Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes
Household Bottles (non-food related)
HOME: Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes: Household Bottles
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This lower portion of this page is currently a work-in-progress.
This non-food related Household bottles page is one of two typology pages (in addition to the Miscellaneous & Foreign bottles page) which comprise the "catch-all" sections for bottle types not otherwise covered by the other major bottle type categories. Specifically, this page addresses non-food products clearly used in households across the United States and Canada. These products were also used, of course, by businesses, schools, government offices, and other non-household entities.
The "household" (aka "personal") bottles category has been used by archaeologists - and collectors to some degree - for many years although the actual bottle types contained within the category varies significantly (Herskovitz 1978; Berge 1980; Univ. of Utah [IMACS] 1982; Felton et al. 1984; Jones & Sullivan 1989). For example, canning/fruit jars which are included by some authors in the "household" bottles category - or as an entirely separate category - are covered here on the Food Bottles & Canning Jars page (Herskovitz 1978; Berge 1980). Another example is that chemical and poison type bottles - which could have been covered on this page or the "Miscellaneous bottles" page - are discussed on the Medicinal/Chemical/Druggist bottles typology page which is consistent with what some other authors have also done (Herskovitz 1978; Univ. of Utah [IMACS] 1982).
In the end, there has never been total agreement on the categorization hierarchy of bottle types and probably never will be. The point behind these typology pages is not to establish a hierarchal classification system for bottle types but instead to help users identify what the most likely function or use was made of the specific bottle shape/type they are interested in determining such for. See the following "Organization & Structure" section for the specific bottle types that this website includes in the "household" category.
The other typology pages (e.g., "Liquor/Spirits bottles", "Food Bottles & Canning Jars", etc.) have larger introductory sections than this page or the "Miscellaneous & Foreign bottles" page. This is because the "household" and "miscellaneous" categories are much wider ranging in diversity and lacking the tighter or narrower "theme" of the other major categories. Instead, this page will have specific bottle type introductions incorporated into the opening paragraphs within each given section listed. Given this structural difference, the introduction for this page is considered complete; please scroll down to the "Organization & Structure" section below to begin.
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. Various household bottles are listed throughout this catalog including pages 36-43, 46-69, 74-77, 104-107, 278-287.
This Household Bottles (non-food related) 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 or other logical categories. Additional categories and/or sub-categories will almost certainly be added as future updates to this page.
Each of the pictured bottles has a relatively short description and explanation including estimated dates or date ranges 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; this is 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.
Glass containers intended for ink were produced in an amazing assortment of types/shapes, sizes, and colors. Ink bottles are typically divided into three major categories: ink bottles (small), bulk or "master" ink bottles (larger bulk containers), and inkwells (Munsey 1970). Within these sub-categories, this website breaks the small utilitarian ink bottles into several major body cross-section related groups - "cylindrical," "square/rectangular," "multi-sided (more than than 4 sides; see image to the left of 1865 ink bottles)," and a catchall category of "other shapes." (Photo to the left by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.) Larger bulk or master ink bottles are are more simply divided into two categories - "cylindrical" (the large majority) and "other shapes" (Nelson & Hurley 1967; Covill 1971). Inkwells are briefly covered as a group since this sub-category is more of a specialty bottle group, where the various manufacturing based dating rules summarized on the Bottle Dating pages have more limited application. The categories used on this website greatly simplify those described by Covill (1971) whose book "Ink bottles and inkwells" has been the standard work on the subject for many years. It should be noted, however, that a recent and also well illustrated book: INKS: 150 Years of Bottles and Companies by Ed and Lucy Faulkner's (Faulkner 2009) is probably an even better reference which includes much more historical information about the companies than Covill and is possibly still in print, unlike Covill. Please consult these books for more information on the fascinating subject of ink bottles.
The difference between an "ink bottle" and an "inkwell" is hard to define since they are both small bottles used as "containers for ink" from which a pen (or quill) was directly filled or dipped (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary 2009). So what is the real difference? Although both were used in a similar fashion - to directly fill a quill or fountain pen - according to Munsey (1970) an "...inkwell was a permanent and decorative container that was a relatively expensive item", i.e., a specialty bottle. An ink bottle was of a more disposable utilitarian nature and often - but certainly not always - discarded after use of the commercially produced contents contained in the bottle (Nelson & Hurley 1967). Put another way, inkwells were more decorative, typically purchased empty (like many liquor decanters), intended to be retained permanently until broken or of no use, and were filled over and over again from bulk sources. Ink bottles were sold commercially filled with ink and frequently tossed after use although the frugality of the times often dictated that ink bottles were frequently refilled (from a bulk/master ink container) and used over and over again like an inkwell (Munsey 1970; Covill 1971). In the end, the line is blurred between the two although both are covered as separate bottle "types" below.
Glass ink bottles and inkwells definitely date back to before the period covered by this website, i.e., prior to 1800, although they were not common before that time. In Europe, glass inkwells dating from the early 18th century have been noted and advertisements for ink bottles date at least as early as the 1770s (Van den Bossche 2001; Faulkner 2009). Historically, it was not until the late 18th to early 19th century that ink was commonly available commercially in liquid form. Up until that time the most common commercial forms were as wafers, cakes, sticks, or as a powder from which the purchaser/user would add water to make ink. Druggists as well as printers, stationary and bookshop keepers often prepared, bottled, and sold ink during the 19th century and before in the New World (McKearin & Wilson 1978). An example from an Oregon "stationers" business is discussed later in this section.
Not all ink bottles or inkwells were made of glass,
of course. Just about any and every compatible material was used for
containing ink at some point including many different types of metal (e.g.,
iron, copper, tin, brass), various stone (e.g., soapstone, marble), various
woods, horn, ceramics and stoneware, hard rubber, and other materials much less
commonly (Covill 1971). Prior to beginning of the 19th century,
virtually all ink came ceramic containers which were still commonly used
throughout most of the 19th century also. The image to the right above is of three stoneware ink bottles
(smaller) and three bulk/master ink bottles that date from the 1850s to 1880s era.
The two larger stoneware bottles are English in origin, the smaller one
being stamped or incised with VITREOUS STONE BOTTLE / J. BOURNE & SON, /
PATENTEES / DENBY POTTERY / NEAR DENBY / (horizontal line) / P. & J.
ARNOLD, / LONDON; the larger bulk ink has slightly different lettering.
(Denby is about 150 miles NE of London.) All of the stoneware ink
bottle styles illustrated above are commonly encountered on historic sites
in the U. S. and Canada. In fact, all of the pictured examples
were excavated in the United States. Coverage of non-glass ink bottles
is, of course, beyond the scope of this website (another author can prepare a
stoneware/ceramic bottle website!) although they are pictured here to show the
major class of
alternative vessels used for ink during the 19th to early 20th centuries.
For more information on the
fascinating world of glass ink bottles and inkwells, see the two primary
published references used for this section - William Covill's "Ink
Bottles and Inkwells" (1971) and Ed and Lucy Faulkner's "Inks - 150
Years of Bottles and Companies." In addition, a couple ink
related websites listed on the
Historic Bottle Related Links page are available to help in the dating
and identification of this large category of bottles.
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Mucilage & Glue
"Mucilage" is a type of adhesive typically made from plant products such as seeds (commonly flaxseed), bark, and roots (Covill 1971; Wikipedia 2012). "Glue" historically was made from animal substances, e.g., skin, bones, and/or cartilage from both terrestrial and aquatic animals. Horses hooves were reportedly a well know component of glue in the past (at least according to my parents while growing up!). According to online dictionaries, today the term glue seems to be general term used for adhesives including mucilage. In any event, the terms "glue" and "mucilage" are the most commonly seen either embossed or labeled on historic bottles within the time frame covered by this website (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009). What the contained products were specifically made from is somewhat irrelevant to this discussion of historic mucilage and glue bottles. Suffice to say that the products were both organic in origin versus the widely used synthetic adhesives today.
Mucilage was often packaged in bottles that were the same as those used for ink - in particular, the cone ink style - at least in part, because both products were often made by the same companies (Faulkner 2009). An example of this is the "classic" cone ink bottle labeled for mucilage found at this link: cone "ink" labeled for mucilage. The linked bottle likely dates from the 1880s or 1890s. No history is known on the Henry Hoffman Co. although it was in business producing ink and mucilage for a long time - mid to late 19th century - based on the manufacturing characteristics of the companies various bottles (Faulkner 2009). Located at the following link is another late 19th century cone ink style bottle clearly labeled as mucilage: another cone "ink" labeled for mucilage. (No history was found for that particular bottle either.) The best that one can say in regards to the past use of now non-labeled cone style ink bottles (like those found on historic sites) is that they were primarily used for ink (and often are found with ink residue inside) with a significant use also for mucilage (and a substance that would likely dissolve more readily than ink). Another typical ink bottle style often used for mucilage were the cylindrical, vertical body ink bottles covered earlier on this page (Covill 1971).
There was, however, at least one distinct bottle style that was closely identified with just mucilage/glue which was used for a very long period of time (empirical observations). It is represented by the bottles illustrated above and below left. As one can see from the images, these bottles are a bit like the cone ink style, with the horizontal ridge on the shoulder, conical body and short neck, but also a bit like an umbrella ink with the multi-paneled body sides. Typically, this mucilage style has a taller body and overall height either the typical cone or umbrella inks and a much more pronounced ridge or bulge at the shoulder than the cone ink. (Compare images of both on this page to see the difference.) This style also has a bit wider bore or mouth to facilitate the use of the less liquid product than ink, often with some applicator (see 1865 patent below). The body below the pronounced shoulder ridge/bulge is very often 8-paneled like both the illustrated examples (sometimes these have 12-panels), but is often seen with no panels, i.e., a cylindrical body. (Click on Illinois Glass Co. 1906 catalog page 54 to see a "bell mucilage" bottle that has a cylindrical body.) The Whitall, Tatum & Co.'s 1880 bottle catalog shows illustrations of 8-paneled ("cone style") and 12-paneled ("N.Y. Style") 3 oz. mucilage bottles for sale at $6.00 per gross (Whitall, Tatum & Co. 1880).
The patent available at the following link - mucilage applicator patent from 1865 - includes a line drawing of a typical mid-19th century mucilage bottle of this style. Although the patent is not for the bottle itself - by that time a traditional style bottle that was not likely even patentable - it clearly shows a multi-paneled bottle with a distinctly humped shoulder similar to the ones illustrated. This easily identifiable style was used from at least the early to mid-1850s (based on pontil scarred examples being observed occasionally but not commonly) until the end of the mouth-blown bottle era in the mid to late 1910s.
The classically shaped, conical multi-sided mucilage bottle in the upper left corner of this section (base view above right) is a relatively early example dating from just before or during the American Civil War based on manufacturing based diagnostic characteristics (i.e., mid-1850s to the mid-1860s). It has a rolled or folded finish, was blown in a post-base mold, and has a combination style pontil scar exhibiting obvious iron residue. The base view shows the somewhat unusual combination pontil scar on the base of this bottle. The label notes it is from New York though no company is listed; click close-up of the label to see such.
The bottle pictured to the left is very similar morphologically to the one above, but is body embossed on three sides with STICK - WELL - & CO. This mucilage was actually made by the S. S. Stafford Ink Co. of New York, NY. Samuel Stafford began making ink in 1858 but not under his own name until 1869, giving a "begin" date for these bottles of that year (Faulkner 2009). These bottles date from the late 1860s into the early 20th century (all seen by this author were mouth-blown) although the company lasted until at least the middle of the 20th century (Faulkner 2009). Click on the following links for more images of this bottle: base view showing what is likely a cup-base mold conformation; close-up of the cracked-off and lightly tooled "straight finish" which was the most commonly used finish on this common style of mucilage bottle.
Another frequently encountered glue bottle style - although much less commonly than the type discussed above - is pictured below right. This style has been called an "igloo and spout" style by collectors (Nelson & Hurley 1967) and was also used for ink (Covill 1971). That author covered the style in his chapter entitled "Fountain Inkwells (Misc.)" illustrating this and similar versions made by various manufacturers (Covill 1971:307-314). The most commonly encountered examples are like the illustrated bottle. It is embossed around the heel with MORGAN'S PATENT JULY 16TH 1867. This patent was issued to Elisha Morgan of Springfield, Massachusetts on that date for an "Improved Mucilage-Stand." That patent can be viewed by clicking on the patent number which follows: Patent #66,868. Morgan was later granted another patent (June 18th 1872) for an "Improvement in Inkstands" - a closure that fit this style bottle which was now being called an inkstand. This patent can be viewed at the following link: Patent #128,163. This later patent illustration shows what appears to be a bottle very similar to the 1867 bottle with the "improved" cover which is much different than the handled cap and brush closure shown in the 1867 patent. The 1872 patent was apparently bottles of this style used for ink instead of mucilage.
In any event, these interestingly shaped bottles were blown in a cup-base mold, have a ground rim finish, and apparently were only made in colorless glass. Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the shape of the bottle and the patent date; finish view showing a close-up of the ground rim. An interesting fact about this bottle is there was one mold for the style made with most of the embossing reversed! That is, the mold engraving was made so the engraver could read it in the mold correctly which, of course, resulted in the embossing being reversed on the blown bottle itself (Faulkner 2009). This style of ink bottle was made by various manufacturers from at least the late 1860s until the early 1900s (1910s at least). The author has not observed machine-made versions although they certainly could exist.
Pictured to the left is an early, embossed glue bottle of a simple style commonly encountered with glue bottles - small, cylindrical, and with a wide bore or mouth (Covill 1971; empirical observations). This early example is embossed vertically with SPAULDING'S (front) - GLUE (reverse). Although a commonly encountered mid to late 19th century bottle, this author couldn't find any history on these bottles. A quick search of the internet shows some 19th century newspaper ads for it though nothing on the company that produced the product. This bottle is approximately 3.3" tall, was blown in a true two-piece mold (the mold seam equally dissects the base), has a blowpipe pontil scar, a rolled or folded finish, and exhibits no evidence of mold air venting. All that is commensurate with the age of the bottle which was manufactured in the 1850s based on the context it was found. Several authors have noted that these bottles are commonly found on Civil War camp sites and are usually pontiled, i.e., pontil scarred through most or all the first half of the 1860s (Russell 1998; Faulkner 2009). The author has also observed later mouth-blown versions that are not pontiled, have tooled finishes, and blown in cup-base molds (empirical observations). Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle: base view showing the circular blowpipe style pontil scar; close-up of the neck and finish showing the rolled or folded style of finish - a finish rarely found on post ~1870 bottles.
Glue was also packaged and sold in other bottle shapes and sizes from the mid-19th century through the end of the period covered by this website in the mid-20th century. Future additions to the site may add additional mucilage and glue bottles examples...
Dating summary/notes: Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows most of the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information. A few mucilage bottle specific manufacturing related diagnostic features and dating trends have been noted by the author and are discussed as follows; trends which are also common with the similar smaller (non-bulk) ink bottles:
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Blacking is "a substance (as a paste or polish) that is applied to an object to make it black" (www.merriam-webster.com 2009). Blacking was sometimes referred to as "lampblack" which is the fine soot collected from incompletely burned carbonaceous materials. It was used as a pigment and in matches, explosives, lubricants, and fertilizers as well as a component of various treatments for leather products (www.thefreedictionary.com 2009). The blacking of leather goes back to antiquity, though the earliest reference of use for shoes is from the early 18th century when it was typically made at home. The first references to it as a commercial product available as a "fine liquid shoe blacking" in the American colonies was in 1764 with the first known use of the name "blacking bottle" in an 1813 advertisement from a Philadelphia glass works although bottles were certainly used for the product prior to that (McKearin & Wilson 1978). Shoe polish was typically black for much of the period covered by this website so the terms are considered historically analogous. The following is a description of blacking from 1859:
Although blacking and shoe polish bottles can be square (below right), cylindrical (cylindrical utility bottle), rectangular (to the left), or more uncommonly oval (1830s oval example) or even octagonal in cross-section they tend to all share at least a couple similarities. First and foremost is a moderately wide bore or mouth - usually about 1" in diameter give or take 1/8" to 1/4". Such was necessary for the use of an application swab or sponge which was usually mounted on the end of a wire or wooden stick. (Click 1883 patent for a shoe polish bottle and applicator to see a copy of a patent for a bottle described later but which shows the typical type applicator used for shoe polish/blacking.) Documented use of such applicators began at least as early as 1829 (McKearin & Wilson 1978). The second commonality is that the capacity of the bottles were dominated by those holding about 4 to 6 ounces, although "bulk" bottles or jars as well as ones a bit smaller than 4 ozs. were also used, and many products came in bottles of that size (McKearin & Wilson 1978). However, consideration of that size along with a moderately wide bore can lead one to conclude that such a bottle could have been used for shoe polish/blacking unless strongly identified by other features or embossing as something else (empirical observations).
Some of the earliest American-made blacking/shoe polish bottles are like those pictured to the right. (Image compliments of Glass Works Auctions.) These bottles are square, produced in a true two-piece "hinge" mold (note mold seam symmetrically dissecting the bases), have blowpipe style pontil scars, cracked-off finishes (sometimes fire polished, sometimes not and left sharp), and were blown long before mold air venting was used. This ubiquitous style ranged at the time from about 4.5" to nearly 6"tall with sides about 1.5" to 1.6" wide. They were typically made in various shades of olive green to olive amber glass like shown though aqua, pure green and amber examples are also encountered. Of interest, is that these type bottles in the 1820s and 1830s were sold by the New England Glass Bottle Co. for 3 cents each, one cent more than tin canisters made for the same use and at a cost 10 times that of the contents and applicator (McKearin & Wilson 1978)! (The reason why early bottles were usually reused many times.) The pictured bottles date from the 1820s to maybe early 1850s range and were of a type blown at most New England and other Eastern Seaboard glass factories of the time. (Note: These early American bottles were also used for snuff and likely other products also.)
This square, short neck style was made in the U. S. from at least as early as the 1810s until well into the 20th century. Of course the specifics of manufacture as well as the closures and finishes used varied over that time, e.g., corks and cracked off finishes in the early 19th century to screw caps and external threaded finishes in the 1920s and after. A very common example of a late 19th to early 20th century, mouth-blown example is available at this link: Frank Millers Dressing. This aqua example from the 1890s to 1910s period shares the same general proportions and dimensions as the much early blacking/shoe polish bottles pictured to the above left, but has a tooled "patent" finish and was blown in an air vented, cup-base mold.
The shoe polish bottle pictured at the beginning of this section (and to the left) are some of the most commonly encountered types from the late 19th well into the 20th century. The first one above is embossed vertically inside an indented panel with WHITTEMORE / BOSTON / U. S. A. This particular type came in at least two sizes, this being the typical larger size which is 5.5" tall. It also has a rounded, one part "bead" type finish, an indented base and was mouth-blown in an air vented cup-base mold. For more images of this bottle click on the following links: base view; side view; close-up of the upper body, neck and bead style finish. These mouth-blown bottles were produced in colorless, aqua, shades of green and amber glass; there were also lots of different size, shape, and embossing variations. Later machine-made variations (probably no earlier than the 1930s) had screw cap finishes. The cork (or possibly later - rubber) had the applicator swab wire embedded in the base.
The images to the left are of a mid/late 1910s or (more likely) 1920s to early 1930s, machine-made example with the original label and dried up contents. One side is embossed with 5 FLUID OZ. (horizontally) at the top of the embossed side and WHITTEMORE / BOSTON / U. S. A. (vertically) below; the other side has the original label as shown (click to enlarge images). This bottle is 5.4" tall, machine-made of colorless glass on an Owens Automatic Bottle Machine as evidenced by some of the suction scar showing on the lower body of the embossed side - a common feature with earlier (pre-1940) bottles made on that famous machine. In the experience of the author, machine-made bottles like this lack the indented panel on the embossing side that is typical of the earlier (pre-mid 1910s) mouth-blown examples, though some mouth-blown examples lack the indentation also (empirical observations).
The Whittemore's Polish bottle to the right (two views) is a cylindrical, late mouth-blown example that dates from the 1905 to 1915 era. It is embossed with WHITTEMORE'S on the front and POLISH on the back. It is about 3.6" tall and just over 2" in diameter, has a tooled bead finish, a mouth or bore of about 1", and was blown in a cup-base mold. The amethyst color is the result of the use of magnesium dioxide as a decolorizer; the original color was colorless but has since turned deep amethyst due to either exposure to ample sunlight or irradiated artificially. These would have been stoppered similarly to the rectangular types discussed above.
By the mid-1910s, especially as machines began to dominate production, the cylindrical style began to dominate the glass bottle shoe polish market although rectangular and square bottles continued to also be used until the mid-20th century (Illinois Glass Co. 1906, 1911, 1920, 1926; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1930). For some examples of early machine-made "shoe dressing" bottles from period bottle makers catalogs click on the following links: Illinois Glass Co. 1906 - page 282; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916 - page 132; Illinois Glass Co. 1926 - page 144, 145 and 146.
In addition to the bottle types above, the very distinctively shaped example pictured to the left is also one of the commonest shoe polish or blacking bottles found on historic sites in the U. S. dating from the 1880s into at least the first couple decades of the 20th century - the Bixby patent style bottle. This particular bottle is just over 4" tall and 2.3" in diameter with a mouth/bore a bit over 1". Click close-up of the upper body, neck and finish to see such. The body is embossed with PATENTED / MCH. 6. 83. (Apparently, Bixby was frugal and the mold engraving charged by the letter even though there was plenty of room to spell out MARCH and the full year.) These bottles are also usually (always?) embossed on the base with BIXBY with the X being much larger than the other letters. Click on the image to the right to see that embossing more clearly; also click another base view to see an amber example showing the embossing more clearly. They came in a variety of glass colors, although far and away the most commonly seen is aqua like the pictured example (empirical observations).
As the embossing indicates, this distinctive bottle style was patented on March 6, 1883 although the patent was applied for in 1880 so examples could date back to that time at least. Click Samuel M. Bixby's March 6, 1883 patent #273,444 to see the original patent for the bottle shape - particularly the bulging shoulder - and the polish applicator (primarily the handle at the top). It noted that the patent was for "...certain new and useful Improvements in Bottles for Containing Liquid Blacking..." Although the bottles are somewhat variable, it appears that the earlier bottles are like the taller more slender example above. Later mouth-blown ones had a body that was squattier, square with rounded corners and the patent date in one line just below the shoulder bulge. Click squat example to view an image of an early 20th century example; click base view to view the base embossing of this squared example.
S. M. Bixby was also a producer of inks, bluing, stove polish, mucilage and harness oil in addition to blacking/shoe polish. The company apparently began in the 1860s and continued for many years, using a variety of different bottles for the other products, until Bixby's death in 1923 when the company was sold to a competitor (Faulkner 2009) although the product name continued and was connected with the famous Shinola shoe polish. (For more information on the company view this website: http://www.glassbottlemarks.com/s-m-bixby-company-bottles/ ) Click machine-made Bixby bottle to see a 3 oz. capacity cylindrical example that likely dates from the 1910s or 1920s and is typical of that eras shoe polish bottles. Click 1919 Bixby advertisement to see such showing the same bottle shape.
Shoe polish/blacking was also packaged and sold in other bottle shapes and sizes during the period covered by this website, i.e., entire 19th to mid-20th century. Future additions to the site may add additional blacking/shoe polish bottle examples...
Dating summary/notes: The dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing
related diagnostic features very closely follow the guidelines
presented throughout this website and summarized on the
Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.
There are no significant bottle type specific, manufacturing related
diagnostic features or dating trends that have been noted by the author.
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Glass containers intended for the wide variety of toiletry products (e.g., perfume, cologne, cosmetics & lotions, hair products, tooth powder, Florida water, etc.) is another category of glass containers which is a massive group of highly variable shapes and sizes. One major commonality within this group is that bottles intended for these products tend to be smaller in capacity, rarely being over about 10 or 12 ounces and often much less than that. They also tend towards having narrow necks and smaller bores (most products being liquids) and to have been made of relatively thin glass since toiletries were not carbonated and extra heavy glass was little needed (cream jars being an often encountered exception to both the bore size and glass thickness). Other than those attributes, the variety within this large group is staggering. Thus, the coverage here will be primarily directed at some of the more commonly encountered types and those that offer some historic interest or relevance (or I have interesting examples of to illustrate).
The use of bottles for various toiletry products dates back a couple
thousand years to the Hellenic and Roman empire periods. For example,
the small (3" tall) Roman bottle to the right dating from the Judea Period,
i.e., first to second century A.D. This large by variable
class of Roman bottles are often referred to as "unguentarium
bottles" as they were commonly used for holding scented oils for the body and
hair as well as perfumes. The bottle is free-blown, a light greenish
color glass, a finish that was flared with some primitive tool and has
evidence of a sand type pontil scar on the base. It is also heavily
patinated from the reaction of the soil it was found in with the glass
over almost 2000 years. Click the following links to see more images
of this ancient bottle:
base view, and
top view. As with the rest of this website, the bottles covered
largely date from the 19th to mid-20th century and were produced primarily
in the United States.
FROM THIS POINT ON THIS PAGE IS LARGELY INCOMPLETE & A WORK IN PROGRESS.
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Snuff is the only category on this page that was primarily intended for internal consumption...at least internally as far as the mouth or nose/lungs. (Note: Florida Water was also originally touted for internal as well as external use but was and is primarily for external application.) Cecil Munsey's excellent 1970 book "Collecting Bottles" has a quick overview of the product which is as follows: "Snuff is a powder made from tobacco and is inhaled through the nose or chewed. There are two basic types of snuff, moist and dry. Moist snuff is called rappee and dry snuff is known as sweet. Rappee is subjected to two processes of fermentation (heat and moisture) whereby aroma and strength are acquired and much of the nicotine and organic acids are removed. Sweet snuff is commonly adulterated with quicklime which gives it a biting and dry effect. Snuffs are usually scented with musk, essences of bergamot, lavender, attar of roses, tonka beans, cloves, orange flowers, jasmine, and other scents." (Munsey 1970). See McKearin & Wilson (1978) for more information on the origin, production, history and use of snuff - a name derived from one of the original uses of the product which was "snuffed" up ones nose.
Utilitarian bottles (of glass) intended for snuff date back to at least the late 18th century. Fancier specialty bottles (not covered here; see Van den Bossche  plate 163) as well as vials, boxes, pouches, mulls, and bags were also used to contain snuff from the early 16th century when this New World product made its way to the Continent (Munsey 1970; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Van den Bossche 2001). Generally speaking, utilitarian snuff bottles tend to be small to moderate in height (less than 6-7"), square (image to the left, described below) or rectangular in shape (some cylindrical and fewer polygonal bodies), moderately wide bores to fill and access the contents, and short to non-extent necks with a straight, bead, flared or rolled finish - all very simple finish types that accepted a cork, or in later years, a snap cap. The vast majority of bottles used for snuff were not body embossed; instead they were plain bottles with often decorative and informative labeling. (1840s to 1850s labeled snuff image to the right courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)
This class of bottles were also used variably for other products (i.e., "utility bottle" - next section below) like blacking and ink (both liquid or powdered), dry ground spices like mustard, and medicinal powders to name a few relatively common alternative uses (McKearin & Wilson 1978). Snuff bottles were also likely used for less processed ground or flaked tobacco (for smoking or chewing) although the author is unsure as such products seemed to have been typically packaged in larger wide mouth jars similar to canning jars (Toulouse 1969) and in non-glass containers made of metal or ceramic. As with many commercially bottled products in the 18th and 19th centuries, snuff was thought to have medicinal uses primarily for catarrh and headaches, though wilder claims were rampant until the regulatory limits imposed on such in the early 20th century (Young 1961, 1967; McKearin & Wilson 1978).
One additional note on a somewhat unique feature of later (~1870s into the mid-1900s) snuff bottles. This is the presence of embossed "dots" on the base of many (and eventually most all) snuff bottles made during the noted period. (Image to the left of a 1920s to 1940s, machine-made snuff base with three dots.) These dots, ranging typically from one to four are thought to be indicators of the strength of the snuff contained, one being the mildest and four the strongest. However, some believe that the marks are instead glass maker marks intended to track quality control of bottles produced by different machines (Gloria Thomas, Conwood Sales Co. LLC pers. comm. 2007). In the authors opinion, given the ubiquitous presence of such dots on snuff bottles - particularly from the 1890s to into the mid 20th century - and their absence on any other bottle types of the same period, being a type of glass makers marking is extremely unlikely. They do not visually denote any specific glass maker like most makers markings and our Bottle Research Group research has never connected embossed dots with any American maker. See the Bottle & Glass Makers Markings page for more information on such marks. Thus, being related to some attribute of the contents (strength) seems the only likely explanation for these dots (Munsey 1970; empirical observations).
Rectangular snuff bottles are almost certainly the most commonly used general shape during the 19th century with some use well into the 20th century to some degree, though square bottles were most common at that time. Although made by a lot of different glass companies (McKearin & Wilson 1978), typically most rectangular bottles are similar to each other in that they are short to moderate in stature (the example to the left is 5.25", the other two about 4.25" tall), little defined neck - the finish visually "sits" in the middle of the shoulder with little to no neck in evidence, and have variably wide flat chamfered corners. The earlier American (image to the left) and European examples are relatively taller and narrower than the somewhat later rectangular ones (following three images).
The tall and relatively narrow, early American, rectangular black glass snuff bottle pictured to the right is of a style primarily made from the very late 1700s into the 1840s when the next style bottle became the dominant rectangular style through the rest of the century (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Van den Bossche 2001). This example is 5.25" tall, has a faint present sand pontil scar, and almost certainly blown in a dip mold (slight taper from shoulder to heel, uneven shoulder height, lack of any mold seams) forming the distinct body sides; the shoulder and very short neck being formed by hand. The finish appears to be a crude string style which is an early finishing process originating during the mid-17th century and little used after the 1820s due to improved finishing technology (Jones 1986; empirical observations). This indicates that this bottle was likely made no later than that, i.e., made between about 1800 and 1825. Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: side view to view such; close-up of the upper body and finish to see the smooth, glossy "free-blown" and seamless appearance of the shoulder (typical of dip mold shoulders) and the very crude string finish. Also click base view to see the equally seamless and crude base which has a faint and scattered sand pontil in evidence which is not readily photographable. (Note: the faint ring in the middle of the base is crudeness, not a pontil scar.) See Van den Bossche , Plate 357, #3 for a very similar shape and size English example (but with flared finish) made about 1800 and Plate 348, #1 for a similar, but taller English example dated to about 1840. Similar examples of this tall style have been seen by this author to over 9" in height but with the same approximate body dimensions. Early dip molded rectangular (and square) snuff bottles were usually blown in clay molds for forming the body (McKearin & Wilson 1978).
The dark olive green/olive amber (aka "black glass") rectangular snuff bottle with chamfered corners pictured to the far left is an example that dates from the 1850s based on the context of where it was found in Oregon. (The example to the immediate left is of an almost identical example with the original labeling. Image courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.) Both are examples of the dominant rectangular style made from at least the 1830s until the early 1900s. The main difference between this style and the one previously discussed is the ratio between the the height and widest base width. Specifically, this "short" style is typically about 1.5 times taller than wider, whereas the earlier style is 2 to 3+ times taller than wider. This olive example is 4.25" tall with a base that is 2.6" wide (longest measurement) by 1.7" deep (shortest).
Both examples were made in full sized true two-piece "hinge" molds which formed virtually all the conformation of the bottle with just nominal tooling done at the cracking off point to form a cursory flared finish. These molds were typically made of iron (McKearin & Wilson 1978). Click base view to see the blow-pipe pontil scar on the base as well as several mold induced indentations ("debossing") that are of unknown meaning but similarly produced, it appears, as the "F" on the base of the labeled example above. Various types of such "debossing" (and sometimes embossed lines or numbers) is often - but not dominantly - seen on the base of these earlier, fully molded snuff bottles (McKearin & Wilson 1978) and may just be glass works specific mold markings for their use and tracking. It is possible that they were early strength indicators like later was indicated by previously noted dots? Click on the following link to see a side view of this bottle: side view. As noted earlier, these bottles are very rarely embossed but they are seen on occasion. Click E. ROOME / TROY / NEW YORK to see an image of a body embossed example that is essentially identical shaped and sized which also dates from the 1840s or 1850s as it is also blow-pipe type pontil scarred; base view to see such. (Images from eBay.) On rare occasions, the typical flat chamfered corners on these rectangular snuffs are distinctly incurved - presumably a purely decorative feature. (See McKearin & Wilson , plate 75, #15.)
The amber rectangular snuff with chamfered corners pictured to the right has the exact same dimensions as the olive green snuff described previously. It was also blown in a true two-piece mold (no separate base plate) as indicated by the mold seam diagonally dissecting the base; click base view to view and image of the base and the very distinct mold seam. Besides the glass color, the differences between the bottles is that the amber one - dating from the 1870s based on the context it was found - has no pontil scar (was held for the cursory finishing work with a snap case tool) and has the earliest embossed base "strength dots" the author has seen on a snuff bottle - two distinct dots with a couple strangely placed smaller ones next to one of the distinct dots (mistake?). Mouth-blown snuff bottles of this era into the 20th century do frequently have these embossed dots. By the 1920s or so, machine-made square snuffs (pictured/discussed below) seemed to be overwhelmingly dominant and virtually all the ones seen by the author over the years have had the embossed dots. Click on the following links to see more images of this snuff bottle: side view;; and close-up of the shoulder and tooled finish.
Like rectangular snuff bottles, square examples were also commonly made through all of the 19th century and into the mid-20th century. In the experience of the author however, rectangular snuff bottles were more commonly used in the 19th century than square ones with that reversing in the 20th century where square bottles were dominant. For example, only one style of snuff bottle was offered in the standard 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog as a generic (non-proprietary) mold and it was square. See page 106 of that catalog - scanned and posted on this website - showing four sizes (2, 3, 4 & 6 oz. capacity) of square snuffs by clicking IGCo 1906 catalog page 106.
The early American, olive amber snuff bottle pictured to the left possibly dates from a the late 18th century to possibly as late as about 1830 (McKearin & Wilson 1978). It, like the first rectangular snuff discussed above, was blown in a (likely) clay dip mold to form the shape of the body with the portions above the top of the sided body "free-blown" like all dip molded bottles (though such did receive forming help from various hand tools). This example is between 5" and 5.5" tall, has rounded but not chamfered corners, and has a blow-pipe type pontil scar on the base (no image; photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions). See Plate 269, #1 of Van den Bossche (2001) for a similar American made example which the author dated between 1800 and 1820.
The early to mid-19th century (probably 1830s or 1840s), deep honey amber snuff bottle to the right is likely the product of some New England glass company though most, if not all, glass companies that produced bottles during that era produced snuff bottles. Such ubiquity makes the assignment of any particular bottle to any particular glass company an educated guess at best. This example is a bit over 5" tall, 2.75" wide sides, has a likely heat smoothed "bead" type finish, and has a blow-pipe style pontil scar on the base. Click base view to view an image of the base and that type pontil scar in the center of the base (around the catalog number).
It, like the slightly earlier square snuff above, was blown in a one piece dip mold resulting in the absence of any mold seams on the base, body or shoulder. However, it has a smooth, polished look to the body and shoulder that indicates that it may have been completely fire polished which would have removed evidence of any mold seams. During fire polishing the bottle would have been held by the pontil rod at the opening to the glass furnace (or at a "glory hole" if made towards the end of the noted manufacturing period). Since the pontil rod is attached at the base, this would have resulted in the base not receiving much if any polishing. Close inspection of the base shows no evidence at all of a base mold seam; added evidence that the bottle was indeed dip molded.
Click base view to see the bases of these four snuff bottles showing the strength dots.
An example of the original labeling on these type machine-made snuff bottles from the first half of the 20th century can be seen by clicking Garrett's Rappe Snuff original label. Some of the Levi Garrett & Sons snuff products (moist and dry snuff) are still produced - some with the Garrett name - by the American Snuff Company.
Cylindrical may be covered under utility bottles below since a cylindrical snuff may just be a wider mouth utility bottle... The pictured example is almost identical to the on pictured in McKearin & Wilson (1978) in Plate 75, #7 which they estimate the age as "late 18th-early 19th century." This example may or may not be quite that old but certainly dates no later than the 1840s.
During the era covered by this website hundreds of not thousands of variations on the above discussed bottle types were produced by glass makers in just the U. S. Coverage of even a small percentage of the plethora of types is not possible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about a few other styles/types to show some of that additional variety:
Dating summary/notes: Snuff bottles are quite commonly found on 19th to early 20th century historic sites - historic proof of the power of tobacco to be addicting - and are often an excellent bottle/fragment to find that assists in the dating of that site.
The dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features very closely follow the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information. There are no significant bottle type specific, manufacturing related diagnostic features or dating trends that have been noted by the author. One type specific, non-manufacturing based dating feature is the noted strength dots embossed on the base of later mouth-blown snuff bottles and a large majority of machine-made ones.
Specifically, the dots first seem to appear after the American Civil War, i.e., 1870s or so (rectangular example noted earlier). They are, in the experience of the author, never seen on earlier snuff bottles - those that were dip molded or pontil scarred. They are sporadically seen on mouth-blown snuffs from the 1870s to early 1900s and almost always seen on square machine-made ones. (Not sure about rectangular machine-made snuffs; more study needed.)
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Utility bottles is somewhat of a catch-all category for bottles using a collector jargon type term. It pertains to typically (but not always) cylindrical bottles that were used for a variety of products as dictated by the purchaser and user of the bottle.
The two small (approximately 6" tall) bulk ink or utility bottles to the left... Click on the following links to see more images of these bottles: base view... ; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finishes...
The small (4.25" tall, 1.5" in diameter) olive green bottle.... Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the blowpipe style pontil scar over a true two-piece mold seam (aka "hinge mold"); close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish showing the very thin and delicate flared finish which was formed by re-heating and tooling (with some simple tool like a jack) the glass remaining after blowpipe removal.
The large amber bottles pictured here are between approximately 11.5" tall, produced in turn-molds (so lack any mold seams or embossing), and have crudely applied patent and/or prescription finishes. Given the characteristics, they likely date from the last two decades of the 19th century, although these almost fall into the specialty bottle category where some of the dating guidelines variably break down. These are large "utility" type bottles - utility meaning of a style that was used for a multitude of products - could have been used for many types of liquid products, e.g., pharmaceuticals, ammonia or other cleaning products, acids and chemicals of all types as well as liquor, maple syrup, or anything that could be poured into (and out of) it. As discussed earlier in this section, these are also examples of the type that the Illinois Glass Company called a "Druggist's Packing Bottle" in their early 20th century catalogs (Illinois Glass Co. 1903). They offered it in 15 sizes ranging from 1/4 pint to 2 gallons - with these being approximately one gallon in size. Click IGCo. 1906 pages 94-95 to view their 1906 offerings of these "packing" bottles.
The bottle pictured to the left is a generic utility or "packer" bottle that was produced by the Illinois Glass Company in the 1920s. It has that companies makers mark of the letter "I" within a flattened diamond on the base (link below). This specific bottle with the Kork-N-Seal finish and cap is illustrated in that companies catalogs from the 1920s and was called a "Round Packer." It was available with two finishes/closures - the illustrated Kork-N-Seal and the Goldy which was similar to the crown finish - an in 4 sizes ranging from 2 to 14 ounces (Illinois Glass Co. 1920, 1924). Click on IGCo. 1920 catalog page 41 to view the page from that catalog showing this bottle (lower half of the page). The example pictured here is approximately 5" (13 cm) tall and is the 6 oz. size listed in the catalog. Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the "I in a diamond" makers mark for the Illinois Glass Co.; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish/closure. What this specific bottle held is unknown, though some of the sediment from the contents is still visible.
During the era covered by this website there were likely many thousands of unique types and variations of utility bottles produced by glass makers in just the U. S. Coverage of even a small percentage of the plethora of types is not possible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about a few other styles/types to show some of that additional variety:
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.
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Cleaning products include ammonia, Clorox®/Purex® (bleach), furniture polish, bluing... These could also be considered as "poison" bottles to some extent as most cleaning substances are such - poisonous.
(Authors note: Although some of the bottles covered below were certainly used for the noted products, some of the more generic ones could have been used for other chemicals and pharmaceutical products. Similar bottles are additionally covered on the Medicinal/Chemical/Druggist Bottles typology page under the "Poison & Chemical bottle styles" section.)
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Other household bottles
Others - pesticides/bug killers, machine oil (sewing machine, battery oil, 3-in1 oil)...
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For additional images of various labeled household bottles 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 (Household Bottles [non-food related]) is extremely large and very 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.
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