
The number of logs is the number above the label panel on the front of the bottle. There were probably upwards or over of a hundred different molds used to produce the "6-log" variety and at least some dozens of molds for the "4-log" variation. Note: There is also an "5-log" mold version that is rarely encountered. The gentleman pictured in the ca.
There were a wide range of bottle types used by the British Military. This page details many of the different poison bottles that were used. These bottles have also been found in blue and probably date sometime between the first and second. Shop for-and learn about-Antique Poison Bottles. During the 19th century, many new poisonous substances came onto the market to control plants and vermin. Back in the day when you might store the bottle of rat poison next to the The most coveted pieces date from about to , and prices.
Dozens of cases were found on the Bertrand and the Republicwhich were both steamships that sank in in widely separate areas of the country Switzer ; Gerth Bottle labels from that same period noted the following: "Composed of pure St. A Most effectual Tonic, beneficial Appetizer and wholesome Stimulant; imparting tone to the stomach and strength to the system Plantation Bitters are a very commonly found bottle on historic sites active during the era noted and also very commonly seen today in perfect condition since many of these bottles like most figural bitters were not discarded, but instead kept as decorative items for a window or china cabinet.
Note the large air bubble in the picture. This product was first produced at least as early as and continued as late asthough most embossed bottles appear to date from the late s into the early to mids shades of olive green, amber, and aqua; virtually always pontiled through at least the s to early s. As a side note, having embossing on four sides is relatively unusual the label was most likely applied right over some of the embossing but is somewhat more commonly seen on "earlier" medicinal bottles, i.
Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the blowpipe style pontil scar; reverse large side ; one narrow side ; the other narrow side ; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.
It has a general shape and color that was very commonly used for packaging bitters and tonics - square with a long body and relatively short neck and amber in color. The base is also embossed with P. These particular bottles date from the first decade or so of that date range, i. These bottles are mouth-blown in a cup-bottom mold with a tooled finish with air venting marks on each shoulder. It was a product of T. Lash Sacramento, CA.
The "typical" square bitters bottle in black glass very dark forest green pictured to the left is embossed vertically with DR. The product was first produced in Odell with embossed bottles used by at least as embossed black glass examples were found on the S. This particular bottle is a very crude earlier example having been blown in a key base mold true two piece mold without a pontil scar, a very crudely applied oil finish, and lacks any evidence of air venting which in hand with the color indicate the noted date range Switzer However, a very large majority of embossed Hostetter's Bitters were made in shades of amber glass from the s into the s and beyond in apparently other types of bottles.
Click Hostetter's label to see one labeled side; click second Hostetter's label to see the other label. The high alcohol content of this product undoubtedly contributed to it being one of the most popular bitters in the U. Note: this bottle is also used as a dating example on the Examples page. The long neck, olive green bottle almost "black glass" pictured to the right is what was called by bottle makers a "boker bitters" style or just "bitters" bottle and appears to be uniquely American in origin Hagerty Bros.
These distinctively shaped, cylindrical rarely with multi-paneled bodies bottles feature a long, bulging neck which is typically close to the length of - and sometimes longer - the body and shoulder in combination; the bottle pictured here is typical of the style. The pictured example was blown in a three-piece mold with no evidence of air venting, has a crudely applied "champagne" style finish, and a sand pontil scar on the base indicating likely manufacture in the s as sand pontils were quite unusual after that time.
Sand pontils are very commonly encountered on bottles made from the early to mid 18th through midth centuries. These pontils are particularly ubiquitous on English-made bottles from that era, though also are seen on American-made bottles - like Jones Click on base view to see such showing vaguely the sand pontil. The name "boker bitters" for this style of bottle almost certainly originated from the popular " Boker's Stomach Bitters " which was bottled in this bottle type by J.
Boker of New York in the midth century. According to a period recipe for "Boker's Bitters," besides water the basic ingredient for the product was - not surprisingly - whiskey along with " These ladies leg style bottles in all kinds of colors - though typically amber or olive green - are very commonly encountered often broken at the junction of the neck and shoulder - a weak spot on historic sites throughout the U.
The style seemed most popular from the s until s though were made as mouth-blown bottles until at least Illinois Glass Co. This style is strongly identified with "bitters" although may have been used for other alcoholic products at times Wilson A few other images of bitters and tonic bottles, many of which are used elsewhere within this website, are available by clicking on the following links.
Bottle is cylindrical, 9. Click Lacour's Patent to see this bottle patent. Bottle is rectangular, 8. It was a very popular - and undoubtedly high alcohol - product during the s and s. They date from the early to mids and were likely made and used in San Francisco, CA. The are covered in more depth as examples on the Bottle Finishes page. The bottle is rectangular with the narrower sides rounded, 8. This product was made by the Jas.
Ross Company of Indianapolis, IN. This bottle dates from the s or more likely the early 20th century as it has a tooled double ring finish, blown in a cup-bottom mold, and has numerous air venting marks.
It has also turned a dark amethyst indicating the glass was decolorized with manganese which was common with mouth-blown colorless glass bottles made in the era. This is a label only tonic bottle from Portland, OR.
It is a malt i. The embossing is DR. Bottle is rectangular and 8. It likely dates from the to era based on these diagnostics features. Dating of these type bottles follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information. Sarsaparillas Sarsaparilla was a very common category or "type" of medicine sold in the 19th century and continuing well into the 20th.
The main ingredients for making sarsaparilla were the roots from an assortment of plant species of the genus Smilax which are found throughout the world. The specific species primarily used for making the medicinal product were native to the Western Hemisphere, including the U. Mexican, Honduras, and Jamaican sarsaparilla roots were very commonly used and sold under those names as were East Indian products Frederick Stearns Sarsaparilla root extracts the "active" ingredients were extracted with alcoholwhich were often mixed with the extracts from other plants of reputed medicinal value, were recognized as of value for blood related diseases and for blood "purification" - as well as a host of other ailments including syphilis - during the 19th century.
Sarsaparilla medicines were so popular during the midth century that a period treatise on pharmacy noted that druggists called the era of the s when the dark olive green Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla pictured below right was at its zenith of popularity the "sarsaparilla era.
By the early 20th century sarsaparilla was more well known as a soda water flavor than medicine, though many or most sarsaparilla beverages did not actually contain any sarsaparilla root extract. Instead, the flavoring was provided by a mixture of oil of sassafras, methyl salicylate or oil of wintergreen or sweet birch Shimko Like with most of the types of patent medicines covered on this page, sarsaparilla bottle shapes were very diverse and few shapes are strongly identified with this product.
One that is identified fairly strongly with sarsaparilla is represented by the first two bottles pictured here though this shape was also used occasionally for other medicinal products including tonics, bitters, and various other cures and remedies. Glassmakers catalogs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries did often call this type rectangular bottle with indented panels and variably sloping shoulders a "sarsaparilla" bottle Illinois Glass Co.
A few examples are discussed below. The sarsaparilla bottle pictured to the left above contained one of the most popular sarsaparilla brands produced during the last quarter of the 19th through the first half of the 20th century. This bottle most likely dates between late s to early s as it has a tooled double ring finish and multiple mold air venting marks on the beveled edges opposite the mold seams, though it was produced in a post-bottom mold - an attribute that is somewhat commonly seen on larger medicinal bottles up until the very early s.
Later examples mid to late s into the s are identical to the pictured example but machine-made, with a cork accepting double ring and later external screw thread finishes Shimko ; DeGrafft This product was first produced in the mids and continued until at least Fike The distinctive look to the bottle with the separate horizontal and curved indented panels was imitated by other patent medicine producers including the much less popular Brown's Sarsaparilla. Click on the following links to view more images of the Hood's Sarsaparilla : base view which is embossed with "30" a mold number of no meaning now ; view of the "C.
Holcombe Ayer's Sarsaparilla - which was bottled in a similar shape and size bottle - was also a very popular product from the midth century some Ayer's bottles come with pontil scars to at least the midth century Fike Both companies were pioneering - and prolific - advertisers which may help explain their popularity DeGrafft The Ayers company boasted that their advertising almanac was second only to the bible in circulation Heetderks They also imply in the s trade card pictured to the right that the discovery of their product was on a par with Columbus discovering the New World.
The sarsaparilla bottle pictured to the left is similarly shaped to the Hood's and a relatively popular brand during the same era. It has the original label and contents, which look unappetizing to say the least.
Antique Glass Bottles. Three Cobalt Blue Embossed Poison Bottles on LiveAuctioneers . Everything Blue · Bottle dictionary, marks, identification, dating. One of the most beautiful glass collectibles today is poison bottles. Most antique or vintage poison bottles collected date from the s to the s. Results 1 - 48 of Get the best deal for Collectible Poison Bottles (Pre) from the largest Marked Vapo-Cresolene Poison. date '94 incised on side.
It was blown in a cup-bottom mold, has a tooled double ring finish, and single mold air venting marks on each of the shoulders opposite the mold seams. These features in combination indicate an approximate production range from the s to possibly the early s. Research indicates that the company was founded in with the product produced at least as late as Shimko ; Fike Given the above, we can reasonably conclude that this bottle dates between and This bottle also illustrates some of the problems with categorization of the different medicinal bottles as it is both a sarsaparilla and a tonic bottle.
In a wide open, "anything goes" age with no required standards for much of anything, one would not expect standardization of medicine naming. It is common for medicines to have a mixture of naming classes for the same product, e.
The dark olive green "black glass" bottle to the right is embossed with DR. It was blown in a two-piece hinge mold, has a crudely applied variation of an oil finish, is very crude in the body lacking any evidence of mold air venting, and has a sand pontil scar on the base. Samuel Townsend first introduced his product in and it appears to have been among the most popular sarsaparillas of the pre-Civil War era.
At least several dozen different molds were used to produce these common early bottles up until embossed bottles were discontinued in the s; the product was apparently paper labeled after that time and produced until at least Fike This bottle is another example of the "early medicinal bottles" covered earlier on this page and is at least 50 years older than the two sarsaparilla bottles discussed above.
More images of sarsaparilla bottles, many of which are used elsewhere within this website, are available by clicking on the following links: DR.
Another olive green example of a Dr. An example of the knock-off competitor to the Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla with the "OLD" added to differentiate and presumably make it sound like the originator Shimko It dates from the same era as the bottles noted abovebut was made in a deep emerald green color and has very heavy whittle marks.
This is an example of a classic "blob" style soda water bottle that was used for the type of sarsaparilla that was more beverage than medicine. Picture courtesy of Glass Works Auctions. Add in the larger number of these products that were identified by label only and the number of proprietary cures, remedies and related medicinal compounds produced during the noted era was staggering. As noted in the introduction to this page, the Pure Food and Drugs Act was the beginning of the end for the worst excesses of the quackery that was rampant throughout the 19th century.
However, the word "cure" began to be replaced by "remedy" and other more vague terms about this time, though "cure" was still used to some degree at least up to the passage of the Sherley Amendment in Fike Practically speaking, medicine bottles using the word "cure" in the embossing or on the label date prior to empirical observations.
The aqua and aqua was by far the most common glass color for mouth-blown medicinals during the 19th and early 20th centuries patent medicine pictured above contained a medicinal product very popular during the mid to late 19th century continuing well into the 20th century. The product was first introduced in as the initial offering from the J. Ayer Company of Lowell, Mass. The s era trade card for the product pictured to the right notes on the reverse side that it "rapidly cures Colds, Coughs, Sore Throat Whooping Cough and Consumption The pictured bottle dates from approximately to and has an applied double ring finish, blown in a post-bottom mold, and shows no evidence of mold air venting.
Identical examples are found with pontil scars dating back to at least the s and tooled finish examples that date as late as the s; similar machine-made examples have not been noted. The basic features of this general style are that it is narrowly rectangular in cross-section with indented panels on two to all four sides; thus the "panel" type names.
Grouping of medicinal bottles dating from the s to s; click to enlarge. Owl Poison bottle from the early 20th century; click to enlarge. This section also. The bottles in this collection are poison bottles, amassed over many years. Back in Victorian These examples date from the s right through to the s. HOME: Bottle Dating. INTRODUCTION. This page and associated sub-pages allows a user to run an American produced utilitarian bottle or a significantly sized.
One or both of the two larger paneled sides were used to contain a label identifying the contents and makers. Click canning jar to view the typology page section devoted to that category. The beer bottle pictured to the above left is a classic example of a utilitarian bottle from the late 19th century that was typically reused.
The dating guidelines found on these Dating Pages and the entire website do not always work well with what the author calls "specialty" bottles click for more information. For example, some bottle types which were intended to be kept indefinitely like the early 20th century barber bottle pictured to the right were produced with the use of pontil rods leaving telltale pontil scars on bottles into at least the early 20th century.
The base image below is of an late 19th to early 20th century barber bottle base with a very distinct blowpipe pontil scar with a little residual iron from the pontil rod. Another exception example is that the bottles for expensive, low production liquors e.
Many specialty bottles were imported from Europe, though that fact may be at times hard to impossible to ascertain. Specialty bottles can be, of course, occasionally found on historic sites usually fragments, but occasionally intact but can rarely be used to help date the site because of the diagnostic problems and deposition lag issues noted above.
Having stated the above, there are still many diagnostic features or characteristics that provide a high probability of both dating and typing a bottle with some precision. A key concept in historic bottle dating is the high probability i. The general probability estimates noted on this website are based on a merging of reliable references with empirical observations made by this site's affiliated consulting experts see the About This Site page and the author who have been students of historic bottle dating and identification for many years.
N otes on embossing, labeling, and existing research. Raised embossing and when present, paper labeling on a bottle can frequently provide important details to refine the probable manufacturing date range if information exists for the company that either manufactured the bottle i.
For example, the early mineral water bottle pictured here is known to date between based on the information provided by the embossing company name embossed on the pictured side and the glass maker - Union Glass Works - embossed on the reverse and complimentary research done by collectors Markota Researched historical information of variable depth and quality exists for thousands of different - typically embossed - bottles.
Published works generally cover either a particular city, region, or category of bottles. See the References page for more information. For a large majority of embossed and unembossed bottles, however, there is little or nothing formally published on the details of their origins. Only a relative few geographic areas or areas of collecting interest have received more than cursory historical treatment and the majority of this is due to the efforts of collectors.
Time has taken its toll on records, of course, but much of what happened in the past was simply not documented well or at all as with most endeavors of common people in the past. As noted in Munsey's book, " When it comes to methods of dating bottles As Munsey also notes - " Most of what is used today to date bottles Still all true today. This body of information will be utilized and extrapolated to make dating and typing estimates for the majority of bottles for which there is either no specific company or glass maker information available or such is not possible to determine because the bottles are unmarked i.
To the authors knowledge, the first and only serious attempt at using a key to date American bottles was done in a Historical Archaeology journal article entitled A Dating Key For Post-Eighteenth Century Bottles by T.
Stell Newman Newman Newman's key made a noble attempt at simplifying bottle dating, but is weakened by the fact that the subject is much too complex to be conducive to such a simple approach by itself.
Also, the format and space constraints of a journal article do not allow for the elaboration and illustrations necessary to make a key function fully Jones b. Newman wryly recognized all this with his reworking of an old saying: "This bottle dating key is for the guidance of the wise and the obedience of fools. This website is designed to have the informational depth, pictures, and illustrations necessary to solve the problems of the Newman key though his warning still holds though hopefully less so.
This entire website is essentially a key to the dating and typing of bottles. Before jumping into the key, it must again be emphasized that no single key can get a user to an absolutely precise date for any bottle. The best the following key can do is get a user to a reliably close dating range estimate. Other information on this website usually must be reviewed to fine tune the information about a specific bottle.
In addition, other references beyond the scope of this website usually must be consulted to get as complete of a dating and typing story as is possible for any given bottle.
Keep this all in mind as you progress through the key which follows and on into the other website pages Starting with Question 1follow through the questions as suggested. There is frequent hyper-linking between the diagnostic characteristics and terminology listed on this page and other website pages. This is done to allow the user to get more information or clarification as they proceed through the key. Pursue these links freely since they will take a user to more details on bottle dating and identification and hopefully add to the users knowledge and understanding about the bottle being "keying out".
When a dating sequence dead ends, it will be noted and other website pages suggested and hyperlinked for the user to consult. The three questions found on this page below answer several basic questions about a given bottle.
Answers to these questions will then direct a user to one of the two additional dating pages which are extensions of this key for the two major classes of bottles - mouth-blown bottles and machine-made bottles.
Read the questions - and accompanying explanations and exceptions - very carefully as the correct answer is critical to moving properly through the "key. This page guides a user through the key for seven different type and age bottles with several being side-by-side comparisons of very similar bottles of different eras.
This page also shows how other portions of this website can provide information pertinent to the bottle in question. See the About This Site page for more information about the author and contributors. For brevity, most of the specific references are not noted in the key's narratives. They are noted on the other website pages which expand on the information summarized in the key.
If you know your bottle is machine-made click Machine-Made Bottles to move directly to that page. If you know your bottle is mouth-blown aka hand-made click Mouth-blown Bottles to move directly to that page.
Poison bottle collection
If unsure about what embossing or vertical side mold seams picture below are, click on Bottle Morphology to see this sub-page for a illustration and explanation of these and many other key bottle related physical features. Return back to this page by closing the Bottle Morphology page. Vertical side mold seam on the neck of a beer bottle ending well below the finish, indicating that it was at least partially handmade - ca. YES - The bottle has embossing or visible vertical side mold seams somewhere on the body between the heel and the base of the finish or lip.
A bottle may have mold seams but no embossing, but all embossed bottles were molded and have mold seams even if they are not readily apparent.