Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes

Grouping of food bottles dating from the 1860s to 1930s; click to enlarge.

Food Bottles & Canning Jars
HOME: Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes: Food Bottles & Canning Jars

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Cathedral or gothic pickle from the 1860s; click to enlarge.

The category of food (aka "culinary") bottles - including fruit/canning jars - is yet another very large group of bottles and jars with a very high degree of diversity of shapes and sizes as shown in the image above (Switzer 1974).  As with most of the other major bottle type categories covered on this website, the examples described and illustrated on this Food Bottles & Canning Jars typology page comprise a brief overview and sampling of the variety of food bottles produced during the era covered by this website - the 19th century through the middle of the 20th century.  One prominent observer noted that "...bottles made for foods are quite numerous and, in fact, constitute a large portion of bottles made..." (Munsey 1970).  This is likely true in regards to the numbers of items produced which if included with the Medicinal, Chemical & Druggist Bottles types would certainly represent a majority of bottles produced since the early 19th century.  In general, food bottles have not inspired as much interest from collectors (the source of a large majority of bottle reference books) as other categories.  Thus, foods have received a relatively limited amount of research in comparison to the relative commonness of the type.  The one significant exception to this statement would be the fruit/canning jar category which has generated significant interest (and references) from collectors (Munsey 1970).

Historically, many processes were used to preserve food for the long term including drying, smoking, pickling (like for the cucumber pickles that likely were contained in the ornate bottle to the left), sugaring, salting, alcohol (i.e. "brandied cherries), cold storage (when available), and a few other methods less often.  The milestone event in the containerized preservation of food was the development of the hermetically sealed container by the French inventor M. Nicolas Appert who is generally recognized as the father of the canned food industry.  His work was prompted by the offering of a reward in 1795 by the French government (12,000 francs) for a viable food preservation process.  (This was during the Napoleonic War era and was done, not surprisingly, for military reasons.)  Appert's experiments with the application of high heat along with the exclusion of air from a sealed container led directly to the development of a canning process in 1809 (and Appert's award of the prize money) that allowed for the relatively long term storage of animal and vegetable products in sealed containers of various materials (Munsey 1970; Roller 1983; Bender 1986; Jones 1993). 

Appert's process involved the killing of the bacteria by heating followed by exclusion from further contamination in a sealed container, although the actual scientific reasons as to why the process worked were unknown at the time.  Glass in particular, provided a combination of unique qualities not available with early day ceramic or metal containers, i.e., ease of manufacture, impermeability to the atmosphere, and inert in contact with virtually all food product contained within imparting no "off" flavors (Bender 1986; Jones 1993).  (Note: Bender [1986] contains an excellent though succinct overview of early 19th century food preservation efforts, although the book is primarily devoted to the major closures used by the glass packing industry during the first half of the 20th century.)

Quart milk bottle from the 1925-1935 era; click to enlarge.Although the variety of different shaped glass containers used for food products was quite extensive, many classes of food bottles and jars do share a couple traits in common.  In particular, bottles/jars intended for bulky solid food items (like preserved pickles, olives, fruits, etc.) had to have a relatively wide mouth (bore) in order to the facilitate the packing as well as extraction of these products.  (This is evident on the mid-19th century "cathedral" pickle bottle pictured to the above left.)  Some liquid food containers like milk bottles (example to the right) also had relatively wide mouths for overall ease of use (and cleaning for re-use) though other more liquid food products (oil, sauces) worked quite well with narrow mouth bottles.  Many solid food bottle/jars also tended to be larger sized bottles since food was (and is) consumed in larger quantities than most other products like medicine or (hopefully) liquor.  Of note is the fact that since the preservation of the bottled food products over time was of paramount importance, many food bottles/jars were designed around the closure which was virtually always the primary critical link for long term storage (Toulouse 1969a; Bender 1986).  The incredible variety of fruit/canning jar closures were a prime example of closure importance - a subject discussed later on this page. (A "Lightning" bail type canning jar closure is shown on the canning jar pictured below.)

Lightning canning jar with the Putnam patented closure; click to enlarge.Due to the similarities, this typology section also contains the large category of fruit/canning jars as they were definitely designed and used for food preservation containers though envisioned and marketed as being indefinitely re-usable (until broken) whereas the other food containers discussed here were largely used once and discarded.  (Note: As discussed frequently on this website, the re-use of "disposable" bottles of almost all types was common up until the early 20th century; food bottles were likely no different and were frequently re-used.)  Canning jars likely warrant a separate typology page (as has been suggested by some reviewers) but have been addressed here for simplicity since they are a category within the broad group of "food" bottles though often treated separately by many authors.  In addition, these typing pages can only scratch the surface of the diversity of any group - including canning jars.  Contrary to most other food bottle categories, canning jars have indeed received significant attention from researchers.  The incredible variation in jar brands, and in particular, the hundreds of different closure types, has piqued the interest of collectors and researchers for decades and inspired many authors to approach this category with zeal and research depth (Toulouse 1969; Creswick & Rodrigues 1969; Roller 1983; Creswick 1987; others).  Along with figured flasks (McKearin & Wilson 1978) and possibly Western liquor bottles (Thomas 1974, 1977, 1998a & b, 2002), canning jars have had some of the best historical research done on them though all of the "good" books are long out of print.

Close-up of a grouping of 1865 gothic bottles; click to enlarge.The organization of this typology page is based on a mix of shape, dominant design, contents, and/or closure type - often within the same category.  For instance, the first category - "Sauces & Condiments" - has sub-categories based on a design theme ("Gothic", "Club"), shape ("Ribbed"), contents (Ketchup/Catsup), or a combination of two like design and contents ("Barrel Mustard").  Other categories - like "Canning Jars" - are largely based on dominant closure types.  In Munsey's (1970) classic book "The Illustrated Guide to Collecting Bottles" he used separate chapters for "Fruit Jars", "Food Bottles", "Milk Bottles", and "Candy Bottles" - all of which are covered within this "Food Bottles & Canning Jars" typing page.  Conversely, Munsey also lumped into the "Food Bottles" chapter types which are separated here into subject categories, i.e., "Sauces & Condiments", "Pickles & Preserved Foods", and "Vegetable Oil & Salad Dressing Bottles" - all of which also have sub-categories under those main headings.  Some other types - like milk bottles - naturally fall out into their own category.  In short, there are many ways to divide and classify the universe of "food" bottles (also called "culinary" bottles by some authors) and the author makes no claim that his way is necessarily better than those used by other authors (Munsey 1970; Switzer 1974).  The organization used here simply made more sense given the author's experience and the specific goals of this website.  (The image to the right above is of an assortment of gothic style food bottles known to date from 1865 as they were recovered from the Steamship Republic© which sank off the coast of Georgia during late October of that year.  [Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.])

Undoubtedly the best reference book on food bottles is Betty Zumwalt's "Ketchup, Pickles, Sauces - 19th Century Food in Glass" (1980) which has extensive coverage of just about every class of food bottle, excluding canning jars.  This book is still available new and used at sources like Amazon.com, eBay®, and AbeBooks.com.  For fruit/canning jars, Alice Creswick's two volume "The Fruit Jar Works" (1987) and Dick Roller's "The Standard Fruit Jar Reference" (1983) are the classics in the field.  Both of these books have excellent, relatively comprehensive, historical information although both are long out of print and difficult (expensive) to obtain, even on the internet.
 


NOTE:  Attached to the "Bottle Types/Diagnostic Shapes" grouping of pages is a complete copy of a never re-printed, 280 page, 1906 Illinois Glass Company bottle catalog scanned at two pages per JPEG file.  Click 1906 IGCo. Catalog to access the page that links to all the scans of this very useful catalog.  Food and canning bottles/jars are well represented and listed primarily on pages 186-232, 278-287.
 


 

Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes:
"Food Bottles & Canning Jars" page
Organization & Structure

Group of food bottles; click to enlarge.This Food Bottles & Canning Jars page is divided into the following categories and sub-categories based largely on the different contents that each group held, and within those groups, by various dominant shapes.  Additional categories and/or sub-categories will almost certainly be added as future updates to this page.

Sauces & Condiments
   -Gothic or cathedral styles
   -Ribbed styles
   -Ketchup (catsup) styles
   -"Club" sauce style
   -Barrel (and other shaped) mustards
   -Other sauce/condiment styles (including horse radish)

Pickles & Preserved foods
   -Gothic or cathedral styles
   -Cylindrical/round styles
   -Square/rectangular (non-gothic)  styles

Canning Jars
   -Wax seal jars
   -Mason's Patent closure jars
   -"Lightning" type jars
   -Thumbscrew & stopper lid jars
   -Cam lever & lid jars
   -Cap & spring clip jars
   -Other canning jar types

Vegetable Oil & Salad Dressing bottles
   -Cylindrical/round styles
   -Square/rectangular styles

Milk bottles
   -Cylindrical/round styles
      
Notes on the disappearing side mold seam on machine-made milk bottles
       Western milk bottle date rim codes
   -Square/rectangular styles

Other food bottles/jars
   -"Spice" bottle style
   -Capers bottles
   -Baby food bottles/jars
   -Flavoring extracts  

Each of the pictured bottles has a relatively short description and explanation including an estimated date or date range 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 40 years of experience; a fact 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.  To do a word/phrase search one must use the "Search SHA" boxes found on many of the main SHA web pages, including the Research Resources page (upper right side of that page) which links to this site.  The Historic Bottle Website (HBW) has no internal search mechanism so be aware that when running a search one will also get non-HBW response links to other portions of the SHA site.

 


 

Sauces & Condiments

Mid-19th century sauce bottle; click to enlarge.Sauces and condiments for foods were almost a necessity prior to the marvelous food preservation advances of the 20th century.  The foods available during the 19th century (and before) were often of dubious quality and taste - or at least bland - necessitating the use of a wide array of sauces to either enhance the flavor or cover up off-flavors (Rinker 1968).  Given this fact, sauces and condiment bottles are very commonly associated with historic sites dating from the entire time span covered by this website, i.e., 19th through mid-20th centuries.  Probably the most familiar example and one of the most commonly found "food" bottles is the ubiquitous Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce - a product that is still quite popular now (and discussed later).

Sauces and condiments are lumped together in this section due to the similarity of the products, i.e., flavoring garnishments for foods.  Sauces are usually considered condiments, though not all condiments are sauces - if one defines sauce as being more liquid than not.  However, these two categories of bottles do have some functional differences from each other as to the general shapes.  Sauces (e.g., pepper sauce, catsup/ketchup, club sauces) are most commonly bottles that are relatively tall and narrow with narrow bores reflecting their more or less liquid and "pour-able" nature.  Condiments (e.g., mustard, horseradish) tend to be thicker, less "pour-able" substances than sauces; an attribute that necessitated bottles with wider bores to facilitate access to the product with a knife or other implement.

Although not covered as a specific category, the bottle pictured to the above left would be considered typical of the shape of bottles used for sauce during the earliest part of the era covered by this website (1800-1850).  These somewhat uniquely shaped bottles were probably manufactured by various processes - free-blown, dip molded, or two or three-piece molded (like the pictured example), would have pontil scarred or smooth bases (like this example; click sauce base to view an image of this bottles slightly pushed-up base), and date from the 1830s to 1870s era.  The pictured bottle was likely used for "oyster ketchup" as it was excavated in San Francisco, CA. from the location of an alleged bottle recycler in context with various other identifiable sauce bottles including the embossed Shriver's Oyster Ketchup bottles (Baltimore, MD. - mid 1850s to 1860s) which are virtually identical in shape and (sometimes) color though embossed with the product name (Zumwalt 1980; Baltimore Bottle Club 2002).  However, bottles of this general shape could - and probably were - used for a variety of liquid substances (e.g., liquor, medicine) since during the first half of the 19th century (and before) bottle stylistic variety was limited and the same "type" bottle was often used for many different products (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Jones & Smith 1985; Hume 1991).

The sections addressed under this "Sauces & Condiments" heading cover some of the more commonly encountered types.  The reader should be aware that there were likely thousands of uniquely different sauce bottles made during the era covered by this website if one includes the plethora of subtle variations on the major thematic styles presented here.

Gothic or cathedral styles

Gothic peppersauce bottle from the 1850s; click to enlarge.One of the earliest of the distinct U. S. bottle styles strongly identified with sauces were the gothic or "cathedral" styles.  These designs (also see the gothic pickle bottle section later on this page) originated during the mid-19th century "Gothic Revival" period in American and Europe which also had its effects on the architecture of the period (Deiss pers. comm. 2003).  This style varies in specific design but all share the distinction of having varying sized peaked "church window" like panels on most or all of the sides.  Gothic sauce bottles were made in both square and hexagonal cross-section shapes and are often quite ornate in appearance - an early and apparently successful attempt to use packaging to attract the eye of potential purchasers by stylistically emulating the already popular Victorian gothic design elements of the 19th century.  These gothic style bottles do seem to be distinctly American in origin and manufacture (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Some less ornate designs simply have the long lower body indented and peaked panels without the upper smaller panels, or just one upper panel instead of two.  These would all be considered as gothic styles.

Gothic peppersauce bottle bases; click to enlarge.The example to the left is typical of the style with three separate panels on each side with the two upper panels having additional decorative features inside the panel.  Incidentally, glassmakers universally called this style "gothic" as in "gothic pepper sauce"; the term "cathedral" does not appear ever in glassmakers catalogs to this authors knowledge (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880, 1902; Illinois Glass Co. 1903; Obear-Nester Co. 1922).  The cathedral designation almost certainly modern collector jargon.

Both the four (square) and six sided (hexagonal) designs seem to have appeared about the same time (1840s) and both cross-section shapes continued in use to some degree as late as the early 20th century although both configurations of the style were most popular from about 1850 through the 1880s (Deiss 1981; empirical observations).  The image to the above right shows a base view of both conformations.  Gothic sauce bottles were primarily used for pepper sauces of varying types with the use for other sauces/condiments (catsup/ketchup and some syrups) occurring to a lesser degree (Switzer 1974; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Gothic pepper sauce bottles and the related pickle types were both common products from dozens of different glass making concerns during the era of popularity, as they are found in many different glass makers catalogs (Whitall, Tatum & Co. 1880; Hagerty Brothers 1898; Illinois Glass Co. 1899,1903,1906,1911; Obear-Nester 1922).  The following discussions cover the two major classes of gothic sauces: square and hexagonal.  It should be noted that five sided gothic sauce bottles have been reported (Spude et al. 2006) but have not been personally observed by the author and their existence is questionable (i.e., possibly a miscounting of the sides).

Gothic or cathedral peppersauce from about 1880; click to enlarge.Square: The gothic peppersauce bottle pictured in the upper left corner of this section is a square gothic sauce dating from the 1850s to mid-1860s time period based on diagnostic features including an improved or iron pontil mark on the base and a key mold base conformation.  This example is typical of the design popular during the 1850 through 1880 period.  Click on base view to see an image of this bottles base showing the very distinct iron or improved pontil scar.  The picture to the right is of a bit later version of a square gothic pepper sauce (ca. 1880 to 1885 based on the context of where excavated) which has a crudely applied double ring finish (the typical finish on most gothic sauces), post-bottom mold conformation, no evidence of a pontil scar nor of any mold air venting.  This particular gothic sauce was made 20+ years after the example above with the only noticeable difference (besides subtle design differences) is that it is a bit narrower in diameter.  The author has noted with both the square and hexagonal shapes a distinct tendency towards narrower bodied bottles as the 19th century progressed.  In addition, the square styles appear to have largely fallen out of favor by the early 1890s (discussed below) though were being made by at least one bottle maker until 1898 (Hagerty Brothers 1898).  Click on the following links for more images of the gothic pepper sauce bottle to the right:  base view; close-up of the neck and applied finish.  (This bottle is also the square example in the base image above.)

Mid-19th century hexagonal gothic peppersauce bottles; click to enlarge.Hexagonal:  The other common conformation for gothic peppersauce bottles was six-sided/hexagonal as portrayed by the gothic sauce bottle to the left.  This particular bottle lacks a pontil scar on the base (which has the embossed letter "S" as shown in the base view image above right) though has a crudely applied double ring finish, key base mold blown, and no evidence of mold air venting.  It dates firmly from the mid-1860s as bottles blown in the same mold - based on a close examination of the precise embossing details of the "S" - were salvaged from the Steamship Republic© which sank off the coast of Georgia in late October of 1865 (Gerth pers. comm. 2007).  Given that the lifespan of a heavily used mold for a popular generic style bottle type like this was likely just a few years, one can be confident that this bottle dates from the mid-1860s.   Click close-up of the upper embossing pattern, neck and finish to see these features.

Variations of the gothic style were in use for an extensive period and appear to not have begun to disappear until the advent of bottle making machines during the early 20th century and even lingered into the early 1920s on bottles which may have been machine-made (Obear-Nester Co. 1922).  It should be noted that all of the later listings of the gothic style found in glass making catalogs are of the hexagonal shape; the square types appear to have virtually disappeared during the 1890s (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880, 1892, 1896; Hagerty Brothers 1898; Whitney Glass Works 1904; Illinois Glass Co. 1899,1911; Obear-Nester Co. 1922).  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 204-205 to see an illustration (lower left) of a gothic pepper sauce from the Illinois Glass Company 1906 catalog which is the same mold as offered in 1911 (Illinois Glass Co. 1906, 1911).  These later mouth-blown hexagonal examples have tooled finishes, exhibit mold air venting marks, and were made in cup-bottom molds (Spude et al. 2006).  (Example noted below.)

Other images of gothic style sauce bottles are available by clicking on the following links.  This helps show a bit of the diversity of shape found in these bottles:

  • Early 20th century gothic peppersauce - This is an typical example of the later mouth-blown hexagonal pepper sauce bottle which was likely made sometime between the 1890s and 1910s.  It is 8.5" tall, has a tooled double ring finish, and was blown in a cup-bottom mold; presence of air venting is unknown (photos from eBay®).  This shows the slight but distinctly narrower profile typical of the later hexagonal gothic pepper sauces noted earlier and is virtually identical to the Obear-Nester Glass Co. example illustrated (and discussed) below.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing a cup-bottom mold conformation and an embossed "K" which might indicate production by the Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. whose 1916 catalog showed an identical item; view of the decorative elements on the lower body; view of the decorative elements of the shoulder; view of the upper shoulder, neck and finish (Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916).

Dating summary/notes:  Gothic style sauce bottles are most commonly associated with historic sites that date from the period spanning the late 1840s to early 1850s through the 1880s; the gothic sauce bottles pictured here are typical of that era (Deiss 1981).  Glass color is almost always aqua though on occasion other colors may be encountered from colorless or light amethyst (manganese dioxide de-colorized glass) to deep greens or blues (Switzer 1974; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Hawley 1998; Gerth 2006).  The gothic style gradually became less common/popular, as indicated by glass makers catalogs and empirical observations, from the early to mid-1890s on though were known to be produced until at least 1922 (Whitall, Tatum 1880,1892,1902,1909; Whitney Glass 1904; Cumberland Glass 1911; Illinois Glass Co. 1899,1911; Obear-Nester Glass Co. 1922).  The following is a summary of some key date ranges for two classes of gothic sauce bottles:

  • Square and hexagonal examples first appeared in the late 1840s to possibly early 1850s (Deiss 1981).
  • Pontil scarred examples (glass-tipped, blowpipe, and iron pontil scars) date from the above noted origination time to the American Civil War period.  After that point (approximately 1860-1865) these bottles are virtually all "smooth base", i.e., lacking a pontil scar, indicating they were finished while being held by a snap case tool (Switzer 1974; Russell 1998; Gerth pers. comm. 2007).
  • 1922 pepper sauce bottles from Obear-Nester; click to enlarge.Square examples appear to have largely disappeared by the early to mid-1890s with some made as late as 1898 (Hagerty Brothers 1898).  All square examples studied by the author have had applied finishes indicating that this style was unusual by the mid to late 1880s.  Bottle makers catalogs after the late 1890s only list hexagonal designs, if they list any gothic design sauces.
  • Hexagonal examples were mouth-blown produced at least as late as 1911 and possibly even into the 1920s (Cumberland Glass Co. 1911; Illinois Glass Co. 1911; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Obear-Nester Glass Co. 1922).  Those made prior to the late 1880s have applied finishes; those after that time (1890s and later) typically have tooled finishes.  Early 20th century examples are not uncommon in colorless or light amethyst glass (Rinker 1968; empirical observations).  Early 20th century examples made by the Illinois Glass Co. are often based marked with I. G. Co. and were virtually identical to the example in the illustration to the right (Obear-Nester Co. 1922; Zumwalt 1980; empirical observations).
  • The latest hexagonal gothic sauce bottles were likely machine-made, though examples have not been observed by the author.  The example listed in the 1922 Obear-Nester Glass Co. catalog (illustration to the right) was likely made by machine given the late date, though mouth-blown production can not be ruled out.  The illustration shows the typical type of relatively narrow hexagonal gothic pepper sauce bottles made by various glass makers from the 1890s through the first couple decades of the 20th century.  In fact, that illustrated design conformation - having embossed decorative features within the tall arched lower panel - is typical of the gothic sauce bottles made during the 1890s through 1910s to early 1920s era, including the mouth-blown items noted in the previous point.  Most gothic sauce bottles produced before the 1890s were conformed like the bottles pictured earlier in this section (Illinois Glass Co. 1899, 1906, 1911; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Obear-Nester Co. 1922).  (Note: This illustration also shows [bottle on left] Obear-Nester's horizontally ribbed "hexagon pepper sauce" bottle offering; the subject of the next section below.)

As noted earlier, there was a trend in gothic sauce bottles for the diameter of the bottles - both square and hexagonal - to narrow a bit over time from the 1870s to about 1900.  However, this is a feature that is only easily apparent after examining a large number of these type bottles and should simply be used as one of several physical features to consider when estimating the manufacturing date of this type.  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.

 

Ribbed styles

1890s peppersauce with original label; click to enlarge.

This moderately variable category of sauce bottles is unified by the fact that the bottles have some type of molded decorative body features dominated by variously detailed and oriented ridges or ribbing.  These bottles primarily contained various types of pepper sauce (aka peppersauce - one word) though some were used for foods like ketchup, vinegar and likely other semi-liquid food products (Switzer 1974; Zumwalt 1980). 

All do share a general similarity of overall conformation of being a "sauce-like" tall and narrow, usually a capacity of 12 oz. or less, and typically (but not always) have a relatively narrow bore and double ring finish.  One should be aware that there is a lot form and decorative variety within this category not specifically covered by the pictured bottles, though those discussed in the following are commonly encountered designs (Zumwalt 1980).  It should also be noted that ketchup bottles often have vertical body ribbing and grade into this category somewhat, though ketchup bottles tend to have a different overall conformation and usually a different type finish, i.e., commonly have external screw thread finishes, at least from the 1890s and later.  (Ketchup bottles are covered in the next section.)

Vertically ribbed:  Tall, relatively narrow sauce bottles with varying types of vertical ribs, ridging or fluting were a very common conformation from as early as the late 1840s or early 1850s well into the early 20th century (Switzer 1974; Zumwalt 1980).  Mouth-blown vertically ribbed sauce bottles were typically made of aqua glass, though colorless or light amethyst (manganese dioxide decolorized glass) examples are fairly common and deeper greens and blues occasionally seen.  Machine-made vertically ribbed sauce bottles - though not specifically discussed here - exist and lean strongly towards being dominated by colorless glass like the majority of 20th century, machine-made food bottles and jars (Zumwalt 1980).

The common, vertically ribbed sauce bottle pictured above is of late 19th century origin and is hexagonal in cross-section.  It has the original label (with a peaked "gothic" type look) noting that it contained "Pepper Sauce" and was produced and/or bottled by the India Mills of New York.  Nothing is really known about this company except that it was located at 534 Washington St. in New York City (Zumwalt 1980).  However, this vertically ribbed style (and similar variations) were certainly used by many different sauce producing companies and made by many different glass companies during the era from the 1880s to 1910s.  This particular example has a tooled double ring finish and was blown in a post-bottom mold though has no obvious air venting marks indicating a likely 1885-1895 manufacturing date range.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view; close-up of the label; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and applied finish.

Well, Miller & Provost sauce bottle; click to enlarge.1860s fluted peppersauce bottle made in Kentucky; click to enlarge.The picture to the right is of a typical early vertically ribbed/fluted (10-ribs) sauce bottle that was a very common and popular style from the 1850s through at least the early 1900s (Whitall Tatum 1880; Alther 1909; empirical observations).   (Photo courtesy of David Whitten).  The pictured example also has three horizontal rings on the neck which was a common stylistic feature for this class of vertically ribbed sauce bottles.  This example has an applied double ring finish, lacks evidence of mold air venting, and is not pontil scarred on the base which is embossed with S. G. W. LOU. KY. indicating manufacture by the Southern Glass Works of Louisville, KY. who used this mark from 1877 to about 1885 (Whitten 2005b; this reference is available on this website by clicking HERE). 

The almost identical, ringed neck, vertically ribbed/fluted sauce bottle to the left is embossed on the shoulder with WELLS, MILLER  & PROVOST which was a successful New York City food packing firm established in 1837 by John Wells.  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  Ebenezer Miller and Stephen Provost joined with Miller by 1844  and operated under their three names until the mid-1880s (Zumwalt 1980).  This particular bottle has a crudely applied one-part extract type finish (more or less), blowpipe pontil scarred base, and was hinge mold blown with certainly no evidence of mold air venting (the author has never observed a pontil scarred, mold air vented bottle).  These attributes are consistent with a manufacture during the 1850s or early 1860s.  One of these bottles with an original label noted that it contained "tomato catsup" and similar bottles from this company have been recorded in cobalt blue and deep green, though the vast majority are aqua (Zumwalt 1980; empirical observations).  Pickle bottles from this company were also excavated from both the steamships Arabia and Bertrand which sank in the Missouri River in 1856 and 1865, respectively (Switzer 1974; Hawley 1998).  This gives some indication of how commonly used these bottles were during the mid-19th century.

Although the style was most popular during the era noted (1850s to 1880s) they were made by at least one glassmaker in the early 1900s as they are listed in the Robert J. Alther 1909 glassware catalog as a "fluted pepper sauce" (Alther 1909; empirical observations).  Click Alther 1909 catalog page 55 to view the page from the catalog that shows their version of the bottle which appear identical to the examples pictured above, including the vertically fluted body ribs and three tightly grouped horizontal rings on the neck (Alther 1909).  Although the author has not personally seen an example with diagnostic features indicating an early 20th century production, it is possible that the vertically ribbed pepper sauce in the "other images" grouping below may be from as late as the very early 1900s.  (This photo and a description of the bottle was provided by a user of this site in early 2010.)

Beehive sauce bottle from the 1880s; click to enlarge.Horizontally ribbed:  Distinct horizontal ribbing was also a very common conformation for a wide variety of sauce bottles from at least as early as the 1870s until well into the 20th century.  Many types of sauce bottles fit into this category with only a few covered here; users should be aware that this category has a wide range of types and variations.  The binding feature here is that these bottles have distinct horizontal body ribbing, usually held no more than 12 to 16 oz. (often much less), and typically have double ring finishes - at least through the mouth-blown era and into the 1920s with machine-made items (empirical observations).

Late 19th century "beehive" peppersauce bottles; click to enlarge.The so-called "beehive" sauce bottles pictured to the left and right were used by the E. R. Durkee & Co. (New York) and are embossed on the base as such.  (Photo to the right courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  Click Durkee sauce base to see an image of the base.  The pictured bottles range from 7" to 7.5" tall and may have tooled or applied double ring finishes and evidence (or not) of mold air venting depending on the time of manufacture.  These are not narrow bodied like the other sauces pictured here though there are other obvious similarities.  (As emphasized throughout this website, this is yet another example of the fact that in all things connected with bottle identification, there are virtually always exceptions.)  A few other companies utilized bottles of this style from at least the 1880s to well into the 1910s and possibly later, although the vast majority of the beehive sauce bottles encountered are from Durkee (Zumwalt 1980; empirical observations).

Peppersauce bottle from the late 1910s or 1920s; click to enlarge.The horizontally ribbed sauce pictured to the left is an early machine-made item that also had virtually identical mouth-blown counterparts.  These were called "ring pepper sauce" or "oval ring pepper sauce" bottles by the likely dozens of different early 20th century glass makers that produced the style.  This particular example has a the "I in a diamond" maker's mark for the Illinois Glass Company (Alton, IL.) and likely dates from the mid-1910s as this style was shown in their 1911 catalog but not in the 1920 or 1925 editions.  This oval (in cross-section) style was popular from the late 1890s through at least the late 1920s and early 1930s (Illinois Glass 1899, 1911, 1920, 1925; Cumberland Glass 1911; Fairmount Glass ca. 1930).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view vaguely showing the maker's mark for the Illinois Glass Co.; side view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.  Very similar looking ringed peppersauce bottles were also made during the same era (1890s through 1920s) that were round ("round ring pepper sauce") and square ("square ring pepper sauce") in cross-section instead of oval (Illinois Glass 1906; Cumberland Glass 1911; Obear-Nester Glass 1922).

Late 19th century peppersauce bottles; click to enlarge.Spiral: This style falls halfway between the two styles noted above in that the ribs spiral down (or up depending on perspective) the bottle with the overall "look" visually more similar to the horizontally ribbed styles than the vertically ribbed. This style is typified by the three differently colored sauce bottles pictured to the right.

The pictured bottles to the right (7.5" to 8" tall) are commonly encountered on late 19th to early 20th century historic sites and are embossed with S & P. PAT. APP. FOR on the base.  The S. & P. is for Stickney & Poor, a very successful Boston producer of "Mustards, Spices, Extracts, &c." during most of the 19th century and apparently into the 20th (Zumwalt 1980).  These bottles have tooled double ring finishes (with the upper portion distinctly larger than the lower portion) and were blown in a cup-base mold which likely had air venting (although evidence of air venting is lost in the heavily decorated body styling) - all attributes indicating manufacture between the 1880s and early 1910s.  These bottles were neck labeled since labels could not adhere well to the lumpy body; click Stickney & Poor label to see an image of part of the neck label noting the company name.  All three of the pictured bottles were produced in the same mold and show the slight differences in neck length (bottles are about 1/2" different in height) common with mouth-blown bottles depending on where the bottle was cracked-off from the blowpipe.

Other images of ribbed style sauce bottles are available by clicking on the following links.  This helps show a bit of the diversity of shape found in these style bottles:

  • Early 20th century peppersauce; click to enlarge.PEPPERSAUCE - This is an early 20th century, mouth-blown pepper sauce bottle that is embossed with 3 FLUID OZS / PEPPERSAUCE on one semi-flattened side.  This is a variation of the oval (in cross-section), horizontally ringed peppersauce style that was very popular from the early 1900s to 1930s, though this example only has two rings at the shoulder and two above the heel.  It has a tooled double ring finish, was blown in a cup-bottom mold, and has multiple mold air venting marks including on the base which is a strong sign of production after 1900 into at least the early 1920s.  It was made of colorless glass which has a slight amethyst tint indicating de-colorization with manganese dioxide which was most commonly used between the 1880s and late 1910s (Giarde 1989).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish showing the upper body rings and the location where the side mold seam disappears.
  • Mid-19th century sauce bottle used for medicine; click to enlarge.Late 19th century fluted pepper sauce bottle; click to enlarge.Vertically ribbed "cure" sauce bottle (aqua bottle to far right)  - This bottle is an early style that was used for various sauces (Zumwalt 1980) though this example still retains a fragmental label noting the contents would treat or cure various ailments, i.e., it appears to have contained a patent medicine!  The bottle body and shoulder is vertically ribbed with a horizontal ring on the lower neck, has a blowpipe pontil scar on the base, crudely applied two-part mineral type finish, and was blown in a post-bottom mold which almost certainly was not air vented given the likely date of manufacture of the 1850s or early 1860s.  This item could simply be an example of bottle re-use, having started its life as a sauce bottle, or it could have been purchased new to contain medicine - there is no way to know for sure.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view showing the blowpipe style pontil scar; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish; close-up of the fragmental label showing the medicinal claims.  (Photos from eBay®.)  This is yet another example of how one can not be 100% sure what a bottle actually contained unless pertinent embossing or the original labeling is present.  It is likely, however, that the vast majority of these type bottles were indeed used for sauces.
  • Later vertically ribbed pepper sauce or catsup bottle (colorless bottle to the immediate left above) - This is late example of the vertically ribbed/fluted pepper sauce style bottle.  Diagnostic manufacturing related features on this bottle which point towards a later manufacture (1895 to the early 1910s) for this style is the colorless glass, cup-bottom mold production, 7 air venting marks scattered around shoulder at the top of most of the ribs (click shoulder close-up to see one of the vent marks pointed out), and the tooled finish.  The oil finish on this bottle, instead of the usual double ring, indicates it may have been used for catsup instead of pepper sauce, though without any identifying embossing or the original label - of which this bottle has neither - it is impossible to tell for sure.  Click base image to see such which shows the M or W marking which may or may not be a makers marking; probably the latter.  (Photos courtesy of Janis Scalone.)
  • More to be added in the future...
     

Dating summary/notes: Given the wide span of production, the dating of this large class of sauce bottles can not be done based on shape alone.  Instead, it must be done based on manufacturing related diagnostic features and/or through research of the historical record when possible.  The latter is usually not possible unless the example has the original labels or is embossed, a rare occurrence.  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.

 

Ketchup (catsup) styles

Early 20th century mouth-blown catsup; click to enlarge.Tomato ketchup/catsup (both spellings are correct and used interchangeably here) was contained in a moderately varied array of different shaped bottles, though there are some styles that are strongly identified with the product.  For example, the bottle to the left is a classic and distinctly shaped style used for ketchup for a very long period of time.  Generally speaking, ketchup bottles are relatively tall and narrow (a typical height of at least 3 times the body or base diameter) and have a moderately narrow mouth or bore for the size of the bottle.  The most common styles (like most of the examples pictured here) also have a long gradually tapering shoulder to neck portion that is distinctly taller than the body section below it.  Earlier examples (ca. 1890 and before), like most other type bottles, had cork accepting finishes of one type or another.  However, from the 1890s and later, externally threaded finishes with metal screw caps became increasing the most common closure/finish combination for ketchup.  Most styles also had some type of molded body and/or shoulder features like vertical body ribs (image to the left; common on 1890s to 1920s bottles) or vertical body side panels (typically 8 sides or more) as shown by the bottles pictured here.  Flat panels on the body are very typical of bottles from about 1910 to at least the mid-20th century (and even today on glass ketchup bottles still being used; most ketchup now comes in plastic).

Fluted catsup from the Obear-Nester Glass Co. 1922 catalog; click to enlarge.Ketchup bottles were a standard offering from most bottle producing glass companies as evidenced by most late 19th to mid-20th century bottle makers catalogs.  Sizes varied from a few ounces up to at least a quart (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880; Illinois Glass Company 1903, 1920; Obear-Nester Glass 1922; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1952).  The illustration to the right is from the Obear-Nester Glass Co. (St. Louis, MO.) 1922 bottle catalog and was offered in only the 14 ounce size - a typical size for ketchup bottles.  This one notes its availability with an interesting "combination finish" which would accept a screw cap, a crown cap, and/or likely a "Goldy" cap.  Click Goldy closure to view a description of this type closure and finish on the Bottle Closures page.

The mouth-blown ketchup bottle pictured to the above left is a very typical general shape for packaging this product during the late 19th through much of the 20th century; it is not that much different than the shape used today for glass bottled ketchup (somewhat of a rarity in the U. S. since most is now packaged in plastic bottles).  This example is embossed on the shoulder - inside a circular "medallion" - with PREFERRED STOCK CATSUP / A & L (monogram) / EXTRA QUALITY.  The A & L  stands for Allen & Lewis, a large regional "Wholesale Dealer in Staple and Fancy Groceries" located in Portland, Oregon.  "Preferred Stock" was a proprietary brand name used by the company for many of their products.  (See the labeled olive oil bottle later on this page.)  Allen & Lewis began business in the early days of Portland in 1861 and continued until at least 1917 and probably much later (Zumwalt 1980).  The pictured bottle dates from the 1900 to 1915 era based on the "improved" tooled external screw thread finish (called a "screw top tool finish" by glassmakers), multiple mold air venting marks on the shoulder and possibly in the embossing pattern, a faint amethyst tint to the glass, and cup-bottom mold production - all of which point towards the first two decades of the 20th century (Fairmount Glass Works 1910).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  reverse view showing the ribbing; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finishclose-up of the shoulder showing (faintly) the embossing; close-up of the finish showing the "improved tooled finish" with the mold seam ending point indicated.

Fluted shoulder sauce or ketchup bottle; click to enlarge.The likely ketchup bottle pictured to the left is representative of the fancier earlier sauce bottle styles and an example that most likely dates from about 1875-1885.  It has a relatively crudely applied double ring finish, lacks evidence of mold air venting, and exhibits some other minor manufacturing crudeness though was blown in a cup-bottom mold which was a bit unusual for this early of a bottle and given its moderate size.  This style could well have held other types of sauce (i.e., pepper sauce) though bulbous bodied, ornate styles similar to this were frequently noted in bottle makers catalogs as intended for ketchup; they were even called "decanter catsups" by some (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879, 1909; Hagerty Bros. 1898; Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1911; Alther 1909).  Click on the following links to view more images of this sauce bottle:  base view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.  A very similar "decanter catsup" was offered by Robert J. Alther (San Francisco, CA.) in their 1909 catalog; click Alther 1909 catalog page 55 to view this item.

In general, like with some other bottles styles (e.g., liquor cylinders) the earlier bottles (mid-19th century) used for catsup tended to be wider in the body than later (post-1880s) ketchup bottles, although there were (of course) exceptions.  The steamboat Bertrand cargo from 1865 had three clearly identified different types of catsup bottles which were tall (>11") and slender with vertical flat body facets (Switzer 1974).  These bottles look to be the precursor style to the early 20th century examples discussed here.  The point here is that there was a lot of variety in shapes used for ketchup, particularly during the period from the 1840s to the 1890s.  By the latter time styles began to become a bit more uniform though there was still some variety; see pages 200-205 of the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog found on this website at this link: 1906 Illinois Glass Company Bottle Catalog.

Heinz catsup bottle from the 1920s; click to enlarge.Image of a small mouth external thread finish on a 20th century catsup bottle; click to enlarge.The machine-made, 8-sided ketchup bottle pictured to the right was produced by the Illinois-Pacific Glass Corporation (San Francisco, CA.) between 1926 and 1930 for the Heinz® company for containing ketchup and other sauces including pepper sauces (Zumwalt 1980; Lockhart et al. 2005d).  The base is embossed with H. J. HEINZ CO. / 255 / IPG (in a triangle) / PATD.  Click the base view to see the base of this bottle showing the embossing and makers mark.  The PATD. refers to Heinz's March 28th, 1893 patent for this bottle style; the 255 is Heinz's assigned number for the style.  The company assigned an internal number to all their scores of patented bottle styles beginning about 1873 (Zumwalt 1980).  This particular bottle was found with a crown cap on it (note rust staining) as the bead on the rim of this "combination" finish is exactly the right size for a typical sized crown cap.  It is not thought original but related to a re-use of the bottle as it had several holes punched in it and was likely re-used as a salt shaker or sprinkle bottle.  This general style of 8-sided catsup bottle was called the "octagon catsup" or "paneled catsup" by bottle makers (Illinois Glass Co. ca. 1925; Fairmount Glass Works ca. 1930).

NOTE: For a comprehensive list (Word document) of Heinz base codes - which indicates the actual use of the bottle - click on Heinz Base Codes.  Code list courtesy of the H. J. Heinz® Company.

Other images of ketchup bottles are available by clicking on the following links.  This helps show a bit of the diversity of shape found in these bottles:

  • Click to view a larger version of this image.1920s-1930s era catsup bottle - This is 16 narrow paneled body, machine-made, 1920s to 1930s era catsup bottle made by the Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. (Wheeling, WV.) that most likely was sealed with a Goldy cap though it will also accept a standard crown cap.  Lief (1965) noted that the Goldy closure was most popular on catsup bottles and, though invented in 1897, appeared to have the most popular during the 1910 to 1950 era, though similar versions are still in some use today (Lief 1965; empirical observations).  This style with the many body panels was called the "fluted catsup" by some glassmakers as shown in the illustration earlier in this section (Obear-Nester Glass Co. 1922; Illinois Glass Co. 1924).
  • PLUMMER'S / TOMATO CATSUP - This is one interesting example of the scores of unusually shaped catsup bottles that were manufactured during the last half of the 19th century (Zumwalt 1980).  This particular example likely dates from the 1870 to 1880 period and is 8 1/4" tall, about 2 3/8" in diameter, has an applied double ring finish (the classic mid to late 19th century sauce bottle finish), and believed to have no evidence of mold air venting judging from the flatness of the embossing (image links below).  Even though an unusual conformation it still has an overall shape that "fits" the sauce bottle category, i.e., tall and relatively narrow, double ring finish, relatively narrow bore, moderate (8-16 oz.) capacity, and an attractiveness that catches the customers eye - a common theme with sauce bottles as illustrated on this page.  Of course bottles within the other types also fit this general description, though if one had an unembossed bottle that was otherwise identical in form to the Plummer's, a reasonable conclusion would be that it was likely used as a sauce bottle.  Click on the following links for more images: base view; close-up of the embossing; close-up of the finish.  (Images from eBay®.)
  • CURTICE BROTHERS CO. / PRESERVERS / ROCHESTER, N.Y. - That is embossed inside a circle on the shoulder of a standard early 20th century ketchup bottle that contained their "Blue Label Ketchup."  This example is mouth-blown (similar ones were made by machine also), almost certainly has air venting, blown in a cup-bottom mold, and has an improved tooled external threaded finish.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the initials B. B. G. Co. which likely stands for the Berney-Bond Glass Company (PA.) though that is not certain (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart pers. comm. 2007); close-up of the embossing; close-up of the neck and finish showing the distinctly molded external screw threads; image of another dark amethyst exampleCurtice Brothers was a large ketchup and preserves producing firm that began just after the Civil War and continued until at least the late 1960s.  They used the pictured style of bottle from at least the early 1890s into the early to mid-1920s (Rinker 1968; Zumwalt 1980).  The almost identical Allen & Lewis bottle at the top of this section was most likely a regional imitative "knock-off" of the Curtice Brothers nationally popular brand.
  • ...more to come in the future...
     

Dating summary/notes: Given the wide span of production, the dating of this large class of ketchup/sauce bottles can not be done based on shape alone.  Instead, it must be done based on manufacturing based diagnostic features and/or through research of the historical record when possible when the bottle has either the original labels or is product and/or company embossed.  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  However, there are a few observations related to the closure and finish that can assist a bit with dating (based on bottle makers catalogs and empirical observations):

  • Prior to about 1890 most ketchup containing bottles (like most bottles) were sealed with a cork.  Bottles during the pre-1890 era are, of course, all mouth-blown with double ring or various one-part finishes ubiquitous.
  • During the 1890s the transition over to external screw-thread finishes and screw caps began and accelerated so that by about 1910 most ketchup bottles had this finish or some other finish that did not require only a cork closure.  Probably the most commonly encountered bottle on historic sites with a mouth-blown and tooled (often of the "improved tooled" type) external screw-thread finishes are ketchup/sauce bottles.
  • The switchover from mouth-blown to machine-made ketchup bottles - like most narrow mouth/bore bottles - occurred primarily during the mid to late 1910s.  During the first half of the 1910s most ketchup bottles are mouth-blown; by the last half of the 1910s they are largely machine-made, though mouth-blown examples occurred to a small degree into the early to mid 1920s.
  • By the mid-1920s, virtually all ketchup bottles were machine-made and had either external screw thread finishes or some other re-sealable closure, like the Goldy.  Most have sided bodies like the Heinz patented bottle discussed above.

 

"Club" sauce style

Early machine-made Lea & Perrins; click to enlarge.The club style sauce bottle is a distinctive shape that is closely identified with sauces intended for meats, and in particular, various brands of Worcestershire sauce.  The origin of this style was apparently the bottle designed by or for the Lea & Perrins® (L&P) company (illustration below & picture to the left) and which was first reportedly used in the 1840s (Rinker 1968; Rock 2001).  Due to the incredible success of L&P, the sauce was copied by scores of other companies and put up in bottles of the same shape as L&P - often with the same embossing pattern (just different lettering for the producer).  L&P pursued trademark infringements extensively and successfully during the early 20th century (Zumwalt 1980).  Based on bottles observed by this author on scores of 19th and early 20th century historical sites, it appears that L&P still outsold all of the other competitors combined by a wide margin (empirical observations).  Note: Since L&P was by far the biggest producer of "club sauce" it is the bottle primarily covered here; the competitors bottles would follow the same general dating guidelines though not the company specific ones, of course.

The club sauce bottle style followed the same design exceptionally close across a wide time span, from brand to brand, and in the different though relatively limited sizes that were produced.  These bottles are always cylindrical, relatively tall and narrow in cross-section (between 3 to 4 times taller than wide), have parallel vertical body sides and virtually parallel neck sides (usually with a very slight taper towards the base of the finish), the neck/finish combination is about the same height as the body from the heel to the base of the steep shoulder, and are almost always topped with the distinctive three-part club sauce finish, though on occasion it is found with a two-part mineral type finish (Lunn 1981).  Earlier club sauce bottles will tend to have some variety to the finish, though bottles from the 1870s on almost always have the "classic" three-part club sauce finish (Switzer 1974; Zumwalt 1980).   The earliest L&P bottles were cork sealed, although a large majority of the L&P and competitors bottles were closured with a combination glass stopper & shell cork with a club sauce finish having a cork resting ledge on the inside of the bore.  That closure/finish combination was used by L&P until 1958 when a plastic pour spout and external screw thread finish was adopted and is still in use today (Anonymous 1958; Rinker 1968; Zumwalt 1980; Rock 2001).  Click Glass & Cork closure to view the section of the Bottle Closures page that covers this type closure.  Click on the IGCo 1906 pages 204-205 to view the Illinois Glass Company (Alton, IL.) offering of a "Worcestershire or Club Sauce" bottle in 3 sizes with "Shell Corks and Glass Stoppers to fit" (lower right corner).  The Illinois Glass Company illustration clearly shows that their version came with the distinctive three-part club sauce finish.

Mid-19th century Lea & Perrins sacue bottle; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured above is an early machine-made (1910-1920) Lea & Perrins bottle embossed with LEA & PERRINS (vertically on the body) and WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE (horizontally on the shoulder), which was the typical embossing for these bottles for about 70 years, i.e. 1850s to about 1920.  This particular example also has J D / S / 26 embossed on the base which is for  John Duncan & Sons (New York, NY) - aka John Duncans' Sons - who were the American licensees for importing the sauce from about 1877 until 1930.  (In 1930 L&P was bought by the company that made the competing HP Sauce according the L&P website [link below].)  The L&P sauce was reportedly imported into the U. S. from about 1877 to 1900 in casks and then bottled by Duncan.  Sometime around 1900 to 1902 the secret formula was given to Duncan and a plant for producing the sauce from imported materials was built in the U. S. (Rinker 1968; Lunn 1981; L&P website 2007).  The embossed bottles were apparently discontinued in 1920-1921 and unembossed, label only bottles of the same distinctive shape used after that.  Aqua glass was also reportedly discontinued in 1944, though may have largely disappeared by the early 1930s in favor of colorless glass (Rinker 1968; Toulouse 1971; Zumwalt 1980; Lunn 1981; Rock 2001).  (Note: The L&P bottles today have embossing once again, though only on the shoulder.)  Click on the following links for more images of the pictured bottle: base view showing the J D / S / 26 embossing and the shell encased stopper to the left (note: the "26" is most likely a mold number with no known significance at this point in time); close-up of the front shoulder, neck and finish; close-up of the back shoulder, neck and finish.  This bottle exhibits evidence of early machine manufacture in that it has relatively crude wavy glass, multiple small bubbles, and uneven base glass distribution.

Halford Leicestershire Sauce bottle from the 1870s; click to enlarge.The illustration to the right is of a bottle with the same body embossing pattern as the example above but is 60+ years older.  (Illustration courtesy of California State Parks.)  The illustrated example is of one of the earliest molds for L&P that came from the context of a mid-19th century historic site in "Old Town" San Diego, i.e., 1855-1865 (Peter Schulz pers. comm. 2007).   Other similar examples are known to date to the early 1850s (Lunn 1981).  These earlier examples typically have a crudely applied "club sauce" finish, were (probably) blown in a post-bottom mold, and lack evidence of air venting.  The A C B Co embossed on the base is the makers mark for Aire and Calder Glass Bottle Company (Castleford, Yorkshire, England) who are conclusively known to have produced these bottles (Lunn 1981; Rock 2001), although some authors attributed these bottles to the Albion Bottle Company of Worchester, England (Rinker 1968).  Although neither of these glass company names perfectly fits the initials on the base, other bottle types have been noted that are embossed with AIRE & CALDER BOTTLE CO. - a perfect fit to the initials.  In any event, the A C B Co bottles are the earliest versions typically found in the U. S.  Click ACBCo to view an image of this base embossing on an example salvaged from the SS Republic© and thus known to date from 1865 when that ship sank.  Click Lea & Perrins to view this same 1865 bottle in its entirety.  (Photos by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration)

One example (of dozens possible) of a competitor to L&P was the product contained in the bottle to the left which is identical in form to the L&P bottles.  It is embossed horizontally on the shoulder with HALFORD - HALFORD, on the front vertically with LEICESTERSHIRE and on the back vertically with SAUCE.  (Images off of eBay©.)   These bottles contained Halford's Table Sauce which was advertised in 1880 as follows:  The Most Perfect Relish of the Day.  An absolute Remedy for Dyspepsia.  Invaluable to all Good Cooks.  A Nutritious Combination for Children.  Invaluable for Soups, Hashes, Cold Meats, and Entrées" (advertisement found on internet).  Even meat sauce claimed medicinal properties in the 19th century!  This bottle has a crudely applied club sauce style finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold, and likely had no evidence of mold air venting - all features supporting a manufacturing date of about 1865 to 1885.  These bottles were likely manufactured in England during the noted period as American and English bottle making technology at that time was roughly on a par with each other (Zumwalt 1980; empirical observations).  Click on the following links for more images of this club sauce bottle:  base view; back and shoulder view; front and shoulder view.

Lea & Perrins® bottles are quite likely the most commonly found embossed bottle on mid-19th to early 20th century historic sites.  The author has observed them in the trash dumps ranging from the fanciest big city hotels to isolated sheep camps in the Great Basin.  They came in at least three sizes - half pint (probably the most common size), pint, and quart although the two larger sizes at least were likely "scant" sizes, i.e., did not quite hold the full quantity (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1906).  Later mouth-blown bottles are embossed on the base with J D S (and usually a mold number) like the machine-made bottle discussed above.  Some of these late mouth-blown bottles were reportedly made in England - possibly by Aire and Calder or Albion or possibly neither (Toulouse 1971).

An image of a different club sauce style bottle is available by clicking on the following link:

  • LORD WARD'S / WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE - This 8" bottle is embossed vertically (LORD WARD'S) on the body and horizontally (WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE) around the shoulder imitating precisely the embossing pattern of the much more popular Lea & Perrins bottles of the era.  These bottles have the diagnostic features typical of its known age of 1865, i.e., very crudely formed club sauce applied finish, lack of both mold air venting and pontil scar, and an overall crudity bespeaking its Civil War era manufacture.  Little is known about the company though this bottle is known to date from 1865 as it was recovered from the Steamship Republic© which sank off the coast of Georgia during late October of that year (Gerth 2006).  (Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.)
     

Dating summary/notes: Given the wide span of production for this style, i.e. from as early as the 1840s to as late as the mid-20th century (and even in a similar form today), the dating of club sauce bottles can not be done based on shape alone.  Instead, it must be done based on manufacturing based diagnostic features (like found throughout this website) and/or through research of the historical record when possible with company/product embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.

However, Lea & Perrins® bottles do have some fairly precise dating parameters as follows.  Please note that these dating parameters pertain to bottles found in the U. S., not Canada or other countries (Lunn 1981):

  • Some of the earliest bottles - early 1850s to possibly the early 1860s - will often (but not always) have pontil scars and no base inscription (Zumwalt 1980; Lunn 1981).
  • L&P bottles with the A C B Co on the base date from the late 1850s or early 1860s to about 1877.  (Note: This base embossing can be found on bottles imported into Canada up until the early 1920s [Lunn 1981].)
  • Mouth-blown examples with J D S  on the base date from no earlier than about 1878 and as late as the early to mid 1910s.
  • Machine-made examples with J D S on the base date from the mid 1910s to 1920 or 1921, at which point John Duncan's Sons began using plain, unembossed bottles of the same shape.
  • Some mouth-blown bottles may have been produced as late as the 1920s or 1930s, though this has not been confirmed and is considered unlikely (Lunn 1981; Rock 2001; empirical observations).
  • "Green" glass (aqua) was discontinued in 1944 and likely changed to colorless glass at that time for the non-embossed L&P bottles of that era.
  • Machine-made bottles with the club sauce finish and glass/cork stopper date prior to 1958; those with external screw threads date after that time (Anonymous 1958). 

L&P still comes in the same shaped glass bottles today but with an external screw thread finish, dark amber in color (not aqua or colorless), and with LEA & PERRINS shoulder embossing.  The following link is to the official website for Lea & Perrins®:   http://www.leaperrins.com/about/heritage.php 

 

Barrel (and other shaped) mustards

Barrel mustard from 1890-1900 era; click to enlarge.The earliest bottles used for mustard (dry and/or prepared) during Colonial times and the early days of the U. S. were the same as those used for snuff (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Click mid-19th century snuff bottle to see an example.  Mustard was most commonly packaged in stylized "barrel" shaped bottles from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th.  As with all the sauces/condiments covered here, mustard was almost a culinary requirement during the 19th century (and before as its use dates back to ancient times) to spice up otherwise bland dishes and to cover up the off flavors of foods in the age before refrigeration and other effective food preservation techniques.  Mustard was also thought to be a cure for ailments ranging from congestion to hysteria, snakebite to bubonic plague (Gerth 2006).   Although bottled in a variety of wide mouth, typically squatty bottles, mustard was commonly bottled in barrel shapes for much of the time period covered by this website.

Mustard bottles in the 1906 IGCo. catalog; click to enlarge.Barrel mustard bottles - based on glassmaker catalogs and the authors empirical observations - are dominated by those with 3 molded rings (aka staves, bands) above and below the central label area, like the examples pictured here.  Other conformations ranging from 2 to at least 6 rings have also been noted as well as some with vertical staves.  Most examples have rings that are separated by a distinct space, like the example above left.  Mustard was also packaged in other shapes of ceramic and glass bottles (examples discussed below) though the barrel shape is the most closely associated with the product (Switzer 1974; Zumwalt 1980).  See pages 208-211 of the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog which offered the standard barrel as well as about a dozen other shapes, including one that was beer mug shaped!  The image to the right above is from the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog (page 208) and shows their barrel mustard offering (left barrel bottle available in 6 sizes) and what is likely the second most common general shape of that era for containing mustard - the "pot mustard" (right bottle).

Barrel mustards are typified by the fairly uniform shapes shown here.  Besides the molded rings and cylindrical shape, these bottles have relatively wide bores (1" or more) for easy product access, usually a distinct pedestal heel/base, a narrow banded one part finish, and a body that distinctly bulges outwards in the middle with both the finish and base being narrower in diameter.  Glass makers catalogs, including the Illinois Glass Company, referred to these bottles as "barrel mustards" and offered them sizes ranging from 3 oz. to a quart though the most commonly encountered size seems to be around 6-8 ounces (Illinois Glass Co. 1903,1906,1911; empirical observations).  By 1920, the barrel mustards were being offered with screw thread finishes (for the "American Metal Cap") by the Illinois Glass Company and cork finish examples were apparently no longer available (Illinois Glass Co. 1920).   Barrel mustards (and other wide mouth food bottles & jars in general) were some of the earliest types that transitioned from the cork to some other finish as corks are an increasingly unreliable sealing closure as the bottle bore becomes larger.  This appears to be so because the surface area against the cork increases allowing more opportunity for the cork to not fit well (Lief 1965).  Interestingly enough, the 1920 Illinois Glass Company catalog noted that their barrel mustard style could "...only be sold on and west of the Mississippi River."  Why?  Some type of agreement with competitors?

French mustard bottle from the 1860s; click to enlarge.The barrel mustard pictured above is an 8 oz. size (measured to the top ring) and the general type most commonly encountered.  It has a tooled one-part finish (more or less a "wide patent" or "bead" type), made from colorless glass with a slight amethyst tint, blown in a cup-bottom mold although with no obvious evidence of mold air venting making the likely production date between 1880 and 1900.  Click on the following links to view more images of this typical size and design bottle:  base view; close-up of the upper body, neck, and finish with some of the tooling striations in evidence and the ending point of the side mold seam (where it was "wiped out") fairly obvious.  This mold seam ending point marks the furthest point on the "neck" that the outside pads of the finishing tool could reach.

The  barrel mustard bottle to the right is a relatively early example embossed horizontally on one side between the two sets of rings with MOUTARDE DIAPHANE / LOUIT FRERES & CO. (Zumwalt 1980).  "Diaphanous" (implying a very fine product) mustard and similar other imported versions were apparently the "Grey Poupon" of the of the mid-19th century.  These bottles were usually made of colorless or aqua glass; very rarely in other colors.  (This bottle also has a faint "straw" cast to the glass indicating the possible early use of selenium and/or arsenic to decolorize the glass.)  Click on base view to view an image of the base of this bottle which exhibits a faint blowpipe type pontil scar (pointed out in image) though the scar has a diffuseness to it that is reminiscent of a sand pontil.  The bottle body has no evidence of air venting and was blown in a post-bottom mold although the side mold seam just barely curls around the heel to join with an apparent post-bottom mold seam.  Very similar shaped mustard bottles of French origin with pontil scars were found on the Steamship Bertrand which sank in the Missouri River in April 1865.  These mustard bottles were among the very few bottle types salvaged from that ship that exhibited pontil scars.  The Bertrand mustards were a bit unusual in that they had 4 closely stacked rings instead of three spaced ones, though the rings were in the usual positions above and below the open label area (Switzer 1974).

Mid-19th century St. Louis mustard bottle; click to enlarge.Mid-19th century barrel mustard; click to enlarge.The Civil War (1860s) era mustard barrel to the left is embossed with WESTERN / SPICE MILLS and is a very crudely made, early mustard bottle although it is not pontil scarred.  (Image from eBay®.)  It is 4¾" tall, colorless (faintly gray), and almost certainly has no evidence of mold air venting.  It also has a very crudely cracked-off (or burst-off) finish with just a bit of grinding done to the finish rim to keep from being dangerously sharp.  Western Spice Mills was a St. Louis, MO. firm which, being at the gateway to the rapidly opening West, did a lot of business on the upper Missouri River as well as downstream along the Mississippi River.  Gothic style pepper sauce bottles with this company name embossed were found on the Steamship Bertrand (1865) and on the Steamboat Arabia which sank in the Missouri River in 1856.  Although early information on the company is sparse it obviously dated as far back as 1856 and is known to have continued in business until at least 1877 (Switzer 1974; Zumwalt 1980; Hawley 1998).

The aqua barrel bottle to the right is approximately 4" tall, has a rolled (outward) finish  It could be of either American or European origin and likely dates from the 1860 to 1880 era.  Aqua was certainly the second most common color for this style, though still lags behind colorless glass which was for some reason the standard "color" of choice for mustard bottling.  This was true even prior to the 1880s when colorless bottles were relatively uncommon as they were more expensive to produce than aqua glass (empirical observations).

Other images of barrel and non-barrel mustard bottles are available by clicking on the following links.  This helps show a bit of the diversity of shape found in these bottles:

  • Pair of barrel mustards - These two barrel mustards date from 1865 as they were recovered from the Steamship Republic© which sank off the coast of Georgia during late October of that year.  Both are 5" tall, have typical rolled/tooled one-part finishes, lack mold air venting, and have smooth (non-pontiled) bases.  The bottle on the right in the linked picture has staining most likely from contact with the metal parts of the sunken ship (Gerth 2006).  (Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.)
  • Williams mustard bottle from the 1920s; click to enlarge.WILLIAMS' - This was most likely a West Coast mustard brand and is embossed WILLIAMS' in a "banner" on one lower side.  It is machine-made by a blow-and-blow machine (no valve mark), about 4.3" (11 cm) tall, has a wide (1.5") bore, lug type external thread finish, and a slight amethyst tint.   It has an "S" in a five-pointed star embossed on the base which was the makers mark for the Southern Glass Company (Los Angeles, CA.) in business from 1918 to 1930, though they used that mark from 1925 to 1930 (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart et al. 2009b).  This bottle shows that the use of manganese dioxide to decolorize glass - the reason for the pink tint - continued until at least the late 1920s at some glass companies.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the interesting makers mark; close-up of the shoulder and finish (no real neck) showing the lug type external screw threads.
  • Early 20th century Gulden mustard; click to enlarge.CHAs. GULDEN / NEW YORK - This is embossed on one side of a bulbous bodied mustard bottle from this famous condiments firm.  This bottle was certainly used for mustard; the Gulden brand is still being made today though now packaged (unfortunately) in plastic.  It has a wide bore to facilitate extraction of the product, a tooled one-part finish (like most mustards), blown in a cup-bottom mold, and likely has air venting though that is not certain (image off eBay®).  From these features it is reasonable to conclude that the bottle dates somewhere between the late 1880s to early 1910s.  Similar "mustard" bottles were made by and listed in the 1894 Agnew Co. catalog (Agnew 1894).  This specific design for Gulden was first patented by the company in 1875 and variations were used until the late 20th century (Zumwalt 1980).  Click 1922 Good Housekeeping advertisement to see an ad for Gulden's mustard.  Click screw thread finish Gulden's to see a bottle like that in the 1922 advertisement (apologies for the poor quality image from eBay®).
  • Mid-20th century mustard bottle; click to enlarge.Mid-20th century mustard bottle - The pictured bottle most likely dates from between about 1925 and 1940.  (Photo courtesy Richard Mushing.)  It was machine-made by the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company (Wheeling, W. V.) based on the H over an A makers mark on the base (it also has the numbers 5943 and 10  on the base - both of unknown meaning), has a wide mouth external screw thread finish, and was blown in a press-and-blow mold based on the suction or ejection valve mark on the base.  The H over an A makers mark was used from about 1923 (when trademarked) to at least 1965 (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart et al. unpublished manuscript 2008).  This late style of mustard still retains the distinctive horizontal hoop rings seen on examples from a century previous.  These type screw top mustard bottles are often seen in bottle makers catalogs from the first third or so of the 20th century (Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Fairmount Glass Works undated [late 1920s or early 1930s]).
  • Spice bottle from the 1870s; click to enlarge.It should be noted here that the "spice" bottle style covered later on this page (image to the right) was also commonly used for mustard during the last half of the 19th century (Zumwalt 1980).
  • ...more to be added in the future.

 


Dating summary/notes:  Many different shapes were used for the packaging of mustard, though the stylized barrel shape is the most closely associated with mustard for much of the time period covered by this website.  Unfortunately (for dating utility based on shape) the barrel mustard style was made a very long time, i.e., at least from the 1850s into the 1920s when vertically paneled or fluted shapes rose in popularity (Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Illinois Glass Co. ca. 1920; Fairmount Glass Works late ca. 1930; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1940s; Zumwalt 1980).  Given the wide span of production, the dating of these bottles must be done based on manufacturing based diagnostic features and/or through research of the historical record when possible (which usually is not unless the example has the original labels or is brand/producer embossed).  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information. 

A few type specific general dating observations are possible with barrel mustards:

  • Earlier barrel mustards (early 1880s and prior) tended to be somewhat squattier (proportionally wider) with a wider bore or mouth, though these features are relative and only moderately reliable in calling a bottle "earlier" or "later."  For example, a comparison of the first pictured bottle (latest produced example pictured) to the second and fourth bottles shows this subtle but observable difference.  The third bottle pictured (Western Spice Mills) is narrower in the body but has a level of crudeness that strongly hints at an earlier production date.  As with just about everything in bottle dating and typing, there are exceptions to most trends, though that does not necessarily negate the utility of these trends when considered in hand with other information and diagnostic features.
  • Glass tipped or blowpipe pontil scars can be found on some French-made mustard barrels (like the LOUIT FRERES bottle above which is commonly found in the U. S.) later than would be observed on other types of bottles; possibly as late as the mid-1870s which is a decade+ later than typically seen on American-made utilitarian type bottles (Switzer 1974; empirical observations).
  • Many "later" barrel mustard bottles -  i.e., early 1900s (mouth-blown) until sometime during the Great Depression (machine-made) - tended to have very widely spaced rings and distinctly less taper to the entire bottle.  Click on 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog - page 208 to view an example of this barrel type.  The specific example - the "St. Louis or Tin-Top Mustard" - is illustrated in the lower left hand corner of the page.  Machine-made examples of this later variation have been observed from at least as early as 1906 (semi-automatic machine manufacture) to as late as the 1930s (Illinois Glass Co. 1906; Fairmount Glass Works ca. 1930).

It should be noted that these types of barrel bottles were occasionally used for other condiments like horseradish and likely for various spices also.  Conversely, the "spice" bottle style covered later on this page was also commonly used for mustard during the last half of the 19th century (Zumwalt 1980).

 

Other sauce/condiment styles (including horse radish)

Mid-19th century sauce bottle; click to enlarge.

The sauce/condiment bottle shapes described in the previous sections cover some of the most common shapes and designs for these products.  However, sauces were packaged in a wide array of additional shapes during the period covered by this website, i.e., the 19th through mid-20th centuries.  Refer to Betty Zumwalt's very informative 1980 book Ketchup, Pickles, Sauces - 19th Century Food in Glass for more information on the subject and images of some of this variety.  (Note: This book is still available new and used at sources like Amazon.com, eBay®, AbeBooks.com, and others.)  A few unusual sauce shapes were covered in the ketchup bottles section above; shapes which were likely used for non-ketchup sauce products also.  For a sampling of the sauce bottle variety offered by one early 20th century bottle manufacturer, click Illinois Glass Company 1906 catalog which is a page comprised of scans of that company's entire 1906 catalog.  In particular, look at pages 200 through 205.  The following are examples of a few other sauce or condiment styles (including for ketchup) to show the variety.  As with most of these bottle typology pages, more examples will be added over time.

Bulbous/decorative shaped sauces (not otherwise covered earlier):  This category is fairly broad with hundreds if not several thousand different variations which have in common only that they were used for various sauces/condiments and do not fit well in the categories above.  This "category" of sauce bottles was fairly common as a group though the different examples vary widely in specific shape and conformation; most individual variations within this loose category would be considered uncommon as they were not "standard" forms like the sauces covered earlier (Rinker 1968; Zumwalt 1980).

As an example, the likely sauce bottle pictured above is from the 1850-1870 era as it has a glass tipped pontil scar on the pedestal heel base, a crudely applied one part oil finish, hundreds of bubbles in the glass, and lacks evidence of air venting though it was blown in a cup-bottom mold - a feature largely found on non-pontil scarred bottles.  This appears to be an early example of cup-bottom mold use and may indicate a later manufacture notwithstanding the presence of the pontil scar and overall crudity which speaks of a pre-1870 manufacture.  It is also possible that this bottle was used for some other totally different product (possibly a "specialty" barber bottle or used for liquor) though it has similarity in general form to fancier sauce bottles (Zumwalt 1980).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the glass tipped pontil scar; close-up of the crudely applied oil type finish.

The following are some additional images/information of other styles of fancier sauce & condiment bottles:

  • CHACE & DUNCAN / N. Y. - This uniquely shaped sauce bottle was used by Chace & Duncan - New York City "sauce" producers in business together between about 1877 and 1886 (Zumwalt 1980).  It is embossed with the noted lettering on one end of the somewhat uniquely shaped "barrel" body.  This bottle exhibits manufacturing characteristics of the later end of the noted company era (early to mid-1880s) in that it has a tooled double ring finish though has crudeness to the glass and no evidence of mold air venting.  Click side view to see such of this bottle showing the distinctly "barrel" shape to the body.
  • More to be added over time...

New England horseradish bottleHorse radish: As with many food/condiment bottles, horse radish was bottled in various shaped bottles.  The general shape described and pictured here, with the bulge or ring at the junction of the neck and shoulder, was a favored type container for dispensing horse radish.  This general style was also used for a variety of other food products which needed a wide mouth for content access and are virtually identical to some of the "pickle" bottles discussed next (Zumwalt 1980).  The only sure way to tell if these type bottles were used for horse radish (or whatever) is if they are embossed and/or labeled as containing such, like both pictured bottles here.

The New England bottle pictured to the left is embossed on one body panel with PURE HORSE / RADISH / H. D. GEER / THREE RIVERS / MASS.  It is square in cross-section, has a tooled one-part bead finish, was blown in a cup-bottom mold, and has one (apparent) mold air venting mark incorporated into the side mold seams at the same spot on opposite shoulders.  Click base view to see such.  The body has some crudity (sunken and wavy glass) that in hand with the other diagnostic features indicates a likely late 1880s to the early 1900s manufacture.  A check of Zumwalt (1980) shows this specific bottle covered under the section for D. H. Geer, even though the bottle (the example pictured here and in Zumwalt's book) is embossed with H. D. Geer.  Originally this was thought to be a mold engravers error in switching the initials around.  Since the initial writing of this section, the author has been in correspondence with a descendant of the Geer family and has been informed that there were two different Geer's in the food packaging industry in Massachusetts - David H. Geer, whom is discussed in Zumwalt, and Henry Denison Geer who was born in 1863 and listed as a "farmer and fruit grower" in Three Rivers, Massachusetts - and the real user of this bottle (pers. comm. with Susan Geer Downes 2008).

Horseradish bottle from around 1900; click to enlarge.The labeled mouth-blown horse radish bottle pictured to the right (photo from eBay®) was used by the food packing and preservation concern of E. C. Flaccus & Co. (Wheeling, WV.).  E. C. Flaccus was first listed as in business in 1898 and operated until 1920.  The stag's head trademark was registered in 1907 but noted that it had been "used ten years" at that time (Zumwalt 1980; Caniff 1997).  This bottle has the typical horseradish shape with the ring at or near the neck/shoulder junction, is rectangular in cross-section, has a tooled one-part flat sided "packer" finish, and was almost certainly blown in a cup-bottom mold with air venting.  These features give a likely manufacture date of 1900 to 1914 or so.  After the latter date, the majority of all wide mouth bottles were being made by machines, although these types were being machine-made at least as early as 1906 and probably a bit before (Illinois Glass Co. 1906).  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - page 284-285 to view the page from the 1906 catalog that shows a "Machine-made" horse radish bottle of similar conformation.  The pictured bottle has no diagnostic embossing and is solely identified by the label without which the bottle could not be positively identified as this style was used for various preserved food products, as noted earlier.

The general shapes described here (square and rectangular) were used for horse radish until well into the 20th century.  Bottle makers catalogs from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s indicate the style was still in use, though by the late 1910s and early 1920s the finish had shifted to the increasingly more popular external screw threads. By the end of the 1920s virtually all bottles of this style had external screw thread finishes.  The ring at the juncture of the neck and shoulder did carry forward as an stylistic indicator of a horse radish bottle until the 1940s (Illinois Glass Co. 1920,1925; Obear-Nester Glass Co. 1923; Fairmount Glass Works ca. 1930; Lucas County Bottle Co. ca. 1940).

The following are some additional images/information of other horse radish bottles:


Dating summary/notes:  Like most bottle types listed on this page, the dating of most sauce and condiment bottles in general can not be done based on shape alone.  Instead, it must be done based on manufacturing related diagnostic features (like found throughout this website) and/or through research of the historical record when possible with company embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.

 

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Pickles & Preserved Foods

Early 19th century food bottle or jar; click to enlarge.Next to the discovery of fire, some of the more important inventions to mankind were the development of techniques for the long term preservation of food without rapid spoiling.  The use of largely inert glass to store food was an inevitable progression in that quest and dates back to ancient times in the Old World and the earliest days of European settlement in the New World (Lief 1965; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  The very early American (or European) wide mouth bottle/jar pictured to the right is most likely an early food storage vessel, dating from the late 18th or early 19th century.  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)

The binding physical quality of the bottles/jars listed below is that they had relatively wide mouths (aka bore or throat) to facilitate the packing and extraction of food products like cucumber pickles and other pickled vegetables, olives, tamarinds (fruit of an Old World legume), chutney, honey (self-preserving), plums, cherries (often brandied), peaches, and many other fruits and vegetables.  These type bottles were even used for other non-vegetable items like spiced lobster, preserved meats, tobacco, and more (Switzer 1974; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Zumwalt 1980; Van den Bossche 2001).  One other trait this class of bottles share with each other is that they tend to be much larger than average capacity compared to other types of bottles, though as a user will see, smaller versions were utilized for smaller quantities or for food products that were individually smaller in unit size (e.g., olives, small pickles).  Be aware also that just about any of the bottles listed in this section could have been - and were - used for any of the above noted food products and many more not listed; only an original label tells for sure, some of which are shown below.  The previous section above on "Other sauce/condiment styles" shows several examples of bottles that without embossing or a label would likely have been called small pickle bottles though were in fact used for a condiment - horseradish.

Gothic or cathedral styles

1865 gothic pickle bottles; click to enlarge.

One of the earliest of the distinct U. S. bottle styles strongly identified with foods were the gothic or "cathedral" styles.  As noted in the sauce bottle section above, the gothic style bottle does seem to be distinctly American in origin (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  These designs originated during the mid-19th century "Gothic Revival" era in American and Europe which greatly effected the architecture of the period (Deiss 1981, pers. comm. 2003; Wikipedia.org 2007). 

This style varies in specific design but all share the distinction of not being cylindrical (all have 4 or 6 flattened sides) and the body and/or shoulder having large peaked "church window" indented panels on most or (usually) all of the sides with additional decorative features within and/or just above the panels, as shown by the examples illustrated here.  Click close-up of gothic decorations to view some typical features.  As noted earlier in the sauce section, glassmakers called these style bottles "gothic."  The term "cathedral" does not appear in glassmakers catalogs to the authors knowledge and is almost certainly a term of more recent collector vintage, though admittedly lyrical and descriptive (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880; Illinois Glass Co. 1903; Whitney Glass Works 1904; Fairmount Glass Works 1910).

Gothic pickle bottles are a very commonly observed item (usually fragmental) on mid to late 19th century historic sites (more rarely on early 20th century sites) although the type is most commonly observed on historic sites dating from the late 1840s to early 1850s through mid-1880s (Switzer 1974; Zumwalt 1980; Deiss 1981; Gerth 2006; empirical observations).  Being a container for relatively perishable food products, these bottles were usually discarded shortly after use though as with most bottles during that era, re-use was variably common (Busch 1987; click HERE to view this reference).  Like with the gothic peppersauce bottles covered earlier, these type pickle bottles also were made in square and hexagonal versions as well as with scores of different and often very subtle decorative design differences.

Early gothic pickle from the 1850s; click to enlarge.One of the earliest of the gothic pickle styles are the bottles like pictured to the right.  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  These distinctively squatty (wider in the body than later examples) gothic pickles are attributed to the West Willington Glass Works (CT) and are referred to by collectors as "Willington pickles." However, these gothic bottles could have been made at other glass works in the Northeast including Connecticut as well as Stoddard (NH) and those in the South Jersey and Philadelphia area.  In fact, examples identical in form to the pictured one (though amber in color) are attributed to the Westford Glass Works, Westford, CT. (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  These bottles are pontil scared, have the type typical rolled and tooled one-part "bead finishes" (described more below) and were most likely blown in a key or hinge mold (actual examples have not been observed closely by the author).  These bottles date from approximately the early to mid-1840s to mid-1850s.

The two sizes (9" and 7.5") of small but highly ornate gothic pickle bottles pictured in the upper left corner of this section are among the most ornate of all gothic food bottles (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Gerth 2006).  (Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.)  Both have elaborate crisscross lattice work in the large lower body and smaller shoulder panels on three sides; the fourth side had the label and does not have the lattice.  Both have iron or improved pontil scars on the base, typical (for the style) rolled and tooled one-part "bead" finishes, lack any evidence of mold air venting, and were blown in key base (hinge) molds.  These bottles are known to date from 1865 as they were recovered from the Steamship Republic© which sank off the coast of Georgia during late October of 1865.  Fragmental examples of gothic pickle bottles with this particular ornate design were found on the site of the Crowleytown Glass Works (aka Atlantic Glass Works) in New Jersey indicating that these bottles were likely made at that location which was in operation from 1851 to 1866.  This glass works burned down in 1866 - a common fate for 18th and 19th century glass houses - and was not rebuilt (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  This style is also commonly found on Civil War campsites (Russell 1998).  Similar/identical examples of the smaller bottle were also found on the Steamship Bertrand (which sank in April 1865) still inside the original intact packing cases which indicated the bottles contained honey (Switzer 1974).

Cathedral or gothic pickle from the 1860s; click to enlarge.The relatively ornate, square pickle bottle pictured to the left was most likely made between 1860 and 1870.  It was blown in a post-bottom mold (an unusual square mold post plate) with no evidence of air venting and has no evidence of a pontil scar on the base.  It also has a type-typical rolled finish which was formed by reheating glass at the shearing or cracking-off point and then rolling the pliable glass out and back on the extreme upper part of the neck with some type of glassworkers tool.  It is sometimes hard to tell on these type finishes if it was formed from separately applied glass or by just working the reheated existing glass at the blowpipe removal point.  In the case of this pickle bottle (and all the square ones pictured on this page) there is no evidence of the interface edge that one usually (but not always) can see or feel when separate glass was applied.  This particular bottle has decorative "pillars" on the sides of the large body panels near the corners with a "capital" or crowning feature at the top of the "pillar" - a feature more typical of many earlier (pre-1870 or so) gothic pickles.  Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle: base view showing the unusual square post-molded base conformation with beveled corners; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.

Cathedral pickle bottle in aqua colored glass; click to enlarge.The pint+ sized gothic pickle bottle to the right is typical of examples which date from the middle era of the gothic design popularity era, i.e., approximately 1865 to 1880.  This particular bottle has a rolled (possibly applied?) bead type single part finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold (round post plate like most gothic pickles), lacks evidence of mold air venting, and is somewhat crude in manufacture (e.g., wavy uneven glass, bubbles in the glass, lumpy crude finish).  The complexity of molded decorative elements on this bottle are typical of gothic pickle bottles from the middle of the popularity era (it was almost certainly manufactured later than all of the examples pictured above) in that it has similar shoulder and upper panel decorative embossing of the earlier bottles but does not have the decorative body panel side pillars/crown that the previous two examples have, though it must be noted that not all earlier gothic pickles have that feature either.  This is keeping with the observation that as the last third of the 19th century progressed the complexity of design decreased on gothic bottles in general.  Click on the following links to view more images of this pickle bottle:  base view showing the round base plate indentation; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish showing the relatively crude rolled or applied finish.

Hexagonal pickle bottle from the 1880s or 1890s; click to enlarge.The very large (13" tall with an approximate 1.5 gallon capacity) hexagonal pickle bottle to the far left was a common gothic shape made by numerous bottle makers for an extended period of time.  The pictured illustration is from the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog and is almost identical in shape (and size) including the shoulder design and the "scallop" effect at the bottom of the indented body panels.  These large bottles with their makers mark (I. G. Co.) on the base have been noted by the author although the pictured example does not have base markings and was likely made by another glass company.

Virtually identical examples of these large pickle bottles with M. G. Co. embossed on the base and tooled finishes have also been noted by the author.  These bottles were most likely made by the Mississippi Glass Co. (St. Louis, Mo.; 1874-1920+) or possibly the Millgrove Glass Co. (Millgrove, IN.; 1891-1911) near the turn of the 19th to 20th century (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart unpublished manuscripts; empirical observations).  Apparently, this particular style was made by an assortment of different glass companies and originated at least as early as the late 1860s and continued until at least 1911 as mouth-blown items; the author has observed neither pontil scarred nor machine-made versions (Fairmount Glass Works 1910; Cumberland Glass Co. 1911; Illinois Glass Co. 1911; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Zumwalt 1980).  Click on the following links to view more images of the above pictured bottle:  base view; close-up of the label; close-up of the upper neck, shoulder, and applied finish.
 


Dating summary/notes:  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  However, some type specific dating observations are possible: 

  • Pontil scars: Gothic pickle (and similar fancy food bottles) appear to have a relatively wide range of transition from pontil scarred to non-pontil scarred bases (i.e., from the use of pontil rods to snap case tools), based on the information from several precisely dated shipwrecks.  Specifically, some "luxury" food bottles including "pale-green preserve jars" and a "fluted pickle jar" from the James Mathews, which sank of the coast of Australia in 1841, were reported to be not pontil scarred (Boow 1991).  However, items on that ship were almost certainly not American made.  Conversely, many gothic pickle bottles found on the Steamship Republic© which sank off the coast of Georgia in October of 1865 exhibit iron or improved pontil scarred bases, including the ones pictured above (Gerth pers. comm. 2007).  However, none of the gothic pickle bottles on the Steamship Bertrand - which sank about 7 months earlier on April 1, 1865 - were reported to be pontil scarred though a few other food bottle types were (Switzer 1974).  This likely supports the notion that the pickle bottles from the two American ships were the products of different glass companies which had different transition times for the switch to snap case tools.  However (as seen throughout this website, bottle dating/identification contains lots of "howevers"), the noted "honey" gothic bottles common to both ships were pontiled on the later shipwreck (Republic©) and not on the earlier ship (Bertrand).  The point here is that the transition time from pontil rods to snap case tools was long and glassmaker (and maybe regionally) specific.
  • Body diameter:  Analogous to gothic pepper sauce bottles, there was a trend over time for the body width of square gothic pickle type bottles to narrow slightly.  That is, the earliest square examples (approx. 1840 to 1855; pictured earlier) tend to be noticeably wider and squattier in the body compared to later examples which are slimmer.  (This is a trend that was common with many bottles types [e.g., liquor, beer, soda bottles].)  This subtle trend is shown reasonably well in a comparison of this sections photos.  Although this trend is real and can be observed, it is a dating diagnostic feature hard to apply without extensive experience with these type bottles.
  • Large pickle bottles from the 1860-1880 era; click to enlarge.Gothic pickles from the 1875 to 1885 era; click to enlarge.Decorative features:  There is a noticeable - though surely not absolute - trend towards less ornate embossing for square gothic pickles as time progressed during the last third of the 19th century.  More specifically, a trend towards simplification in the form of an absence of the pillar and crown feature on the body panel edges seemed to have occurred sometime in the 1870s; gothic pickles after that time rarely if ever have that feature.  This appears to have been followed in the late 1870s or early 1880s with the general loss of the decorative details in the upper portions of the body panels, although the author has noted some earlier pontiled (blowpipe and iron styles) examples (1850s-1860s) that also have such simplified decorative features.  (Remember, just about nothing in the historic bottle world is absolute!)  These typically later examples (bluish aqua bottle on the left side of the left image above) have simplified to the point that the only gothic decorative features - besides the peaked body panels - are on the shoulders framing the arching top of those panels, including a fleur de les like detail at the highest point.  The paler aqua 1870s example to the right of the previous bottle has the decorative upper body panel embossing but no panel edge pillar/crown decorative features like the 1860s bottle to the right side of the right picture.  All four of the pictured gothic pickle bottles are approximately 11" to 11.5" in height, were blown in post-bottom molds with no evidence of air venting, and have rolled (possibly applied on the latest bottle) bead finishes.  The approximate age of these bottles (from left to right)  is early to mid-1880s, 1870s, 1865 to 1875, and early to mid 1860s.  Click close-up of gothic decorations to view a close-up of the two older bottles which points out the decorative panel edge pillar and crown feature as well as other decorative features. (Note: This decorative simplification trend has not been noted for the large hexagonal gothic pickles which stayed surprisingly similar for upwards of 50 years, i.e., 1860s to early 1910s.)
  • Finish manufacture:  Hexagonal mouth-blown gothic pickles, which appear to have been manufactured later (into the early 1910s) than the square examples, have applied finishes if made prior to about 1890-1895 and tooled finishes after that period.  This is in keeping with the bottle style specific finishing observation that larger bottles (10" and taller or with wide bodies) tended to move from true applied finishes to tooled finishes later than small to medium sized bottles.  Square gothic pickles appear to have all but disappeared during the 1880s and all examples observed by the author had rolled or applied finishes (empirical observations).  It should be noted that square bodied pickle bottles continued to be extremely popular after that time though appear to rarely (if ever) have molded gothic decorative features after the late 1880s.  (Square, non-gothic pickle bottles are discussed after the round ones below.)

 

Cylindrical/round styles

Late 19th century olive bottle or jar; click to enlarge.1860s tintype of food merchants; click to enlarge.Glass makers also offered a fairly wide assortment of different cylindrical or round glass vessels designed for bulky food products during the 19th through mid-20th century.  The cigar smoking entrepreneurs in the ca. 1860s American tintype to the right are proudly displaying their product - pickles or "chow chow" (a pickled vegetable mix) - which were bottled in cylindrical jars similar to some of those in this section.  (Photo from eBay®.)  Some idea of the variety offered can be seen in the 1906 Illinois Glass Co. catalog, where many cylindrical food bottles (the most common general shape in the catalog) are scattered throughout the food bottles section between pages 186 and 232.  Click 1906 IGCo. Catalog to view these pages.

These cylindrical food bottles/jars all share the binding elements of having bodies that are round in cross-section with relatively parallel sides, and like the other general styles listed in this section, had relatively wide mouths (bores) to facilitate the packing and removal of the products contained within.  The more or less one quart sized example to the left is quite typical of the cylindrical food bottle type - large bodied, relatively short necked with a wide bore and simple one-part finish, though later machine-made examples (late 1910s and later) had external screw thread finishes.  These types of bottles/jars potentially held a wide assortment of variously preserved foods with most of the contents usually dried, pickled (sometimes in alcohol) or cured with later (20th century) more reliably sealing examples sterilized, vacuum or otherwise hermetically (airtight) sealed (Bender 1986).  It should be noted that regular canning/fruit jars were often used by commercial food packers to contain and distribute their wares during the last half of the 19th century until well into the 20th century.  Food packers "...recognized the value of offering the consumer a re-usable home canning jar along with their product" (Caniff 1997).  Canning jars are covered later on this page.

Early to mid-19th century wide mouth "food" jar; click to enlarge.Early 19th century food bottle or jar; click to enlarge.The earliest cylindrical food jars used in the U. S. were like the two pictured to the right. The dark olive green jar pictured to the immediate right is an early American (or European made) generic food jar that likely dates from sometime between the late 18th century through the first third of the 19th century (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  Another early - though likely mid-19th century (1840-1860) - utility or generic aqua food jar is pictured to the far right.  Click base view to see the blowpipe type pontil scar on the base of that jar.  Both jars were either free-blown or dip molded (no body mold seams in evidence), have pontil scarred bases, crudely tooled and/or rolled finishes, and an overall crudeness that bespeaks an early 19th century heritage.  These jars were most likely sealed with a large cork and wax, though could have been sealed with other primitive methods as outlined early on the Bottle Closures page.

The moderately wide mouth quart+ bottle/jar noted earlier - and pictured to the above left - is labeled (no body embossing) as having been used for "Crown Brand Queen Olives" by the S. S. Pierce Co. of Boston, MA.  This was a large Boston based food packing company (of which there were many) that was established as a corner grocery store in 1831 and quickly blossomed to "Importers and Grocers" producing and importing scores of products; they were still in business as late as 1980 (Zumwalt 1980).  This style was called an "English chow," "English pickle," or "chow chow" by bottle makers though was obviously used for other foods (Illinois Glass Co. 1906; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916).  This particular jar has an applied, one-part "wide packer" (or "wide patent") finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold, and has single shoulder air venting marks on each side.  Larger bottles like this were made with these diagnostic features (the applied finish & post-bottom mold conformation) into the 1890s or even early 1900s (particularly if the jar was imported) which was much later than other smaller, narrower bore bottles.  This item likely dates from between the late 1880s and 1900.  Variations of this type cylindrical bottle/jar were used for a myriad of preserved foods from (or before) the early 19th century (e.g., dark olive green bottle pictured above) until well into the 20th century.  Jars used today for pickled products trace their heritage to these type items.  Click on modern olive jar to see a late 20th century manifestation that was used for olives, but is very similar to other bottles/jars used for pickles and many other food products.  Click on the following links for more views of the S. S. Pierce olive bottle: base view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish showing the somewhat crudely applied one-part finish.

Ca. 1900 tall mouth-blown olive bottle; click to enlarge.The tall olive bottle to the left is product labeled indicating it contained "Queen Olives" and was produced by Francis H. Leggett & Co. (New York).  The company began business in 1870 and also continued until at least 1980 (Zumwalt 1980).  The base has the embossing F. H. L. & CO. / N. Y.  for the F. H. Leggett Co. and is an example of base embossing that without the label would be hard to determine otherwise; it could also possibly be construed as a bottle makers marking.  This bottle has a tooled one-part finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold with no obvious evidence of mold air venting, and is somewhat crudely made (e.g., bubbles in the glass, stretch marks on the shoulder/neck, wavy glass).  These diagnostic features would indicate a probable manufacturing date between the mid to late-1880s to mid to late-1890s.  However, this bottle design with the ribbed lower body was patented by Leggett on February 26th, 1889 giving a good begin date (i.e., "terminus post quem") for this particular style.  Other examples of these tall bottles have the actual patent date embossed on the base (Caniff 1997).  Click Leggett patent 1889 to see that patent.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view (embossing is minimally visible); close-up of the neck and tooled finish showing the tooled one-part finish.  Similar items were offered by many bottle makers who called them an "taper olive," "obelisk olive," "vase olive," "queen olive," "tall round olive," and other names (Illinois Glass Co. 1903; Fairmount Glass Works 1910).  View the Illinois Glass Company offerings at this link - IGCo. 1906 catalog pages 196-197.

1920s olive bottle; click to enlarge.The tall, narrow bottle pictured to the right represents a very common olive bottle style that appears to have originated in the very early 1900s - or possibly late 1890s - and was popular through at least the early 1930s.  It was referred to by bottle makers as the "New York Style Olive," "Chicago Cylinder Olive," or more generically as "Footed Cylinder Olive" and came in many sizes (as many as 14 sizes!) from about 3 oz. to over 28 oz. (Illinois Glass Co. 1906; Kearns-Gorsuch 1916).  The footed olive style is typified by being tall and narrow (4+ times taller than the diameter), having a slight though visibly flaring heel, and a distinct constriction ridge or shoulder at the subtle transition from the body to the neck; see image to the left.  The finish was also usually a one part "flared" finish which was corked or utilized some type of cap though later ones (late 1920s to 1930s) had external screw threads and other types of finish/closure combinations were also utilized occasionally (Kearns-Gorsuch 1916).  Click Dandy Lunch Olives to see an early (1910-1925) machine-made example that has the original label indicating that it was packed with olives by the Durand & Kasper Company (Chicago, IL.) who began business in the early 1890s (Zumwalt 1980).

This style first seems to have appeared as a late mouth-blown item although machine-made examples are much more commonly encountered and likely first occurred around 1905.  This wide mouth style is a type most easily adapted to the new semi-automatic machines that were becoming increasingly common in the early 1900s (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1906).  The footed olive appears to have continued into at least the early 1930s, though seem to be uncommon after that time as other more straight, uninterrupted sided (with no shoulder constriction ridge) styles became more popular (Fairmount Glass ca. 1930; Lucas County Bottle Co. ca. 1940s).  The pictured example is machine-made and has a slight "straw" tint indicating that selenium and/or arsenic was used as the glass decolorizer.  It also has the "H over an A" makers mark for the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company (Wheeling, WV) which began using that mark in 1923 and continued until at least the mid-1960s (Lockhart unpublished manuscript 2007).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the Hazel-Atlas makers mark and a "6" which may (or may not) be a date code for 1926; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish.  For an example of a similar mouth-blown example (ca. 1900-1910), with vertical ribbing on the flared heel/lower body and company embossing, click on BANQUET BRAND / CHARLES GULDEN N.Y. (which is also embossed in a square on the lower body) which was produced by that large New York food and condiments company (Zumwalt 1980).

During the era covered by this website, there were likely many hundreds if not thousands of uniquely different cylindrical food bottles produced by glass makers in the U. S.  Coverage of all the types is (of course) impossible though the following includes some additional images/information about a few other styles of round pickle/preserved food bottles to show some of that additional variety:

  • Early 20th century pickle jar; click to enlarge.Eastman Brand Pickles - This quart (approx.) labeled jar is essentially a chow chow type that was used for pickles packed by J. P. & D. Plummer (Boston, MA.).  It is very similar to the labeled olive jar pictured at the beginning of this section (and almost identical to the bottles in the tintype) though this example has a tooled one-part finish and was blown in a cup-bottom mold with three air venting marks on both the front and back shoulders and on the base.  These manufacturing related diagnostic features indicate a late mouth-blown manufacture of between about 1900 and 1915, though no information on the company itself is available to check that estimate against.  Click base view to see such which shows an embossed mold number (742) of no meaningful utility today.  American glass makers also referred to jars shaped like this as "English pickle" bottles (Flaccus late 1890s; Illinois Glass Co. 1903).
  • Early 20th century English food bottle; click to enlarge.English chow chow - This is a typical example of a ubiquitous English made bottle type that is very commonly found on U. S. historic sites.  It has a crudely applied one-part finish and was blown in a cup-bottom mold with no evidence of air venting.  These type bottles appear to have been made in a similar fashion for an extended period of time, i.e., from at least as early as the 1870s until at least the mid-1910s (empirical observations).  These jars commonly held chow chow but were also used for other food products.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle/jar:  base view with the typical - though highly variable - numbers and/or letters markings common to these English bottles; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish showing the crudely applied finish.   Click Crosse & Blackwell chow chow bottle to see an identical bottle with the original label from this venerable English company which began in 1706 and is reportedly still doing business today (Zumwalt 1980; Caniff 1997).  Many (but not all) of the mouth-blown bottles used by Crosse & Blackwell have C & B embossed on the base, the same physical manufacturing related features as the pictured bottle to the right, and date from the same period noted above (Toulouse 1971).  Click Crosse & Blackwell chow chow without base embossing to view an example found in Montana that has a fragmental label indicating use by Crosse & Blackwell but without C & B embossed on the base. (Photo courtesy of Scott Snyder.)
  • Late 19th or early 20th century pickle bottles; click to enlarge.Green barrel food bottles - The pair of bright emerald green 10-11" tall bottles/jars are from the late 19th or early 20th century.  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  These types are often referred to as pickle bottles, though were likely used for various small to medium sized food products that would fit through the moderately wide mouth.  The maker(s) of this bottle type is unknown as similar items were not found in the bottle makers catalogs available to the author.  It is quite possible that these bottles are of foreign origin.
  • W. K. LEWIS & Co. / BOSTON - That wording is embossed on the shoulder of a relatively fancy and early food bottle that has an applied one-part bead finish, iron pontil mark on the base, and was likely blown in a post-bottom mold which was certainly not air vented given the early manufacture of this item, i.e., ca. 1855-1865.   (Photos from eBay®.)  The W. K. Lewis Company began business about 1847 and continued until at least 1900 (Zumwalt 1980).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the iron or improved pontil mark; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish showing the bead finish which was likely applied not rolled as evidenced by the significant glass "slop" on the upper neck.
  • Vase, Fluted or California Olive - These were the names given to several slightly different versions of the same basic style of bottle - as shown in the image to the right - by the Illinois Glass Company in their early 20th century catalogs (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1911).  The name "Vase Olive" is particularly apt as the bottle does resemble a vase.  The pictured bottle is body labeled with "Selected Queen Olives, Central Union Ass'n., New Bedford, Mass." with the neck label indicating that their products were "Always Reliable."  This bottle/jar was mouth-blown in a cup-bottom mold with no obvious air venting in evidence and a tooled flared finish.  This combination of diagnostic characteristics make the bottle difficult to date though a composite of the usual date ranges for these particular features would point towards manufacture in the 1890s.  No information on the producer was located in the bottle literature though the Central Union Association of New Bedford was an early cooperative producer and/or consumer trade union - probably of a utopian slant - formed in 1848 to better market products and/or get better prices on consumer goods for its members (Perlman 1922).
  • Wide mouth panel jar - The actual use of this machine-made food jar is unknown, though olives, pickles, honey, preserves, or even butter are all possibilities.  It has 14 narrow flattened vertical panels that comprise the body, parallel sides with a slightly flaring heel, and is essentially a body with a finish on top - no distinct neck or shoulder.  The body is similar to some jars in mid-20th century bottle catalogs that were noted as "Round Paneled Preserve" (Illinois Glass Co. 1920), "Tall Fluted Jar" (Fairmount Glass Works 1930s), and "Honey Jars (Lucas County Bottle Co. ca. 1940s).  However, without the original label it is impossible to tell what this specific bottle was used for.  The base does have the "IPG in a triangle" makers mark for the Illinois Pacific Glass Corporation (San Francisco, CA.) which the company used from 1926 to 1930 providing a very tight date range for the bottle (Lockhart et al. 2005d).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the makers mark and the number "8" (possibly a date code for 1928); close-up of the upper body and neck showing the square one-part finish that likely accepted some type of metal cap like the Phoenix.
  • More examples will be added in the future as there are many types of commonly encountered cylindrical food bottles...

Dating summary/notes: Like many other (but not all) bottle types listed on this page, the general dating of cylindrical pickle/preserved food bottles or jars can not be done based on shape alone.  Instead, it must be done based on manufacturing based diagnostic features (like found throughout this website) and/or through research of the historical record when possible with company embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.

 

Square/rectangular (non-gothic) styles

Early 20th century pickle bottle; click to enlarge.In addition to a myriad of cylindrical pickle/preserved food bottle styles, bottle makers also offered a wide variety of square and rectangular pickle/preserved food bottles over most of the time period covered by this website, i.e., the 19th through mid-20th century.  This group of food bottles also share the binding elements of having bodies that, besides being square or rectangular (with variably flattened or sometimes concave/convex sides), are relatively voluminous with at least moderately wide mouths (bores) to facilitate the packing and removal of the bulky products contained.  Some feel for the variety of this category can be found in the 1906 Illinois Glass Co. catalog - particularly on pages 186 to 193.  Click 1906 IGCo. Catalog to view those pages.  (Square is also the most common cross-section shape for gothic pickle bottles - a category covered earlier.)

The earliest (i.e., first half of the 19th century) distinctly sided pickle/preserved food bottles or jars were produced in a similar fashion as the earliest cylindrical food jars noted in the previous section except with distinctly formed sides to make them square.  Early rectangular bodied, wide mouth food bottles/jars are unknown to the author, though likely exist since just anything that could be done - regarding the shapes of bottles - was done at some point although having a wide mouth on a rectangular body would be an awkward conformation (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Van den Bossche 2001).  Although less commonly encountered than cylindrical versions, the earliest square food jars were typically dip molded, very crude with pontil scarred bases and had minimally worked or manipulated flared or rolled finishes, similar to the jars described in the cylindrical section above.

As an example, the approximately quart sized bottle/jar pictured to the right is a European made (Belgium, Holland, or Germany) wide-mouth food bottle that was blown in a dip mold typically used for making case gin bottles.  However, the bore (with a wide, flat cork in place) was manually widened and flared outwards with glass makers tools to form a square, wide mouth jar.  (Forgive the poor picture off the internet.)  These type 18th/early 19th century bottles were used to contain various food products (e.g., brandied fruits, preserved vegetables) as well as other non-food products (pharmaceuticals powders and liquids, liquor, probably tobacco) and are sometimes found on Colonial or early American historic sites (Van den Bossche 2001).  Click wide mouth case bottle base to see the tubular blowpipe type pontil scar on the base.

Probably the most common general shape for square, mouth-blown, non-gothic style pickle bottles are illustrated by the bottles pictured to the left above and below.  These bottles are relatively tall and moderate in body diameter, have four flattened body sides that have rounded arching tops, a steep inwardly tapering shoulder that stops at a relatively wide, bulging ring forming the base of the neck.  Above this neck ring the short (compared to the body height) but relatively wide vertically parallel neck terminates at a horizontally narrow one-part finish - usually a bead or wide patent/packer finish.  These pickle bottles are obviously similar to the gothic examples discussed earlier except that they have none of the decorative features the gothic bottles have, including an absence of indented body panels.  This simplified square style appears to have gradually displaced the square gothic bottles during the 1880s (empirical observations).  This style went under an assortment of glass maker proprietary mold names like the "Standard," "American" or "Tennessee style" pickle (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1920; Fairmount Glass Works 1910), "Batty style" (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880, 1896, 1902), "Baltimore style" (Swindell Bros. 1902; Robert Alther 1909; Thomas Wightman Glass Co. ca. 1900) or simply a "square pickle jar" (Hagerty Bros. 1898; Whitney Glass Works 1902; Cumberland Glass 1911).  For simplicity, these are called ring-neck pickles - a term used by collectors for the style.  Sizes ranged from about half a pint (8 oz.) to a "gallon" size, which is what the Illinois Glass Company called their largest size in 1903, though noted it only held 64 oz, i.e., half a gallon.  The size name being significantly larger than the actual capacities was known as a "scant" size, with the matching of the name and the capacity being a "full measure" size (Thomas Wightman Glass ca. 1900; empirical observations).

Late 19th century pickle bottle; click to enlarge.The aqua, square, labeled 9" tall ring-neck pickle to the above left notes on the label that it was "packed by" Sebastian Duncan, Jr. & Co. (New York) - company history unknown.  This bottle has a tooled wide patent or packer finish with a 1.75" bore for the packing/extraction of the relatively small pickles that it must have contained.  It was blown in a cup-bottom mold indicating that it was likely an early 20th century (1900 to mid-1910s) mouth-blown item.  Observations by the author of mouth-blown pickle bottles has indicated that those made after about 1895 usually have a cup-bottom mold conformation; those made prior to that time usually have a post-bottom mold conformation.  (See the Bottle Bases page for more information.)  Click on view of the base and sides to view the base and sides showing (vaguely) the cup-bottom mold conformation.  (Photos from eBay®.)

The very tall (13.5"), square ring-neck pickle bottle pictured to the left is larger than average though otherwise a typical mouth-blown example from the late 19th century.  It has a crudely applied bead finish and was blown in a post-bottom mold (air venting status unknown) indicating manufacture between about 1880 and 1895.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the post-bottom mold conformation (the two side-to-base continuation mold seams, typical of a post-bottom molded bottle, are visible in the upper left and lower right corners of the base just outside the round post plate depression); close-up of the shoulder, ring-neck and bead finish showing the relatively crudely applied finish.  (Photos from eBay®.)

By the mid-1910s or so the ring-neck pickle bottles were being machine-made and by the late 1910s to early 1920s the cork closure type finishes were on the way out and the style was being offered with more modern finishes/closures including external screw threads/cap and various non-threaded metal cap types like the Spring Top closure, Phoenix Cap, and other modern closures (Kearns-Gorsuch Co. 1916; Illinois Glass Co. 1920).  These later bottles (post 1915-1920) are usually colorless glass with aqua glass generally disappearing with the advent of broad scale fully automatic machine manufacture, like with most bottle types.  After about the mid-1920s, different shapes - typically cylindrical or oval in cross-section - became more popular and the square, ring-neck pickle bottle largely disappeared (Fairmount ca. 1930; Lucas Co. Bottle Co. ca. 1940s).

Early 20th century pickle bottle; click to enlarge.The rectangular mouth-blown "sweet pickle" bottle pictured to the right has a tooled one-part finish, was blown in a cup-bottom mold, and has some mold air venting in evidence - all of which would indicate a 1900 to 1915 manufacture.  In addition, the base is embossed with K. G. B. Co. which indicates manufacture by the Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. (Zanesville, OH.) who specialized in "Packers' Ware."  This style bottle was called a "plain oblong" by that company and was available with a choice of finishes including external screw threads (Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Toulouse 1971).  This bottle has a finish that appears to be able to accept a capseat closure.  However, Kearns-Gorsuch produced a proprietary closure for food bottles that they called the "Spring Top" closure.  It was designed to fit the type of finish on this bottle, which otherwise looks like a capseat finish.  This closure was patented in 1899 and consisted of a round glass lid with a rubber seal that fit into the "capseat" ledge, all of which was held in place by a spring clip went over the top of glass lid and hooked under the lower edge of the finish (Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916).  Click spring top closure to view the pages from the 1916 Kearns-Gorsuch catalog that illustrate this closure.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the embossing K. G. B. Co.; side view; close-up of the shoulder, neck and capseat finish.

Examples similar to the rectangular, ring-neck style pictured to the left were also made by most other food bottle making glass companies from the late 19th century until the mid-20th century; with even more modern versions of these bottles still made today.  What varies is the method of manufacture (machine-made after the early to mid 1910s) and the finish, which in later years tended towards external screw threads or other types that accepted metal caps as noted for the square bottle above.  For example the Illinois Glass Company's ca. 1920 catalog offered their "oblong pickle" (very similar to the pictured bottle) which could supplied with a choice of the "American Metal Cap, Dunkley, Phoenix, and Square Ring Finish."  Click IGCo. 1920 catalog - page 93 to view this and several other machine made pickle bottle offerings by the company in the early 1920s including the "oblong pickle" with an external screw thread finish.  The Fairmount Glass Works offered the same basic shape ("flat oblong pickle jar") in their early 1930s catalog with a wide mouth "crown finish."  That company also offered a similar item as the "American Horseradish" with an external screw thread finish (Fairmount Glass ca. 1930).  It should be noted that this style was often used for horse radish; a subject covered earlier on this page.

During the era covered by this website, there were likely many hundreds or even several thousand different square and rectangular food bottles produced by glass makers in the U. S.  Coverage of all the types is impossible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about other styles of square and rectangular pickle/preserved food bottles to show some of that additional variety:

  • Late 19th century small pickle bottle; click to enlarge.Obelisk Brand Pickles - This colorless bottle is embossed horizontally on one panel with OBELISK / BRAND / TRADE (image of an Egyptian obelisk with palm trees) MARK / PICKLES/ BEACH & SHERWOOD / N. Y.  The Beach & Sherwood partnership began about 1876 - the merging of a pickling concern and vinegar maker - and lasted through at least the late 1880s, though Sherwood was also noted to be an "importer" in 1893 (Zumwalt 1980).  This example is just under 6" (15 cm) tall, has a tooled, one-part wide (for it's small size) patent finish, and was blown in a cup-bottom mold with some evidence of air venting incorporated into the embossing pattern.  These characteristics would strongly indicate an early 20th century manufacture (1900 into the mid-1910s) implying that the Zumwalt history may be accurate but not complete, although a search of the internet found no additional information on the company or the brand.  However, the obelisk trade mark is almost certainly a representation of "Cleopatra's Needle" - a 3500 year old Egyptian obelisk transferred to New York City and erected in Central Park in 1881.
  • More examples to be added in the future...

Dating summary/notes: Like many other (but not all) bottle types listed on this page, the general dating of square and rectangular pickle/preserved food bottles or jars can not be done based on shape alone.  Instead, it must be done based on manufacturing related diagnostic features (like found throughout this website) and/or through research of the historical record when possible with company embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows quite well the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.

 

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Canning Jars

Mid to late 19th century unusual fruit jar closures; click to enlarge.This section on canning/fruit jars (usually just called "canning jars" here) is organized by the most important feature of this extensive category: the sealing closure.  Canning jars were acquired by consumers in several different ways.  The most common way was likely outright purchase for home canning use.  A lesser known though likely significant way of getting into the home was that canning jars were also frequently purchased by the food packing trade and sold to consumers with various food products packed inside.  Food packers "...recognized the value of offering the consumer a re-usable home canning jar along with their product" so canning jars were also frequently commercial food containers (Caniff 1997).  Click on the following links to see an example of a LAFAYETTE fruit jar (an example is pictured to the far right in the image above) that was used by a food packer for pickles: view of the entire jar with embossing towards the camera; view of the label on the reverse; view of the bead style finish without the closure.  (The New York company of Alart & McGuire - the packer who utilized this jar - operated under that business name from 1880 to at least 1920 [Zumwalt 1980]. This jar type dates from the first half of that period as it was first patented in 1884 and was likely produced no later than the 1890s as it is fairly rarely encountered [Leybourne 2001].)

This section covers the most commonly encountered canning jar/closure types, although at the end of this section is a table with several dozen links to images of different jars/closures made during the second half of the 19th century to provide users a feel for the immense variations possible.  As an example, the jar group image above shows a small assortment of unusual mid to late 19th century closures.  (Photo courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)  In general, all canning jars typically share three binding attributes: a very wide mouth/bore, a proportionally tall body and short neck, and some type of (hopefully) air tight sealing closure (Toulouse 1969a; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  An extremely large majority of canning jars are also cylindrical (round in cross-section) as that is the strongest shape all things being otherwise equal, e.g., same glass thickness and quality (Tooley 1953; Glass Industry 1959).  There are exceptions of course, including some square jars and even those that were multi-paneled, ranging from 6 to 12 sides.  Square bodied jars (with rounded off corners) were almost exclusively a 20th century feature, with just a very few late 19th century exceptions (Roller 1983; Creswick 1987).

Canning jars are a class of utilitarian bottles that were often produced by somewhat different methods and/or timelines compared to most other utilitarian bottles of a given era.  For example, canning jars were almost certainly the first glass containers to be commonly made by machines (semi-automatic) beginning in the early to mid 1890s.  The following is a list of manufacturing based diagnostic features - including the estimated dating ranges - that illustrate these differences and help with canning jar dating:

  • Applied finishes were used on fruit jars - primarily the groove ring wax seal (aka "pressed laid-on ring") discussed first below - a bit later than commonly used on most types of other bottles, i.e., until at least the early 1890s (Creswick 1987).  Applied finishes were increasingly uncommon (and replaced by tooled finishes) on most other bottle types beginning in the late 1870s for smaller bottles and the mid-1880s for larger bottles.  (This subject is discussed in depth on the Bottle Finishes page.)
  • Nineteenth century mouth-blown canning jars - produced without the previously discussed applied finishes - were certainly the most common glass containers to have a ground rim (ground top surface) to the finish.  This was largely due to the finish and/or the portion of the jar immediately below the finish (i.e., threads, lugs, bands, rings, shoulder) needing to be uniformly molded in order to accommodate the particular closure method.  This required blowing the jar with a blow-over method that left a rough and sharp surface at the burst-off removal point (i.e., the finish rim) which then needed grinding down to complete the "finishing" process.  This finish completion method was common on fruit jars as early as the earliest Mason jars (late 1850s) and continued until at least the early 1910s (Toulouse 1969a).  Ground rims on other types of mouth-blown bottles were largely a late 19th (1880s and later) to early 20th century (mid to late 1910s) attribute and most commonly (but not exclusively) observed on liquor flasks (usually just above molded external screw threads), inks, and ointment jars made during that period.  See the "ground finish" discussion on the Bottle Finish Types or Styles page for more information.  Click on the following link to view an 1888 patent for a "Glass-Grinding Machine" which shows a fruit jar in place having its rim ground down:  Patent #386,738 - Glass-Grinding Machine, July 24, 1888.
  • Mouth-blown canning jars were made in post-bottom molds distinctly later than most other bottle categories with the exception of heavier glass beer and soda bottles and larger storage bottles like carboys.  This is consistent with the observation that larger capacity and/or heavier bottles were produced in post-bottom molds into the the early 1900s whereas smaller and/or lighter bottles were largely shifting to cup base molds by the late 1870s (empirical observations).   See the "Bottle Type & Base Related Dating Notes" discussion on the Bottle Bases page for more information on this subject.
  • Mouth-blown canning jars also infrequently exhibit mold air venting marks, even during the later mouth-blown era (1890s to 1910s) when almost all other types of bottles commonly exhibit this feature (empirical observations).  Why this is so is not known for sure though is most likely due to jar molds having a large bore size, which entailed a large opening in the top of the mold, likely allowing the displaced mold air to easily escape during parison inflation by the bottle blower (gaffer).  One exception noted by the website author are the Globe canning jars which do have mold air venting in evidence; these jars are discussed later on this page.
  • Canning jars exhibiting many or most machine-made diagnostic features were among the first glass containers to be made by bottle making machines.  This is due to the earliest machines being press-and-blow machines - machines that could only physically accommodate wide-mouth items due to the use of a mechanical plunger to expand and partially form the initial parison.  Canning jars were first made by semi-automatic machines about 1893 although machines did not dominate jar production until about 1908-1910.  This was, however, significantly earlier than narrow neck ware was dominated by machine production which was not until the mid to late 1910s (Toulouse 1967; Miller & Sullivan 1981; Creswick 1987; Jones & Sullivan 1989; Cable 1999; Miller & McNichol 2002).  As an example of this conversion period, the Columbia type of canning/fruit jars were first produced as mouth-blown items with ground rims about 1896 or 1897; the glass cap and metal clip closure being first patented in December 1896.  A check of Illinois Glass Company (the maker of the jar) catalogs shows that the jars began production by semi-automatic machines sometime around 1907 since they are proudly listed in the "Machine-made Bottles" section in 1908.  The 1906 catalog had no special notation about the manufacture of the jars that year - an almost certain indication that they were still mouth-blown at that time (Illinois Glass Co. 1899, 1906, 1908, 1911; Creswick 1987).
Wax seal jars

Wax seal fruit jar from the 1870-1890 era; click to enlarge.Wax sealing glass food containers were reportedly first used for local home based food processing in Europe by 1814 and in the U.S. by the 1820's, though did not really catch on until the late 1830s or early 1840s (Toulouse 1969a; Bender 1986; Creswick 1987).  The simple round metal cap closure (images to right and left) is integrally linked with the groove ring wax seal finish. 

Wax sealer fruit jar with lid in place.These groove ring wax seal finishes, regardless of the specific manufacturing method used (discussed later), appear when looking down at the rim of the finish to be two circular and parallel ridges with an indented groove separating them.  This groove was called an "annular groove" by early glassmakers.  The rounded outside edge of the finish slopes down and towards the upper neck.  This finish is easier to visualize than describe; see the various images listed or linked in this section.  The aqua glass finish image below shows the groove structure of this finish type. 

This design allowed wax, wax-dipped string, or other sealing compounds to be placed into the groove.  While canning, a properly sized round metal cap (usually tin) with a turned down edge or "skirt" was then pressed into the warm wax to seal the jar.  Alternatively, the cap was first placed into the finish, then hot wax poured into the groove to seal.  Wax seal jars were sometimes sealed using a glass lid or large cork instead of the tin lid, though tin was much more common and likely cheaper and more reliable than porous cork (Toulouse 1969a; Jones & Sullivan 1989).  The image to the above right shows a typical metal cap in place within the groove, though without sealing wax.

Image of an 1880's fruit jar with a wax seal finish; click to enlarge.Wax seal jars were produced in quantity by scores of different glass companies throughout the U.S. primarily in quart and half-gallon sizes.  Though frequently maker, patent, and/or brand embossed like the pictured examples, wax seal jars are more commonly encountered with just a base makers mark embossing or without any useful - for identification - embossing (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).  The groove ring wax seal is most commonly seen on earlier fruit jars dating primarily from the early 1850s until about 1890, with the highest popularity between the 1850s and 1870s.   A notable exception to this dating is that several different varieties of groove-ring wax seal Ball Standard  jars were actually some of the earliest semi-automatic machine made jars, being first produced in 1896 continuing until about 1912 (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).  These jars exhibit machine-made diagnostic characteristics and are the only known wax seal jars made by machine (Creswick 1987); see the machine-made bottles portion of the dating key.  Click Ball Standard quart jar to view an example with a couple of the machine-made features pointed out, i.e., the neck ring seam and base valve mark.

Mouth-blown, groove ring wax seal finishes were produced in various different ways, although the manufacturing methods can be classified into two primary methods: one which entailed the use of applied glass near the point of blowpipe removal followed by tooling; the other primary method did not entail the use of applied glass, but instead utilized the glass present immediately below the blowpipe removal point which was manipulated when soft to form the finish.  These two methods are discussed separately below.

Finish forming tool from an 1856 patent; click to enlarge.Applied groove ring wax seal finish: The most commonly used method to produce the groove ring wax seal finish on canning jars was manufactured using glass applied to the jar just below the blowpipe detachment point; glass which was then tooled to shape while still hot and plastic.  This method is commonly called a "pressed laid-on ring" in canning jar terminology finish.

The illustration to the left is from an 1856 patent for a finishing tool that was used to form the applied, groove-ring finishes on wax seal canning jars.  This is thought by some to be the first patent for a finishing (aka "lipping") tool (Toulouse 1969b) although it was not a patent for an entire finishing tool - tools which were already in use and almost certainly not patentable.  Instead, the patent is for an improvement in such tools for producing the "groove" in the applied groove-ring finish (part "F" in the illustration formed the groove).  Click Amasa Stone's September 23, 1856 Patent #15,788 to see this entire original patent - illustrations and descriptive text.

The amber quart jar pictured at the beginning of this section (entire jar and close-up of the finish with cap in place) is an 1870s Standard (embossed STANDARD on the upper body) canning jar with a pressed laid-on ring finish and a tin cap in place.  (Photos courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)  This jar was blown in a post-bottom mold, is fairly crude with bubbly glass, and lacks evidence of air venting - all commensurate with the estimated date of manufacture.  Standard wax seal fruit jars were made by various makers in the Midwest and western Pennsylvania; the pictured example most likely being made by the Indianapolis Glass Works (Indianapolis, IN.) between 1870 and 1877.  Aqua is by far the most commonly encountered glass color for wax seal fruit jars with shades of amber uncommon and other colors (shades of olive and true greens, cobalt blue, black glass) very rarely seen (Creswick 1987).

 

An Interesting Western-made Applied Groove Ring Wax Seal Canning Jar Story

San Francisco Glass Works wax seal jar; click to enlarge.The quart, applied groove ring wax seal canning jar pictured to the right (finish close-up below left) is embossed with SAN FRANCISCO / GLASS WORKS.  This jar was also blown in a post-bottom mold, is fairly crude ("whittled" uneven bubbly glass), and lacks any evidence of mold air venting.  This glass company operated under this name from 1869 to 1876, although the jars from this mold were also likely produced as late as the early 1880s by the successor to that company - the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works (Toulouse 1971; Creswick 1987; Hinson 1995). 

One interesting aspect about this particular quart jar is that the mold used to make it was also used for an earlier and a later jar - both with different embossing, although this mold was not designed for an interchangeable embossing plate.  How did this happen?  A close inspection of the pictured jar shows that there is the faint impression of a arched blank filler plate covered area just above the SAN FRANCISCO embossing.  The first or original jar made with this mold was embossed in this now covered arch with CUTTING.AND.CO for the Cutting Packing Company (Zumwalt 1980).  This jar was certainly blown at the Pacific Glass Works (San Francisco, CA.) who were in business from 1862 to 1876, and not by the short lived Baker & Cutting bottle factory (also in San Francisco and the same Francis Cutting as the noted packing concern and the first glass factory in the American West) in business 1858-1859 (Zumwalt 1980).  Click on the following links to see images of the earlier jar (courtesy of American Bottle Auctions):  entire Cutting jar; close-up of the embossing

Image of an 1880's fruit jar with a wax seal finish; click to enlarge.After being used for a relatively lengthy period of production for the above pictured jar (with the words GLASS WORKS having been cut into the mold below the previously existing SAN FRANCISCO) the entire embossing pattern (i.e., SAN FRANCISCO / GLASS WORKS) was covered by another plate and the reverse half of the mold cut with M. SELLER & CO. / PORTLAND, O.  Click M. Seller quart jar to see the embossing side of this jar; the plate covered embossing areas on the now reverse side of the jar are too faint to photograph but are obvious upon actual examination.  The M. Seller quart jars were blown by the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works (1876-1902) in the early to mid-1880s and clearly shows the now three previous lines of embossing covered by two plates on what was now the reverse side of the jar.  This is a great example of the type of duty a mouth-blown mold could be put to with some adaptation.  It is also an example of potential mold life in that this mold saw duty for around a decade or so, i.e., from the early to mid 1870s to the mid 1880s (Toulouse 1971; Creswick 1987).

(Note: One further observation about these San Francisco made jars is that the original mold engraver or "mold cutter" for the Cutting jar and the mold cutter for the later two jars appear to be two different people as the style of the embossed lettering is distinctly different.  In particular, the later mold cutter was the one who made a distinctive "R' with an outwardly curving angled leg.  This "R" is a distinctive feature found on scores of different Western bottles that were almost certainly made at the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works between about 1876 and the mid-1880s, and possibly the latter days [early to mid 1870s] of one or both of the precursor glass companies [Pacific Glass Works and/or San Francisco Glass Works].  Click curved "R" to view an image of a late 1870s liquor flask with this feature pointed out and almost certainly "cut" by the same mold engraver as these jars.  Also look closely at the M. Seller jar image linked in the previous paragraph as two of these distinctive "R"s are clearly visible.)

Late 1850s patented quart canning jar.Non-applied glass groove ring wax seal finish: These less commonly encountered groove ring wax seal finishes were produced utilizing glass that was blown in the mold along with the rest of the jar - not applied after blowpipe removal.  Instead the glass just below the blowpipe removal point was manipulated with a special "former" tool (first jar) or mechanically via a mold part (second jar) when still in a plastic state (possibly reheated if necessary) to form the outer ring and annular groove.  A couple non-applied glass finish forming methods are discussed below as well as mention of the oldest method which was just manipulation with the blowpipe:

Close-up of the Air-Tight jar groove ring wax seal finish.1858 patent: The very early quart canning jar pictured to the left - finish to the right - was made by the Bridgeton Glass Works (Bridgeton, NJ) between the patent date of 1858 and about 1863 (Roller 2011).  It is embossed with four sets of horizontal triple rings evenly spaced on the shoulder, body and near the heel.  In between the rings it is embossed one side with POTTER & BODINE'S /AIR-TIGHT FRUIT JAR / PHILADA and on the other side with PATENTED / APRIL 13th 1858

The noted patent was granted to Joseph Borden of Bridgeton, NJ. who assigned it to David Potter and Francis Bodine who were the proprietors of the Bridgeton Glass Works.  This jar was blown with a purposefully molded "bulging ring" around the outside of the finish-to-be area, to which "...pressure (was) applied to the top of the jar and ring by means of a former which embraces the neck of the jar and enters the mouth..." which (to cut to the chase) compressed the molded projecting ring into the upwards flaring outer ring on the jar.  The patent claims various reasons this is an improvement over the previous methods which included the previously discussed applied "pressed laid-on ring" manufacturing method as well as the apparently oldest method of forming the groove by the simple application of downward pressure via the blowpipe while the jar was still hot from the mold (Creswick 1987).  Click Borden's 1858 patent to see the original patent which describes and illustrates how this finish was made.

This jar was blown in a post-base mold, has a pontil scarred base (a large disk or glass tipped type), is about 7" tall and 3.5" wide at the base, and is very crudely made reflecting its early manufacturing time. Click on the following links for more images of this jar: reverse side of the jar showing the patent date; view of the jar base; close-ups (close-up 1; close-up 2) of the disk or glass tipped pontil scar with various parts of it pointed out with arrows as it is hard to photograph well.

Hemingray patent jar; click to enlarge.1860 patent: The quart jar pictured to the right has a groove ring wax seal finish that was also produced by a different method not requiring the application of additional glass.  (Photo courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)  On many of these early groove ring type jars, the finish was formed by the gaffer adeptly pushing down on the blowpipe after forming the jar and removing it from the mold but before the glass had solidified.  The jar was then removed from the mold and removed from the blowpipe with the cracked-off inner ring usually ground down to complete the "finishing" (finish pictured below left). 

The pictured jar is embossed with PATENT / SEPT. 18, 1860 and is referred to as the "Hemingray jar" as Robert Hemingray - of Hemingray Brothers & Co. glass manufacturers (Covington, KY. 1862-1882) - was the holder of the patent for this jar mold and part owner of the company that produced it (Toulouse 1971; Creswick 1987).   Click R. Hemingray patent #30,063 to view the original 1860 patent.  According to the original patent description, this Hemingray jar finish was actually mechanically formed by the moveable upper portions of this unique patented mold, not by the gaffer pushing down with the blowpipe as described above.  (This unusual mold was also of the cup-bottom type - an rare configuration for this early of a jar.) 

Even with this manufacturing variation which replaced a mechanical process for gaffer manipulation skills, the finish formation still occurred before the blowpipe was actually cracked-off from the jar (U. S. Patent Office 1860).  View and read the linked patents above for more information.  This finish forming method is discussed further on the Bottle Finish Styles or Types page at the following link - groove ring wax seal.  These non-applied glass groove ring finishing variations appear to have been used almost exclusively during the 1840s to 1860s period (Creswick 1987).
 


Pressed ring wax seal finish close-up; click to enlarge.Dating summary/notes: As noted, the wax sealer type canning jars were almost totally mouth-blown and most popular during the era from the 1840s to 1880s, though by that time more secure and/or easy to use closures dominated the canning jar market.  In particular, the external screw thread "Mason" jars/closures and to some degree the bail type "Lightning" jars/closures (both discussed below) were dominating canning jar popularity.  An exception to this dating is that several different varieties of groove-ring wax seal Ball Standard jars were some of the first semi-automatic machine-made jars, being first produced in 1895 or 1896 and continuing until about 1912 (Brantley 1975; Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987). 

The earlier (primarily 1850s to 1860s) type of groove ring finish - as illustrated by the jar above (finish close-up to the left) - can be differentiated from the "pressed laid-on ring" (applied finish) by often (Hemingray patent) having a roughly cracked-off and ground rim to the inner ring (click finish image for larger version with the roughness pointed out), no excess glass in evidence below the lower edge of the outer ring from the application of additional finishing glass (there wasn't any additional finishing glass added), and/or evidence of the side mold seam proceeding into and over the top of the outer ring to the central bore sides or rim although this latter feature can be hard to observe (it is faintly visible on the left side of the illustrated finish).

See the introduction to this "Canning Jars" section above for general manufacturing related diagnostic dating information for canning jars.

 

Mason's Patent closure jars

Early 20th century machine-made Mason's 1858 jar; click to enlarge.Undoubtedly, the most common class of canning jars for the past 125+ years were those utilizing some version of an external continuous screw thread finish closure.  At the head of this list are the "Mason" fruit jars which utilized a zinc screw cap that was typically lined with a milk glass liner (that was often - even in the earliest days - incorrectly called a "porcelain" liner) although the earliest lids were reported to have had colorless glass liners (Roller 1983, 2011).  The typical closure cap utilized on these type jars is discussed in more length on the Bottle Closures page.   (Note: The term "mason" or "Mason jar" variably has the word "mason" capitalized.  It appears that both are correct when referring generically to the jar [Merriam-Webster OnLine 2007].)

This closure/finish was used on the ubiquitous Mason's Patent Nov. 30, 1858 jars as well as many other types of similar jars.  John L. Mason's original patents did not cover the cap itself since screw caps (and threaded finishes) were not a new invention, dating back to at least 1810 (Toulouse 1969a).  Instead, the patent covered the improved continuous screw threads on the jars which gradually vanished towards both the top (rim) and the bottom (shoulder) of the finish- allowing for a tightening seal - and the relatively flat shoulder sealing surface. Click Patent #22,129 to see the November 23rd, 1858 patent for the details of the mold and "vanishing thread" and Patent #22,186 to see the famous November 28th, 1858 patent for the shoulder seal jar itself.  Sealing of most Mason type jars did not occur between the rim of the finish and the cap until the precision allowed by jar machines - with the exception of the "Improved Mason" type jars which are discussed below (Lief 1965; Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).  The Mason's design worked because of the sharp, almost perpendicular (to the screw-thread finish) shoulder ledge functioned as the sealing surface with the addition of a rubber gasket placed between the shoulder and the bottom of cap (Toulouse 1969a; Jones & Sullivan 1989).  The ledge shows clearly below the cap in the picture to the right below, although no rubber gasket is in place.

Zinc cap on a Mason's screw thread finish; click to enlarge.There were hundreds of different subtle body shape variations of Mason type fruit jars though the two main types pictured in this section are typical shapes for the last third+ of the 19th century (the Atlas Mason's Patent jar pictured above with the gradually sloping upper body) and first half of the 20th century (the Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason and Ball Perfect Mason jars pictured further down the page with the bead ledge below the cap).  There were also scores of subtle variations in the different caps spanning a time frame from 1857 until the mid-20th century, and in modified form, to the present day (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).  Like the "Lightning" closure discussed next the Mason's closure has a long and fascinating history which is beyond the scope of this website.  For more background information consult Lief (1965), Toulouse (1969a), and/or Creswick (1987).   Also see the Bottle Finishes & Closures - Types of Bottle Closures page for more information on the closure itself and how it evolved over time.

"Mason's Patent" jars - as they are commonly called - were made by scores of different glass makers during the last half of the 19th century until about 1915 (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).  The number of makers increased dramatically once Mason's various patents ran out in the 1870s and 1880s; jars which still boldly stated "Mason's Patent Nov. 30th,  1858" even though John Mason himself was not connected with these companies (Toulouse 1969a).  To quote Toulouse, "A glass company could get into the business of making Mason jars with a mold and a grinding wheel, and did not have to concern itself with supplying zinc caps; it could undersell any fruit jar on the market because of its simplicity; its lids were reusable and replacements were readily available."  It should be noted that not all of these jars were made to the same precise dimensions as the original patent and thus the caps are not always interchangeable between different makes of jars, though most were.

Close-up of a ground finish or lip on a Mason's fruit jar; click to enlarge.The most common Mason closured jar shape made between the 1870s and 1910s is as pictured to the above left.  This style is, of course, round in cross-section (aka cylindrical) with a gradual inward narrowing of the upper body, a very short abrupt horizontal "shoulder" which is almost perpendicular to the finish, one continuous external screw thread bead finish that is about 1.1 to 1.2 circumference turns and is tapered at each end, and a bore that has about an inside diameter of 2.25".  Mouth-blown examples have a ground rim (lip) to the finish (image to the left), were (usually) blown in post-bottom molds, and variable amounts of crudeness depending on a age, manufacturer, and any number of other factors.  Aqua is by far the most commonly encountered glass color, although virtually any other glass color is possible, including colorless, myriad shades of amber and greens, black glass and even cobalt blue (Creswick 1987).

The latest jars embossed with some version of "Mason's Patent November 30th, 1858" were machine-made between the mid to late 1890s and about 1915.  The jar pictured above (the first two images in this section) is a machine-made half gallon jar embossed with: - ATLAS - / MASON'S / PATENT / NOV. 30th / 1858.   It was produced by the Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. (Wheeling, WV.) some time between 1902 and 1915.  It has the typical standard size Mason external screw thread finish with a smooth (not ground) rim and a 3/4" diameter valve mark on the base.  The jar does have a fair amount of body crudity in the form of bubbles and irregular thickness ("wavy")  glass, indicating an early machine-made manufacture most likely by a semi-automatic press-and-blow machine (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).

Improved Mason closure on an Excelsior jar; click to enlarge.One group of mouth-blown Mason jars  - the "Improved Masons" - did not seal on the shoulder below the threaded finish.  Instead, they sealed on the short almost horizontal edge immediately below the finish rim and above the molded threads.  Click Improved Mason threaded finish to view a close-up of this type finish with the sealing surface specifically pointed out.  These jars usually utilized an inverted-cup glass (sometimes tin) lid which straddled the ground rim and was held tightly down and against a rubber gasket with a separate screw-band; see the image to the right (Toulouse 1969a).  The commonly used generic name for this type closure and finish is a "straddle-lip top seal" (Roller 1983). 

The pictured example to the right is an EXCELSIOR half gallon jar that was produced by the Excelsior Glass Works (Pittsburgh, PA.) in business from 1859 to 1886 (Creswick 1987).  Click on the following links for more images of this jar:  view of the ground rim and threaded finish; view of the entire EXCELSIOR fruit jar showing the lack of an abrupt shoulder ledge that regular Mason jars of the period utilized as the sealing surface.  Click THE HEROINE jar to see an example of a rim sealing jar from the 1870s that utilized a metal instead of glass lid.  (Photos courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)

There were numerous patented variations of the straddle-lip top seal closure on an assortment of similar type jars.  None of these jars were as popular as the shoulder seal Mason jars as the ability to reliably seal was sometimes compromised by the roughness of the ground rim on mouth-blown jars.  As a group these are referred to as "Improved Masons" - a term reported coined by John L. Mason himself though he did not invent this specific closure method (Toulouse 1969a).  Relatively popular examples of these type jars include: Mason's Improved, The Gem, The Hero, Victory (example discussed below), Flaccus Brothers, and a few other mouth-blown types during the last half of the 19th century into the very early 20th.  The Presto, Mason's Improved (it spanned a long time period), Mid West and Jewel (both Canadian), Knox, Atlas Improved, and others were produced by machines in the 20th century (Roller 1983; Creswick 1987).  The modest popularity of "top seal" Mason type jars would have to wait until the precision of automatic bottle machines allowed for consistently reliable finish and rim production.

Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason from the early 20th century; click to enlarge.During the period of about 1910 to 1915, the shoulder seal type Mason jars were largely phased out and replaced by continuous external screw thread jars which were designed with a ledge ("bead") between the threads and the shoulder which became the sealing surface, not the shoulder itself.  These jars are referred to as "bead seal" jars as opposed to the earlier "shoulder seal" jars (Roller 1983).  The benefit of this design was the elimination of the weak abrupt angle at the shoulder resulting in a more durable "strong shoulder" jar; breakage at the angular shoulder being a problem with the shoulder seal Mason jars (Toulouse 1969a, 1971).  The pale aqua quart jar pictured to the left is an example of this type jar and dates from the 1920s (Creswick 1987).  The embossing is: - ATLAS - / STRONG SHOULDER / MASON.  It was machine-made in a cup-bottom mold (typical of machine-made jars), has some bubbles in the glass, and a distinct valve or ejection mark on the base indicating manufacture by some type of press-and-blow machine.  Click Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason finish for a close-up picture of the screw thread finish on a jar that has a typical bead or ledge sealing surface - the prominent ridge just below the threads.  The overall conformation of this jar is very typical of the most popular Mason jars made during the first half of the 20th century.

Ball Perfect Mason jar from the 1920s or 1930s; click to enlarge.One of the most commonly encountered jars of the bead seal style, made during the first half of the 20th century, are the many variations of the BALL / PERFECT / MASON jars (image to the right) which were made from about 1913 until the mid-20th century in many subtle variations including a few square variants (Brantley 1975).  As noted in a 1934 advertisement - "...more than three-fourths of all jars in use are branded "BALL"; an indicator of how common these jars are (Creswick 1987).  These jars were made in several colors though by far the most common glass color is as shown here - a color referred to as "Ball blue."  This particular quart machine-made jar was produced on an Owens Automatic Bottle Machine which the Ball Brothers Company (Muncie, IN.) began using first in 1910 up until about 1947 (Toulouse 1971; Birmingham 1980).  Click Ball Perfect Mason base for an image that shows a distinct suction scar which is very diagnostic of Owens machine manufacture.  The specific jar pictured dates from approximately 1923 to 1933 (Leybourne 2001).  A Ball blue glass fragment on a historical site (and they are commonly found on early to mid-20th century sites) can almost certainly be attributed to being a Ball product as virtually no other bottle or jar was made in that color.  This color was reportedly used by Ball between about 1910 and 1930; by about 1937 these jars were colorless (Roller 1983).  A pint example of this style jar is included in the grouping of bottles at the top of this page; a Lightning closure Ball blue jar is shown in the next section below.

The following are some additional images/information of Mason type jars:

  • Ca. 1870 Western made Victory jar; click to enlarge.Victory half gallon jar - This is an example of a mouth-blown half gallon jar with a type of "improved Mason" finish.   It is embossed with PACIFIC / SAN FRANCISCO / GLASS WORK (no "S" at the end; image to the immediate right) on one side and PATD FEBY 9TH 1864 / VICTORY / 1 / REISD JUNE 22D 1867 on the reverse.  It has a ground glass rim, base blown in a post-bottom mold, and is fairly crude with no evidence of mold air venting which helped contribute to the very flattened embossing (which is hard to photograph).  Click close-up of the externally threaded finish to see such (without the glass lid/screw band) with the sealing surface pointed out.  It also shows the indentation on the sealing surface intended to hold the flange on the rubber gasket in place and out of the way of the metal band (Roller 1983).  These Western made jars were blown at the Pacific Glass Works in San Francisco.  This was the first truly successful glass maker west of the Rockies and in business from 1862 to 1876 when it was combined with the San Francisco Glass Works to form the San Francisco and Pacific Glass Works (Toulouse 1971; Creswick 1987).  This information gives a likely manufacturing date range for this jar of 1867 to 1876, although it is possible that the molds (there were several sizes and variations made) continued in use by the combined company for some period after 1876 (Creswick 1987).
  • Quart PACIFIC / SAN FRANCISCO / GLASS WORK "Victory" jar - Click on the image to the right to view the smaller (quart) version of the same type improved Mason jar described above with essentially the same embossing pattern, same manufacturing features, and same production time.  Click on the following links for more images of this jar: reverse embossing view; close-up of the improved Mason finish showing some of the grinding related chipping that is commonly seen on many ground rim fruit jars.  The above noted gasket indentation on the sealing surface, typical of this improved Mason finish variation, is also visible.

Dating summary/notes:  The few jars presented in this section only scratches the surface of the variety of jars that utilized some form of the external continuous threaded "Mason" closure during the period from before the Civil War through the entire 20th century to the present.  It should be noted that Mason jars almost always have some type of proprietary or brand embossing on the body and/or the base; unembossed examples are very unusual (Creswick 1987).  This would seem to make canning jars/fragments potentially useful for dating historic sites, though this is offset by the fact that canning jars are notorious for deposition lag due to typically long term use prior to discarding.  (This also explains why canning jars are among the most common of older glass containers still around today, as unless broken, they were rarely discarded.) 

The various Mason type fruit jars have the following general dating observations.  This dating discussion focuses primarily on the ubiquitous "Mason's 1858" jars and to some degree the "strong shoulder" types, though other types of external screw thread canning jars often follow these general observations where pertinent:

  • Crowleytown Mason jar; click to enlarge.The earliest jars (late 1850s to early 1860s) with the MASON'S / PATENT / NOVEMBER 28th / 1858 embossing are almost identical to that illustrated in John Mason's 1858 patents; click Patent #22,129 and Patent #22,186 to view the patent illustrations.  These jars have vertically straight parallel sides which abruptly end at a very short, sharply round 90 degree horizontal shoulder; these jars also have very sharply angled heels.  (See image to the right, as it is easier to visualize the conformation of these jars than to describe.)  These type jars are called the "Crowleytown Mason jars" as they were likely made at the glass factory in Crowleytown, NJ; one was excavated at that glassworks factory site (Toulouse 1969a; Roller 1983).  Regardless of origin, these are the oldest acknowledged Mason's 1858 jars.  They have typical ground rim external screw thread finishes, were blown in a post-bottom mold, and lack any evidence of mold air venting resulting in typical crude bodies and smoothly rounded embossing.  They were produced at the latter end of the pontil era though have smooth bases (Creswick 1987).  (Photo courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)
  • Mouth-blown jars with some version of this embossing - MASON'S / PATENT / NOVEMBER 28th / 1858 - were made from 1857-58 until at least 1908 when it appears that the majority of these jars were being being made by semi-automatic machines.  For example, the Illinois Glass Company catalog shows mouth-blown versions up to the 1908 edition, although they are totally absent by 1911 - mouth-blown or machine-made (Illinois Glass Company 1908, 1911; Creswick 1987).
  • Air venting marks on canning jars generally appear to follow the guidelines noted on the Bottle Body Characteristics & Mold Seams page in the section on that subject although the limited number of mouth-blown "Mason's 1858" jars checked by the author showed no sign of obvious air venting.

  • The vast majority of mouth-blown Mason jars with some type of 1858 patent date embossing were produced in aqua glass.  Other colors were used on occasion, with some shade of amber being the most common alternative colors.  The images in the box to the right show some of the color variety in quart size Mason jars.  (Photos courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)
  • Machine-made, shoulder sealing Mason jars with embossing noting something in regards to 1858 Mason's Patent appear to have been made into the early 1910s and are actually less commonly encountered now than mouth-blown 1858 jars (Roller 1983).  After that time other jar types became more popular and the abrupt shoulder sealing Mason type jars with any embossing pattern appear to have disappeared from the market by the early 1920s or so (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).
  • Machine-made "strong shoulder" type Mason jars with the sealing surface on a bead ledge below the threads (not on the shoulder) originated around 1909 and dominated the market by the mid to late 1910s.   Beaded neck seal type jars were made until well after the middle of the 20th century; see next point.
  • Similar 20th century jars with the bead below the threads actually seal on the rim (lip) via a metal lid with the rubber (or rubber-like) sealing surface a permanent part of the lid which is held in place by metal screw band.  The sealing compound on the lid would soften under heat while canning and adapt itself to minor irregularities on the jar rim providing a good seal (Creswick 1987).  These jars/closures were particularly popular beginning in the late 1910s and 1920s and are still in use today.  Click KERR / SELF-SEALING / WIDE-MOUTH / MASON (embossed as such) to see a very modern (1990s) jar with this ubiquitous two part closure.  Note that the bead ledge below the threads is much reduced in size compared to the jars pictured above; so much so that the screw band does not (and needs not) reach the bead.  Click close-up of the lid and screw band to see such which shows the incorporated sealing compound edge (red) to the metal lid which was an adaptation made by Alexander Kerr (Kerr Glass Manufacturing Co., Los Angeles, CA.)  in 1915 and still in use today (Creswick 1987).

See the introduction to this "Canning Jars" section above for general manufacturing related diagnostic dating information for canning jars.

 

"Lightning" type jars

Lightning half gallon canning jar; click to enlarge.The "Lightning" style toggle or swing-type closures were quite popular for mouth-blown canning jars from before patenting (for jars) in 1882 - the first Lightning closure jars were reportedly made in the late 1870s - until well into the 20th century on machine-made jars.  This important closure type was invented and patented first by Charles de Quillfeldt of New York City in 1875 although the design was intended initially for beverage bottles (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).  (The Lightning type toggle closure is discussed in more depth on the Bottle Closures page in several locations - Lightning closure general history; Lightning closure for beer/soda bottles; Lighting closure for fruit jars.)

Henry Putnam's contribution is that he slightly altered the original de Quillfeldt design in that the bail (upper portion which goes over the lid in the image to the right below) is not attached to the lid, a conformation which would not work on wide mouth jars (Jones & Sullivan 1989).  Instead, the lid is held in position by centering the bail in a groove or between two raised dots in the center of the lid.  This securing point has been called a cover groove (White 1978).   In collaboration with de Quillfeldt, Putnam patented this closure in 1882.  Click Lightning jar closure and lid for a close-up picture that shows the cover groove and one of the metal "eyes" (visible on upper part of tie-wire on the upper neck) on a quart sized Lightning fruit jar.  Click Henry Putnam's Stopper for Jars Patent #256,857 to see the original patent for this specific jar closure (U. S. Patent Office).  The linked patent illustrations also show well the conformation and functioning of the Lightning closure.

Lightning closure with lid on a Lightning fruit jar; click to enlarge.The sealing surface for the earlier Lightning closured jars was the shelf just below the rim on which the lower edge of the lid sat on.  This shelf is visible in the image at this link - Lightning jar closure and lid.   A rubber gasket was placed between that shelf and the bottom surface of the glass lid which when the closure was tightened formed an effective seal.  The popularity of this type jar stemmed from a combination of ease of use and the fact that it solved one of the early problems of the Mason's cap in that only inert glass could contact the contents of the jar removing the possibility of the metallic taste which was the bane of the earlier Mason jars metal lids (Toulouse 1969a).  Though the term "lightning" was used by de Quillfeldt in reference to the sealing method, its application and use on the Putnam patented jars gave rise to the popularity of the term for this general closure on all types of bottles (Lief 1965).  Lighting-type closures are found on various fruit jars made from as early as the late 1870s until at least the mid-20th century (Toulouse 1969a; Roller 1983; Creswick 1987).

Mouth-blown Lightning pint jar; click to enlarge.The Lightning-type closure gave rise to the quite popular jar of the same name - the Lightning jar - which is, not surprisingly, almost certainly the most common mouth-blown jar utilizing this closure.  The jar pictured above left (amber half gallon) and to the immediate left (aqua pint) are both examples with the typical embossing on mouth-blown examples - TRADE MARK (arched) / LIGHTNING - which date between 1882 and about 1910 (Roller 1983).  Both jars have ground rims, were blown in a post-bottom mold (typical of most mouth-blown fruit jars), lack evidence of air venting (again typical of mouth-blown jars), and have relatively crude, bubbly glass.  Click the following links to see more images of the amber half gallon Lightning jar: base view showing the PUTNAM (for patentee Henry Putnam) embossing and a mold number (295); close-up of the shoulder, neck, and closure/finish complex.  Click LIGHTNING quart fruit jar to view an image of a quart sized amber Lightning jar (the closure close-up image to the above right is of this quart jar).

By about 1910 Lightning jars were being produced by machine-made methods that have the same shape though are typically embossed with REGISTERED / U. S. PATENT OFFICE below the word LIGHTNING.  These jars have a smooth (not ground) rim indicating machine-made manufacture.  (Note:  There are also other variants of mouth-blown and machine-made Lightning jars including versions that are only embossed on the base.  See Leybourne [2001] for the most recent book that covers these - and most all - canning jars.)   Lightning jars were produced in an array of glass colors from colorless to many shades of greens and ambers, olive, and even cobalt blue, although aqua and amber are by far the most commonly encountered colors.  The Lightning jar largely disappeared by the 1920s, although the trademark name Lightning continued to be registered until the mid-20th century (Creswick 1987).  (As a side note, some historians believe that the use of the term "white lightning" for moonshine stems from the use of Lighting closured jars by bootleggers to bottle their illicit product [Hinson 2002].)

Ball Ideal pint jar with lightning type closure; click to enlarge.In the 20th century Lightning-type closures for canning jars had the sealing surface on a narrow flared bead just below the rim instead of the broad chunky band like on the Lightning jars show above.  This was a change somewhat analogous to the sealing surface shift of Mason jars of that same era from the shoulder to a bead rim just below the threads.  The newer Lightning-type closures also dispensed with the tie wire that encircled the neck and dimples molded into the opposite sides of the neck provided the anchor point to hold the ends of the lever wire (Creswick 1987).  Pictured to the right is a pint sized BALL IDEAL jar that has both these characteristics - a narrow flared bead sealing surface (just below the glass lid) and molded dimples to hold the ends of the lever wires (i.e., no neck tie wire).  It is also machine-made having a smooth rim and most likely an Owens scar on the base.  (Photo from eBay®).  This Lightning style of closure was patented in 1908 and jars with it produced until at least the 1960s (Toulouse 1969a).  The pictured jar is likely from the earlier end of that manufacturing date range, i.e., the 1910s or 1920s and there are many different variations of this and most all Ball jars (Leybourne 2001).  The color of the pictured jar is the classic "Ball blue" discussed in the Mason jar section above.


Dating summary/notes: Although the number of different jars with Lightning-type closures somewhat pales in comparison to the jars with external "Mason" screw threads, this closure was used on a significant number of different jar brands or types from the late 1870s through at least the mid to late 20th century (and probably still in some use today).  The mouth-blown jars date from as early as the late 1870s to the early 1900s with machine-made jars probably first produced in the late 1890s or early 1900s.  In general, these jars following the dating guidelines found at the beginning of this section - linked below. 

See the introduction to this "Canning Jars" section above for general manufacturing related diagnostic dating information for canning jars.

 

Thumbscrew and stopper/lid type jars

Late 19th century Atmospheric Fruit Jar; click to enlarge.Thumbscrew and stopper/lid closured canning jars were not nearly as popular as the external screw thread/cap or even the Lightning-type jars, but did gain some reasonable acceptance and use primarily from the late 1850s to 1890s.  To quote Dr. Julian Toulouse (1969a), "The use of the thumbscrew as a device to tighten the seal on the fruit jar was a matter of a quick flurry, and then virtual disappearance, except for the cumbersome Van Vliet, and the revival as a museum jar by Whitall-Tatum."   This smaller group of canning jars had closures comprised of a glass (or metal) lid which sat within or on top of the finish and was held down tightly by a yoke and thumbscrew device.  Click on the picture below right to view a larger version which illustrates the parts of the most commonly encountered of these type jars - the Millville Atmospheric Fruit Jar.

Millville Atmospheric jar closure; click to enlarge.The first thumbscrew & lid closure patent was granted in November of 1858 (apparently a particularly fecund time for patents) to Reuben Dalbey and utilized not one but three thumbscrews; click Dalbey jar to see an example.  (Photo courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)  Needless to say, these jars were unwieldy, and like the majority of patented jar closures, it was neither simple, effective, or produced for long.  A few other thumbscrew & lid type jars were patented and made during the 1860s and 1870s with the last relatively viable patent jar/closure being the noted Van Vliet in 1881 which experienced some limited manufacture (by the East Stroudsburg Glass Co., PA) and distribution (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).

Pictured above is an example of a (and embossed with)  MILLVILLE / ATMOSPHERIC / FRUIT JAR which was produced by the Whitall, Tatum Company (Millville, NJ) (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880).  It was certainly the most popular mouth-blown jar sporting a thumbscrew and stopper/lid type of closure given the numbers that still exist today.  The finish on these jars (image below) are virtually identical to the wax seal cap/finish discussed earlier, but instead had a glass lid which fit into or between the circular but parallel ridges on the top of the finish and was held down with a thumbscrew clamp instead of a metal cap that was sealed with wax or equivalent substances.  The use of glass instead of metal would have been a natural evolution from the wax sealers metal cap to avoid imparting a metallic taste to the contents of the jar - a common complaint (Toulouse 1969a).  The picture below shows the finish on the Millville jar without the lid and clamp in place.  A comparison of this finish with the wax seal jars pictured earlier shows the close similarity.  If just the broken off finish of a Millville jar were to be found on an historic site, it would be difficult to say whether the original closure was a wax sealed tin lid or a thumbscrew and glass lid.

Finish on a quart Millville Atmospheric fruit jar; click to enlarge.The reverse side of the Millville jars are embossed WHITALL'S PATENT / JUNE 18, 1861; click Millville jar reverse view.  It was once thought that the actual patent date was November 4, 1862 (by T. G. Otterson) and that 1861 was claimed as the Millville origination in order to seem like an older, more established jar/closure when compared to the competing jars from John Moore & Co., a similar closure which was patented in December 1861 (Toulouse 1969a).  However, patent records do indeed show that John M. Whitall was granted a patent on June 18th, 1861 (incorrectly noted as "Jan. 18th" above the patent illustration) for this jar; click Patent #32,594 to view the Whitall patent (U. S. Patent Office 1861).  The glass lid or stopper closure on the John Moore jars fit on a ledge inside the bore of the bottle; the Moore jar finishes not having the parallel ridges on or within the finish like the Millville Atmospheric and typical wax sealer jars.  The Van Vliet jars had a glass cap that was shallowly cup shaped and fit over and around the outside of the finish.

The Millville Atmospheric jars date from the 1860s through the early 1890s, although the Whitall, Tatum Company produced similar "museum jars" with the same closure at least into the 1920s (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880, 1892, 1896, 1924).  Other thumbscrew and stopper types like the Moore's jars date from the 1860s or early 1870s and the unusual Van Vliet's from the 1880s (Creswell 1987).  After that time, this style of closure was rarely used since the external "Mason's" screw-thread and Lightning type closures dominated along with a few others - like the cam lever and lid jars discussed next. 


Dating summary/notes: The relatively small group of thumbscrew and stopper/lid canning jars were almost totally a product of the 1860s to 1890s era as no 20th century examples are noted in Creswick (1987) with the exception of some decorative jars made by the T. C. Wheaton Company (which is still in Millville, NJ  and known as Wheaton Industries today) in the 1970s and the above noted "museum jars."  Thus, all of the regular canning jars with this type closure are mouth-blown and follow the mouth-blown portion of the dating guidelines listed earlier in this section and linked below, as well as other pertinent manufacturing based features as discussed on other portions of this website (e.g., pontil scars).

See the introduction to this "Canning Jars" section above for general manufacturing related diagnostic dating information for canning jars.

 

Cam lever & lid jars

Globe fruit jar in a light yellow amber color; click to enlarge.Among the amazing variety of canning jar closures, there were at least three general classes of "lever" type closures: cam levers, simple levers, and clutch levers.  All of these general types worked via the action of a lever (handle)  to apply pressure in some fashion to hold the lid tightly against the sealing surface.  See Toulouse (1969a) The Collectors' Manual to Fruit Jars book for more information.  The first lever type patents for canning jar closures were issued in the early 1860s with various others issued from that point until the early 20th century.  One of the most common of the lever type jars - and the only one discussed here - were the cam lever and lid closured Globe canning jars since most other lever based closure jars are uncommon. One exception were the Safety Valve jars which utilized a very different looking (from the Globe) cam lever type closure patented in 1895 and experienced some longevity from patenting (mouth-blown) into the machine-made era until about 1930 (Toulouse 1969a; Creswick 1987).

Globe cam lever closure and lid; click to enlarge.It was not until the introduction of the Globe jar around 1886 that a popular lever (cam lever & lid) type jar caught on some with the canning public.  This is not surprising given the competition from other designs, and in particular, the plethora of likely cheaper and (arguably) more simple and effective Mason closure jars.  The Globe jar closure utilized a glass lid with a hemispherical seat that matched up to a rounded cam on the end of the short lever which was attached to a moveable metal bail.  Swinging the bail over the center of lid, a user pressed down on the lever handle which applied pressure to the lid sealing it against a rubber gasket that sat on the ledge below the rim (see image below with the lid removed though with no gasket is in place).  The patent for this closure was issued to Robert Hemingray on May 25th, 1886 for a "Fastener for Jar Tops."  The patent date is embossed on the top of the Globe jar lids (image to the right).  Click Patent #342,602 to view the Hemingray patent which illustrates and describes the Globe closure.

Close-up of the Globe closure, lid, and ground rim; click to enlarge.A large majority of Globe jars are mouth-blown in post-bottom molds (various mold numbers on the bases), have ground rims, and unlike most mouth-blown jars do exhibit evidence of mold air venting with a single bump on both the front and back shoulders of examples examined by the author.  Machine-made (smooth rim) Globe jars are known to exist but are rare; fairly strong evidence indicating that Globe jars were not likely produced after the early to mid-1910s, although the actual end of production is unknown (Leybourne 2001). The jars were made by the Hemingray Glass Company of Covington, KY (and other locations); closure inventor Robert Hemingray being one of the Hemingray Brothers who owned the company and which was better known for producing the very familiar Hemingray insulators.  Apparently they produced a lot of Globe jars given the frequent occurrence of mouth-blown examples of these jars today.  The jars were made in an assortment of colors from colorless to various shades and intensities of green and amber to even black glass, though aqua and amber are by far the most commonly encountered colors (Leybourne 2001; empirical observations).


Dating summary/notes: Although the number of different jars produced with cam lever and lid type closures was relatively small, the Globe jars were fairly popular from around 1886 until about 1905-1910 for mouth-blown examples and from the latter date until the early/mid-1910s for machine-made versions.  In general, these jars follow the pertinent dating guidelines found at the beginning of this section and linked below. 

See the introduction to this "Canning Jars" section above for general manufacturing related diagnostic dating information for canning jars.

 

Cap & spring clip type jars

Kerr Economy fruit jar with closure and clip; click to enlarge.
Canning jars with a cap (glass or metal) and spring clip closure were first patented in the late 1850s though few if any of these earlier jars/closures gained more than cursory popularity (Toulouse 1969a).  The aqua F. & J. BODINE  jar pictured to the lower left sports a Joseph Borden patented (February 12th, 1867) metal cap and spring clip and was one of the many types that achieved limited use during the last 4 decades of the 19th century (jar discussed below).  Although one of the most simple of designs, the cap & spring clip jars had to face stiff competition from a host of other closure types including the plethora of probably cheaper and more effective Mason closure jars.  It was not until the early 20th century and the uniformity of machine-made jars that this closure gained popularity, and even then, the popularity was largely due to the improved design of the cap.

Probably the most common group of jars with cap & spring clip closures were the Economy and Kerr Economy canning jars.  These jars were quite popular and widely distributed throughout the U.S. during the first third of the 20th century, though like with most popular fruit jars, they continued in use until either broken or replacement closures became unavailable (more on this below).  Economy jars (or fragments) are a common find on post-1900 historic sites.  The closure on the Economy jars was a metal lid with a permanently adhered, heat softening, rubber gasket that was held to the jar while canning by a narrow flat spring clip (Toulouse 1969a).  The picture above shows a pint sized Kerr Economy jar with the cap and spring clip in place.  Click Economy Jar Cap to see a close-up picture of the cap and spring clip.  The picture below right is a close-up of the finish on a quart sized example.   Click Kerr Economy to see a picture of the entire quart sized jar which is embossed with KERR GLASS MFG CO / SAND SPRINGS OKLA / PAT JUNE 9 1903 on the base and dates from the late 1910s and 1920s era (Creswick 1987).  This type closure is also called a "spring seal" (Berge 1980).

Ecomony finish without the closure; click to enlarge.The earlier jars (pre-1915) were embossed Economy Trade Mark on the sides with later examples (after 1915) embossed Kerr Economy Trade Mark.  The first two jars pictured are the latter types with Kerr embossed.  Both styles, however, had the manufacturing plant location name on the base: Portland, Ore., Chicago, Ill., or Sand Springs, Okla.  The jars were produced in pint, quart, and half gallon sizes all of which took the same size cap and clip - a "one size fits all" convenience for home canners like also offered by most Mason jars (Leybourne 2001).  For a picture of the earlier Economy quart jar, click Economy jar which shows a Portland, Ore. base embossed version.  It is common to find fragments of these jars thick base with the city name embossed and identifiable (and other parts of the jar too) on historic sites - at least in the West - dating from the first third of the 20th century (empirical observations).

The Economy jar and closure was covered by several patents issued between 1901 and 1903 with the jar continuing to be produced until 1957 when Kerr Glass discontinued this line.  The lids were produced until 1961 indicating the general problem with using canning jars for dating historic sites, i.e., deposition lag (Creswick 1987).   It appears, however, that the jar was most popular between 1903 and the 1930s when the Kerr Self-Sealing Mason jar, with its cap held in place by a screw band instead of a clip, began to (and still does) dominate the fruit jar market.   Many of the earlier Economy jars (pre-1920), like the pint pictured to the 1860s era fruit jar; click to enlarge.above left (which is ca. 1915-1920), will turn slightly pink due to the use of manganese dioxide as the glass decolorant.  Others like the quart pictured above right have a slight straw or grayish tint induced by other decolorants like selenium and/or arsenic.  See the Bottle/Glass Color page for more information on colorless glass and the use of decolorizers.

The image to the left is of a late 1860s quart jar with a metal cap and spring clip accepting finish.  (Photo courtesy of Greg Spurgeon Antiques.)  This jar is embossed with F.  J. BODINE / MANUFACTURERS / PHILADELPHIA, PA. , was blown in a post-bottom mold, and has a ground rim finish with a mold formed helical lug "thread" below the rim to which the spring clip clamped and rotated tight.  It was made at the Bridgeton Glass Works (Bridgeton, NJ) between about 1867 (the closure patent date) and 1870 when Francis & J. Nixon Bodine incorporated the glass works under the name Cohansey Glass & Manufacturing Co. (Toulouse 1971; Creswick 1987).  These type of older cap & spring clip closure jars are uncommon though occasionally encountered as fragments on mid to late 19th century historic sites.


Dating summary/notes: The cap & spring clip type jars, in general, follow the pertinent dating guidelines found at the beginning of this canning jar section and linked below.  Machine-made Economy jars (all Economy jars were machine-made) were first produced about 1903, as indicated by the patent dates on the jar bases.  Other similar cap & spring clip closured jars were also first made by machines about the same time, i.e., beginning between 1900 and 1910.  For example, the Columbia jars which utilized a glass cap and spring clip, were first produced as mouth-blown items with ground rims about 1896 or 1897 (the closure was patented in December 1896).  A check of Illinois Glass Company catalogs (the maker of the jar) shows that the jars began production by semi-automatic machines sometime around 1907 (Illinois Glass Co. 1899, 1906, 1908, 1911; Creswick 1987).  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 222-223 to view the mouth-blown 1906 offering from that company.

See the introduction to this "Canning Jars" section above for general manufacturing related diagnostic dating information for canning jars.

 

Other canning jar types

Peerless quart jar picture collage; click to enlarge.Analogous to the soda/mineral water bottles, there was a myriad of different canning jar closure types patented and produced over many years between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s (Creswick 1987; Graci 2003).  The mid-1860s era PEERLESS jar pictured to the right with the very novel protruding reverse threaded cap closure is an example of the creativity of the period.  By the early 1900s the uniformity and standardization of machine-made manufacturing methods - and the ultimate success of the handful of most reliable designs - ended the experimentation and variety that dominated the earlier period. 

Although a fascinating history in itself, coverage of all the possible jar closure variations is not addressed in depth on this website.  If interested in the subject of canning jars and their many closures, the works of Toulouse (1969a), Roller (1983), and Creswick (1987) provide more in-depth coverage of the subject.  In particular, Creswick's two volume The Fruit Jar Works is an exceptional reference, though currently out of print and fairly expensive to acquire.  As an alternative, consider Leybourne (2001) as it contains most of the excellent illustrations from Creswick's books, some of the historical information (date ranges and glass makers), and best of all is still in print and easy to obtain.

In order to get a feel for the variety of jars and closures made during the last half of the 19th century, click on some of the links below to view pictures of an array of weird and unusual jars.  These pictures are compliments of Greg Spurgeon Antiques (http://www.hoosierjar.com).   The dating is primarily from Creswick's "The Fruit Jar Works" (1987) and is largely based on the jar and/or closure patent dates since most of these jars did not see widespread nor long term use by home canners.

ABC quart jar - 1884 A. Stone & Co. - 1857-1863 Belle quart - 1869 Bloeser Jar quart - ca. 1887 Bodine quart iron pontil - ca. 1856-1864
Buckeye quart - 1860s C. Burnham quart - 1851-1861 Coddington's quart - 1886 Common Sense quart - 1869 "Crowleytown" Mason pint - 1858
Dalbey's quart - 1860s Electric pint - 1888 Empire half gallon - 1860 F.& J. Bodine quart - 1863-1870 Friedley & Cornmans quart - 1859
Flaccus Bros. pint - 1900 H & S quart - 1863 Hoosier quart - 1880s J. C. Baker's quart - 1860 J & B quart - 1905-1909
John Moore pint - 1861-1863 Ladies Favorite half gallon - 1860 The Magic pint - 1880s Millville Atmospheric quart - 1861 Moore Bros. quart - 1880-1896
Moore & Wilson quart - 1860s My Choice quart - 1888 NE Plus pint - 1856-1864 Patented half gallon - 1865 Peerless quart - 1863
Van Vliet quart - 1880s Royal half gallon - 1877 Safety quart - 1883 The Scranton quart - 1887 The Ball quart - 1899
Pet quart - 1869 The Daisy quart - 1888-1900 The Heroine half gallon - 1870s The Howe pint - 1890s The King quart - 1869
The Leader half gallon - 1892-1893 Van Vliet Improved quart - 1880s Wax sealer quart iron pontil - 1855-1865 Willoughby quart - 1859 Yeoman's pint - 1850s

 

 

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Vegetable Oil & Salad Dressing Bottles

This section covers bottles originally intended to contain some vegetable oil based food product, including olive oil, salad dressing, and similar products.  As with all the food bottle types covered on this page, the styles specifically discussed here just touches the surface of the variety that may be encountered.  It should be noted that olive and other vegetables oils were also very frequently packaged in cans.

 

Cylindrical/round styles

Mid-19th century free-blown olive oil; click to enlarge.Olive oil was bottled in an assortment of different shaped bottles during the era covered by this website (early 19th to mid-20th centuries) with most types being cylindrical or round in cross-section - the subject covered by this section.  (Square/rectangular styles are covered in the next section.)  These bottles also likely contained other vegetable oils although olive oil was by far the most popular and available during most of the noted period (Toulouse 1970a).  Some of the types pictured and illustrated here are among the most likely to be encountered on historic sites.  Although other oil types may have been contained in these bottles, they are referred to by most (and on this website) as "olive oil" bottles.

One of the earliest common styles closely identified with olive oil were bottles like that pictured to the left and right.  These type bottles are tall and narrow, being at least 3 times taller in the body than the width.  The bottle to the left has no mold seams in evidence indicating either free-blown (likely) or dip mold production (there is a very faint line or glass disjunction at the shoulder indicating this possibility).  It also has a crudely tooled (or possibly rolled and refired) finish, a crudely pushed up base (over 1.5" from heel to top of the push-up/kick-up) that is off center and obviously not mold formed, and a visible though slight splaying out of the glass near the heel.  This latter attribute is often indicative of free-blown manufacture, although some dip molded bottles can express this feature if the glass was still plastic and "flowed" after withdrawal from the dip mold.  The pictured bottle was likely made during the end of the pontil era (late 1850s to 1870) as it does not have an obvious pontil scar indicating the use of a snap case tool of some type.

Several dozen bottles identical in size, conformation, and manufacturing method (including being free-blown but not pontil scarred) to the pictured example were uncovered from the S. S. BERTRAND which sank in the Missouri River in April 1865.  The image to the above right is of one of these bottles showing the similarity to the pictured bottle.  Click Bertrand olive oil to see the entire picture and accompanying illustration from Switzer (1974).  These bottles were uncovered with wooden case stenciling indicating they contained imported French olive oil (Switzer 1974).  This shape/style of bottle for olive oil - which has a lot of similarity with the Bordeaux type wine bottles - dates to at least as early as 1800 in Europe and was used for the product until at least the 1910s (Zumwalt 1980; Van den Bossche 2001).  In fact, bottles with blob seals indicating that they contained olive oil imported from Bordeaux (discussed below) are fairly commonly encountered in the U. S. (empirical observations).

Oil bottle illustrations from 1906; click to enlarge.As the 19th century progressed, additional similar olive oil styles arose which "evolved" from the early to mid-19th century style described above.  The illustration to the right (page 206 of the 1906 Illinois Glass Company bottle catalog) shows some of the most common of these tall styles.  Particularly distinct and common during the early 20th century was the "Bordeaux Oil" type which is the bottle in the upper left corner of the illustration; an enlargement of this bottle illustration is found below left.  This style is very closely identified with olive oil and has a relatively long bulging neck that is a bit shorter than the body height, a body that tapers slightly to a distinctively outwardly flaring heel ("bell bottom"), and a ridge or ring at the junction of the lower neck and upper shoulder (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1911; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Zumwalt 1980).

Of interest in dating this style is the fact that the 1899 Illinois Glass Co. catalog did not have the "Bordeaux Oil" listed, but it is listed in the 1903 through 1911 catalogs, but again not in the 1920 version.  Since this largest of U. S. glass companies offered one of the widest cataloged selection of standard bottle types, this could indicate that the style originated in the late 1890s to very early 1900s and faded from the scene by the 1920s.  In the experience of the author, mouth-blown examples of these bottles do typically have manufacturing characteristics indicative of the early 20th century, i.e., tooled finishes, cup-mold production, mold air venting, and generally limited crudity for a mouth-blown bottle.  No machine-made examples of this specific style have been noted by the author, though if they exist (very probable) they would likely date from the mid-1910s to early 1920s.  One of the most common of the bottles with this shape contained a French import olive oil and were embossed with A. DURAND & FILS /HUILE D'OLIVE / BORDEAUX as well as a few other variations including one that has HUILE D'SALAD instead of D'OLIVE (Zumwalt 1980).  ("Huile" means oil in French.)  This popular imported brand - bottles of which date from the noted era - were likely the catalyst for the name of the similar shaped Illinois Glass Co. offering.

Three other bottles of a style similar to the "Bordeaux Oil" style (tall and narrow with a neck almost as tall as the body) - though lacking the bulging neck - are also shown in the 1906 illustration above.  All do have the flared heel or "bell bottom" which most likely added stability to an otherwise tall, tipsy bottle.  These types were used across the U. S. for olive oil and are equally common styles during the same era as the noted "Bordeaux Oil" type (Zumwalt 1980; empirical observations).  One other manufacturer called the tall non-bulging neck, bell bottom olive oil style "Italian oils" (Whitney Glass Works 1904, in Lohmann 1972).  Mouth-blown examples of these olive oil bottle types have been noted by the author to have characteristics that indicate a late 19th to early 20th century manufacture (1880s to 1910s), similar to the Bordeaux style.  Machine-made versions of these same types have also been noted which most likely date after the mid-1910s up until possibly the early 1930s or so.  After that time, different shapes seem to have been more popular as indicated by various 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s bottle catalogs consulted (empirical observations).

Late 19th century olive oil bottle; click to enlarge.A couple other olive oil bottles offered by Illinois Glass are found at the top of page 207 (right page in linked image).  The bottle illustrated in the upper right corner of that page is a style reminiscent of the "Bordeaux" style wine bottle which the company called the "Spanish Olive Oil."  This "wine bottle" shape was commonly used for imported olive oils as evidenced by the bottle pictured to the right which is embossed in the shoulder blob seal with HUILE D'OLIVE / JAMES HAGNIOT / FRANCE EXTRA SUPERFINE.  Click seal close-up to see such.  Some U. S. bottle manufacturers actually called this style of olive oil the "imported shape" (Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916).  The Hagniot bottle was produced in a turn-mold (like noted for the Illinois Glass "Spanish Olive Oil" listing), was surely imported, and likely dates between 1890 and the 1910s, though being of foreign manufacture this is not certain.  (Images from eBay®.)

Early 20th century olive oil from Oregon; click to enlarge.The differently shaped oil bottle pictured to the left is embossed with PURE / IMPORTED / OLIVE OIL / ALLEN & LEWIS / PORTLAND, ORE. / U. S. A. and has the original label stating the same information in a more colorful (literally) fashion and also noting that it was the Preferred Stock Brand.  This is another shape that is somewhat closely identified with olive oil - at least on the West Coast - though was used much less commonly than the shapes discussed above (Zumwalt 1980; empirical observations).  Allen & Lewis began their partnership in 1861 and continued until at least 1917 (and probably later).  These bottles exhibit the features - in particular, multiple (3) air venting marks on the shoulder and many (7) integrated into each of the side mold seams - that indicate manufacturing between about 1905 and the mid to late 1910s.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing mold related embossing (6 / C) of unknown meaning (although the next smaller size has 5 / C on the base); close-up of the original label; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish (with cork).

Olive oil from the early 20th century; click to enlarge.The relatively common, though unusually shaped late 19th to early 20th century, mouth-blown olive oil pictured to the right is reminiscent of the Crème de Menthe bottles of the same era (click IGCo. 1906 catalog - page 144-145; left page, right bottle so see such).  The bottle pictured here is embossed with PURE OLIVE OIL / S. S. P., has a tooled one-part "packer" finish, and was blown in a cup base mold with air venting.  The glass also has a slight amethyst tint indicating manganese dioxide in the glass formula which was the most common decolorizing agent for later mouth-blown bottles (and early machine-made ones) during the era from 1890 until about 1920.   These bottles came in several sizes and were used by the S. S. Pierce Co. which was a large Boston, MA. (Boston, MA.) packing concern that was discussed in the cylindrical/round pickle bottle section earlier on this page.

Another common shape for olive oil bottles during the first few decades of the 20th century were tall, cylindrical types that were  identical to the cylindrical "fifth" sized liquor bottles of the era.  These came in various sizes (not just a "fifth" sized) though were proportionally very similar to the liquor/whiskey bottles of the era, like the example at this link: ca.1902-1905 mouth-blown whiskey fifth (Zumwalt 1980).  No examples of actual olive oil "fifths" are pictured here as yet.  The subject is also discussed briefly at that section of the Liquor/Spirits bottle typing page.

Mid-20th century salad dressing jar; click to enlarge.A particularly common style made during the 20th century machine-made era were bottles - or really jars - like that pictured to the left (excuse the poor image off of eBay®).  This salad dressing jar is a style that was used in many sizes for many products for many years and is still a basic simple style in use today for salad dressings, olives, peppers, and a myriad of other products (food and otherwise) throughout the world.  The pictured jar is machine-made and has an external continuous thread finish.  The mouth or bore of the jar is almost as wide as the body which helps easily facilitate the removal of the contents.  These type jars were made by semi and fully automatic machines from the earliest days of such (late 1890s to very early 1900s for semi-autos) to the present and traces its heritage to the mouth-blown Mason style external screw threaded fruit jars which originated in the 1850s and were discussed earlier on this page (Illinois Glass Company 1906).  An example of a larger wide mouth jar used to package olives in the 1990s is available at the following link:  late 20th century jar.  Jars like this style often have makers markings on the base which help to ascribe manufacture of the item to a particular glass maker and often to a particular year.  See the Bottle & Glass Makers Markings page for more information.

One other particularly common cylindrical salad dressing bottle were those used by the E. R. DURKEE & CO.  These will be covered in future updates to this page (and once the author acquires some examples to illustrate the information).

 


Dating summary/notes: Dating of these highly shape variable bottles generally follows well the manufacturing based diagnostic guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  Beyond that, additional information for a given bottle would have to be acquired through research of the historical record when possible with company embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.

 

Square/rectangular styles

Early 20th century salad oil bottle; click to enlarge.Although cylindrical bodied vegetable oil and salad dressing bottles are the most commonly encountered, square and rectangular bottles were also quite plentiful in numbers and design variations.  Moderate body width square and rectangular bottles were commonly used for olive (and sometimes other vegetable) oils but appear to have been somewhat identified with "salad dressing" products (Zumwalt 1980).  Salad dressings were (and are) essentially a vegetable oil (usually olive oil in the earlier days) base with vinegar, lemon and/or herbs and spices added for flavor, similar to the oil based Italian salad dressings that are ubiquitous today.  Commercially bottled salad dressing in the U. S. appears to have been first offered in the 1890s to early 1900s, although oil based salad (food) dressings go back to at least ancient Egyptian times in other parts of the world.  Other dressing types (Caesar, mayonnaise, Thousand Islands, etc.) arose gradually through the first few decades of the 20th century; the Kraft Cheese Company began salad dressing production in the mid-1920s, with their familiar Miracle Whip™ dressing first being offered in 1933 at the Chicago Worlds Fair.  (Sources:  www.whatscookinginamerican.net; www.kraft.com).  This section briefly covers bottles primarily intended for salad dressing with those pictured and illustrated here among the most likely types to be encountered on historic sites, though as noted, similar bottles also held other liquid food products including plain olive oil.

Early 20th century advertisement for My Wife's Salad Dressing; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the left is a typical square salad oil bottle that is virtually identical to some square liquor/spirits bottles from the early 20th century.  Click tall square long-necked spirits bottles to see an almost identical shape bottle used by a San Francisco, CA. liquor company for their product(s) in the early 1900s.  The pictured bottle above is embossed vertically with PRIMROSE / REGISTERED / BRAND / WESTERN MEAT COMPANY.   This is known to be a salad dressing bottle as other variants are embossed with PRIMROSE SALAD OIL (Zumwalt 1980).  Like its liquor bottle relatives, this salad oil bottle was blown in a cup-bottom mold, has a tooled brandy finish, and plentiful air venting marks on the shoulders, body edges, and integrated within the embossing; it almost certainly dates from between 1905 and 1920.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view showing the cup-bottom mold conformation (base is 2.9" square); close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish.  The Western Meat Company began business around 1895 and was located in Chicago but had several packing houses in California (Zumwalt 1980).  It's president was Gustavus Swift and the company was (or became) part of Swift & Company - still one of the largest meat processing and food companies in the world (source: www.swiftbrands.com).  Swift & Co. also used a similar aqua glass bottle that is embossed with MONOGRAM SALAD OIL / SWIFT & CO. / U.S.A. (Zumwalt 1980).

Salad Dressing bottle from the early 20th century; click to enlarge.Machine-made 20th century salad dressing bottle; click to enlarge.The two largely colorless rectangular bodied bottles pictured to the left are common salad dressing bottles from the first third of the 20th century and which apparently held the same product, though at different (?) times.  Both are embossed in fancier serif type letters with MY WIFE'S SALAD DRESSING; the one on the left is also embossed with CHICAGO.  The "swirled" neck type bottles (left image and in the 1910-1920 advertisement above) were manufactured by both mouth-blown and machine-made methods and seem to have been made from about 1900 into the mid-1920s.  The pictured example was mouth-blown in a cup-bottom mold, has a tooled straight brandy finish, almost certainly has evidence of mold air venting, and has a slight amethyst tint indicating that the glass was decolorized with manganese (which was most common on bottles made between about 1890 and 1920).  The bottle in the right image is likely a later item (1920s to possibly 1930s) and only observed to be made by machine methods, though it could also have been made during the same period as the swirled neck example, i.e., late 1910s or early 1920s.  Click embossing side view to see such on the right hand bottle.  (Images from eBay®; advertisement courtesy of Peter Schulz.)

At least one other type of bottle was also made to contain this product.  It was of a different shape (click here to see a relatively poor image) and had a two-part finish that resembles a large crown finish which likely accepted some type of skirted or snap cap.  This style most likely was used between the two above, i.e., the late 1910s to mid-1920s though may have been used concurrently with either example.  The variant has the same embossing pattern as the swirled neck bottle though was only machine-made to the authors knowledge.  Some (all?) examples have a "O in a box" mark on the base indicating manufacture by the Owens Bottle Company (Toledo, OH.) who used that mark from 1911 to 1929 (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart 2004d).  Click here to see a collage of more images including the makers mark on the base and an obvious suction scar.  Unfortunately, no information could be found on the history of the company that used these bottles (Zumwalt 1980).  Readers should be aware that the swirled neck bottles were very accurately reproduced in the 1960s and/or 1970s in relatively wild colors including at least yellow and blue (empirical observations).  These bottles are often seen in antique stores with equally wild price tags.  The originals are only known in colorless glass which sometimes turns amethyst.

There were many other types of square/rectangular bottles used for salad dressing or oil as well as cylindrical bottles and jars, as noted in the previous section.  Those items may be added in future updates to this page (once the author acquires examples to illustrate the section) including the E. R. DURKEE & CO. bottles - cylindrical bottles which were commonly used for salad dressing (Zumwalt 1980).


Dating summary/notes: Dating of these shape variable type bottles generally follows well the manufacturing based diagnostic guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  Beyond that, additional information for a given bottle would have to be acquired through research of the historical record when possible with company embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.

 

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Milk Bottles (*see note below)

1920s to 1940s era milk bottles; click to enlarge.The use of containers of various materials - pottery/ceramic, various metals, and glass - to contain milk for storage and transportation goes back to antiquity.  The first use of such containers is unknown though milk from domesticated cattle, goats and sheep was being utilized in the Middle East at least 6000 to 9000 years ago; the milking of cattle in the U. S. dates to the earliest European settlement in the early 17th century (Gallagher & Munsey 1969; Rawlinson 1970).

(*Note Some authors - particularly archaeologists - classify milk bottles within the "beverage" category and not as a "food" bottle.  This website does not use a specific "beverage bottle" category, but instead divides what would be sub-classes under beverages [liquor, beer, soda, etc.] into their own specific types due to the breadth of variety and examples within those categories.  Given this structure, milk bottles could either be a separate category in itself, or since it is widely considered as a food [and surely as a base for other food products like cheese, cream, etc.], included within the food bottle group - which is what has been done here.  Due to the very large size of this Food Bottles & Canning Jars typology webpage, it will likely be divided in the future.  Specifically, the canning/fruit jars section and possibly milk bottles may be made into their own separate category webpages.)

Once the industrialization of the U. S. accelerated after the American Civil War, people began leaving the farm and flocking to cities creating a centralized market for many bottled food (and beverage) products that were previously locally produced in nearby towns or on the farm itself.  One of those products with increasing urban demand in the post-Civil War period was milk whose health benefits were widely acknowledged as they still are today (e.g., the "Got Milk?" campaign).  Delivery of milk to homes began by at least the mid-19th century, although the earliest delivery was by dipping milk out of large metal containers into the customers smaller containers - an unsanitary process at best.  The need for smaller, cleaner packaging of milk was prime for the invention of the glass milk bottle, the first reported home delivery of such being in 1878 in Brooklyn, NY (Gallagher & Munsey 1969; Tutton 1989; Lockhart et al. 2007c). 

Notes on the disappearing side mold seam on machine-made milk bottles

One confusing feature about cylindrical (and sometimes square) milk bottles made during the first half of the 20th century is the fading of the vertical side mold seams on the upper neck.  This commonly encountered feature makes what are definitely machine-made milk bottles appear as if they were older mouth-blown items with a tooled finish - at least as indicated by the side mold seam disappearance. 

More specifically, upon close inspection of the two vertical side molds seams in the shoulder to neck area of most cylindrical milk bottles, it is obvious that these mold seams do indeed gradually fade out about one-half to three-quarters of an inch below the base of the finish.  It is also apparent that no other vertical seams  are visible within the finish either -a typical attribute of most machine-made bottles -  although there is a fine horizontal mold seam (usually) visible around the outside edge of the finish.  (Click on the image below; these features are pointed out.)

How did the side mold seams disappear and why the horizontal seam on the finish?  The short answer is that these bottles were all made by press-and-blow machines which simply leave behind these distinctive features  as well as a valve/ejection mark on the base.  The more specific answer is that there are several reasons for these attributes which are functions of the distinctive way press-and-blow machines work, as follows:

Horizontal finish seam: This seam was formed where the neck ring mold (which also contained the pressing plunger) and the one-part parison mold came together.  The inner portion of the neck ring mold - that meshed with the upper part of the parison mold - was one-piece on press-and-blow milk bottle machines as was the parison mold itself.  (The hot, partially formed [pressed] parison could be ejected out of a parison mold by the ejection valve and moved to the blow mold by mechanical tongs.  Thus, that mold did not need to be two-part.)  The only seam induced by the neck ring/parison mold complex was at the horizontal interface between the neck ring mold and the top of the parison mold, i.e., around the circumference of the finish on the finished bottle. 

As with all bottle making machines - semi-automatic or fully automatic - the finish was fully formed during this first set of machine processes.  However, with press-and-blow milk bottle machines the parison was not actually held at the finish by the neck ring mold like on blow-and-blow machines.  Instead, the pressed parison was moved by mechanical tongs to the blow mold instead of by the neck ring mold.  Click on press-and-blow process - part 1 to schematically view the conformation and meshing of these mold parts (Stages 2 and 3).

(As a side note, the described parison formation process with the pressing plunger often resulted in "washboards" or "chill marks" on the upper neck of milk bottles.  These are visual wrinkles or wavy horizontal lines  on the glass just below the finish in the neighborhood where the vertical side mold seams disappear.)

Side mold seam disappearance:  After the parison was pressed and the finish formed, the neck ring mold moved away and the parison physically "ejected" from the mold by a valve that pushed the parison up and out of the mold (and leaving the valve or ejection mark on the base).  The ejected parison was grasped at the finish by noted mechanical tongs, the lower portion of the parison reheated, and moved to the blow mold for final expansion. 

This reheating of the lower portion of the parison (which may actually occur in the blow mold instead of prior to as implied by the order noted above) allowed for some parison elongation and ease of expansion in the two (or more) piece blow mold and for the distinct impression of the vertical side mold seams on the body of the fully expanded bottle.

Since the upper portion of the parison (i.e., the neck ring/parison molded finish and the very upper neck) was not reheated, this portion of the glass was relatively cool and hardened which did not allow the blow mold to make any seam impressions on the upper neck/lower finish.  It is also additionally possible that the lower finish/upper neck did not touch the sides of the blow mold or that the blow-mold did not extend that far.   Click press-and-blow process - part 2 to schematically view the final Stages of this process, although the noted reasons are not shown or indicated.

(The above explanation is a composite of the information found in H. H. Holscher's chapter on "Feeding and Forming" in Tooley (1953) and numerous discussions with the Bottle Research Group of which the author is a member.)


For more information on press-and-blow machines visit the Glassmaking & Glassmakers page.  These machines first began use in the mid-1890s as semi-automatic machines (requiring the hand feeding of glass) with full automation achieved during the mid to late 1910s with the addition of gob feeders.  As noted in the "Press-and-Blow" section to the left, there is no way physically to determine if a milk bottle was made by a semi-automatic or fully automatic machine, though if one knows the specific milk bottle dates after about 1920 (via the context it was found in or the embossing), they can be pretty certain that a fully automatic machine was used.

(Note:  Canning jars were also commonly made by press-and-blow machines during the first half of the 20th century.  These were, however, different machines which did produce a valve/ejection mark on the base, but did not typically result in the disappearing side mold seams nor the horizontal finish seam found on milk bottles.  This was due to the fact that both the parison and neck-ring molds were multi-part molds.)

Similar to canning jars, probably the most important attribute of glass milk bottles - besides the inertness of glass itself - dealt with closure ease of use and effectiveness and less about the bottle design itself, except from the perspective of accommodating the closure.  (Eye appeal to the customer was of some importance as indicated by the variety and colorfulness of ACL milk bottles, a subject discussed later in this section.)  The image above shows the three most common milk bottle sizes (quart, pint and half pint) in the most common shape made during the first half of the 20th century - a shape called the "Common Sense" milk bottle.  (These bottles are discussed below.)  Many different milk bottle closures were invented and used to some degree although far less closure variety than with canning jars.  This section is primarily about the bottles with some information provided on closures - or links to such information elsewhere on this website.  The commercial application of pasteurization to milk products beginning in 1895 in the U. S. (1880s in Germany), which allowed for a safer and longer storing product, was also of importance to the success of bottled milk (Rawlinson 1970; International Dairy Foods Assn. website: http://www.idfa.org).

Generally speaking, milk bottles are a later bottle style that did not really exist as a identifiable bottle "type" until the 1880s.  According to Bill Lockhart (New Mexico State University - Alamogordo, and a noted authority on the subject) milk bottle production went through four relatively recognizable stages of development (Lockhart pers. comm. 2005).  The first three stages noted below are distinctly different milk bottle manufacturing methods discussed largely from the perspective of cylindrical milk bottle production.  The fourth stage is for square/rectangular bottles and is more about the shape than the manufacture as the manufacturing methods #2 and #3 were also used to produce these non-cylindrical bottles.  It should be noted that square and rectangular bottles were not used much until near the cut-off date for this website (the 1950s), i.e., they became popular in the mid to late 1940s and later (Schulz et al. 2009).  (Note: More information on these classes of bottles are also found in the "Cylindrical/Round" and "Square/Rectangular" sections that follow.):

Gaffer and other helpers in a West Virginia glass factory in 1908; click to enlarge.1. Mouth-blown (mid-1880s into the mid-1910s):  Several examples of mouth-blown milk bottles are discussed and pictured in the "Cylindrical/Round Styles" section which follows below.  (The photo to the right shows a mouth-blowing "shop" in the early 1900s; this image is discussed on the Glassmaking & Glassmakers page.)  These earliest milk bottles are (in the experience of the author) always cylindrical and exhibit typical later mouth-blown manufacturing characteristics as follows:

  • The side mold seams disappear somewhat abruptly and distinctly below the base of the tooled, typically one-part, finish which may or may not have a capseat ledge on the inside of the bore;
  • There is almost always evidence of finish tooling in the form of faint concentric, horizontal rings on the finish, and in particular, below the finish on the upper neck above the upper terminus of the side mold seams;
  • No horizontal or vertical mold seams on the finish itself (both are purely machine-made bottle features); and
  • Neither an Owens suction scar or valve/ejection mark on the base. 

It should be noted that most mouth-blown milk bottles were blown in a cup-bottom mold, reflecting the manufacturing techniques of that time period, i.e. 1890s to 1910s.  These bottles have no distinctive manufacturing related markings on the base, though may have embossing present like the Empire bottle discussed later.

O'Neill milk bottle machine in 1908; click to enlarge.2. Press-and-Blow machine manufacture (late 1890s to at least the mid-20th century): These bottles were machine-made by various press-and-blow machines. (The 1908 photo to the right is of a semi-automatic press-and-blow milk bottle machine; photo is discussed on the Glassmaking & Glassmakers page.) These machines were both semi-automatic (late 1890s to mid-1910s) and fully automatic (mid to late 1910s and later), the latter being the most commonly used machine (longer use period).  Unfortunately it is impossible to physically differentiate the bottles produced by an automatic machine from those made by a semi-automatic as they share the same manufacturing related diagnostic features.  These machine-made milk bottles exhibit the following characteristics:

  • The vertical side mold seams gradually disappear about 1/2" to 1" below the base of the finish making these bottles appear - judging purely from these mold seams - to be mouth-blown with a tooled finish (see the box to the right for more information on this phenomena);
  • A horizontal seam on the outside edge of the finish (pointed out in the image to the above right) though no vertical mold seams within the finish;
  • No evidence of concentric, horizontal tooling marks on the finish or the extreme upper neck just below the finish, like noted above for mouth-blown milk bottles;
  • The one-part "milk bottle" finish virtually always has a capseat ledge on the inside of the bore which accepted a cardboard disk as the simple yet effective closure (many mouth-blown examples also have this); and
  • A circular valve or ejection mark on base.  Click valve/ejection mark to view an image of this distinctive feature.  ALL bottles (milk bottles, canning jars, other wide mouth food bottles) with a valve mark on the base are machine-made.

Owens Machine #6; click to enlarge.3. Owens Automatic Bottle Making machine (1905 through at least the 1940s): This revolutionary invention was the first of the fully automatic blow-and-blow machines.  (Illustration to the right is of one of the early Owens machines.)  Milk bottles were commonly made with Owens machines, though are less commonly encountered than those from press-and-blow machines which was the dominant production method for milk bottles from the early 1900s until the mid-20th century.  Two of the biggest users of Owens machines for milk bottle production were the Thatcher Glass Mfg. Co. (Elmira & Potsdam, NY) from about 1905 to 1925 and the Owens-Illinois Glass Company (Alton, IL.) from its inception in 1929 into at least the 1960s, although Owens-Illinois also used press-and-blow machines during this period also.  Both companies typically marked their bottles with identifying makers marks of various types as well as date codes (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart 2004d; Lockhart et al. 2007c; Schulz et al. 2009).  Owens machine-made milk bottles exhibit the following manufacturing characteristics:

  • Presence of the distinctive suction scar on the bottle base believed to be solely the product of the Owens machine.  Click image of a suction scar to see such.  This subject is also discussed in more detail on the Bottle Bases page;
  • The absence of an ejection/valve mark on the base as an ejection rod or valve was not necessary on the Owens machine since the parison mold was of (at least) two parts and could swing open allowing for the mechanical moving of the parison to the blow mold via the neck ring mold;
  • Vertical side mold seams that proceed all the way through the finish to the top surface (rim) of the finish; and
  • Additional machine-made attributes pertaining to multiple finish mold lines (feature #3) and ghost seams (feature #4) would be as discussed on the Bottle Dating - Machine-made Bottles page; see that page for more information.

The Owens Automatic Bottle Making machine is also discussed in more depth on the Glassmaking & Glassmakers page.  An amazing film showing the operation of an early (1906) and a later (1959) Owens machine is available at this link:  Film clip of an early Owens Automatic Bottle Machine in operation.

4. Square/rectangular blow-and-blow machine-made bottles (mid-1940s through 1960s and later):  This category is not about the manufacturing processes but about the shape.  Although square milk bottles were first developed around 1900, and saw some very limited popularity in the late 1920s (primarily on the West Coast), this shape was not popular or produced in quantity until the mid-1940s and later when square and rectangular milk bottles became the dominant form (Lamb Glass ca. 1945-1950; Owens-Illinois 1960; Gallagher & Munsey 1969; Giarde 1989; Schulz et al. 2009). 

Square milk bottles were made by press-and-blow (stage #2 above) and blow-and-blow (stage #3) machines and have the manufacturing based physical features noted above for those stages or machine types.  All (or virtually all) square and rectangular milk bottles were made by machines; mouth-blown square or rectangular milk bottles are unknown to this author though have been reported to exist (Tutton 1997).  (NOTE: The author would love to receive images of an example for this website.)


Two of the better references on the subject of milk bottles - as related to the goals of this website - are Jeffrey L. Giarde's 1989 book Glass Milk Bottles: Their Makers and Marks and Bill Lockhart's internet "web-book" entitled You Can Whip Our Cream, But You Can’t Beat Our Milk: The Dairies of Otero County, New Mexico, 1889 to 1977 (Lockhart 2001).  Bill Lockhart's web-book is now available only on this website as a series of copyrighted (2001) pdf files which may be printed out to make your own book - thanks Bill!  Click HERE to view the area on the Historic Bottle Related Links page that has these files.  These two works provide excellent general information on milk bottles including dating by glass weight (Girade) and information on plate embossing, valve marks, finishes, closures, and more (Lockhart).   Especially view the "Dating Milk Bottles" section (Chapter 2) of Bill Lockhart's web-book.  Of additional utility is Doug & Linda's Dairy Antique Site which contains a lot of useful information on milk bottles, milk bottle makers, and milk bottle history as well as related items like butter churns...even dairy cows.  That website is at this link/URL:  http://dairyantiques.com/Home_Page.html

The remainder of this section is divided into the two major shape forms for milk bottles: cylindrical (the oldest of the milk bottle styles) and square/rectangular bottles.  Since cylindrical milk bottles almost completely dominated the period covered by this website - which ends in the 1950s when square/rectangular bottles were finally dominant - more space is devoted to that section which begins immediately below.

 

Cylindrical/round styles

Quart milk bottle from the 1925-1935 era; click to enlarge.

The most common overall shape for milk bottles for the majority of the period covered by this website was cylindrical or round in cross-section.  More specifically, from the 1880s when the first distinct bottle style associated with the bottling of milk was invented and significantly used (covered below) until the late 1940s/early 1950s when square or rectangular bottles began to become more common, cylindrical shapes dominated the milk bottle market.  Cylindrical bottles were, however, made until at least the 1980s (Giarde 1989; Schulz et al. 2009).

The oldest patent for a milk bottle is believed to be for the cylindrical Lester milk jar in early 1878; click Lester Patent January 28, 1878 to view such.  Reportedly, the only known example of this jar is in the Ford Museum (Tutton 1989).  Although some of the earliest milk containing glass containers made in the U. S. date back to at least the 1860s, the first viable milk bottle styles appeared in the mid-1880s.

Thatcher "Milk Protector" bottle; click to enlarge.Although not necessarily the "first" milk bottle, the most successful and famous of the earliest bottles were the Thatcher "Milk Protector" bottles with the embossed man milking a cow, reportedly introduced first in 1884 (Rawlinson 1970; Tutton 1989).  An example of a late 19th century mouth-blown pint sized Thatcher bottle is pictured to the right.  (Photos courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)  The term "Milk Protector" was originally applied to a covered milking pail patented by Thatcher in 1883 (the "Thatcher Milk Protector") although the name was applied to the bottle also since "Milk Protector" is boldly embossed towards the heel as the close-up image shows (Gallagher & Munsey 1969).  Dr. Hervey Thatcher is known as the "father of the milk bottle" even if his invention may not have been the absolute first milk bottle.  Thatcher's patented milk bottle actually had more to do with the closure than the bottle - a domed Lightning-style glass (as shown on the pictured example) or sometimes metal lid and toggle (aka "bail" type) closure invented by Thatcher and partner Harvey Barnhart - although the bottle is distinctively shaped as shown (Gallagher & Munsey 1969; Lockhart et al. 2007c).  Click 1886 Thatcher & Barnhart patent to view the closure patent.  Click quart Thatcher Milk Protector to see the quart size.  (Linked bottle in the California State Parks milk bottle collection.)

1899 advertisement for the "Common Sense" milk bottle and cap; click to enlarge.Harvey Barnhart, along with his brother Samuel, also patented the (eventually) overwhelmingly popular wood fiber (aka "ligneous cap" - very stiff waxed paper or cardboard) capseat closure and finish in 1889 (Gallagher &  Munsey 1969).  Click Barnhart's 1889 Patent to see the original patent for the capseat cardboard closure and finish.  The capseat closure/finish became the standard for milk bottles for a large part of the 20th century, particularly after the widely accepted standardization of the milk bottle shape in hand with the consistency of machine manufacture in producing a uniform finish.  Various "bail-type" closures continued to be used on milk bottles until at least 1912 (http://dairyantiques.com) though by that juncture in time machine-made (largely semi-automatic in 1912), capseat closured, "common sense" milk bottles were almost certainly the dominant style.  The term "common sense" was apparently coined by the Thatcher Manufacturing Co. and was used at least as early as 1895 by them for the bottle/closure combination, though that name is not listed on the patent documentation (Lockhart et al. 2007c).  The advertisement to the left is from a 1899 dairy supply catalog and shows the earlier (probably mouth-blown) version of the style which tended to have a shorter neck than the later (1905-1910 and on) style which was machine-made with a longer, sloping neck (although that depended on the bottle size as the smaller sizes - pint and half-pints - appear more like the illustrated bottle than do the quart sizes).  For more information on the subject of the "common sense" milk bottle view the Thatcher Glass Mfg. Co. article (Lockhart et al. 2007c) from Bottles & Extras magazine which is available on this site at: http://www.sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/Thatcher_BLockhart.pdf

Early 20th century mouth-blown half-pint milk bottle; click to enlarge.Another relatively early identifiable milk bottle style is illustrated by the item pictured to the right.  This small, half pint milk (likely cream) bottle is embossed on the base with EMPIRE / PATENTED AUG. 13, 01.  Click Empire base to view the noted embossing.  This mouth-blown bottle has a tooled, "capseat" accepting, one-part "milk bottle" finish (click close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish to see such with the important features pointed out) and was blown in a cup-bottom mold.  It also shows no obvious evidence of air venting which is unusual for the era it was made, i.e., 1901 to possibly the early 1910s.  This particular design with the distinctive inward taper at the heel - called a "bowling pin" shape by collectors (the larger sizes more resemble a bowling pin) - was patented by Charles Nightingale and assigned to the Empire Bottle and Supply Company (New York, NY) on the date noted on the base.  Click Nightingale/Empire 1901 Patent to view the actual patent which shows the bottle as a plate mold, though the pictured example is not a plate mold and has no body embossing.  Empire was not known to be a glassmaking company so the bottles were made for Empire by some other glassmaker, possibly Essex Glass Co. (Mt. Vernon, OH.) or Buck Glass Co. (Baltimore, MD) though the exact maker is as yet unknown (Toulouse 1971; Giarde 1989).  Except for the diameter of the bottle constricting a bit towards the lower body and heel, this shape is essentially the "common sense" milk bottle style that dominated the first half of the 20th century.

Quart milk bottle from the 1925-1935 era; click to enlarge.The standard machine-made (press-and-blow) "common sense" milk bottle to the left (also in the upper left corner of this section) is a very typical example which is embossed with ONE QUART horizontally above a circular plate.  Within the plate it is embossed with HOLLIDAY DAIRY / PHONE / 501 / KLAMATH FALLS, ORE.  This particular bottle does have some fancier vertical embossed bars or "flutes" on the upper neck below the finish.  These type of bars were often molded on milk bottles to assist users with gripping the bottle though it also provided an interesting decorative element (Lamb Glass Co. undated [ca. 1945-1950]; http://dairyantiques.com).  The base is embossed with TRAXTUF with the X a much bigger letter than the other letters; click TRAXTUF to view the base embossing along with a very distinct valve or ejection mark.  This bottle also has the letters S. G. CO. very faintly embossed on the front heel, 454-1 on the reverse heel, and the numbers 2 and 5 on opposing sides of the finish rim. 

So, what do these bits of information add up to?  Although the makers mark of S. G. CO. could conceivably stand for the names of several glass companies (most in the eastern U. S.), given the estimated age of the bottle (1920s or 1930s) and the location of the diary user (south central Oregon) the initials almost certainly indicate production by the Southern Glass Company (Los Angeles, CA.) which was in business from 1918 to about 1930 and was known as a milk bottle producer (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart et al. 2009b).  Knowing the maker narrows the manufacturing time down a bit more.  However, the numbers on the rim of the finish are rim date codes - a bottle tracking method used by West Coast glassmakers from the mid-1920s to early 1930s - indicating that this bottle was made in February ("2") of 1925 ("5").  Of some interest is the fact that both numbers are superimposed over earlier numbers, i.e., over a "10" and a "4" which would be for October 1924.  Since this is a plate mold bottle, it was certainly used to produce proprietary embossed bottles for more than one customer at least as far back as October 1924 (Lockhart unpublished manuscript 2006; Schulz et al. 2009).   (See the "Rim Codes" discussion in a box at the bottom of this section.) TRAXTUF which was apparently a proprietary name for a yet to be determined milk bottle and/or glass production process and not unique to Southern Glass as milk bottles made by the Illinois Pacific Glass Co. (San Francisco, CA.) have been noted with that base embossing, one of which was rim date coded for February 1931 (Lockhart et al. 2009b).   The noted "454-1" heel code is apparently a mold number with no significance today.

1920s to 1940s era milk bottles; click to enlarge.The three milk bottles pictured to the right show the three most common sizes of cylindrical milk bottles made during the first half of the 20th century - quart, pint and half pint.  Other sizes used less frequently included 2 quart, 1/3 quart, and 1/4 pint (Tutton 1989).  The pictured bottles are all embossed in a plate with KLAMATH FALLS/ 10¢ / STORE BOTTLES.  (All of these examples are marked 10¢ on the base along with the ubiquitous valve mark indicating manufacturing by a press-and-blow machine; click quart base to see such.)  They are also each embossed with the specific capacity above the plate (ONE QUART, ONE PINT, HALF PINT) and all have vertical and equally spaced "ribs" on the upper neck (Lamb Glass Co. ca. 1945-1950). 

The pictured pint and half pint bottles were made by the Illinois Pacific Glass Corp. (San Francisco, CA.) as evidenced by the "IPG in a triangle" makers mark on the reverse heel of both bottles.  This allows for a quite narrow manufacturing range between 1926 and 1931 (Lockhart et al. 2005d).  Both do, however, have rim date codes which date the bottles even more precisely as January 1929 (1 & 9 rim codes) for the pint and October 1926 (10 & 6 rim codes) for the half pint (Schulz et al. 2009).  The quart has base markings indicating manufacture by the Owen-Illinois Glass Co. plant in Tracy, CA. (plant code #22) in 1936 (date code of a 6) (Lockhart 2004d).  No date codes are found on the rim of this bottle as it was produced after rim codes were discontinued in 1932.  (Note: The author also has another pint [not pictured] with the same embossing - KLAMATH FALLS/ 10¢ / STORE BOTTLES - which was also made by Owens-Illinois at their Los Angeles, CA. plant [code #23] and is base dated "46" for 1946.  This 1946 pint bottle is of significantly lighter glass [12 oz. actual bottle weight] than the pictured 1929 pint [16 oz.] - the relative lightness or glass thinness being a common feature of milk [and many other] bottles made during World War II and later.)

These type "Store Bottles" were generic bottles used by various local stores and/or dairies to distribute and sell milk although many of the dairies in the Klamath Falls area also used their own proprietary embossed bottles during the same era (1920s through 1940s) as evidenced by the Holliday Dairy bottle discussed earlier.  Differently embossed "Store Bottles" were used throughout the U. S. in an attempt to solve two perennial problems with milk bottles - lack of return (charge a deposit) and the use of one dairy's bottle by another (all local dairies share the same group of bottles).

1940s ACL milk or cream bottle; click to enlarge.Beginning in 1933, milk bottles began to be commercially produced with "Applied Color Labeling" - called ACL for short - and the end of diary specific embossed milk bottles was in sight although cylindrical embossed milk bottles were made to some extent through the 1950s into the early 1960s(Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1960; Tutton 2003; Lockhart et al. 2007c).  ACL's appear to be painted labels on the bottle body and became an immense success by the late 1930s.  Versions of the process is still being used today on some soda and beer bottles.  Click applied color labeling for more information on ACL's including how they are produced and alternative names like "pyroglazing."  The reasons for these labels becoming so popular on re-useable beverage bottles is nicely summarized in Sweeny's (2002) book on ACL soda bottles:

Because the ACL process did not significantly add to a bottle's manufacturing time, it was relatively inexpensive and yielded a permanent, brightly colored label, becoming instantly accepted within the bottling industry.  With the ACL label, a soda (or milk) bottler had the best of both worlds.  Bright, colorful labels once attained only through paper labeling were now combined with the permanence an embossed bottle offered.

The half-pint, machine-made (press-and-blow machine) milk or cream bottle pictured to the right has an ACL identifying it as being used by the Sunflower Dairy of Astoria, Oregon.  The bottle itself was produced by the Owens-Illinois Glass Company at plant #22 in Tracy, CA. in 1944 most likely, as it has a "4" date code without a period (Lockhart 2004d).  For more images of this bottle click on the following links:  base view showing the Owens-Illinois makers markings and a distinct valve or ejection mark; view of the back ACL label; close-up of the original capseat cap.  A quick search of the internet produced a report entitled "Astoria's Historic Resources and Heritage" which notes that the Sunflower Dairy distribution plant was located at 1319 Commercial Street and operated by H. J. Jeffers and A. C. Miller from construction in 1928 to 1950 (City of Astoria 2006).  There were many thousands of uniquely different ACL cylindrical milk bottles made from the early 1930s until well beyond the period covered by this websites , i.e., post-1950s (Tutton 1989, 1992, 1997, 2003).

Cream top milk bottles; click to enlarge.Cream top (separating) bottles were a fairly common variation of the cylindrical milk bottle apparently first introduced in the mid-1920s and becoming somewhat popular by the early 1930s (Gallagher & Munsey 1969).  (This feature is also found on some square bottles.)  These bottles have in common some type of distinctive and relatively tall bulbous neck with a finish bore that was just a bit wider than the constriction between the neck and body (lower neck).  This allowed the consumer of the product to both see the amount of cream sitting on top of the milk as well as to use a separator spoon to close off the lower neck constriction point in order to pour out the cream without disturbing the milk.  (A separator spoon is shown hanging off the quart bottle in the image to the left.)  The shape of the "bulge" varied in size and conformation, sometimes even being molded in the form of a face, e.g., baby, policeman (Tutton 1989).  One of the first patents for a cream top bottle was granted to Norman Henderson on March 3rd, 1925; click Patent #1,528,480 to see this patent which shows a cream top very much like the pictured bottles.  A separator spoon like that shown in the image was patented in September of 1924 by Herbert Hill; click Patent #1,506,752 to view such.

1940s and 1950s ACL cream top milk bottles; click to enlarge.The three cream top milk bottles above are of course machine-made (likely by press-and-blow machines) plate mold body embossed versions dating from the late 1920s to very early 1930s.  The photo to the right is of four typical - of the mid-20th century - ACL cream top milk bottles made by the Owens-Illinois Glass Company during the 1940s (three quarts on the right made in 1946, 1947, 1940, from left to right) and one made in 1961 (far left example).  These specific dates are determined via the makers marks and date codes on the bases.  Note: These bottles are filled with small styrofoam pellets to make the ACL labeling stand out and make the reverse labeling - a common attribute on ACL bottles - not conflict with the photographed side as is evident with the Sunflower Dairy bottle that the author photographed above. (Photos & information on the cream top bottles courtesy of Doug & Linda's Diary Antique's Site.)

There were many variations on the cream top milk bottle theme which utilized different cream/milk dividing devices and/or different bottle or neck shapes to accomplish the separation.  For more information on the subject check the following link to Doug & Linda's Diary Antique's Site which provides a more complete and well illustrated overview on the subject via an excellent page entitled "Cream Separating Milk Bottles":  http://dairyantiques.com/Cream_Separating_Bottles.html  For their webpage that covers a the variety of cream extractor tools click on this link: http://dairyantiques.com/Milk_Bottle_Go_Withs.html  It should be noted that the homogenization to milk, which largely eliminated the separation of cream, did away with these bottles over time so that they were becoming unusual by the 1950s, though some did survive into the early 1960s at least (Owens-Illinois Co. 1960; Gallagher & Munsey 1969).  The almost universal adoption of waxed paper cartons in the 1960s (and plastic jugs more recently) spelled the effective end of the glass milk bottle, although some sporadic use is still being made - see the following website: http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Dairies-Glass-Bottles-Milk.htm (Lockhart 2001c).

Milk bottle used for maple syrup; click to enlarge.

Although the "common sense" milk bottle was used almost exclusively for milk and milk products, the style was adapted for a few other food products (there are always exceptions!).  The image to the right is of a pint sized milk bottle that was used for GOLDEN TREE / PURE / CANE SYRUP (embossed on the reverse) by the NEW ENGLAND /MAPLE SYRUP / COMPANY / BOSTON (embossed on front as shown in the image) showing a bit of diversity in the use of this bottle type which is otherwise very closely linked with milk products.  Click  reverse view to view the reverse embossing.  This style bottle was also used for honey as evidenced by the quart bottle pictured at the following links: honey milk bottle; close-up of the embossing.  (Photos from eBay®)  This bottle is embossed in a circular plate with PURE HONEY / L. F. WAHL / CHILI, N.Y.  If one looks closely, the blocky MTC makers mark for the Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Co. (New York & other plant locations) is visible just below the round plate.  The mark was used by that company from about 1923 to at least 1949, with some examples still occurring as late as the early 1950s (Giarde 1989; Lockhart et al. 2007c).  Other examples of use outside the normal milk products are also likely.


Dating summary/notes: The general diagnostic dating of cylindrical milk bottles follows the information related to the stages of milk bottle development found in the introduction to this milk bottle section; click four stages of milk bottle development to move to that section.  Beyond those guidelines, the following dating guidelines for cylindrical milk bottles are summarized from the above narrative and empirical observations made by the author:

  • Mouth-blown cylindrical milk bottles generally date from the initiation of the style in the mid-1880s until about 1910-1912 when press-and-blow machines almost certainly dominated production.
  • Cylindrical milk bottles with embossing within a plate were made from as early as at least the 1890s (mouth-blown) until the early 1960s (Owens-Illinois 1961).  Machine-made ones could date as early as about 1900, though most date from or after 1905-1910.
  • Cream-top milk bottles first appeared around 1925, were fairly popular in the 1930s and 1940s, largely disappearing by the mid-1950s, though some were made at least as late as the early 1960s (Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1960; Gallagher & Munsey 1969; empirical observations).

Western Milk Bottle Date Rim Codes

Rim codes on a 1925 milk bottle; click to enlarge.One very useful and precise dating feature for milk bottles made during from the early-ish 1920s to early 1930s - at least on the West Coast - are the date rim codes added to help track the life of these returnable - and hopefully returned - bottles.  More specifically, between (at least) as early as August 1923 until (at least) as late as January of 1933, single and occasionally double digit numerical date codes were added to the top rim of milk bottles produced by a handful of of glass factories on the West Coast (Schulz et al. 2009).

These small numbers are read looking straight on at the rim rotating it, of course, so that the numbers are upright (click and enlarge the image to the right).  The number on the left side is the month code (#1-12) and on the right side the date code, which sometimes can be a double digit code (like 25 for 1925) or more commonly a single number for the last digit of the year (i.e. 9 for 1929).

The example pictured (on the rim of the Holliday Dairy bottle discussed earlier) is unusual as it has a month code of 2 (February) superimposed over a 10 (October) and a year code of 5 (1925) superimposed over a 4 (1924).  Reminiscent of an "overdate" in the coin world, this re-engraving was done to "update" the finish producing ring mold from a date of October 1924 to February 1925.   To date, the earliest date code identified on a milk bottles has been August 1923 although earlier dates are possible.  So far these codes have only been noted on milk bottles produced by Californian glass factories for Western dairies, and though commonly encountered, not all West Coast dairy bottles have rim codes during the noted time range (Schulz et al. 2009).  As a side note, one interpretive problem with these codes is the occurrence of a 6 or 9 on one side and an 8 on the other.  These can be read as either August 1926 or 1929 or June or September 1928.  Besides that minor issue - and the opposing 6/6 or 9/9 codes either of which could be June 1926 or September 1929 - these date codes are a very straightforward and an accurate way to date these bottles.

Authors note: Recent observations of some Southern Glass Co. (Los Angeles, CA.) manufactured milk bottles shows that some of the earliest codes were (or included) a single number on the rounded side of the finish, not on the rim.  Specifically, one example was observed with simply a "3" on the finish side, no number on the rim.  This was most likely for 1923 although it could have been a month code (March) for a bottle likely manufactured in that same year.  That appears likely to be the first year rim codes were used with a quick realization that a year code would also have to be included for longer term use.  Another example had a "3" rim code with an "8" on the rounded side of the finish indicating that the bottle was likely produced in August 1923.  (Carol Serr pers. comm. 3/2012)

Rim date codes are essentially only found on cylindrical milk bottles without ACL lettering (they are either embossed or plain) as this feature pre-dates both the ACL process in the U. S. and the general acceptance of square milk bottles by milk producers.  The one exception to the latter point is that a few square Blake-Hart milk bottles (discussed in the next section) have been observed with rim codes ranging from December 1925 to August 1929 (Schulz et al. 2009).

A useful, downloadable summary sheet about rim codes is available at this link: Rim Code Summary Sheet.  This summary sheet was prepared by Carol Serr (CRM Lab Director, Laguna Mountain Environmental, San Diego, CA.) as part of a poster presentation at the 46th Annual Society for California Archaeology conference, March 30, 2012 in San Diego, CA.

For the complete story on this subject consult this article in Historical Archaeological:

Schulz, Peter D., Bill Lockhart, Carol Serr, and Bill Lindsey.  2009.  Rim Codes: A Pacific Coast Dating System for Milk Bottles.  Historical Archaeology 43(2):30-39.  Article on the dating of West Coast produced milk bottles from the 1920s and early 1930s via embossed numbers on the bottle finish rim.  This article is available on this website at the following link: http://www.sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/rimcodesarticle.pdf

 

 

Square/rectangular styles

Blake-Hart square milk bottle from the 1920s; click to enlarge.Just as cylindrical bottles were the dominant form of milk bottle during the first half of the 20th century, the most common shape for milk bottles produced during the last half of the 20th century (an era not specifically covered by this website) were bottles which were square or rectangular in cross-section.  Although square bottles were likely used for milk bottling as early as 1898 (mouth-blown), when one of the first patents for such was granted, square and rectangular milk bottles did not become popular with dairies or milk bottlers - with the one minor exception discussed below - until the mid-1940s (Gallagher & Munsey 1969; Giarde 1989; Tutton 1997; Schulz et al. 2009; Lockhart pers. comm. 2011).  Superficially this seems anomalous since square and rectangular milk bottles - like other types of flat sided "case" bottles - have the distinct advantage of more efficiently using/filling the space in a shipping or carrying crate for a given volume of contents.  This was a factor of no small importance for a product that was transported by thousands of milk-men to the nations doorsteps during the first two-thirds of the 20th century.

Blake-Hart base view; click to enlarge.So why did square/rectangular bottles for milk take so long to catch on?  There were likely several reasons.  Earlier mouth-blown square and rectangular bottles had the inherent weakness of the four vertical corners with relatively sharp angles in which the glass was typically significantly thinner than the intervening flat panels.  (Glass distribution and thickness when blowing bottles was a long-term problem - particularly with mouth-blown bottles - that was incrementally solved over time with their production in automatic bottle machines.)  Thin glass areas on milk bottles was a significant breakage issue since milk bottles were typically re-used many times, being banged around significantly during the repeated washings, fillings, transportation and consumer use.  Cylindrical milk bottles (mouth-blown and machine-made) tended to be more even in glass thickness due to no sharp body angles (except at the heel).  In addition, a cylindrical shape is simply an inherently stronger design than square/rectangular bottles of the same glass weight or quality (Tooley 1953).  That is a primary reason, along with carbonation pressure, that the other primary types of re-useable bottles over the past century and a half - soda and beer bottles - were and continue to be cylindrical.

The popularity and availability of square/rectangular milk bottles had to do with advances in bottle and glassmaking technology that occurred during the World War II era.  The need to devote more materials to the war effort forced glassmakers to come up with a lighter but still adequately strong glass.  The Owens-Illinois Glass Company light weight glass container products were referred by the proprietary name Duraglas beginning in 1940 (Toulouse 1971; Giarde 1989; Lockhart 2004d).  Advances in bottle making technology and design in the 1940s - including the more gently rounded corner edges as shown by the base image above right - resulted in square/rectangular milk bottles that could hold up well under repeated use for this decidedly non-carbonated product.  Square/rectangular bottles quickly surpassed cylindrical bottles in popularity and use by the early 1950s to become the dominant form (Tutton 1989).  A Duraglas milk bottle is discussed below.

Close-up of the Blake-Hart milk bottle mark; click to enlarge.The earliest regular production non-cylindrical milk bottles were most likely the square Blake-Hart milk bottles patented in 1927.   Based on an analysis of rim date codes (discussed earlier), the first of these bottles were actually made at least as early as December 1925 to as late as at least August 1929 (and possibly a bit longer) - a fairly narrow window of production (Schulz et al. 2009).  To view the actual Blake-Hart patent click on Blake-Hart July 12, 1927 patent.  The patent drawing shows well the capseat ledge inside the bore of the finish which is ubiquitous with these bottles as well as most other milk bottles made during the first half of the 20th century.  Irva Blake and Harry Hart of Sacramento, CA. were the inventors and apparent distributors of these early square milk bottles which were produced by several glass companies solely on the West coast, i.e., Illinois Pacific Glass Company (San Francisco, CA. 1902-1926),  Illinois Pacific Glass Corporation (1926-1930), and possibly the Illinois Pacific Coast Company (1930-1932) (Giarde 1989; Lockhart et al. 2005d).  Blake-Hart bottles typically have an embossed logo consisting of an upright milk bottle crossed by the word "BLAKE" surrounded by a heart with the word "TRADE" to the left and "MARK" to the right (image above left).  A good discussion on Blake-Hart milk bottles and square bottles in general is found in Giarde (1989).

An article on Blake-Hart is now available on this website at http://www.sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/BlakeHart2011.pdf

The half-pint Blake-Hart bottle pictured in three images above is an example embossed with 1/2 PINT above a rectangular plate and PAT. APPD. FOR below the plate.  Inside the plate is embossed HOLLIDAY / DAIRY / PHONE 501 / KLAMATH FALLS /ORE.   The image to the above left is a close-up of a faint Blake-Hart (click to enlarge) logo just above the heel on one side.  Click base view to see such (also shown to the above right) including the distinctively indented square base typical of the style (and specifically described in the patent linked above) and a valve/ejection mark indicating production by some type of press-and-blow machine.  This bottle dates from the 1925 to 1930 era although this example does not have rim date codes to affirm the manufacturing date precisely.  The PAT. APPD. FOR embossing does imply that the mold post-dated the patent application (January 1925) but pre-dated the July 1927 patent issuance, i.e., it was likely manufactured between 1/1925 and 7/1927.

1952 square quart milk bottle; click to enlarge.Beginning about 1943 - with the advent of the "Handi-Square" (which was a collaboration between Owens-Illinois Glass Co. and the Creamery Package Manufacturing Co., a milk producer supply outfit) - and increasingly more as that decade wore on, the milk bottle producing industry began making square and rectangular milk bottles in earnest using the same kinds of machines used for other bottle types (Tutton 1989, 2003; Lockhart pers. comm. 2011).  This included the press-and-blow type machines described as stage #2 at the top of this section which had been in use for about a half century.  It also marked the beginning of the era when milk bottles were starting to be made in larger quantities with blow-and-blow machines, and example being the Owens Automatic Bottle Machine.  These milk bottles exhibit no ejection/valve mark on the base (though may have a suction scar or other parison mold induced base ring), have vertical side mold seams which continuously extend to the rim the finish, and otherwise have the features noted for blow-and-blow machines discussed as stage #3 at the top of this section.

The quart bottle pictured to the right is a typical example of a square milk bottle made near the end of the timeframe covered by this website, i.e. the 1950s.  More specifically this bottle was produced on a press-and-blow machine by the Owens-Illinois Glass Co. in their Los Angeles, CA. plant in 1952.  How do we know this?  It is largely all spelled out by the markings on the base of the bottle.  Click on close-up of the base which shows the makers mark for Owens-Illinois (top center) with the date code (52) to the right of the mark, plant code (23) for the Los Angeles, CA. plant to the left, and Duraglas below.  Also visible is the distinct valve or ejection mark indicating its press-and-blow machine heritage.  Click base view to see an image showing the square cross-section with the gently rounded - almost beveled - corners which enhanced bottle strength.  

Although the illustrated bottle does not have an applied color label (ACL), these type bottles very commonly did have such indicating the dairy name along with other slogans, motifs, trade marks, images, advertising, and the like.  Click amber quart square milk bottle to see a 1950s era ACL example from Phoenix, AZ. that was made of amber glass which was used occasionally, reportedly for containing a special Vitamin D milk (Tutton 1989).   Square and rectangular milk bottles of this era were very rarely embossed with user requested information, though commonly had embossed contents information (the illustrated bottle has ONE QUART, LIQUID, and some mold numbers embossed on three sides of the heel), makers markings (on the base or heel), and sometimes other glass maker information like mold numbers (Tutton 1997, 2003; empirical observations).


Dating summary/notes: The general diagnostic features related dating of square or rectangular milk bottles follows the information related to the stages of milk bottle development found in the introduction to this milk bottle section; click four stages of milk bottle development to move to that section.  As noted above, the author has not observed any square mouth-blown bottles (stage #1) so stages #2-#4 are the pertinent ones for square and rectangular milk bottles.

 

Return to the top of this page.

Other Food bottles/jars

This section is a "catch-all" for some miscellaneous food bottle types that do not fit neatly into the previous sections although many of the styles shown below were used for products which were typically bottled in containers like those covered earlier on this page.  As with all the sections above, this section is not all inclusive (an impossibility) but intended to cover some of the more commonly encountered food bottle types on U. S. historic sites.

 

"Spice" bottle style

Spice bottle from the 1870s; click to enlarge.

During the last half of the 19th century bottles shaped like that shown here were a dominant style/type used for various spices as well as other condiments and food products which would fit.  These unusual 8-sided bottles (base view below) have wide, concave front and back panels with flat narrow side panels bound together by relatively wide, concavely beveled corners.  The base view image below "describes" the cross-section conformation better than a narrative - a shape called the "fluted oblong (variant 1)" in the IMACS guide (Fike 1987).  The style also has a moderately wide mouth or bore which allows for easier access to the bottle for both packing and extractive use by the consumer.

Base view showing the typical cross-section shape; click to enlarge.Zumwalt (1980) contains images of several of these distinctive 8-sided bottles labeled for a variety of different spices including thyme, cloves, cinnamon, marjoram, as well as mustard which is more of a condiment.  The Steamship Bertrand which sank in the Missouri River in April 1865 contained bottles of this same shape with original labels and packing crates indicating that they contained ground pepper with references on the label to other spices that the company made - and likely bottled in this type glass container - including cinnamon, mace, and white pepper (Switzer 1974).  Glass makers catalogs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries indicate that these bottles were also very commonly used for mustard and horseradish - actually were called a "flat mustard" bottles by some makers - and available in sizes from 5 oz. to 14 oz. available (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880; Hagerty Brothers 1898).  Similar bottles were illustrated in the 1909 Whitney Glass Works catalog as a "fancy flat mustard" and available in four capacities between 2.5 and 5.3 ounces (Lohmann 1972).

The typical shaped (atypically colored) spice bottle to the left above (base view to the right) has a crudely applied one-part bead finish, was blown in a true two-piece key base mold ("key" portion largely hidden by the oval base indentation which makes it appear like a post-bottom mold) with no evidence of mold air venting, overall crudely bubbly glass, and lacks a pontil scar (i.e., snap case produced).  Based on these features one would estimate the date of manufacture as sometime between the early 1860s and mid-1870s.  This particular bottle was excavated from an east central Nevada mining camp that was most active from the late 1860s through the 1870s; a date range that well fits the manufacturing based diagnostic features.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: side view; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish.  It should be noted that the vast majority of spice bottles were made in various shades of aqua glass not the bright yellow-green color of this example.

The three spice bottles illustrated to right are of the same basic shape as the pictured bottle; a type that is very commonly found on U. S. historic sites of the mid to late 19th century.  (Illustrations courtesy of California State Parks.)  The bottle to the immediate right (left side of the group) is pontil scarred, has a crudely rolled finish, and produced in a hinge mold; features which would indicate a manufacturing date in the 1850s or early 1860s.  (This bottle would not pre-date the early 1850s since it was found in a California Gold Rush context.)  It should be noted that a large majority of these bottles, like this example and the one pictured above, are not body embossed, though many have mold or glass maker related symbols, letters, or numbers on the base which largely have no useful meaning today.

The bottle illustrated in the middle of the group is embossed vertically with H. C. HUDSON. &. Co and seems to be most commonly found in the West (empirical observations).  That makes sense, as the Hudson Co. was indeed a San Francisco, CA. concern that began manufacturing mustard and spices in 1861 and continued until the early 1890s (Zumwalt 1980).  It is likely that these bottles were made by a San Francisco glass company.  The H. C. Hudson bottles (an actual specimen was studied by the author) have an applied one-part "patent" finish and were blown in a key base mold - as evidenced by the arched base seam shown in the base illustration - with no evidence of mold air venting indicating a likely manufacture in the mid-1860s to early 1880s range. 

The bottle illustrated to the far right is embossed on the narrow, flat side panels with J. W. HUNNEWELL & CO. - BOSTON.  It also has a crudely applied one-part "patent" or "packer" finish though was blown in a post-bottom mold (with an oval post plate to the mold) with almost certainly no evidence of mold air venting (and no pontil scar) indicating a likely manufacturing date range similar to the H. C. Hudson bottle.  The Hunnewell & Co. bottles are probably the most commonly encountered embossed bottles of this style and contained both mustard and various spices.  It is thought that Hunnewell - whose bottles of this type also come in pontil scarred versions and in several sizes - were the first users or originators of the style which was subsequently widely copied by others (Zumwalt 1980).
 


Dating summary/notes:  This style appears to have originated in the 1850s, or possibly the late 1840s, and was produced until close to the end of the mouth-blown era as examples were listed in bottle makers catalogs until at least as late as 1909 (Lohmann 1972).  Only one crude early machine-made example (with a wide bore crown type finish!) has been noted by the author indicating the style largely died out with the domination of automatic bottle machines during the 1910s.  Although made until the early 20th century, the style seemed to have been most popular from the 1850s through the 1880s as most of these bottles observed by the author have applied or rolled/folded finishes; tooled finishes are unusual (empirical observations).

Dating of these type bottles follow quite well the manufacturing based diagnostic guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  Beyond that, additional information on a particular bottle would have to be acquired through research of the historical record when possible with company embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.

 

Capers bottles

Late 19th or early 20th century capers bottle; click to enlarge.Capers bottles are typically very specific in shape (and usually color) with only minor variations between different manufacturers - at least until the second or third decade of the 20th century (discussed later).  This distinctive style - as shown by the examples pictured here - was apparently not used for any other product but capers.  (Having stated this, someone will inevitably email with the information about an example with a whiskey label or something equally non-capers-ish!)  Capers bottles are commonly encountered items on American historical sites from the last third of the 19th century into the first few decades of the 20th century; thus, the coverage here.

Late 19th or early 20th century capers bottle base; click to enlarge.Capers are the immature flower buds or berries of a prickly capers shrub (Capparis spinosa) which is native to the hot and arid portions of the  Mediterranean region.  It was and continues to be commercially cultivated in southern France, Sicily, and Spain, with some production in the U. S. (Florida and California).  The smallest berries are the most flavorful, desired, and expensive and are referred to as "non-pareille" - a fact noted on the neck label of the bottle to the left.  Pickled capers were (and are) used as a seasoning or garnish on various foods so in a sense this product could be considered a condiment or a preserved food.  (Sources: www.wikipedia.org and www.foodreference.com.)  This bottle style is included here since it does not seem to neatly fit into either of those sections above.

Capers bottles are uniquely shaped in that all the subtle variations of known capers bottles noted by the author have eight non-symmetrical sides, four of which are the equally narrow and inwardly rounded (concave) "corners" which connect the other four wider sides which are usually of two different widths (i.e., most bottles have an overall rectangular cross-section).  Some capers did have equal widths to the four main body panels making them square in body cross-section; these capers bottles were known as a "square caper" in glass maker catalogs.  However, the most common cross-section conformation is modestly rectangular (base example above).  These were called the "flat caper" by bottle makers and had two opposite wide sides that were a bit wider than the other other two opposite wide sides (Illinois Glass Company 1903).  See the base image above as it is (obviously) easier to visualize than describe in a narrative.  The four sides can also vary in that on some capers bottles these sides are all concave (lower right image), all flat (image to the above right), or a mix of the two conformations, i.e., two flat and two concave panels.  Capers bottles are also tall and narrow typically being 3 to 4+ times taller than the width, the bottle to the lower right being at least 5 times taller than the width.  Typical capers bottles also have a relatively wide bore for product access which is sometimes almost as wide as the body (example above).  The most commonly encountered types also have a molded ring on the lower neck, like the example above.  Others - like the example below - do not have the ring but still have the distinctive body and shoulder conformation and glass color.

Late 19th century capers bottle; click to enlarge.Most capers bottles were produced in some shade of green glass; most commonly in shades of emerald green like the bottles pictured here.  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 212-213 to view illustrations of these common bottles (bottom of page 212) in the most common capacities between 3 and 12 ounces.  As the catalog notes, these bottles were regularly offered in "dark green glass" (undoubtedly like the pictured bottles here) but also available on request in "Flint, Light Green or Amber Glass."  Although the author has never seen capers bottles in flint or amber, they almost certainly exist given this statement in the catalog of this largest of the late 19th to early 20th century bottle producers.  Regardless of that possibility, medium to dark green is the color almost always encountered.

The approximately 7" tall capers bottle pictured above is typical of the most common mouth-blown style with a tooled one part packer (or patent) finish, molded ring on the lower neck, deep green color, and produced in a cup-bottom mold almost certainly with air venting.  (Photos from eBay®)  The very tall (12") capers variation pictured to the right is embossed vertically on the "narrow wide side" with J. P. SMITH and has the original label indicating its use for capers.  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  This example has a tooled straight finish, was likely blown in a cup-bottom mold (air venting status unknown), and likely dates from the 1885 to 1900 era.  This bottle was used by James P. Smith who was a New York City (offices also in Chicago and Paris) importer of food products beginning at least as early as 1875 and lasting until at least 1933.  At least one other variation of this style - similar to the first bottle pictured above - was used by the company and embossed with JAMES P. SMITH on one narrow side and NEW YORK & CHICAGO on the opposite side (Zumwalt 1980).  (Note: There was also a 1870s era wax seal type canning jar that was embossed around the shoulder with J. P. SMITH SON & CO. - PITTSBURGH.  This was the name of a glassmaker from Pittsburgh and not connected with the New York importer [Creswick 1987].)

Dating summary/notes:  The dating of these type bottles generally follows quite well the manufacturing based diagnostic guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  Beyond that, additional information on a particular bottle would have to be acquired through research of the historical record when possible with company/product embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact, like the examples here.  However, some additional dating refinement and general information on capers bottles follows:

  • Most mouth-blown versions of these bottles appear to date from the 1880s to at least the mid-1910s era as all the bottles inspected by the author were blown in cup-bottom molds and have tooled finishes.  They are also far and away most commonly encountered in various shades and tones of dark green glass.
  • Many (most?) of the mouth-blown capers bottles found in the U. S. were imported from Europe as France appears to have been the primary producer, processor, and packer of capers during the era of these bottles.  Most of the originally labeled bottles observed by the author note that the product was "French Capers," including both bottles illustrating this section.  In addition, many of the examples that have embossed company names indicates a French origin (Zumwalt 1980).  Although these bottles were apparently made by at least one of the largest U. S. glass makers (Illinois Glass Company) capers bottles were apparently a non-typical offering by most bottle makers, as indicated by a search of several dozen 1890s to 1930s bottle makers catalogs in the authors possession (as noted on the References page).  (The Illinois Glass Co. bottles could also have been imported and sold through their catalog; something that the company is purported to have done with some other bottle types [Jones 1961].)  Given the probable foreign manufacture of many/most of these bottles - and the apparent slower adoption of automated methods by European bottle makers during the early 20th century - it is quite possible that some mouth-blown bottles found in the U. S. were foreign made until well into the 1920s.
  • Machine-made, external screw thread versions of these bottles in the typical shape and color were used in the 1920s and likely a bit later (Zumwalt 1980).  It is also likely that cork stoppered bottles were still being used concurrently to these threaded bottles during that era (empirical observations).
  • By the 1930s or possibly early 1940s, these distinctive bottles appear to have disappeared from the U. S. market being replaced by more generic, largely colorless, wide mouth bottles/jars that were used for many food products and would be difficult to ascertain as capers bottles without the original labels still intact.

 

Baby food bottles

Ca. 1900 infant food bottle; click to enlarge.This section includes two classes of "baby food" bottles: bottles/jars which contained some type of more or less solid infant food product; and nursing bottles designed to provide milk or other liquids.  They are covered separately below.

Baby food bottles/jars:  Although not a particularly common category of bottles, there is at least one type of baby/infants food bottles very commonly encountered on historic sites - the Mellin's Infant's Food bottles or jars, as they have a moderately wide mouth/bore.  The typical example pictured to the left is embossed on the body with MELLIN'S / INFANT'S FOOD / DOLIBER-GOODALE CO. / BOSTON.  (Yet another bottle from a major "food bottle" producing U. S. city - Boston, MA.)  This bottle is also embossed with LARGE SIZE on the reverse shoulder; these bottles came in several sizes (Zumwalt 1980).  According to the original label (link below), the product was touted as "The Only Genuine Substitute for Mother's Milk..." and was mixed with water or milk and administered to either the infant or the nursing mother (but was also good for "invalids and adults").

According to Zumwalt (1980) the product was first produced in England in the 1870s by Gustav Mellin, with the first trademarked label in the U. S. issued in 1889 to Doliber-Goodale, which was probably about the begin date for these U. S. made bottles.  The pictured example is most likely one of the older Mellin's bottles dating from the 1890s to early 1900s.  It has a tooled one-part finish with a ledge (aka "cap seat") on the inside of the bore for accepting the shell cork and stopper type closure and was blown in a cup-bottom mold with air-venting - all consistent with the noted date estimate (Boow 1991).  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view; close-up of the finish showing the shell cork still stuck in place on the ledge within the bore/mouth of the bottle but with the glass stopper removed; close-up of the original label with the noted shoulder embossing above.  Click the following two links to view a somewhat later (1910s) example of a mouth-blown Mellin's bottle which is embossed on the shoulder (MELLIN'S FOOD - LARGE SIZE) and heel (MELLIN'S FOOD - BOSTON, U. S. A.) which also has the original stopper and intact label: image 1; image 2.  (Images from eBay®.)  Later bottles (post-1920 or so) were similar but machine-made.  By the late 1920s or early 1930s the capseat finish and glass lid was replaced with an external screw threaded finish and a metal cap (empirical observations); click screw cap Mellin's to view a 6.2" tall example without the cap.  (Image from eBay®.)

Although other types of baby "food" bottles undoubtedly exist, it was not a common product until well into the 20th century, i.e., Gerber's Baby Food which began production in 1928 according to the corporate website: http://www.gerber.com/history.  There are essentially no other specialized baby food bottles apparently discussed or covered by Zumwalt (1980), which is the most comprehensive book on the subject of "food" bottles.

English nursing bottle from the 1860s.Nursing bottles:  Containers used for feeding infants date back to antiquity as pottery ones are known from as early as 1500 B.C.  Materials used for such containers ranged from various metals (pewter was popular), wood, ceramics, and even wood (Munsey 1970).  The use of various glass containers for feeding milk or other liquid/semi-liquid foods to infants was certainly common in the U. S. by the late 18th century (McKearin & Wilson 1978).

Early 19th century probable nursing bottle; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the right is an early American (1790s to 1830s) bottle of a type known to have been used for nursing infants with with the addition of some type of nipple to the bottle bore.  It was largely free-blown but patterned once with a mold that had 19 engraved vertical ridges.  Click nursing bottle side view to see a close up of the upper side and neck/finish showing the ribs more distinctly.  This flask also has a glass-tipped pontil scar on the base.  These relatively common (for the period) long flattened ovoid shaped flasks were likely not used exclusively as nursing bottles though that is what they are commonly referred to by collectors.  The style was undoubtedly also used for liquor or other liquid products during this early era when bottle variety was very limited (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Jones & Smith 1985).

The aqua nursing bottle pictured to the above left is English in origin and most likely dates from between approximately 1860 and 1874.  It was salvaged from the wreck of the English ship Kingsbridge that sank off the coast of Falmouth, England in 1874.  (Photo courtesy of Leigh Bishop.)  It is a typical shape common with nursing bottles produced from at least 1820 (and probably earlier) until as late as 1913 (in Italy), though most appear to date from the 1820s to 1870s era.  This style is referred to as the "submarine" by collectors today; pottery versions were also made though typically of English origin (Ostrander 1984).  The fluid was added to the bottle via the large "fill or vent" lip on the side (then corked) and fed to infants via the smaller opening which usually usually - but not always - covered with a nipple of some conformation and material, i.e., rubber [after 1845], a soft rag or chamois "suck", and even a pickled cow teat (!) - and item sold by English druggists of the period (Ostrander 1984).  The shape appears to be an evolutionary precursor to later styles as represented by the bottle pictured below.

The first U. S. patent for a glass bottle dedicated to infant nursing/feeding was issued in 1841 although bottles clearly and solely intended for use as nursing bottles appear to have arisen about the time of the Civil War (Munsey 1970; empirical observations).  Click Patent #1,985 - Method of Constructing Lacteal or Artificial Breasts, February 18, 1841 to see this first patent dealing with nursing bottles.  These typical mid to late 19th century nursing bottles featured a glass tube stuck through a cork that fit the bottle neck; an English invention reportedly brought to the U. S. in 1864 (Munsey 1970; Ostrander 1984).  Click 1902 Whitall, Tatum & Co. nursing bottles and closures to view such from that companies early 20th century bottles and "sundries" catalog.  The illustrations show several of these type closures fitted to the typical nursing bottles of the day which also included a rubber hose and nipple for transferring the contents to the infant.

Late 19th century nursing bottle; click to enlarge.The nursing bottle pictured to the immediate left lying on its side is typical of one of the more common nursing bottle styles of which there were many hundreds of different variations produced during the last half of the 19th century into the middle of the second decade of the 20th century.  Most date from between 1870 to 1910.  They are referred to as "turtle" nursing bottles by collectors; a "standing turtle" if they stood upright (Ostrander 1984).  These types typically held 8 ounces (sometimes as much as 16 ozs.), had rounded bottoms, a flattened back, and a short neck that tipped upwards to keep the liquid contents from running out as they were intended to be laid on their sides when not being used (Munsey 1970).  Other nursing bottles of the era had a similar shape with and without the angled neck that would actually stand upright (several of which are shown in the 1879 catalog page linked below).

The above (left) pictured example had a typical 8 ounce capacity and was produced by the Whitall, Tatum & Co. (Millville, NJ) from at least as early as 1879 to at least the early 1910s (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879, 1892, 1909, 1924).  It is embossed on the front (or upper side while laying down) with ACME NURSING / (six sided star with  WT&CO inside) / BOTTLE.  Click 1879 catalog to view an illustration from the Whitall, Tatum & Co. bottle catalog from that year showing the ACME "bent neck, round bottom" nursing bottle as well as several other styles that the company produced. This pictured bottle has a tooled single part bead finish and was blown in a true two-piece mold with air venting indicating a likely 1890 to 1910 manufacture.  (It should be noted that this is a relatively late example of a true two-piece molded bottle but is typical of later mouth-blown bottles with completely rounded bases which do not allow the bottle to stand upright.)  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle: view of the embossed (upper) side showing the Whitall, Tatum & Co. trademark in a star; view of the back (bottom or resting) side which has embossed graduation markings (faintly visible in image) and FLUID OUNCES and is flattened to facilitate stable placement on a flat surface. 

For another example of a similar shape and size nursing bottle from England, click English nursing bottle.  This particular example has an inside threaded finish (and glass stopper) which is seen occasionally on English-made nursing bottles.  These bottles used a threaded stopper of some type (not a cork) to hold the rubber hose/nipple arrangement that would allow access to the contents by a nursing infant.  In fact, the glass stopper in the pictured bottle may have a hole to facilitate such an arrangement. (Photo from eBay®; bottle not in the authors possession to inspect.)


Dating summary/notes: The dating of these type bottles follows quite well the manufacturing based diagnostic guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  Beyond that, additional information on a particular bottle would have to be acquired through research of the historical record when possible with company embossed bottles or those with the original labels intact.

 

Flavoring extracts

Flavoring extract bottle from the 1880s; click to enlarge.Flavoring extracts (i.e., vanilla, fruit flavors [lemon extract was very common], peppermint, almond, cloves...even onion!) came in a variety of bottle shapes.  One of the more commonly used styles strongly identified with these products were rectangular (in cross-section) bottles shaped like - or similar to - the example pictured to the left (Zumwalt 1980).  This particular style was referred to in bottle maker catalogs as "ball neck panels" often with glass company proprietary names added on, e.g., "Dixie Ball Neck Panel" (Fairmount Glass Works 1910).  These bottles have a very distinct molded ring on the lower to middle neck and indented body panels on two, three, or all four sides (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880, 1909; Illinois Glass Company 1903,1920; Fairmount Glass Works 1910).  This style is often referred to now by collectors and archaeologists as "ball neck extracts."  Similar flattened, rectangular bottles without the "ball neck" and/or without the sunken "panels" were also commonly used for flavoring extracts (Zumwalt 1980).  The group of extract bottles pictured below shows some of the variety found in these type bottles including the absence of the neck ring (far right) though all have the variably indented panels common to the group.  (image from eBay®.)  All of the pictured bottles were mouth-blown with tooled patent or extract finishes and date from between about 1890 and the early to mid-1910s.  Flavoring extracts seemed in a way similar to (and as popular as) pepper sauce condiments as food adjuncts designed to liven up (or make edible) the relatively poor and limited range of food products of the day.

Group of late 19th century extract bottles; click to enlarge.The ball neck panel (and related) types were the typical shape for flavoring extracts from at least the mid to late 1860s into at least the 1950s - well into the machine-made era (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879, 1896, 1909; Obear-Nester Glass Co. 1922; Lucas County Bottle Co. ca. 1940; Knox Glass 1950s; empirical observations).  The ball neck extract bottle was not exclusively used for flavoring extracts only as the style was also used for medicinal products, hair dyes, furniture polish, cologne, and undoubtedly many other products.  In fact, the ball neck panel bottle was typically listed with or near the prescription druggist and patent medicinal type bottles in glass maker catalogs and was undoubtedly used commonly for medicines (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880; Illinois Glass Co. 1906; Fairmount Glass Works 1910; Lohmann 1972; Zumwalt 1980).  For example the labeled ball neck panel bottle at this link - Dr. David's Chill Tonic - was definitely intended as a medicinal product.  The label does note that it "Tastes as Pleasant as Lemonade" possibly suggesting that it may have simply been lemon extract with maker imagined medicinal properties?  The term "extract" was also used in conjunction with patent medicines (e.g., "Extract of Sarsaparilla") which were often ethyl alcohol extractions of various herbs; that is not the type of extracts covered here (Fike 1987).

The ball neck panel bottle pictured in the upper left corner of this section is embossed with L. BLUMAUER & CO. / FLAVORING /  EXTRACTS (with a fancy L. B. Co. trademark).  This bottle has a tooled patent finish and was blown in a cup-bottom mold though lacks any evidence of mold air venting - diagnostic features which indicate a manufacturing date range from the late 1870s to mid 1880s.  Louis Blumauer - who was the first Jewish child born in Oregon (1850s) - became a pharmacist in Portland, OR. beginning about 1878 in partnership with a man named Heubner (Oregon Native Son Historical Magazine 11(7) December 1900 - online).  (Note: A Blumauer & Heubner druggist bottle is pictured and discussed in the druggist bottle section of the Medicinal Bottles typology page; click HERE to view that section.)  Heubner left the partnership by 1880 and Louis did business under his name until 1889 when he formed a partnership as the Blumauer Frank Drug Co. which continued well into the 20th century (Portland Business Directory research).  Thus, the manufacturing date of this bottle is somewhere between 1880 and 1889.  This bottle is also embossed on the base with W. T. & Co. indicating manufacture by the Whitall, Tatum & Co. (Millville, NJ).  Their 1879 catalog listed these "ball neck panels" bottles as available from 1/2 ounce to 8 ounces and available "for lettered plates" which is how the embossing was added to the mold used for this particular bottle (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879).  Click on the following links to view more images of this extract bottle:  base view showing the W. T. & Co. embossing; close-up of the shoulder, neck and tooled finish.  This particular bottle is typical of the flavoring extract bottles that were utilized by hundreds, if not thousands, of druggists across the country for products which received only local or regional distribution (Zumwalt 1980).  (The L. Blumauer bottle was excavated in the Portland, OR. area.)

Machine-made extract bottles; click to enlarge.The pair of rectangular extract bottles pictured to the left are both machine-made and exhibit typical machine-made characteristics including suction scars as both were products of the Owens Automatic Bottle Machine.  The bottle on the right side of the image is a 6" tall typical ball neck panel bottle with a very narrow neck ring that is embossed with Mc CORMICK & CO. / BALTIMORE.  The base is embossed with the makers mark for the Owens-Illinois Glass Co. with a plant and date code combination of a "6" and a "9" - numbers which make it impossible to determine if the bottle was made in 1936 or 1939 or at the Streator, IL. (plant 9) or Charleston, WV. (plant 6) plants as both were in operation in the 1930s (Lockhart 2004d).  Unfortunately, there is no additional mold number below the "diamond O-I" mark to orient its proper reading.  McCormick was and continues to be a large producer of extracts, spices, and other food products from 1889 until the present.  The illustrated bottle almost certainly held some type of flavoring extract (Zumwalt 1980; McCormick & Co. website 2007). 

The bottle on the left side of the image (4.6" tall, though was produced in many sizes) is embossed with M & R / BRAND / FLAVORS / ACME / FLAVORING / CO. / BRAND REG. / U. S. PATENT OFFICE (Zumwalt 1980).  It is also embossed on the base with the "IPG in a triangle" mark indicating manufacture by the Illinois Pacific Glass Corporation (San Francisco, CA.).  This mark strongly indicates that the Acme Flavoring Co. was a Western concern though its origin is unknown to this author (though these bottles are commonly seen in the West).  This makers mark definitively dates the bottle from between 1926 and 1930 (Lockhart et al. 2005d).  The shape is an era typical machine-made rectangular "oval" type druggist/prescription bottle including graduation marks indicating a two ounce capacity.  It is also an example of the crossover from the druggist category into the world of flavoring extracts.  (These type bottles are covered in the druggist bottle section of the Medicinal Bottle typology page.)

Coffee extract bottle from the last quarter of the 19th century; click to enlarge.The square olive green bottle pictured to the right is embossed on one side with W. P. BRANSON and on the other (pictured) with COFFEE EXTRACT.  (Click on reverse view to see the side with the W. P. BRANSON embossing.)  This bottle is English in origin though is occasionally encountered on U. S. and Canadian historic sites (Zumwalt 1980).  It has an applied two-part "collared ring" finish, was blown in a cup-bottom mold and has no evidence of mold air venting as evidenced by the flattened embossing visible in the pictures.  If this bottle were made in the U. S., these features would likely indicate manufacture in the early to mid-1880s.  However, it is of English manufacture and likely dates from between 1885 and the early 1900s.  It is shown here primarily to display some variety in both the type of extracts made (coffee in this case) and the type of bottles used for food type extracts. 


Dating summary/notes: Dating of these type bottles follow pretty well the major guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  In particular, due to the similarity of manufacture (and sometimes use) of the typical U. S. produced extract bottles and druggist bottles, the diagnostic dating information found in the "Druggist/Prescription Bottles" section of the Medicinal/Druggist/Chemist typology page pertains to these extract bottles also.  Click Druggist Bottle Dating Summary/Notes to view this information.

The following are a few summary dating observations or estimations specific to ball neck panel/extract bottles based on the references cited in this section above, various bottle maker catalogs as well as empirical observations by the author beyond those noted at the druggist bottle dating link just above:

  • Mouth-blown ball neck panels without mold air venting date from as early as the late 1860s until the early to mid-1880s.
  • Mouth-blown ball neck panels with mold air venting marks began production in the mid to late 1880s and continued to be produced through the 1910s.
  • Machine-made cork closure ball neck panels appear first when narrow-neck producing machines began significant use in the early to mid-1910s and continued until at least the mid-1930s and possibly as late as 1940 or so.
  • Machine-made external screw thread closure ball neck panels first appear in the 1930s and were produced until at least the early 1950s and possibly later.  (Catalogs show most of these later bottles without indented panels.)

 

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For additional images of various labeled food bottles & canning jars click the following link to view the pertinent section of the Labeled Bottles page.

 


Again it must be stated that the category of bottles covered on this webpage (Food bottles & Fruit/Canning jars) is very large and diverse.  Like all of the bottle "typing" (typology) pages connected to the main Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes page, this page just scratched the surface as to the total diversity of these bottle types.  It does, however, cover the primary styles that were most commonly used and encountered within an archaeological context.  This page has also somewhat emphasized mouth-blown bottles since that subject is of more familiarity to the author of this website than later 20th century, machine-made items.  However, though the automated bottle production era also had incredible variety, it was not as diverse as the mouth-blown era since shape standardization and simplification was typical of machine manufacturing.  Also, bottle body embossing became much less frequent on machine-made bottles and a significant amount of the diversity of the mouth-blown production era was the different proprietary embossing on essentially the same shapes of bottles.


1/1/2014

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Bill Lindsey
Bureau of Land Management (retired) -
Klamath Falls, Oregon
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