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How old is that Bottle?

Glass bottles are common camp items, yet those encountered in many living history programs are often in-correct. The following brief chronology from David Weitzman's, _Underfoot_ will hopefully provide some guidelines for the accurate interpretation of glass bottles.

Until ca. 1709. Free-blown bottles are asymmetrical' and lopsided. The surface is smooth and shiny and without any impressed designs or lettering. Since no mold was used, such bottles have, of course, no mold marks, and any design would have to have been engraved or etched into the surface.

1790 to 1810. The first mold-made bottles. The body was formed in a one-piece-dip mold and then the neck and shoulders were formed by hand, resulting in a horizontal mold mark around the bottle where the shoulders start. These bottles usually have a pontil mark, a spot of rough glass on the base indicating that a pontil rod had been attached there to hold the bottle while the blowpipe was struck off. The surface of such a bottle had a hammered-metal look.

1810. Bottles blown in three-part-molds - a one-piece body mold and a two-piece hinged mold for forming the shoulder and the neck. The surface of this bottle too, had a hammered-metal look. The lip of the bottle was hand-finished throughout the 1800s.

Also in 1810. Nicholas Appert discovered that the ferments that cause food spoilage could be neutralized by heating foods and packing them in glass jars and bottles with wired cork stoppers.

1815-1870. Hundreds of historical flasks were produced during this period; they can be grouped by the images stamped on them: (1) Masonic (the jars continued until only the 1830s); (2) designs and emblems depicting economic life; (3) portraits of presidential candidates and the emblems and slogans of their political campaigns.

1825. Octagonal medicine bottles first appeared, with oval bottles appearing somewhat later.

Ca. 1850. Two-piece mold begins to replace three-piece bottle mold. The mold lines - two of them, one on each side - run vertically from base of the bottle to the neck, where they fade out. This happens when the upper neck is reheated and more glass is added to form the lip. These bottles don't have the hammered metal look of the earlier bottles because they are made in a different kind of mold. There is no pontil mark on the base from this time on because of the newly invented snap case which holds the bottle without leaving any marks. So, if the bottle has two-piece mold marks and a hand-finished lip but no pontil mark, it was made in a snap case.

1858. Mason jar patented. After this date, almost any domesticsites yielding bottle collections will certainly include one or more Mason jars witn their zinc lids.

1860s. First glass kerosene lamps appear.

1867. Earliest appearance of square and rectangular bottles with recessed panels on one or more sides listing in raised letters the contents, the name of the manufacturer (Frank Miller's Crown Dressing) and sometimes the city and state where it was bottled. These botties were used mostly for patent medicines. Sometimes the initials of the bottle manufacturer appear impressed on the base.

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