Look at the web pages to your left (on the menu) for a wide assortment of old bottles, from freeblown & handcrafted to those blown in a mold. If you're looking for a particular bottle, send us an e-mail--we might have it, or might be able to find it for you. And if you have bottles that you'd like to sell, let us know and offer you a price.

BOTTLE GRADING:
Mint -
Bottle looks like it came off the store shelf. Absolutely no damage.
Excellent -
Bottle would be mint except for some very minor staining, tiny nicks, light scratches, or tiny patches of case wear.
Very Good
A few scratches and medium case wear, less than 25% staining and/or etching. May have  minor nicks and one or two small chips.
Good
Bottle may have scratches, substantial case wear, less than 50% staining and/or etching, and tiny chips.
Fair
Bottle has cracks and chips in addition to more than 50% staining, etching, and wear.

On all these bottle pages please be sure to click on the thumbnail pics to open up full-sized photos.

piso's curecarter's ink

 

An Introduction to Collectible Bottles

The discovery of glass is credited by some to the Syrians (and by others to the Egyptians), who made beads and vials using the "sand core" method as early as 1500 B.C. In this process a strand of molten glass was wrapped around a core of sand. After the glass cooled, the sand was removed. The invention of the blowpipe by the Syrians around 300 B.C. was a major advance, and allowed for much greater control and creativity. The Romans imported some of this early glass from Syria or Egypt, and within a short period of time became masters at creating not just ordinary tableware, but truly exceptional artwork. Many wonderful examples have been unearthed, and it is still possible to buy and own ancient Roman bottles.

America got its first successful glassworks in the early 1700s, when Caspar Wistar started his glass shop in New Jersey. Free blowing of glass is still practiced today. A glass worker gathers a glob of molten glass at the end of a hollow iron rod, and then carefully blows air through it as he or she turns the rod and shapes the glass. Paddles and iron tools are used to further shape and define the end product. The skill of the craftsmen over the ages has led to some beautiful and fantastic bottles, decanters, and other glassware.

The pontil "scar" referred to on many older bottles is an area at the base of the bottle where a rough or jagged glass ring remains. In the 1840s and 1850s glassblowers and their assistants began using pontils to assist in the production of bottles. An iron rod (pontil) would be dipped in molten glass and fused to the base of the bottle, allowing the craftsman to free the bottle from his blowpipe, and finish out the neck and other features. The pontil would then be broken free of the bottle, leaving a jagged ring of glass which was either left intact, or polished off on more expensive bottles. The snap-case replaced the pontil as a more efficient and reliable way to hold onto freshly blown bottles.

Free-blown bottles were very artistic, but they took a long time to produce, and the capacity of such bottles varied from one to the next. Blowing the bottle into wooden, and then in later years, steel molds, solved both those problems. Although the use of molds dates back to Roman times, the 19th century saw numerous refinements, such as the addition of removable plates to create embossing (raised lettering) on the surface of the bottles. A glassblower was still required to gather the glob, but instead of blowing the bottle free-hand, he would insert the molten glass glob, or "gather", into a mold and blow it there. After the craftsman removed the mold from the blown bottle, he would apply a top or lip to the body of the bottle while it was still hot. Bottles like this are referred to as having "applied" tops & lips, and date from the 1850s to the 1880s. The next refinement was to blow the entire bottle in the mold, and hand-finish the area where the blowpipe was cut from the lip. The "hand-finished" bottles range from approximately 1890-1911.

In 1903 Owens revolutionized the bottle industry with his automatic bottle-making machine, and within ten years almost all of the glass houses had said goodbye to their last glassblower. Bottles made with this and later inventions are characterized by having a seam that runs from the bottom of the bottle to the very top of the lip. These bottles are less desirable to most collectors, unless they possess very unique characteristics (such as some of the poisons). For more information or specific questions about bottles, send me an E-Mail!

mount olive hutchison

Latest Update: 1 Jan 2009