Dating antique bottles requires knowledge of the evolution of bottle technology and the ability to research manufacturers and bottling companies. Although glass bottles have been made for a few thousand years, it was not until the 19th century that bottle use became common, coinciding with the industrial revolution. By the midth century, embossed lettering and marking on bottle bodies and bases, denoting manufacturers and products, made more precise dating possible. In addition to technology, products and manufacturers, certain types of glass colors will also aid in dating. Look for mold seams.
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.
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. For examples of how to use this dating key see the Examples of Dating Historic Bottles page.
Dating antique wine bottles
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. 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.
Dating Antique Bottles. Many people are intrigued to know how old their bottle is. There are three keys to help with dating most bottles: Side seams: None: bottle may be free blown, in which case it has a very uneven shape and dates before Or the bottle may have a nice even shape, but was spun in the mold to smooth out the seams; a. Apr 12, The value of historic bottles is escalating, sometimes garnering hundreds, even thousands of dollars each. The key is knowing how to identify whether or not a bottle is old or a modern reproduction. Glass bottles produced in early America date back to the s. Antique bottles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Here we tell you how to decode the age of the antique bottle you possess. Antique Glass Bottles Identification Tips Color. The color of a bottle can be used as a reference to determine the age of the bottle. Dark green beer bottles were used by many brewers in the s. Colors like cobalt blue was used to color bottles right from s to the.
A bottle may have mold seams but no embossing, but all embossed bottles were molded in some way and have mold seams even if they are not readily apparent. See note 2 below if there is embossing but it is only within a disk of glass which appears applied to the neck, shoulder or body of the bottle.
This bottle is either free-blown"dip" molde or was produced in a "turn-mold" aka "paste-mold" where the side mold seams were erased during manufacture. A "NO" answer is much less likely than "YES" for this question as a very large majority of bottles made during the 19th century and virtually all made during the 20th century were mold blown resulting in mold seams; see the notes below.
Notes : 1. A low probability though possible "NO" alternative is that the user has an unembossed, molded bottle with no visible vertical side mold seams. This can be due to one or a combination of factors including post-molding hot glass "flow" masking the mold seams, fire polishing of the bottle body, or atypically good mold part s fitting precision. If necessary, look very closely at the bottle shoulder - the best location to see vertical side seams on mouth-blown and most machine-made bottles - in good light with a hand lens to see if there is at least some faint evidence of where the mold part edges came together.
Often the vertical side mold seams are evidenced by very faint changes in glass density in lines where one would expect mold seams to be. If the embossing on a bottle is only within a separately applied blob seal similar to that shown to the right click to enlargeand found nowhere else on the bottle, the bottle is almost certainly mouth-blown.
This is another low probability choice but certainly possible. One of the longest running "myths" in the world of bottle dating is that the side mold seam can be read like a thermometer to determine the age of a bottle. The concept is that the higher the side mold seam on the bottle the later it was made - at least in the era from the early to mid 19th century until the first few decades of the 20th century.
Kendrick's explains in the text pages that It is true that the mold seams can be used like a thermometer to determine the approximate age of a bottle. The closer to the top of the bottle the seams extend, the more recent was the production of the bottle. The chart accompanying this statement notes that bottles made before have a side mold seam ending on the shoulder or low on the neck, between and the seam ends just below the finish, between and the seam ends within the finish just below the finish rim top lip surfaceand those made after have mold seams ending right at the top surface of the finish, i.
Although there are examples of bottles having mold seams that fit these date ranges properly, the issue of dating bottles is much more complicated than the simple reading of side mold seams. If it were that simple much of this website would be unnecessary!
Used in mouth blown bottles such as wine bottles, the push-up base has an easily recognizable center which is pushed-up into the bottle's base that allows wine sediment to collect in the ridge that continues around the perimeter of the bottle base. The Bottle Top or Lip. The bottle top or lip of a bottle . 26 rows OLD BOTTLE IDENTIFICATION AND DATING GUIDE. This webpage is intended to help .
For example, the process that produces a tooled finish frequently erases traces of the side mold seam up to an inch below the base of the finish whereas the typical applied finish has the seam ending higher - right at the base of the finish Lockhart et. The reason this is noted here is that the concept keeps popping up in the literature of bottle dating and identification ranging from Sellari's books Sellari published shortly after Kendrick's book to as recent as Fike and Heetderk's For a broader discussion of this subject see Lockhart, et al.
If unsure about what the liprimor finish of a bottle is, check the Bottle Morphology sub-page. Toledo, OH.
This is a "machine-made" bottle or jar and will also usually have a highly diagnostic horizontal mold seam just below the finish base that circles the neck. The picture to the left shows both of these mold seams click to enlarge. If your bottle fits this description, click Machine-made Bottles to move to the related webpage which allows the user to pursue more information on bottles produced almost totally in the 20th century by some type of automatic or semi-automatic bottle machine.
The vast majority of U.
The following is a discussion of the most common exceptions to the side mold seam "rule" describing a few types of machine-made bottles on which the vertical side mold seams do not quite reach the top edge of the finish making them possible appear to be mouth-blown. Fire Polishing - Although infrequently encountered, machine-made bottles may have fire polished finish rims - a process which eradicated evidence of the neck-ring mold seam on the rim of the bottle.
These bottles will not have the side mold seam proceeding from the upper finish side over and onto the rim itself. Ostensibly this was done to remove the mold seam rim "bump" that was sometimes left by earlier machines - an action which may have helped facilitate better sealing with crown caps, screw-thread caps, or similar closures which sealed on the rim of the finish. These bottles will, however, have the vertical side mold seam progressing all the way to the very top of the finish side, just not onto the rim.
They will also have other machine-made characteristics as described on the Machine-made Bottles page. In the experience of the website author, these machine-made bottles are rarely encountered and likely a function of early machine-made wares to s that had less precise mold fitting and resulted in the need for fire polishing to facilitate proper closure function.
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Milk Bottles - Many milk bottles made with press-and-blow machines from the very early s into at least the s resulted in vertical side mold seams that gradually fade out on the neck distinctly below the base of the finish. Click here for a picture of a typical s to s milk bottle. This exception to the side mold seam "rule" was caused by the specific workings of these machines which masked the upper portion of the side mold seam. Click on the image to the right to view both mold seam features pointed out on a press-and-blow machine manufactured milk bottle made by the Pacific Coast Glass Company San Francisco, CA.
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If your bottle is a milk bottle that fits this description, click Machine-made Bottles to move to the Machine-made bottles dating page for more possible dating refinement and to pursue more information. The image to the left is a close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish of a small Sheaffers ink bottle click to enlarge for more detail. The image shows the vertical side mold seam ending on the outside edge of the bead finish at a "ring" mold the upper portion of a parison or "blank" mold induced horizontal mold seam that encircles the extreme outer edge of the finish.
The side mold seam does not extend onto the top surface of the finish, i. These features are pointed out - and much more readable - on the larger hyperlinked image; click to view. The image to the right is a close-up of a small, medium green, machine-made ink bottle.
As above, click on the image to view a larger and much more readable version with the various features pointed out. This termination of the side mold seam within the finish short of the rim Sheaffers ink or actually short of the finish itself green ink on these bottles makes it appear upon casual glance that these are mouth-blown bottles having either an improved tooled finish Sheaffers or an applied finish green ink.
However, both bottles are certainly machine-made. Click Sheaffers Ink to view the discussion of this bottles features on the Household Bottles typology page. There is also no neck ring mold seam immediately below the finish like found on most Owens machine produced bottles and on a majority of all machine-made bottles.
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Instead, there is one located near the base of the neck indicating that the neck ring mold portion of the parison mold produced the finish, neck, and a portion of the shoulder. This is also pointed out on the image above; click to enlarge.
The earlier green glass ink bottle is also certainly machine-made, most likely on an early semi-automaticblow-and-blow machine based on its crudeness and lack of a suction scar. It also has no neck ring mold seam immediately below the finish like found on most Owens machine produced bottles or on the majority of machine-made bottles.
Instead, there is distinct horizontal mold seam protruding slightly on the outside edge of the lower finish and another vague mold seam encircling the bottle located on the shoulder near the base of the neck.
This indicates that the neck ring mold portion of the parison mold produced the finish, neck, and a small portion of the shoulder. These are all pointed out on the image above; click to enlarge.
Both these described machine-made ink bottles exhibit no sign of the concentric, horizontal finishing 0r lipping tool induced marks that would be present on a mouth-blown finish which was hand tooled to shape. These bottles are discussed in more detail in the ink bottle section of the Household Bottles non-food related typology page. If your bottle is an ink fitting the descriptions above, click Machine-made Bottles to move to the Machine-made bottles dating page for more possible dating refinement and to pursue more information.
The concentric rings are not always as obvious as the picture shows click to enlarge and sometimes not visible, though if present it is a conclusive diagnostic feature.
Turn-mold bottle body showing faint concentric rings. YES - This bottle was produced in a turn-mold which was also known in the glass industry as a paste-mold. All turn-mold bottles are cylindrical and unless stained, will usually have a polished looking sheen to the glass surface. Go to QUESTION 5 for a possible dating refinement based on the method of finish application, though some of the diagnostic features can be masked by the turn-mold production process.
This bottle is mouth-blown and likely either free-blown or dip molded. These two manufacturing types can be hard to differentiate from each other, though free-blown bottles are usually cylindrical or oval in cross-section and have lines that are not sharp i. Most free-blown bottle date prior to the s though can be much older as this method was used at least as early as Roman times. Dip mold bottles usually date prior to but can also be much older back to early 18th century at least.
A user may move to QUESTION 4 for one additional dating attribute based on pontil scars, though all these datable attributes free-blown, dip mold, and pontil scars overlap significantly. Click Mouth-blown Bottles to move to the portion of the Dating key for Mouth-blown bottles new webpage.
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HOME: Bottle Dating. INTRODUCTION. This page and associated sub-pages allows a user to run an American produced utilitarian bottle or a significantly sized bottle fragment(s) through a series of questions based primarily on diagnostic physical, manufacturing related characteristics or features to determine the approximate manufacturing age range of the item. Apr 12, Dating antique bottles requires knowledge of the evolution of bottle technology and the ability to research manufacturers and bottling companies. Although glass bottles have been made for a few thousand years, it was not until the 19th century that bottle use became common, coinciding with the industrial revolution. Wine bottle shapes are often distinct to the type of wine, be it a straight and tall sherry or port bottle or a flask with a round bottom like vintage Chianti wine bottles. Likewise, different colors of wine bottles are typically associated with different types of wines, like dark green bottles for burgundy wines and amber bottles for Rhine wines.
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