The lack of variety of early shapes in general was probably a function of limited manufacturing techniques to make unusual designs only so much one can do free blowing or with a dip mold , limited market or demand for different shapes, and the labor intensity of making bottles and high glassblower pay which made bottles quite expensive to produce Scoville This distinctive and familiar shape of bottle is commonly referred to as a "Bordeaux" type bottle; they were also called a "claret", "sauterne" the latter primarily in light green or aqua glass , and likely other names IGCo.

These names also refer to the application to which these bottles were typical used, i. These bottles are typified by having a tall body with almost vertically parallel sides with sometimes a bit of a taper from shoulder to heel , a moderately steep shoulder, moderately short but distinct neck a bit less than a third the length of the body , and usually a champagne style single part finish. The bases usually have a moderate to deep push-up with the presence of a mamelon common. Click Illinois Glass Company catalog - page to view that companies available Bordeaux bottle, which is specifically noted as a turn-mold.

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This shape originated in Europe by at least the early to mid 19th century and likely came to the U. The style follows the chronologic trend of wine bottles from wider and squatty to taller and narrower, which is shown somewhat by the bottles pictured in the previous section. French made bottles of this specific style free-blown but without pontil scars were found on the Steamboat Bertrand which sank in the Missouri River in and were likely being made at least as early as the s Switzer , Jones , Van den Bossche A bottle very similar to the Bertrand examples is pictured below left.

The Bordeaux style does appear to be a distinct evolutionary change from the utility bottle pictured in the section above bulging neck, mineral finish and these early ads may have been describing that type bottle instead. In any event, this shape most likely dates back at least to the s for wine and continues to be used today for many types of red wines few white wines produced throughout the world. Click close-up of shoulder, neck, and finish to view a close-up picture of this modern bottle. Upon close inspection of these two bottles the only substantive differences are related to the method of manufacture, the modern version being of course machine-made.

The bottle pictured above left is a likely early 20th century example of a Bordeaux style bottle that was produced in a turn-mold as it has no side-seams and the distinctive concentric horizontal rings on the body typical of that manufacturing method. The label on this bottle implies a dating no earlier than the early s based on the contents or capacity notation, which was not required prior to this time.

This bottle could date from the same era as the label since turn-mold bottles were still being produced at least as late as the early s Illinois Glass Company , Toulouse b. However, the bottle could possibly pre-date the label and have been re-used for this semi-medicinal product since the bottles method of manufacture turn-mold, tooled finish was being used at least as early as the late s.

Click on the following links for more pictures of this Bordeaux shaped wine bottle: The small size 9. This bottle exhibits a lot of the characteristics and crudity of a bottle made during the first half of the 19th century, but is not obviously pontil scarred making it likely to date around the Civil War period of , since after this period dip molded bottles become more and more unusual and prior to this period pontil marks are almost universal. Click on the following links for more view of this bottle: This bottle is very similar to those pictured and described in Switzer that were determined to be French in origin and dating right from to early , when the Steamship Bertrand sank in the Missouri River.

Earlier Bordeaux style bottles tend to have a bit more slope to the shoulder compared to the later ones with a sharper angle; compare the bottle to the left with the two pictured above Van den Bossche However, this feature appears not to be definitive of an early manufacture since, as with most bottle styles, there were subtle variations made throughout the many years of use.

These bottles are also free-blown or dip molded, have laid-on champagne type finishes, and very deep kick-ups. The Bordeaux style of wine bottles were made for an exceptionally long period of time - from possibly the early 19th century surely from no later than the s to the present day.

Occasional examples can be found with a different type finish primarily external screw threads in the 20th century , though the majority of the bottles made up to the present have a cork accepting champagne finish but are otherwise identical in shape. This shape of bottle can be mouth-blown in a turn or two-piece mold or machine-made. Thus, the general dating of this style must be done using manufacturing based diagnostic features; see the Bottle Dating pages for more dating information. Click on the following link to view a webpage that describes the three major wine bottle shapes the Bordeaux and the following two shapes: It should also be noted that identically shaped bottles in aqua as well as olive green were used from the very early 19th century until well into the 20th century for olive oil.

This distinctive and familiar shape of bottle is most often referred as a "Burgundy" or sometimes "cognac" bottle, though other names are of course possible IGCo. The style was also used for cognac distilled white wine though the cognac bottles tend to be taller in the body discussed more below. Burgundy bottles have a moderate height body with almost vertically parallel sides, a long sloping shoulder which merges seamlessly into the neck which is usually topped by a champagne style single part finish. The height of the shoulder and neck in combination is usually equal to or a bit more than the height of the body heel to shoulder.

The bases usually have moderate to deep push-ups with the presence of a mamelon common, though later 20th century ones have minimal push-ups and small to non-existent mamelons. Like the Bordeaux style bottle above, the Burgundy shape originated in Europe by at least the early 19th century and likely came to the U. It seems to have first shown up in the U.

Champagne bottles tend to be a little wider in the body and made with heavier glass; differences that are usually distinct when one has the two types side by side. In addition champagne bottles were usually made in a darker olive green color than the Burgundy style, though this is quite variable and a likely meaningless distinction.

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This precise shape continues to be used today for many types of red and white wines produced throughout the world. Click close-up of shoulder, neck, and finish to view a close-up picture of this modern bottle showing the lack of clear transition from the shoulder to the neck. The bottle pictured to the right is another modern Burgundy style bottle that was used for sake, showing that there was and is some alternative use of this style beyond certain types of wine.

Click close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish to view the unusual cork stoppered finish on this example, which would be considered a bead finish. Most Burgundy style bottles have a champagne finish, though in more recent times midth century on external screw threads are common.

However, the latter type finish is not widely used with the exception of "cheap" wine, simply because it is associated with cheap wine and few wine producers - not unexpectedly - wish their product to be thought of that way. Thus, the general dating of this style of bottle must be done using manufacturing based diagnostic features; see the Bottle Dating pages for more dating information. Click on the following link to view a webpage that describes the three major wine bottle shapes the Burgundy and the shapes above and below: This is the third and last of the three dominant styles of wine bottles which bridge the time from at least the mid 19th century to the present day.

This particular shape was - and still is - referred to as a "hock" or Rhine wine. Glassmakers during the early 20th century called them by either name IGCo. Click on the following link to view the illustration and listing for hock wine bottles in the Illinois Glass Company catalog - IGCo.


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This catalog indicates that these bottles are of German or French origin, though sold through this American glass company catalog. During the 19th century, hock wine bottles typically contained both red and white Rhine and Mosel wines. The term "hock" is reported to be an English pronunciation of the abbreviation for Hockheim , which is a vineyard village south of Mannheim, Germany from which the first Main-Rhine wines were exported to England Van den Bossche The distinctive shape of these bottles is typified by being tall and slender with no sharp break where the body merges into the shoulder though the shoulder starts where the parallel body sides just begin to converge and no discernable break where the shoulder becomes the neck.

This general shape dates back to at least the s or s in Europe, though these early to mid 19th century examples are just slightly "squattier" in shape relatively speaking than those pictured here.


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They were also typically free-blown or dip molded, often exhibiting pontil scars reflecting the technology of that period, and are sometimes blob sealed Boow ; Van den Bossche Hock wine bottles from the 19th and early 20th centuries are most often seen in shades of olive green or amber, but were produced commonly in a wide array of other colors from colorless to aqua to red amber a common color; see bottle to the right pictured above to various shades of blue or bluish green bottle to left below.

Machine-made examples typically date from the mid to late s and after see last note at the bottom of this page for a dating caution. Today this precise shape is synonymous with white wines made throughout the world from an assortment of grapes including Riesling usually green bottles and Gewurztraminer usually amber bottles Van Den Bossche Both of these bottles were produced in a turn-mold, as they have no body mold seams in evidence and distinctive horizontal rings from the turn mold process.

Both also have applied champagne finishes and moderate push-up bases with small mamelons. Like most we believe hock wine bottles these bottles were very likely imported from Europe and date from the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Click on the following links to see more images of these bottles: The bottles pictured to the right above are downscaled examples of the typical hock wine shape which date from the same era as the bottles above, i.

Both have typical champagne finishes, though the blue green one left is applied and likely foreign made and the smaller amber one has a tooled finish and possibly American made. The smaller example was also made in a two-piece cup-bottom mold not turn-mold which may be an unusual configuration for a foreign made hock wine.

Click on the following links for more pictures of these bottles: These very common bottles held different wines produced by this company and are usually machine-made, though some early ones are mouth-blown, dating from just before Prohibition to the midth century. Shorter versions were also made. Later examples had an unusual brandy finish with a crown cap bead lip or upper part s and s and external screw threads 40s and 50s date ranges estimated based on empirical observations. Please note that the vast majority of hock wine bottles have neither body embossing nor blob seals.

An interesting variation of the bottle above is another product from the same company that was most likely produced during National Prohibition to The " Old Monticello Tonic " was likely a product intended to skirt the alcohol-as-beverage related regulations of Volstead Act by affirming its medicinal qualities. Bush Terminal No 10 Brooklyn, N. Monticello New York, St. Louis, Established Refilling Prohibited Reg. Bottles of this shape were also used on for bay rum men's aftershave. Typically the bay rum bottles are more slender in the body than the hock wines, though this is most apparent only when compared side to side and may not be a universal differentiation trait.

Click on bay rum bottle to view an In short, there was and is nothing to stop a glassmaker from using an obsolete method in the production of a bottle. Some technological changes were expensive and not adopted by glass makers until it became an "adapt or perish" issue and many glass factories just perished. The shift to the fully automated bottle machine from mouth-blown and some semi-automatic methods in the early 20th century is the classic example Toulouse , a.

Dating Antique Bottles

The same bottle could have been recycled and reused many times for many years before finally being discarded - entire or broken Busch This was almost universal with many beverage bottle types e. The two products were from separate companies which were cross-town [Sacramento, CA. The author has also seen Star Bitters labels on Wait's bottles as well as both labels on the immensely period popular Hostetter's Stomach Bitters bottles! Reuse, of course, does not change the manufacturing date of the bottle itself, but care must be exercised when using the known date of one or a few bottles to date other items found from the same context.

When a likely or known "older" item is found in a known "newer" site it is referred to as deposition lag. An example of this is the finding of a few pontil scarred utilitarian bottles among otherwise late 19th or early 20th century refuse. It is unlikely that this bottle was made during the same era, but instead was reused for a lengthy period or otherwise retained until broken or discarded. Pontiled base fragments could also be from later produced "specialty" bottles which are described below. Other diagnostic tools must be used to date these items.

Shape is more indicative of function - i. All this adds to the fascination with bottle making, but makes systematic dating similar to solving Rubik's cube - ostensibly simple on the surface but complex in practice.

To misquote an old saying as rephrased by the BLM supervisor that facilitated the initiation of this website project: That is the point of this website. A yet a couple additional factors to keep in mind in the dating of bottles Utilitarian items makes up the bulk of the bottles produced during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century.

Produced during the era where all bottles were an relatively rare and cherished commodity to be discarded only when broken i. Utilitarian bottles include the majority of the bottles in the following bottle categories or types: 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.

Specialty bottles include a significant number of bottles in the following categories: 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.

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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. Quality examples of references within each of these three categories are, respectively, Gordon Pollard's book on Plattsburg, NY bottles Bottles and Business in Plattsburgh, New York: 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: A pdf copy of Newman's article is available now courtesy of the SHA by clicking on this link: 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. These pages lead a user through a series of questions about the physical - or morphological - characteristics of historic bottles which help to narrow down the age of an item.

This complex of pages is a major hub of the rest of this website and the best place to start a search. Also linked to the Dating page is a sub-page called Examples of Dating Historic Bottles which tracks a few different bottles through a dating and general information quest to illustrate how the dating process and this website work.

If you are interested in identifying what a bottle was likely used for - i. This very large complex of pages includes bottle type specific sub-pages with extensive style based dating information, including complete scans of 5 different early 20th century to bottle makers catalogs spanning the mouth-blown to machine-made bottle manufacturing era!

Be aware that none of the pages are all inclusive since related information exists on one or many other website pages. For example, there is information pertinent to dating a bottle on virtually every website page. The title of any given page gives the predominant theme of that page and would be the first place to start when pursuing information on that particular subject. However, the process of bottle identification and dating is quite complex with many exceptions; thus, the need for many web pages covering a lot of descriptive information.

A listing or "map" of all the main subject pages and connected sub-pages found within this website is found at the following link Website Map. Use that page to get a feel for the structure of this website and to access any of the other web pages. It is suggested that if you only bookmark one page of this website for future reference, that it be the Website Map. That page also includes a summary of recent changes and additions to this website.

When possible, the information on this website is given general reliability rating estimates e. Return to the top of this page. Baffle Marks and Pontil Scars: A Reader on Historic Bottle Identification. This huge pages , recently released work is one of the best "bottle books" there is for helping with the complicated subject of bottle identification. It also includes "Bottle Dating Worksheets" pages 51 to 55 by Rebecca Allen and this author to assist in the systematic dating of an historic bottle based on the information in that dating key as well as other information on the website.