Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes

Group of household bottles dating from 1840 to 1920s.

Household Bottles (non-food related)
HOME: Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes: Household Bottles

Click to move to the Organization & Structure Summary.

This page is currently a work-in-progress with scheduled completion in 2014.

Group of mouth-blown cone ink bottles from about 1900.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. 

Large and small size Florida waters from ca. 1880.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 Early American snuff or utility bottle in yellowish olive green; click to enlarge.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.


 

Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes:
"Household Bottles (non-food related)" page
Organization & Structure

Group of household bottles dating from the 1840s to 1920s.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.

Ink Bottles & Inkwells
  -Ink bottles (small)
       Cylindrical
       Square/rectangular
       Multi-sided (more than four sides)
  -Ink bottles (bulk sizes)
  -Inkwells

Mucilage & Glue

Blacking/Shoe Polish

Toiletries
  -Perfume/Cologne
  -Florida water
  -Hair products
  -Lotions & Creams
  -Other Toiletries

Snuff

Utility bottles

Cleaning products
  -Ammonia bottles
  -Bleach bottles
  -Other (furniture polish)

Other Household bottles
  -Pesticide bottles
  -Machine oil
  -Miscellaneous

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.

 


 

Ink Bottles & Inkwells

Group of umbrella inks dating from 1865; click to enlarge.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.

Stoneware ink bottles from the 1860 to 1880 era.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.
 

Ink bottles (small)

Group of mouth-blown cone ink bottles from about 1900.As a general statement, ink bottles (and inkwells) were designed for stability while being used to fill a pen or dip a quill.  To quote Munsey (1970), "...because (pens and quills) must be dipped into the ink container frequently during writing, ink bottles were designed to minimize tipping."   Although there is no universally accepted size cut-off point, generally speaking the majority of ink bottles hold 3 or 4 ounces of ink or less, typically about 2 ounces.  Anything above 3 or 4 ounces should probably be considered a bulk or master ink - a subject covered in the next major section (Covill 1971).

There was a immense variety of different small ink bottle made during the period covered by this website.  This was probably due to there being a demand for ink bottles that were esthetically pleasing since they usually "...remained out on the writing table in plain sight" (Munsey 1970).  The bottles and general types covered here barely scratches the surface of the variety produced during the 19th through mid-20th centuries, although does cover the most commonly encounter types.  As noted earlier, Covill's (1971) book "Ink bottles and inkwells" is the best published source available to see the depth of variety of all types of ink bottles (glass and other materials) which is immense, surely numbering in the many thousands if not several tens of thousands of different types and/or variations.
 

This section divides the small cylindrical ink bottle category into four body shape related groups:
 Cylindrical, Square/rectangular, Multi-sided (more than 4 sides),
and Other shapes.

 

Cone ink from the 1850s; click to enlarge.Blowpipe pontil base; click to enlarge.Cylindrical:  A large (though unknown) percentage of ink bottles were round or cylindrical in cross-section (Covill 1971).  This is a very large grouping of ink bottles - undoubtedly numbering in the many thousands of different shapes and variations - of which only a few (of course) can be discussed here.  The two main "classes" of cylindrical ink bottles covered here have body sides that are either conical (tapering distinctly inwards from the base to the shoulder like the example to the left) or vertical (no real taper from heel to shoulder). 

Conical bodies: The conical ink style appears to have first originated in the U. S. during the 1830s and are typically called simply "cones" or "cone inks" by collectors (Covill 1971).  Glass makers called this plain style (i.e., with no horizontal ring/rings at the shoulder) the "plain cone" style (Whitney Glass Works 1904).  The aqua example pictured to the above left is an early example dating from the 1850s which is embossed with WOOD'S / BLACK. INK / PORTLAND and is from Portland, Maine.  (Image courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)  These particular cone ink bottles are typically blow-pipe or "open" pontil scarred (like the pictured example), have a rolled finish, typically about 2.3" to 2.5" tall and 2.5" in diameter, were blown in a true two-piece "hinge" mold with no air venting (note the mold seam dissecting the base into two equal halves), and are attributed to Portland druggist Nathan Wood (druggists often bottled ink in the 19th century and before) who was in business from at least as early as 1851 until at least the late 1880s; Nathan died in 1887 though his son continued the drug business after that time (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Faulkner 2009).  These particular cone shaped ink bottles were also made in shades of amber and olive green glass and date from the earlier years of the business, i.e., 1850s to early 1860s.

Early cone ink from the 1850s; click to enlarge.The equally early amber conical or "cone ink" pictured to the right dates from the late 1840s or 1850s and was likely made by some New England glass house.  (Image courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)  This example, like most of the early mouth-blown ink bottles, has a blow-pipe or "open" pontil scar, a crudely sheared/cracked-off and fire polished finish, and was blown in a two-piece hinge mold with no evidence of mold air venting.   These early conical inks are relatively uncommon; the "umbrella" style ink (covered later in this section) was much more commonly made during the 1830s to 1870s era.  Click base view to see the pontiled base of this bottle which also has an embossed "X" and some other vague embossing that is of unknown meaning today.

Late 19th century cone ink bottles; click to enlarge.The very similarly shaped cone ink bottles in aqua glass pictured in the image to the left - although made 40+ years after the previous example - are both embossed with L. H. THOMAS' / INK.  These bottles (side view and base view) are 2.5" (6.3 cm) tall, were both blown in the same cup-base mold, have tooled patent finishes, and lack obvious evidence of mold air venting.  There might possibly be some faint air venting marks integrated into the heel mold seam although such is usually hard to discern from normal mold seam irregularities.  There are, in fact, differences in this mold seam "roughness" between these two bottles indicating that the mold seam bumps are not air venting marks.  These bottles were made in many colors including varies shades of green and amber glass as well as colorless glass (Faulkner 2009).

(It should be noted here that small, mouth-blown ink bottles from the era of mold air venting - i.e., mid 1880s to the mid to late 1910s - very often lack mold air venting marks.  Why? The author believes that the very small mold size and the quickness that a small parison could be expanded did not necessitate - or result in any substantive benefits - from mold air venting.  The open mold top and/or mold seam joints likely provided adequate hot gas escape during bottle inflation.)

This particular style of L. H. THOMAS cone ink bottle dates from the late 19th century, i.e., the 1880s to possibly the first decade of the 1900s based on the manufacturing related diagnostic features noted above.  The company was founded sometime in the 1860s by Dr. Levi H. Thomas, a homeopathic physician in Waterbury, VT.,  where he began his ink business in a nearby barn.  He moved to Reading, MI. in 1872, then to Chicago, IL. in 1879.  The company used an assortment of ink and bulk ink bottles beginning in the 1860s into at least the mid to late 1910s as machine-made bottles have been observed by the author (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009; empirical observations).  (The machine-made Thomas ink bottles observed by the author were very similar in manufacture to the two machine-made, cylindrical inks discussed in the "mold seam anomalies" box later in this section.)  Of additional interest in regards to this company is the labeled L. H. Thomas ink bottle listed further down the page which dates pretty firmly from 1871 or 1872.

Cone ink base showing the CARTERS embossing; click to enlarge.Late 19th to early 20th century cone ink; click to enlarge.One of the most commonly encountered cylindrical ink bottle styles are the "ring shoulder cone inks" like the typical example pictured to the right (with base view to the far right).  Bottle makers called this style a "cone ink", "ring cone", or "cone carmine" - and likely by other names also (Hagerty Brothers & Co. 1898; Illinois Glass Co. 1898, 1911; Whitney Glass Works 1904).

This style is typified by a body that tapers distinctly inwards from the heel to the base of a flaring shoulder ring.  This distinctive style appears to be a natural evolutionary extension of the earlier non-ring shoulder cone inks discussed earlier.  Although probably American in origin, virtually identical ink bottles were also produced in England (Covill 1971).  The capacity was typically around 2 oz. with a height of about 2.5".  The ring shoulder cone ink style seems to have originated by at least the mid to late 1870s and continued in use into at least the 1920s with the bottles made mostly by machines by the mid 1910s.  By the mid-1920s the style tended towards having an external screw thread finish instead of being cork sealed; they are not commonly seen in catalogs after the 1920s (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879; Illinois Glass Co. 1911, 1925; Obear-Nester Glass Co. 1922; empirical observations).

Group of mouth-blown cone ink bottles from about 1900.The ca. 1890s (most likely) amber cone ink pictured to the right above (far left in the group image to the left) is embossed on the base with CARTER'S / 87.  The "87" was a mold number of unknown meaning today and was probably simply for mold cataloging and/or tracking at the unknown glass company which made these bottles.  This ink has a tooled double ring finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold, and lacks evidence of mold air venting (an observation discussed with the previous cone ink and at the bottom of this section).  The Carter Ink Company began business in 1858 and continued until 1976, when it was acquired by the Dennison Company The Carter's Ink Co. used many hundreds of different types and sizes of ink bottles during it reign as the largest producer of ink in the U. S. during most of the noted span of operation (Faulkner 2009).

The group of five cylindrical ink bottles pictured to the left above are also very typical cone inks most likely made by an assortment of bottle makers (although none have makers markings).  This image shows just a few of the color variations possible in cone inks which were made in just about any color imaginable including various shades of olive green, cobalt blue, emerald green, and more.  These bottles basically share the same manufacturing features as the amber cone described above (except the four on the right have one-part "bead" finishes instead of the double ring) and all date from the 1880s to 1910s era.  A couple of the inks (second and fourth from left) were made in post-bottom molds and likely date from the 1900 to 1910s range; the fourth ink (amber) also has two small air venting marks on each side of the outside edge of the shoulder ring.  Ring shoulder cone inks were probably the most common single ink bottle type made during the noted era and particularly between 1890 and the late 1910s.  Prior to that time the "umbrella ink" was probably the most common small ink bottle type; after that era, cylindrical and square ink bottles with vertical body sides were most common.  (These types are discussed shortly.)
 

The following cylindrical ink bottles have vertical body sides instead of the inwardly tapering (towards the shoulder) bodies of the cone inks discussed above.


Early 20th century English ink bottle; click to enlarge.Burst-off finish on an English ink bottle; click to enlarge.Vertical bodies: The cylindrical, non-conical ink bottle with the label pictured to the right is an English made bottle (the label notes that the ink was Made in Gt. Britain) from the 1890s to 1910s range.  This bottle is 2" (5 cm) tall and 1.75" (4.5 cm)  in diameter.  These (and similar) type inks were commonly imported into the U. S. and Canada and are often found on historic sites of that era.  The close-up image shows the rough "burst-off" type finish (which is almost a non-finish finish) which is very commonly encountered with English made ink bottles though was also used in U. S. ink bottle manufacture also (see the "school house" ink bottle later in this section).  Click the following link to see an amazing film clip from the early 20th century showing glass blowers using the burst-off method of detaching the blowpipe:  Early 20th century mouth-blown bottle making film clip.  Film clip is compliments of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. (Many thanks to Phil Perry, engineer with that company.) Click base view to see such. 

Early crude machine-made ink bottle; click to enlarge.

The light green, cylindrical ink bottle pictured to the right is an early (ca. 1900 to 1910s) and quite crude machine-made example that likely was made by a semi-automatic bottle machine, although such is impossible to say for sure.   This example is 2.5" (6.3 cm) tall and 1.9" (4.9 cm) in diameter (about 2 oz. capacity), was blown in a post-bottom type mold, has crude (wavy, bubbly) glass, and no vertical mold seams visible in the finish.  There is, however, a sharp horizontal seam encircling the base of the finish that the vertical side seams terminate at.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view ; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finishThe finish and manufacturing method of this ink bottle is further elaborated on in the box below.

Cylindrical ink bottlel from 1940; click to enlarge.The image to the left is of a 2 oz. (capacity embossed on the neck), machine-made ink bottle of colorless (very faint straw tint) glass which is very similar in shape to the previously discussed ink.  The base of this typical sized (2.75" [6.8 cm] tall) ink bottle is embossed with SHEAFFERS / (an Owens-Illinois Glass Co. makers marking and numbers) / SKRIPSkrip was a proprietary name for a line of inks made by the Sheaffers Ink Co. which began business in 1913 in Fort Madison, Iowa.   Skrip ink was first produced by the company in 1922 and was particularly suited for use in fountain pens; it is still in production today.  (Information source: http://www.sheaffer.com/)  The Owens-Illinois Glass Co. marking on the base includes a "22" (very faint but discernable) to the left of the "diamond O-I" mark which should indicate production by plant #22 (San Francisco, CA.) and a date code of "0" which indicates manufacture in 1940.   The Owens-Illinois San Francisco plant closed in 1937 with the mold likely transferred to some other Owens-Illinois plant and used there until at least 1940 and probably later (Lockhart 2004d; Lockhart pers. comm. 2009).  This also explains the observation that only the embossed plant code - which appears to have been purposefully (though not completely) obliterated - is not sharply defined on the base.  Click on the following link for a base view of this bottle showing the embossing and Owens Automatic Bottle Machine induced suction scar (pointed out).  This style of ink bottle was called a "round ink," "cylinder ink," "round mucilage" (the shape was also used for glue), and likely other terms (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1924; Cumberland Glass Co. 1911; Fairmount Glass Works ca. 1930).  The finish and manufacturing method of this ink bottle is also further elaborated on in the box below.
 

Machine-made ink bottles: A vertical side mold seam anomaly discussion

Close-up of this ink bottle with mold seams pointed out; click to enlarge.There are some interesting mold related features on the last two machine-made cylindrical ink bottles discussed above (the medium green glass ink and the Sheaffers ink bottle) that are very often observed on machine-made ink bottles produced during the first half of the 20th century.  Similar features are also occasionally encountered on some relatively wide mouth bottles used for other products, like shoe polish.  (Note:  This discussion is also pertinent to some of the other noted machine-made ink bottles discussed further down the page.)

The image to the right is a close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish of the noted Sheaffers ink bottle (click to enlarge for more detail).  The image shows the vertical side mold seam ending on the outside edge of the one part bead finish at a "ring" mold (the upper portion of a parison or "blank" mold) induced horizontal mold seam that encircles the extreme outer edge of the finish.  The side mold seam does not extend onto the top surface of the finish, i.e., does not cross the rim and in fact, does not extend the full length of the outside edge of the bead finish.   These features are pointed out - and much more readable - on the larger hyperlinked image; click to view.

Close-up of an early 20th century machine-made ink; click to enlarge.The image to the left is a close-up of the medium green, machine-made ink bottle also discussed earlier.  It has similar ring/blank mold related mold seam features except with this earlier (1900-1910s) ink, the side mold seam ends distinctly at the base of the finish, not within the finish itself like the example above.  Click on the image to view a larger and much more readable version with the various features pointed out.

The termination of the side mold seam within (Sheaffers ink) or at the base of  (green ink) the finish - though well short of the finish rim - on both bottles make it appear upon casual glance that these are mouth-blown bottles having either an improved tooled finish (Sheaffers) or an applied finish (green ink).  However, both bottles are most certainly  machine-made.  The Sheaffers ink was made on the "blow-and-blow" Owens Automatic Bottle Machine as indicated by the previously noted makers marking for the Owens-Illinois Glass Co., a distinct base suction scar, and a date code for 1940 which is well after the end of mouth-blown production of these type utilitarian bottles.  There is also no neck ring mold seam immediately below the finish like found on most Owens machine produced bottles (and on a majority of all machine-made bottles).  Instead, there is a mold seam located near the base of the neck indicating that the neck ring mold portion of the parison mold produced the finish, neck, and a portion of the shoulder.  (This is also pointed out on the image; click to enlarge.)

The earlier green glass ink bottle is also certainly machine-made, most likely on an early semi-automatic, blow-and-blow machine based on its crudeness and lack of a suction scar.  It also has no neck ring mold seam immediately below the finish on the extreme upper neck like found on most Owens machine produced bottles (or on the majority of all machine-made bottles).  Instead, there is also one located near the base of the neck indicating that the neck ring mold portion of the parison mold produced the finish, neck, and a portion of the shoulder.  (This is also pointed out on the image above; click to enlarge.)  Both these ink bottles also exhibit no sign of the concentric, horizontal lipping tool induced marks that would be present on a mouth-blown bottle finish that was tooled to shape.

A somewhat analogous phenomenon is noted on many press-and-blown, machine-made milk bottles produced during the first half of the 20th century.  Click Food Bottles & Canning Jars to view a discussion of this exception which has some differences in the mold seam orientation compared to ink bottles, but does share the horizontal ring-mold induced mold seam on the outside edge of the finish and vertical side seams that do not even reach the base of the finish.

Other images of cylindrical ink bottles are available by clicking on the following links:

  • Ca. 1870 cone ink bottle; click to enlarge.L. H. Thomas labeled cone ink - The aqua, body unembossed, cone ink pictured to the right is labeled as having been used for "Black Ink" by the L. H. Thomas Company of Reading, MI.   It is 2.3" tall (2.6" diameter at the base), was blown in a post-bottom mold, has a cracked-off and ground finish/rim, an unusual molded ring at the base of the neck (see image), and lacks evidence of air venting.  It is embossed on the base with L & W which is the makers marking for Lorentz & Wightman - a Pittsburgh, PA. glass maker of some note - who used that marking during the period from 1862 to about 1871 (Toulouse 1971).  Since the L. H. Thomas Company reportedly moved to Reading in 1872 from Vermont (then to Chicago, IL. in 1879) this bottle has to date somewhere around 1872 given the noted makers marking although this could be an example of bottle re-use if the noted bottle makers end date is accurate (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).
  • BILLINGS / MAUVE INK - That is embossed on this late 1860s to early 1870s (Faulkner 2009)  ink bottle pictured to the right that is of a cylindrical style called a "domed" ink by collectors, though referred to as a "flat ink" or "flat domed carmine" by some bottle makers (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879; Hagerty Bros. 1898).  More specifically it is a "domed central neck ink bottle" to differentiate it from the "domed with offset neck ink bottles" which are often called "igloo" inks and are covered further down the page (Covill 1971).  It has a crudely tooled bead finish although the other manufacturing details of this bottle are unknown (photos from eBay).  The company began business about 1866 and lasted until 1872 or so (Faulkner 2009); their "Mauve ink" was a type of ink that apparently applied mauve in color but turned black when it dried (Covill 1971).  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  close-up of the tooled finish and neck; image of this ink bottle with a BILLINGS embossed master/bulk ink.
  • Machine-made swirl body cone ink; click to enlarge.Mid-19th century "drape" ink bottle; click to enlarge."Drape pattern" cone style ink (blue bottle) - These early, decorative, non-ring shoulder cylindrical cone inks date from the 1850s or 1860s.  The embossed, downward arching loops on the body are reminiscent of hanging drapes to collectors giving the style its name (Covill 1971).  The cobalt blue example pictured (they were made in different colors) has a blow-pipe pontil scar on the base (type of mold conformation is unknown though would likely be a true two-piece hinge mold given the era), has a crudely applied double ring finish, is almost 4" tall, and would certainly lack evidence of mold air venting.  Click on base view to see such showing the blow-pipe pontil scar.  (Photos courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)
  • Swirl body cone ink (colorless bottle to the far right) - This is an interesting cone ink variation in that it has a very decorative body but is machine-made, probably dating from the 1920s or 1930s (70-80 years after the blue ink next to it above).  This is much more decorative than the typical machine-made cone or cylindrical ink.  Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle:  base view; side view showing the design well; finish view where the machine induced ring mold seam is just visible (pointed out with arrows) encircling the outside edge of the rim.
  • More to come in the future...


Square "school house" ink ca. 1870s; click to enlarge.Square/rectangular:  The next most abundant shape group for ink bottles are probably those that are square/rectangular in cross-section.  This is also a very large group of bottles - undoubtedly numbering in the many thousands of different shapes and variations.  Square ink bottles first appeared in any quantities around the time of the American Civil War, after cylindrical inks were well established; square pontiled ink bottles are very unusual.  (Note: Square inkwells appeared earlier with some of the first American made examples [pattern molded] reportedly produced by the Pitkin Glass Works (East Hartford, CN.) around 1810 to 1820 [Covill 1971; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Buckley 1985].)  Later ink bottles (late 19th century through most of the 20th) were commonly made with square bodies, rivaling cylindrical shapes in popularity.  Rectangular pontiled ink bottles are a bit more common than square pontiled ones though still unusual.  Conversely to square ink bottles, rectangular inks largely disappeared in the early 1900s in American bottle makers catalogs; rectangular machine-made ink bottles are uncommon (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1911, 1920, 1924; Cumberland Glass Co. 1911; Covill 1971).  In England, rectangular "boat" inks were still commonly made until at least WW1 (covered below).

The blue aqua square ink pictured above left is what is referred to as a "school house" or "cottage" ink bottle for obvious reasons - it is actually shaped like a little house with six embossed windows and a door (Haggerty Brothers & Co. 1898).  It is embossed on the four sides of the beveled "roof" with  NE - PLUS - ULTRA - FLUID.  (NE PLUS ULTRA is Latin for essentially "the best.")  This ink bottle is 2.4" (6.1 cm) tall and 2" (5 cm) wide on each side, has a crudely cracked-off and slightly ground down rim "straight" finish, smooth non-pontiled base (embossed dot in the center), and was blown in a post-bottom mold with no evidence of mold air venting.  These particular ink bottles are believed to have been produced at the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works in the 1870s or early 1880s (empirical observations) since they are frequently excavated in the West (an identical example was dug in Old Sacramento - see the California State Parks website) and are of a deep blue aqua color commonly associated with that glass company.  In addition, virtually identical bottles (although in amber glass) are known that are embossed on the "roof" with S. F. - CAL. - INK - CO. (Covill 1971).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view; view of the other two sides of the bottle.  There were an assortment of house ink bottles made during the 19th century making them a very esthetic addition to ones desk and very likely increasing the sales of the users (ink vendor) of such bottles (Covill 1971).

Late 19th century square ink bottle; click to enlarge.The square, colorless "house" or "school house" ink (popular collector terms for these more generic "roofed" - beveled or flat sloped shoulder - ink bottles) pictured to the right is embossed with CAW'S INK / NEW YORK on one side panel as shown in the image (Nelson & Hurley 1967; Covill 1971).  Ink bottles with this type of distinctive beveled shoulders were usually called "square carmines" (carmine = red ink), "beveled shoulder square carmines" or just "carmines" by bottle makers.  The general style was commonly made by many makers as mouth-blown items during the period beginning in the 1860s and continuing through the 1910s (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880; Hamilton Co. 1898; Whitney Glass Works 1904; Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1911; Covill 1971).  The carmine style also made the leap onto automatic machines with a very similar look (and name) being made until at least the 1940s (Fairmount Glass Co. ca. 1930; Lucas County Bottle Co. ca. 1940s).  Although the style was called a "carmine" by bottle makers, they were also used for other ink colors (Covill 1971). 

Back to the pictured bottle...Caw's Ink & Pen Company (they also made fountain pens) began business with that name in 1886 and continued at least until World War 1.   This company's trademark was a crow sitting on an ink bottle similar to this example (Information source: http://www.kamakurapens.com/Caws/Caws.html; Faulkner 2009). This bottle has a tooled patent style finish, was blown in a cup-base mold, is 2" (5.1 cm) tall, and appears to lack evidence of mold air venting.  Given the company begin date noted, the evidence (except for a lack of air venting) points towards a likely manufacturing range of 1890 and 1910.  Click base view to see the cup-base mold produced base.  An illustration of the "carmine" style ink bottle being offered by the Illinois Glass Co. in 1906 is available at this link:  IGCo. 1906 catalog pages 104-105.   They offered four sizes ranging from 1/2 to 4 ounces.  An example of a very large (10 oz.) carmine style ink bottle of unknown origin is covered further down the page.

Ink bottle from ca. 1880; click to enlarge.The colorless (faintly manganese dioxide induced "pink") ink bottle pictured to the left is embossed on three sides with C. HIRSTEL & Co / STATIONERS / PORTLAND, OGN.  "OGN" was an abbreviation for Oregon which was vogue during the 1870s to mid 1890s (empirical observations).  This rounded shoulder type square ink was referred to as a "round shouldered carmine" ink bottle by bottle makers, although like the beveled shoulder example listed above, the style was used for more than just red ink (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1880; Covill 1971).  This bottle (which is commonly encountered as an unembossed bottle also) is 2.5" (6.7 cm) tall, had a tooled patent (almost prescription) finish, was blown in a cup-base mold, and has no obvious evidence of mold air venting.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view; the other two sides of this bottle.  No history is available about Hirstel & Co. stationary shop although the bottle likely dates from the 1875 to 1885 based on the diagnostic features (listed below), the OGN abbreviation, and the context it was found.  (The company and this bottle could be further researched via Portland/Oregon business directories which are available at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland - http://www.ohs.org.)  As noted in the introduction to this section, stationary shops (aka "stationers") were common purveyors of bottled ink.

Square Sanford's ink bottle; click to enlarge.The commonly encountered ink bottle pictured to the right is a machine-made square ink that is fairly decorative in design.  It is embossed on the base with SANFORD'S / 276.  It also has embossing on three of the body sides: 2 OZ. - SMCo (intertwined monogram) - 2 OZ.  Click base view to see such showing the noted embossing.  This bottle has some manufacturing similarities to the two machine-made cylindrical ink bottles discussed in the box above.  Specifically, it has a vertical side mold seam that ends at a horizontal seam that encircles the outside of the bead type lip as well as a horizontal mold seam encircling the bottle shoulder where the lower ring below the neck base meets the upper edge of the shoulder (these are pointed out in the larger image one gets by clicking on the image to the right).  This indicates the unusual machine-mold conformation that formed the finish, neck, and upper shoulder in the ring (parison) mold, as discussed above. This bottle most likely dates from between 1910 and 1930.  Click 1928 Sanford's Ink advertisement to see such which shows a very similar ink bottle in one of that companies ads.

Machine-made cobalt blue square ink; click to enlarge.The Sanford's Manufacturing Company (aka Sanford's Ink Co.) began in 1857 (MA.) as an ink and glue manufacturer and is still in business today.  For more information, see the company's history page at this link: Sanford historySanford's used a very wide variety of machine-made smaller and bulk/master ink bottle types and shapes during the first half of the 20th century, though did utilize an assortment of mouth-blown bottles prior to the 1910s (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).  Various types of square, machine-made ink bottle similar to this with one or two rings at the base of the neck (though certainly not all embossed like this example) were commonly produced from the 1910s to the 1940s although later ones were also made with external screw threads (Illinois Glass Co. 1924; Fairmount Glass Co. ca. 1930).  For scores of images of Sanford's ink bottles visit the Sanford's Ink bottles page of the website 1001 Ink Bottles.

The cobalt blue, square ink bottle pictured to the left is also a machine-made example   Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle:  base view; straight on view of one side; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish.

Other images of square/rectangular ink bottles are available by clicking on the following links:

  • Late 19th century carmine style ink bottle; click to enlarge.Large "carmine" style ink bottle - This is a large (3.8" [9.8 cm] tall and 2.5" [6.5 cm] to a side) carmine style (aka "schoolhouse") ink bottle that holds a full 10 ounces (the author measured it) which puts it into the bulk ink category although of an ink bottle shape.  The bore was ground on the inside to fit a matching glass stopper (stopper missing) indicating its a possible use as a reusable ink well.  The bottle is of colorless (faint straw tinted) glass, has a tooled bead type finish, and was blown in a cup-base mold which appears to have not been air vented.  It was most likely produced between 1890 and 1905.  Click on the following links for more views of this bottle: base view showing the absence of embossing or mold seams; close-up of the distinctive beveled shoulder typical of the carmine style.  This image shows the frosted appearance to the inside of the neck indicative of the bore having been ground for a glass stopper.  Carmine inks with glass stoppers were a common offering of bottle makers during the last quarter of the 19th century into the early 20th (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879,1909; Haggerty Bros. 1898).
  • Late 19th to early 20th century English "boat" ink; click to enlarge.English burst-off finish rectangular ink - These are a commonly encountered ink bottle type which are sometimes referred to by collectors as "boat ink" bottles although the resemblance is vague.  There are many variations of this largely English-made style though they are usually rectangular (sometimes square) in shape, typically have a crudely burst-off straight finish (sometimes with cursory grinding to smooth out the sharpness of the rim - like the pictured example), blown in cup-base molds, and have distinctive grooves on two opposite sides of the body to set a pen upon (Covill 1971; empirical observations).  The majority of the bottles are either aqua glass although colors can range from colorless to many shades of green and amber, to cobalt blue.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view; end view; side view.
  • More additions in the future...


Group of umbrella inks dating from 1865; click to enlarge.Multi-sided (more than four sides):  This a large and varied class of ink bottles bound together by having more than four flattened body sides or panels.  Typically the body panel conformations are either  "conical" (picture to the left; bodies narrowing dramatically from the heel to the shoulder) or "vertical" (examples further below; bodies roughly equal in diameter at the heel and shoulder).  Once again, there are hundreds of not thousands of different and often subtle variations of multi-sided ink bottle theme (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009) with only a few of the more common shapes covered here.

Conical bodies:  Probably the most commonly encountered members of this group - particularly from historic sites dating before 1890 - are the "umbrella" ink bottles (image above left).  These were also called "pyramid," "fluted pyramid," or "fluted cone stands" by glassmakers (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879; Hagerty Bros. & Co. 1898; Robert Alther 1909).   "Umbrella ink" is probably a collector term from more recent times although it is so ubiquitous that it will be used here also.  The group pictured above are typical having eight equal sides - the most common configuration - though examples with 6, 10, 12, and 16 sixteen sides have also been recorded (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).  The pictured 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 that year.  (Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.)  This is an interesting group in that they all date from the same time (none are pontiled scarred) but were finished in three different fashions: the two on the left have rolled finishes, the dark amber in the back has a cracked-off or burst-off finish, and the aqua example to the far right has an applied finish.

Umbrella inks were made for a very long time starting at least as early as 1840 to as late 1909 (Whitall Tatum & Co. 1879; 1902, 1911; Haggerty Brothers 1898; Robert Alther 1909; Cumberland Glass Co. 1911; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  In the Whitall Tatum & Co. catalogs the "fluted pyramid" umbrella ink bottles disappear sometime between the 1902 and 1909 catalogs, although they were significantly waning in popularity to the cone ink and other styles beginning by the 1880s.  By the late 1890s they were an insignificant minority of ink bottles produced (empirical observations).  The author has never observed a machine-made umbrella ink nor found any reference to examples (except some modern reproductions some of which are marked JAPAN on the base) and the style is thought to have disappeared prior to the introduction of bottle machines capable of produced narrow neck bottles (Covill 1971).

Umbrella ink in dark olive amber color; click to enlarge.The typical height for most umbrella inks is around 2.3" to 2.5", though ranges from under 2" for the smallest size up to 4" for the largest ones (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).  Umbrella inks were made in a myriad of glass colors - essentially any color that a bottle was blown it during the 19th century.  Aqua is by far the most commonly used color, though the spectrum is very wide as indicated by the image at this link - umbrella ink color variety - which shows examples ranging from colorless to various shades of amber and green to cobalt blue.

Late 19th century umbrella ink; click to enlarge.The umbrella ink pictured to the right is an early American example dating from the 1840s or early 1850s.  It was most likely made by a New England glass house, although it could also have been produced by a Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York maker.  It is 2.5" tall, was blown in a "key base" mold, has a blowpipe type pontil scar, and no evidence of air venting.  It has a straight finish that was likely cracked off from the blowpipe then re-heated and tooled a bit to make a smoother finish.  Click on the following links to see more images of this ink bottle:  base view which shows the "key" mold base seam (squared notch in the vicinity of the pontil scar); close-up of the upper shoulder, neck and finish showing more clearly the vague ridge that indicates the point where the top of the mold ended. 

The aqua umbrella ink pictured to the left is a much later version dating most likely from the 1890s though could be from the very first years of the 20th century.  This dating estimate is based in part on the context it was found as well as some manufacturing related diagnostic features, i.e., the later tooled one-part finish, production in a cup-base mold, limited crudeness to the glass and a "sharper" appearance to the lines of the glass as compared to the earlier (pre-1870s) examples.  This example also has some light patination to the surface of the glass from being buried for over 100 years.  Click on base view to see the base of this bottle which has the absence of mold seams typical of cup-base mold produced bottles.  This example also has part of the original cork closure and some dried contents visible - and what appears to be dried black ink.
 

The following multi-sided ink bottles have vertical body sides instead of the inwardly tapering (towards the shoulder) bodies of the umbrella inks discussed above.


12-sided pontiled ink from the 1840-1860 period; click to enlarge.Vertical bodies:  The other major grouping of multi-sided inks are those with more or less vertical sides, where the diameter of of the base and the shoulder are about the same.   This style was most popular during the mid-19th century, i.e., from about 1835 to 1865 (Covill 1865) though there are many exceptions one type of which is covered below (empirical observations).  Some multi-sided, vertical body ink bottles were also made by automatic bottle machines but most inks of that era are cylindrical or 4-sided (square and rectangular).

The twelve sided ink bottle pictured to the right is an early (1840s or 1850s) example that has a blowpipe pontil scar, a cracked-off/sheared finish that was rolled or folded inwards, is about 2" tall, and has a crudeness to the glass supporting its early manufacture.  Most multi-sided inks of this general shape and age were made in aqua glass, though examples can be found in a multitude of colors, like the deep blue-green of the illustrated example (Covill 1971; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  (Photo courtesy of American Glass Auctions.)

Late 19th to early 20th century English ink bottles; click to enlarge.The octagonal ink bottles pictured to the left are English in origin.  These bottles were burst-off from the blowpipe and received no additional finishing which resulted in the very crude and sharp finish visible in the image (click to enlarge).  This method of "finishing" a bottle was common with cheap, mouth-blown, utilitarian bottles made in England in the late 1800s to as late as 1920 (Boow 1991:60).   Click labeled English ink to view an identical example from the same era (around 1900) with the original label indicating its use by an English ink producer for rubber stamp ink.  These bottles also have a vague makers mark on the base (not visible in image) that resembles the goal posts on a football field.  This mark is certainly one used by a yet unknown English glass company as bases with this mark are documented to have been found in the Ravensbourne River at Deptford, Wiltshire, England (Toulouse 1971:557).  Although English-made, these type bottles are commonly encountered in North America and are one of most typical bottles to be found with a burst-off finish.

Other images of multi-sided (more than four sides) ink bottles are available by clicking on the following links:

  • 1850s era umbrella ink; click to enlarge.1850s era green umbrella ink; click to enlarge.Green umbrella ink with distinct shoulder (near right image) - The pictured eight-sided umbrella ink is from around 1845 to 1860, has a blowpipe pontil scar on the base, a rolled or folded finish, and is quite crude as most bottles of this era were.  This style of umbrella ink is a variant with a more distinct shoulder ridge than the others pictured here.   Click on base view to view the distinct blowpipe pontil scar and fairly distinct "key base" two-piece mold seam which arches towards the bottom of the bottle in this image.
  • Early amber umbrella ink (far right image) - This is an 1850s umbrella ink was made by an unknown glass company east of the Mississippi River.  How do I know it was made east of the Mississippi?  Because there weren't any glass companies west of that great river until the 1860s.  It has a cracked-off/sheared and re-fired straight finish, blow-pipe pontil scar, a very crude though glossy body that indicates the entire bottle was likely fire polished - probably when the finish was re-heated.  This generally smoothed out the lines of the bottle as is visible in a comparison of the green umbrella with the amber example. Click on base view to see the blowpipe pontil scar and a close-up of the glossy surface appearance to the base also.
  • Labeled and pontiled umbrella ink (far right image below) -  As the label of this bottle shows, it contained "Jet Black Ink for School Use."  This is an 1850-1860 umbrella ink with a rolled finish, has a blowpipe pontil scar, was blown in a true two-piece mold, and is deep aqua in color.  It of the style - an umbrella which is a bit more compact in the body making it appear taller - very popular during the mid-19th century.  (Photo courtesy Glass Works Auctions.)
  • Umbrella ink ca. 1860; click to enlarge.Harrison's Columbia Ink bottles; click to enlarge.HARRISON'S / COLUMBIAN / INK (image to the immediate right) - This is a grouping is of three different colors of the Harrison's Columbian Ink - a fairly popular ink during the mid-19th century given the number examples that are seen today.  They all have vertical 8 sided bodies, blow-pipe pontil scars, cracked-off/sheared and rolled finishes and date from the 1840s to early 1860s period.  These bottles were made for Apollos W. Harrison who was a Philadelphia dealer in "books, maps and ink" from about 1843 to 1877 (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Faulkner 2009).  For close-up images of two of the pictured bottles (which were most typically made in aqua glass) click on the following links:  blue example; blue example base; light green example; light green example base which also shows the distinct mold seam equally dissecting the base indicating production in a true two-piece mold.  (Photos courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)
  • Octagonal pontiled ink from the 1860s; click to enlarge.Taller ink bottle from the 1850s; click to enlarge.HARRISON'S / COLUMBIA / INK (image to immediate right) - Another common example from the same producer discussed above, this bottle may well be a very small "bulk" or "master" ink (covered below).  These ink bottles come in many sizes ranging from 2.5" (1 oz.) up to a gallon size at a large 11.5" tall (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  The pictured example is aqua in color,  3.6" tall, 2" in diameter with eight equal vertical sides, a crudely applied two part collared ring finish (the closest fit to the finish styles described elsewhere on this site), a very distinct blowpipe style pontil scar, and was blown in an apparent (hard to say for sure) two piece post-bottom mold with no evidence of mold air venting.  Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle:  base view showing the protruding and very tubular blowpipe pontil scar; view of reverse side showing the word PATENT embossed on the shoulder.  It is not known as to what the patent was for, though likely the ink itself not the bottle (Faulkner 2009).  These bottles are known to have been made at several South New Jersey glasshouses including Whitney Brothers and Isabella Glass Works (Covill 1971).
  • Vertical 8-sided ink with flared finish (image to far right above) - This is an unembossed, small (under 3"), glass-tipped pontiled, octagonal paneled ink bottle that likely dates from the 1860s.  It is unusual in that it was apparently blown in a cup-base mold as there is no evidence of a mold seam across the base.  Click base view to see the base and the pontil scar.  Some significant use of cup-base molds in ink bottle production has been noted by the author at a much earlier era - 1860s - than virtually any other bottle style.
  • ...more to come in the future including some additional non-pontiled, later examples...


Late 19th century "igloo" inks; click to enlarge.Other shapes:  There were, of course, many other types and shapes of ink bottles.  Distinctive or attractive packaging seemed to have been a common theme in the production of ink bottles, driven by customer demand and glass company ingenuity.  A quick look through Covill (1971) indicates categories such as "barrel shaped," "cabin & House shaped," "domed with central neck," or simply "odd shaped" ink bottles.  Some commonly encountered or interesting types will be covered briefly in this section.

One of the most commonly encountered "other" styles of ink bottles are the "domed with offset neck" style (Covill 1971) which are simply called an "igloo," "teapot," or "turtle" ink by collectors - names which are suggested by the shape (Nelson & Hurley 1967).  Period glass companies called this general shape the "fountain," "monitor" (after the Civil War ship), or "fluted fountain"  for those with a faceted lower side like the examples pictured above (Whitall Tatum 1880; Robert Alther 1909; Freeman 1964; Covill 1971).  I'll just call them igloo inks here.  Igloo inks were very popular and extensively used for at least 35 to 40 years - 1865 through into the early 1900s - particularly in schools.  Since this distinctive style is unknown with either pontil scars or as machine-made bottles, this supports the noted date range well (Covill 1971; empirical observations).

Close-up of the igloo ink finishes; click to enlarge.The two ink bottles pictured above and again to the right are typical - and the most commonly encountered - examples of igloo ink bottles (empirical observations).  These are embossed on the paneled lower sides with J & I E M which are the initials for the J. & I. E. Moore (for John & Isaac Elijah Moore) a large ink producing concern located in Warren, MA. that began operations in 1858 until being closed during the Great Depression in the 1930s (Nelson & Hurley 1967; Faulkner 2009).  This firm allegedly first patented the shape on October 31st, 1865; the earliest examples have that patent date - but not number - embossed on the domed portion of the body.  A check of Google Patents® did not, however, locate any patent for any ink bottle being issued on that date, although Faulkner (2009) illustrates a copy of the patent application.  Be that as it may, the J&IEM igloo inks are thought to be the first of the style with scores of imitations (example below) being commonly produced through the end of the 19th century with a few manufactured into the very early 1900s as noted earlier (Alther 1909). 

The pictured bottles are around 1.75" tall and 2" to 2.25" in diameter; click base view to see such.  Both examples pictured were blown in cup-base molds and lack evidence of mold air venting which is a common feature of , though they were each finished differently.  The example on the right above, which is probably the earliest of the two, has a rough burst-off finish which received only the slightest amount of rim grinding to remove some of the sharp edges.  The other example (left) has a standard tooled finish.  These bottles are by far most commonly seen in aqua color, though they can range widely from colorless to various shades of green and amber to even cobalt blue (Nelson & Hurley 1967; Faulkner 2009; empirical observations).  Click amber J & I E M ink to see a dark amber example that also has a tooled finish.  These J & IEM ink bottles

Other images of "other shapes" of ink bottles are available by clicking on the following links:

  • Igloo ink from the 1870s; click to enlarge.DAVID'S igloo ink - This is a subtle variation on the igloo ink theme though not from J. & I. E. Moore.  It is embossed DAVID'S on the front which was probably for the John B. Davids Co. of New Rochelle, N. Y. although it is possible the bottle was used by the Thaddeus Davids & Co. of New York, N. Y. - John B. being Thaddeus's son (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).  It also has a burst-off finish, probably blown in a cup-base mold (unknown for sure) and dates from the 1870 to 1885 period.  Click reverse view to see the backside of this same bottle.  (Photos courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)
  • Barrel ink bottles -  Another somewhat popular genre of ink bottles were barrel shaped.  The style was reportedly first marketed during William H. Harrison's' presidential campaign in 1840 (a barrel of hard cider being part of his campaign imagery) with various barrel versions made up until around 1900; no machine-made versions are known (Covill 1971; empirical observations).  Probably the most successful inks producers to use a barrel shaped bottle (aqua bottle to the far right) was William E. Bonney of South Hanover, MA.  This bottle is embossed with W. E. BONNEY and were used from establishment in 1865 (pontiled examples are known but uncommon) up until the late 1800s in at least four sizes up to one quart (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009; empirical observations).  Click another Bonney ink bottle to see a similar sized example close up.  Both bottles are about 2" tall, smooth base, probably blown in a true two-piece mold, and have both a rolled finish (image to Barrel ink bottles from the last half of the 19th century; click to enlarge.right;  ca. 1865-1875) and a tooled patent finish (link above; ca. 1875-1885).  (Images from eBay®)
  • The colorless glass example to the left of the Bonney ink is a commonly encountered barrel shaped ink, although with the barrel lying on its side instead up upright.   This example has a tooled patent type finish, smooth base, and dates from the 1870s most likely.  It is embossed with PAT OCT 17 1865 on the underside as the style was first patented that year by Isaac N. Peirce of Philadelphia, PA.  Peirce relinquished the patent rights to Alonzo French (also of Philadelphia) in 1869 (Faulkner 2009) who went on to improve upon the style by replacing the 1865 patented base ridges or "feet" with a flattened pedestal base for more stability in 1870.  Click 1870 barrel ink patent to see the 1870 patent to Mr. French.  (The 1865 patent could not be located.)  It is not known if both styles were made concurrently thought it is likely; the pictured example is of the 1865 patent style with the "feet" on the base.
  • ...more add later...

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 ink bottle specific manufacturing related diagnostic features and dating trends have been noted by the author and are discussed as follows:

  • Group of umbrella inks dating from 1865; click to enlarge.Small ink bottles were one of the earlier bottle types to have tooled finishes in relatively common usage - a consistent featured noted for some other types of  shorter/smaller (<7" tall) bottles.  Similar to druggist and some small medicine bottles, ink bottle finishing appears to have been dominated by the tooled finishing method by the mid-ish 1870s.  The transition from applied to tooled finishes is covered in more depth in a section of the Bottle Finishing main page.
  • Small ink bottles were finished with the ultra-simple burst-off/cracked-off finishes (which is largely an "unfinished" mouth-blown finish) for a lengthy period of time from at least the early 1860s until the 1920s (Covill 1971; Boow 1991; empirical observations). For example, the bottles pictured above 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 that year.  (Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.)  This is an interesting group in that they all date from the same time (and none are pontiled scarred) but were finished in three different fashions: the two on the left have rolled finishes, the dark amber example in the back has a cracked-off or burst-off finish, and the aqua example to the far right has an applied finish (Gerth pers. comm. 2009).  Given this wide range of use, this finishing type is not very useful for specific dating.
  • Small ink bottles are among the earliest bottles to be blown with some regularity in cup-base molds.   Cup mold bases are seen on ink bottles from the 1860s onwards, particularly on igloo inks and some other sided inks (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009; empirical observations).
  • Small mouth-blown ink bottles sometimes lack evidence of mold air venting marks on bottles that date from the period when a majority of larger mouth-blown would have exhibited this feature, i.e., the late 1880s through the 1910s (empirical observations).  Why?  Possibly because little air needed displaced during the blowing process from small ink bottle molds and thus little need for air venting?
  • Early machine-made ink bottles have a side mold seam idiosyncrasy which is often confusing to people, i.e., the upper side mold seam sometimes ends short of the finish rim making the bottle appear as though it might be mouth-blown with a tooled or even applied finish, depending on the mold configuration.  See the Machine-made ink bottles: A vertical side mold seam anomaly discussion earlier on this page for more information.
  • Small machine-made ink bottles are a type (along with druggist, pharmaceutical, and some patent medicine and liquor bottles) which commonly utilized cork closures a bit later than many other bottle types, i.e., into at least the mid 1930s.  By the early 1920s, however, external screw thread finishes were probably the dominant finish on ink bottles with cork designed finishes largely disappearing by the late 1930s (Illinois Glass Co. 1920, 1926; Fairmount Glass Works ca. 1930; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1930; Munsey 1970; empirical observations).

 

Ink bottles (bulk sizes)

Bulk ink bottles dating from the 1860s; click to enlarge.Bulk ink bottles are also referred to as "master inks" and are differentiated - somewhat arbitrarily - by being about 5" or more in height and/or at least 4 oz. capacity (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).  There were certainly bulk ink bottles which were under 5" in height - like this 3.6" tall HARRISON'S / COLUMBIA / INK (which may hold close to 4 oz.) - though 5" makes a fairly good breaking point as far as height is concerned for the majority of bulk inks (Covill 1971).  One other consideration is that bulk ink bottles tend to have proportionally narrower bores than ink bottles since they were not generally intended to be used to directly fill fountain pens or dip ones quill into (empirical observations).  Bulk inks were generally made in sizes near one-half pint, pint and quart although other sizes within this range are not uncommon.  There are also certainly bulk inks smaller than 4 ozs. and sizes larger than a quart, though examples beyond the ends of the 4 to 32 oz. range are very unusual (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).

Image of a bulk ink bottle with a pouring finish; click to enlarge.Bulk ink bottles were used to fill inkwells and to some degree empty ink bottles (call them "economy" ink wells).  These bottles - especially those without a pouring spout of some type (image to the right and above left) or without embossing indicating the use by an ink producer or seller - are often referred to as "utility" bottles since they could have been used for a wide array of non-carbonated liquid products.  The only way to tell if a "utility" bottle was used for ink is if the bottle is still labeled indicating such use, has ink residue inside (not uncommonly seen), or it has a pouring spout which is a strongly indicative diagnostic feature of a bulk ink (Covill 1971; empirical observations).  The general class of utility bottles are covered later on this page.  For simplicity, bulk inks are divided into two subsets here - cylindrical and non-cylindrical.  (The blue-green bulk ink pictured to the right is discussed below.)

Cylindrical:  A large majority of bulk ink bottles are cylindrical in cross-section (Nelson & Hurley 1967; Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009;  empirical observations).  As noted in other sections of this website, cylindrical bodies are inherently stronger than other body shapes all other things being equal, e.g., bottle size, glass thickness and quality (Tooley 1953; Glass Industry 1959).  The subjective speculation of this author as to why the majority were cylindrical may well have revolved around the potential nasty mess one would have if a bottle of ink broke versus other less messy substances.  Whatever the reason, cylindrical bodies dominates the bulk/master ink category.

Early utility or ink bottles; click to enlarge.The pictured bottles at the beginning of this section (upper left corner above) 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 that year.  (Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.)  All are approximately 7.5" to 8" tall, blown in three-piece molds without air venting, are not pontil scarred (though some of this era can be), and have applied mineral type finishes with tooled pouring spouts.  These bottles display the typical conformation of bulk inks made during the last half of the 19th century like the blue-green and cobalt blue examples discussed below.

The two small (approx. 6" tall and 2" in diameter) bulk ink or utility bottles to the left are from the pre-Civil War era, dating from between the 1830s and 1850s.   Both are somewhat generic utility type bottles and neither has a pour spout.  So without a label identifying the actual use one can never know for sure although these type bottles were used very commonly for ink.  Click on early, pontiled utility bottle with an ink label to see a very similar bottle clearly used for ink.  Click on the following links to see more images of the two illustrated bottles:  base view showing the blow-pipe pontil scars on the base and two-piece "hinge mold" production as evidenced by the mold seam equally dissecting the base (not totally visible in the linked image); close-up of the shoulder, neck and finishes showing the short, squatty mineral type applied finishes without pour spouts.  Both these bottles are typical of the utilitarian items produced by many of the earlier New England and Midwestern glass houses during the 1820s to 1850s period.

Utility or ink bottle from the 1840s or 1850s; click to enlarge.Small utility bottle with pour spout ca. 1870s.The small (4.25" tall, 1.5" in diameter) olive green bottle pictured to the far right is a commonly encountered utility bottle type (usually in aqua glass, less commonly in other colors like the pictured olive green) that was also commonly used for ink, as well as medicines and other liquid products.  This particular bottle dates from the 1840s or 1850s, was blown in a true two-piece "keyed" hinge mold, has a blowpipe type pontil scar and no evidence of mold air venting.  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.  Like the two utility/bulk ink bottles pictured immediately above, this style of utilitarian bottle was a common production item for many earlier glass houses in U. S.

The small (3.9" tall), colorless glass utility bottle to the immediate right is a possible "bulk" ink of a very small size as it has a very distinctly formed pour spout incorporated into the narrow flared tooled finish.  This small bottle was blown in a three-piece mold lacking any evidence of mold air venting and was found in a context indicating manufacture in the 1870s.  These type small utility bottles from the 1860s to early 1900s were commonly made in either two-piece cup-base molds or in a three-piece mold like this example.  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish to view the well formed though delicate pour spout; this image also shows the very distinct three-piece mold shoulder and neck seams.  This bottle certainly could have been used for medicines of some type, with the pour spout making dosing easier.  However, the big majority of mouth-blown bottles with formed pour spouts were used for ink so it is most likely that was the use of this small bottle also (and other ink bottles were found in the same context).

Bulk or master ink bottle from the 1880s; click to enlarge.The brilliant medium blue-green bulk ink bottle pictured to the left dates from the 1875 to 1885 era based on its applied finish, post-bottom mold production, lack of mold air venting, and the context it was found. This example is 8.25" tall and 2.5" in diameter and is embossed with CARTER'S on the shoulder.  It was common during the 19th century and into at least the first third of the 20th century, for bulk ink bottles to be made with bright, eye attracting colored glass; likely for marketing purposes.  Click on the following links to see more views of this bottle: close-up of the applied, pour spout finish showing the pour spout which was shaped by some type of glassmakers tool (also shown earlier in this section above); base view showing the slightly indented post-bottom base conformation.  The Carter Ink Company began business in 1858 and continued until 1976, when it was acquired by the Dennison Company The Carter's Ink Co. used many hundreds, if not thousands, of different types and sizes of ink bottles during it reign as the largest producer of ink in the U. S. during most of the noted span of operation (Faulkner 2009).

Bulk ink or utility bottle from ca. 1880; click to enlarge.

The tall (8.1 ") deep cobalt blue bottle to the right was likely used as a bulk ink bottle although once again, it is not embossed or labeled as such and could have contained other non-ink (and non-carbonated) liquid products.  It has an applied two-part finish that is a cross between the "mineral" (the short, sharp lower part) and "double ring" types (the taller, distinctly rounded upper part), was blown in a two-piece post-bottom mold, lacks evidence of mold air venting, and dates most likely from the late 1870s based on the context it was found in.  Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle: base view (post-bottom mold production though the seams are not easily visible in the image); close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish showing the crudely applied finish.  Of note also, about 1/2" below the rim in the bore of the finish is the diagnostic ledge indicating that the bottle was almost certainly sealed with a "club sauce" type glass stopper and shell cork.  (More information on this closure type is found at this link: club sauce type closure.)

Sanfords bulk ink bottle from the 1910 to 1930 era; click to enlarge.1928 Sanford's Ink advertisement; click to enlarge.Another general form seen in early to mid-20th century machine-made bulk ink bottles is the amber bottle pictured to the left and in the adjacent 1928 illustration.  It has a slightly bulging shoulder and heel and is of a shape used by several ink manufacturers during the noted ear.  This particular bottle is 6" tall and 2.4" in diameter, machine-made with a crown type finish, and is embossed with SANFORD'S INKS / HALF PINT / & LIBRARY PASTE.  (Note: The embossing is painted with watercolors to highlight it; photo from eBay®.)  The bottle was sealed with a modified crown cap closure as shown in the illustration.  Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle:  base view faintly showing the diamond makers mark indicating probable production by the Illinois Glass Co. (Alton, IL.) sometimes between the late 1910s and 1929 when it was combined with the Owens Bottle Company to form the Owens-Illinois Glass Co. (Toulouse 1971); close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish showing the standard crown cap accepting finish.  The Sanford's Manufacturing Company (aka Sanford's Ink Co.) began in 1857 (MA.) as an ink and glue manufacturer and is still in business today.  For more information, see the company's history page at this link: Sanford history

Other shapes (non-cylindrical):  The most common non-cylindrical shape for bulk ink bottles are those with vertical, equal-sided paneled bodies; 6, 8 and 12 sides being most observed.  Bottles which are square, rectangular, or (even rarer) oval in cross-section are very unusual and are frequently bottles intended for other products re-used for ink (Nelson & Hurley 1967; Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009; empirical observations).  A couple examples follow though there are likely hundreds of other examples produced during the period covered by this website:

Mid-19th century 12 sided bulk ink.

The bluish aqua, 12-sided bulk ink pictured to the right is an early (~1845-1860) bulk ink bottle from one of the largest ink producing companies of the mid-19th century - the Apollos W. Harrison Ink Company of Philadelphia, PA.  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  Apollos W. Harrison was a Philadelphia dealer in "books, maps and ink" as well as a perfumer from about 1843 to 1877 (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Faulkner 2009).  This medium size example (~6" tall; a pint+) is in the middle of a series of 8 and 12 sided ink bottles produced for the company ranging from 2.5" (<1 oz.) up to a gallon size at a large 11.5" tall (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  (A 3.6" tall example is discussed earlier on this page.)  This example is embossed with HARRISON'S - COLUMBIAN - INK vertically on three of the 12 panels and has PATENT on the shoulder which was apparently for the ink and not the bottle shape (Faulkner 2009).  The smaller (<3.5") examples (8 sided) were probably ink bottles presumably filled from the larger bulk versions.  These bottles are known to have been made at several South New Jersey glasshouses including Whitney Brothers and Isabella Glass Works (Covill 1971).  Most of these bottles are pontil scarred, lack mold air venting, were blown in a true two-piece hinge mold, and have a distinctive flared collared ring finish like the illustrated bottle.

Carters bulk ink from the 1920s or 1930s; click to enlarge.Machine-made bulk inks with original labels; click to enlarge.A commonly seen bulk ink bottle from the late 1920s to early 1930s are the very decorative "cathedral" style bottles pictured to the left.  These bottles were produced in three different bulk sizes - quart (9.75" tall), pint (7.8" tall), and half pint (6.25" tall) - as well as a smaller cobalt blue ink bottle (not illustrated) with a related design (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009).  These bottles were produced for the Carter's Ink Company (Boston, Mass.) to sell their "RYTO Permanent Ink"; the bottles have CARTER embossed twice around the lower body as well as CARTER'S on the base.  All the bottles are machine-made and utilized a rubber cork closure with a screw cap pour spout on top (click on the two bottle image to see the closures).  For more images of this bottle style, click on the following links: view of three sizes of these gothic or cathedral style ink bottles; view of the bases of the three sizes.  These bottles were sometime produced in a lighter sapphire blue (two bottle image shows color comparison) and rarely in colorless glass (Faulkner 2009).  The Carter Ink Company began business in 1858 and continued until 1976, when it was acquired by the Dennison Company The Carter's Ink Co. used many hundreds of different types and sizes of ink bottles during it reign as the largest producer of ink in the U. S. during most of the noted span of operation (Faulkner 2009).

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.
 

 

Inkwells

Early American pattern molded inkwell.As noted at the top of this section on 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 quill (or fountain pen) 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 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; both are covered as separate bottle "types" on this page.

Blowpipe pontil scar on an early American pattern mold inkwell.The first inkstand (an inkwell was part of an inkstand which also included writing instruments and a sand shaker for drying) was patented in the U. S. in 1811 by A. H. Quincy of Boston, Massachusetts (Faulkner 2009).  Inkwells began fading in popularity by the early twentieth century due to the rise of fountain pens - which were filled directly from the bottle - and later, ballpoint pens which dominated by the mid-20th century (Faulkner 2009; Wikipedia).  Inkwells were produced in a dizzying array of designs and materials including wood, precious metals, pewter and other more common metals, ceramics, a myriad of minerals, and many other substances...and, of course, glass.  Even with "just" glass as the forming material the variety of shapes, colors, and types is staggering.  For those interested in the subject, both Covill's (1971) and the Faulkner's (2009) books provide a bit more glimpse into more variety than can (or should) be addressed on this site as inkwells are really a specialty bottle type and outside this websites goals.  However, a few examples of commonly encountered inkwells will be addressed - examples that are more "bottle-like" (and more closely follow the dating rules outlined on this website) than not.

The early American center hole inkwell pictured to the above left (top/side view) and right (base) is a pattern molded inkwell of the style referred to as a "Pitkin" style inkwell.   (A straight-on side view of the bottle is available by clicking HERE.)  These pattern molded inkwells are attributed to the Pitkin Glassworks in Manchester, CT. who likely produced this example sometime between 1783 (when founded) and 1830 when the glasshouse closed down for a variety of reasons (Buckley 1985; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Pattern molding was a process of forming a basic design pattern (typically ribs) on an expanding gob of glass via a dip mold with an engraved design.  Click pattern molding to read more about this process on the Bottle Body Characteristics & Mold Seams page.  The image to the above right is a close-up view of the base of this inkwell showing the blowpipe pontil scar on the base of this inkwell.  It also shows the ribbing pattern continuation from the body to the base typical of a pattern molded bottle.  It should be noted that some "Pitkin" style inkwells were also made by other regional glasshouses like those in Keene, NH., Coventry, CT., and likely some in Pennsylvania and Ohio (Covill 1971).

Top view a ca. 1830s inkwell.The inkwell pictured to the left was produced by the Coventry Glass Works (CT.) during the 1820s to 1830s period (McKearin & McKearin 1941).  This ink was blown in a three-piece leaf mold, has a blow-pipe pontil scar on the base, is 1.4" tall and 2.25"cm in diameter, and has a flattened "disk" type finish (like the Pitkin inkwell above) surrounding the central bore that was formed with simple glassmaker tools.  Click base view to view the base which shows the pontil scar encircling a small indentation in the base center.  The linked image also shows the extensive wear present on the high point edge of the base; a function of these inkwells being used for decades as well as sitting on a shelf for another century or more as these items were rarely discarded unless broken.  This and similar inkwells have a body design referred to as a "geometric" pattern which was a molded take-off or loose imitation of English or Irish cut glassware of the period (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  This "bottle-like" category of inkwells were produced by several New England glasshouses including the noted Coventry, CT. as well as Keene, NH., Mt. Vernon, NY and at the Boston and Sandwich Works in Massachusetts (Faulkner 2009).  For more information on these type early American inkwells consult the following references (in order of importance) - McKearin & Wilson (1978), McKearin & McKearin (1941), Covill (1971), and Faulkner (2009).

Early 19th century small free-blown ink bottle.The very small (1.1" tall and 1.5" in diameter) early aqua cylindrical ink bottle or inkwell pictured to the right dates from the 1830s or 1840s based on the context of where it was uncovered in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA.  (Note: This bottle is covered here due to the morphological similarity to the geometric inkwells discussed above.)  In any event, this ink bottle was likely produced without the aid of a mold (i.e., free-blown) and has a glass-tipped pontil scar on the base.  (Click on base view to see the noted pontil scar.)  It has a cheap utilitarian look to it compared to the geometric inkwell shown above though has the same basic configuration.  It could well have been (and probably was) sold corked and containing ink; whether it was reused as an inkwell can't be determined.  It does appear to have some dark ink residue forming a rough ring around the insides, although this could also be related to its residence in the earth for over 150 years.  Unlike most inkwells that were sold empty and were much more ornate, this particular bottle is of a utilitarian nature and does conform to the dating guidelines found on this website, i.e., it is free-blown and has a glass-tipped pontil scar indicating a manufacture most likely in the 1850s or before.

Teakettle ink well from the 1875-1890 era; click to enlarge.The cobalt blue inkwell pictured to the left is what is known as a "tea kettle," "turtle," or "fountain" inkwell.  It dates from the mid to late 19th century.  (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  These type inkwells usually had burst-off (or cracked-off) finishes which were variably ground down.  The finish was usually covered by a hinged, typically brass, ring and cap (cap missing on the illustrated example) that sealed the bottle when not being used to inhibit evaporation.  Teakettle inks come in a wide variety of colors, glass types,  and other materials (e.g. pottery or other ceramics) but all share the conformation similarities of a relatively large, domed body (though varying widely in design including Benjamin Franklins head!) for the ink storage and a diagonally upswept neck (the "teakettles" spout) terminating with a capped or corked opening for accessing the ink.  The style seems to have been first made during the first quarter of the 19th century (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009) but was most popular from the mid-1800s until around 1900 or so since pontiled examples are unusual (empirical observations).

The tea kettle inkwell or ink bottle pictured to the right is another ink that crosses the line between being an inkwell or simple ink bottle.  Like the aqua center hole ink bottle above this bottle also has a cheaper, utilitarian look to it compared to the cobalt blue teak kettle ink bottle above, which certainly was intended for indefinite use.  Of course, this bottle could have been reused after the initial purchase with ink.  It has a tooled straight finish which accepted a cork closure, an eleven sided body, and has no evidence of mold air venting.  It was (apparently) blown in a true, though asymmetrical, two-piece mold where one portion of the mold formed the base, heel and underside of the neck with the other portion forming the entire body and upper portion of the neck.

The base is embossed with PAT JULY 13TH / 1880; click base view to view such showing the embossing.  Below the patent date is a marking which appears to be three interlinking circles with some faint letters in each circle which is either an unknown bottle makers marking or is related to the company that used the bottle.  To view the actual design patent click: Design Patent #11,868.  The patent notes that this was called a "Fountain-Bottle" and specifically patented for the spout angle and bulge at the base of the spout, the pen rests on the top of the body, and feet bumps on the base (see base image) - or all those features in combination.  The patent was granted to one Michael H. Haggerty of New York, NY.  A search of the few references on ink bottles listed the bottle but nothing about what company used the bottle, what the noted marking on the base may mean, nor anything about Mr. Haggerty.  Covill (1971) did note a variant of this bottle that has PAT. APPD. FOR on the base indicating manufacture between April 9, 1880, when the patent application was filed, and July 13, 1880 when the patent was granted!  Since Early 19th century pewter inkwell.these bottles are fairly scarce in the authors experience, they were probably only made for a few years in the early to mid-1880s.

Dating summary/notes:  As a specialty bottle type, inkwells usually follow poorly the dating rules based on manufacturing related diagnostic features.  The illustrated bottles, however, were picked specifically because they are types that do follow the dating rules well.  The small, more utilitarian looking aqua, center hole ink bottle/inkwell above should really be considered an ink bottle even though it shares many morphological features with the Pitkin and geometric style inkwells.  Pontil scarred ink bottles generally were made during or before the Civil War, whereas pontiled inkwells being more of a specialty bottle, were occasionally made later in the 19th century (empirical observations).  Since inkwells were not made much after the advent of bottle making machines, machine-made inkwells are unusual but may be encountered now and then.

As portrayed by the image of an early 19th century pewter inkwell to the left, a lot of late 18th to early 20th century inkwells were not bottles or even made of glass.  As noted earlier, inkwells were produced in a dizzying array of designs and materials including wood, precious metals, pewter and other more common metals, ceramics, a myriad of minerals, and many other substances.  However, that can be the subject of another website...
 

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

Mid-19th century mucilage bottle."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.

Stick Well & Co. mucliage bottle.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).  Fountain inkwell with 1867 patent date; click to enlarge.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. 

The 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.  This is all 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:

▪Standard mucilage bottles (like the 8-sided conical ones noted above) - which were a relatively small bottle - were one of the earlier bottle types to have tooled finishes in relatively common usage - a consistent featured noted for some other types of  shorter/smaller (<7" tall) bottles.  Similar to druggist and some small medicine bottles, mucilage bottle finishing appears to have been dominated by the tooled finishing method by the mid-ish 1870s.  The transition from applied to tooled finishes is covered in more depth in a section of the Bottle Finishing main page
▪The standard finish on the common conical (multi-sided body or cylindrical) mucilage bottles was the straight finish or the very similar, but earlier, rolled or folded finish.  This held from origin of the style in the 1850s (possibly late 1840s) to the functional end of the mouth-blown era in the mid to late 1910s.  Earlier examples (pre-1870 or so) had a cracked-off (refired or not) or rolled/folded finish; after that time (1870s and later) the finish was typically a tooled straight finish.  Once these bottles were beginning to be machine-made (mid to late 1910s) the finishes were typically different, i.e., external screw threads or some type of snap cap facilitating finish, although cork finishes survived for some time.
▪Mucilage bottles are, along with ink bottles, among the earliest bottles to be blown with some regularity in cup-base molds.   Cup mold bases are commonly seen on mucilage/ink bottles from the 1860s onwards (Covill 1971; Faulkner 2009; empirical observations).
▪Small mouth-blown mucilage/ink bottles sometimes lack evidence of mold air venting marks on bottles that date from the period when a majority of larger mouth-blown would have exhibited this feature, i.e., the late 1880s through the 1910s (empirical observations).  Why?  Possibly because little air needed displaced during the blowing process from the quite small bottle molds used for these bottles and thus little need for air venting?
 

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Blacking/Shoe Polish

Late 19th to early 20th century shoe polish bottle.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:

Blacking consists essentially of two principle constituents: a black coloring matter and substances that will produce a gloss or shine.  Each maker has his own proportions and methods of mixing but the materials used are similar in most cases.  Day & Martin, a blacking maker, used Bone-black, Sugar, Molasses, Sperm Oil, Sulphuric Acid, and strong Vinegar." (from Faulkner 2009)

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 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).

Four early American blacking bottles - ca 1820s-1840sSome 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.

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.

Bixby shoe polish bottle from the 1880s.Base embossed with BIXBY with a large X.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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Toiletries

(e.g., perfume, cologne, cosmetics, hair products, tooth powder, Florida water)

Perfume/Cologne

 

 

 

Florida Water

"Florida Water" bottles are one distinct bottle type within the otherwise huge universe of toiletry bottle styles that is closely identified with that toiletry product although the same shape and similar sizes were also used for a distinctly non-toiletry product - castor oil.  (Discussed more later.) The following is an excerpt from the abstract of the one scholarly article published on this genre of bottles and summarizes the history of the product and the bottles succinctly:

Florida water was a perfumed spirit that became to the 19th-century North Americans what Lavender Water and eau-de-cologne were to Europeans.  Nowadays, perfumed spirits are known as colognes or toilet waters, and are used mainly as fragrances.  But from the Middle Ages right into the 19th century, perfumed spirits were thought to possess miraculous healing properties and to prevent infection.  Florida Water is a late arrival to that tradition.  Developed in the United States, Florida Water was already a generic product by the 1830s.  During the last three decades of the 19th century, many North American druggists and pharmaceutical houses produced their own Florida waters, and also sold Murray and Lanman's Florida Water, the most popular of the brand-name Florida waters.  Two standard bottle shapes were used for Florida Water in the late 19th century. One of these forms is no longer remembered as a Florida Water bottle; without paper labels, examples of this shape are not easily identifiable as Florida Water bottles, and have not yet been studied..." (Sullivan 1994).

The bottle form noted as "...no longer remembered as a Florida Water bottle..." was, according to Sullivan (1994) much like the the "round toilet water" bottle pictured on page 65 of the Illinois Glass Company's 1906 catalog; click Illinois Glass Co. 1906 catalog, pages 64-65 to see such (illustration lower left corner of that page).  Examples of this bottle style clearly identified with embossing or paper labeling as "Florida Water" have not been observed by this author though such certainly exists, at least with paper labels.  The other very ubiquitous style is as pictured in this section.  Various brands using embossed bottles - in particular those used by Murray & Lanman - are very commonly found on historic sites dating from the 1850s to 1940s.  This tall, slender and very common bottle type is this sections subject.

For a LOT more information on the subject of Florida Water bottles, perfumed spirits and related subjects consult the complete article by Catherine Sullivan, originally published in Historic Archaeology (journal of the Society for Historical Archaeology) which is made available on this website:   http://www.sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/sullivanfloridawater1994.pdf 
Also of note, is an earlier article in Western Collector Magazine entitled "Florida Waters" by Dewey Moss (Moss 1968).  However, Sullivan used and referenced that article incorporating its salient facts and information into her work.

Large and small size Florida waters from ca. 1880.Florida Water bottles are typically very consistent in proportions in the two most commonly encountered sizes shown to the right (and again at the bottom of this section).  The typical Florida Water bottle is roughly equal height in body and neck, with the neck/shoulder section (as defined in the following) being just slightly shorter than the body section.  Specifically, the body from the edge of the heel to beginning of the shoulder sweep is about equal in height to the distance from shoulder base to the finish (aka "lip") rim or top.  Stated differently the finish, neck and shoulder are about equal height to the vertical sides of the body.  With both the regular sizes pictured in this section this is about 4.7" for the vertical body section and 4.5" for the lower shoulder to finish rim section.  Proportionally for the two noted sizes, the width of the body is roughly ¼th the height of the entire bottle (heel to rim) although some of the smaller size ones tend to be a tad wider proportionally in the body (empirical observations).  Of course, with mouth-blown bottles this proportion can vary some due to the variable height of the neck depending on where the glassblower cracked off the blowpipe and, with applied finish bottles, how much glass was added to form the finish.

As noted earlier, the standard Florida Water shape was also used for castor oil.  The following link showing a page from the Illinois Glass Company's 1906 catalog has the two styles side by side (upper right corner of left page)  - Illinois Glass Co. 1906 catalog, pages 102-103.  The image at the following link - cobalt blue castor oil bottle - is of an example probably made in England for the Scottish company that bottled their product in it although similar bottles were made and used in the U. S.  Proportionally it is very like the Florida Water bottles with a few subtle differences.  First is that the body tends to be ever-so-slightly narrower with the castor oil bottles, or at least with the ones from the British Isles (which are commonly encountered in the U.S.).  Second, the ones used for castor oil are quite commonly cobalt blue glass - a color that is rarely seen holding Florida Water where the vast majority of bottles are aqua or colorless glass (rarely amber).  And finally, the mouth-blown castor oil bottles (again, at least the ones from the British Isles) tend to come primarily with a two-part "brandy" or "mineral" style finish whereas the Florida water bottles virtually always have a one-part "oil" type finish.

The bottle pictured at the top of this section (again to the far left) is one of the earliest examples of what was at the time becoming by far the most popular brand of Florida Water in the U. S. and probably the world - Murray & Lanman's Florida Water - a product that is still available today.   (Image to near left; the label similarity between the current product and its 160 year old ancestor is striking!)  Certainly part of this companies success was probably due to the companies extensive use of advertising in the form of trade cards.  Below right is one of scores of different advertising trade cards the company gave away; one that shows the bottle embraced by flowers and gazed upon by a cockatoo.  This card probably dates from the 1880s; the back side gives a litany of uses including simply as a "...floral  perfume for the handkerchief..." but also that it  "...relieves headache, promotes sleep, allays nervousness, is a rare disinfectant for the sickroom, exhilarates the sprits..." among many other attributes.  Click trade card reverse to see such.

The early example is embossed vertically on the side with FLORIDA WATER / MURRAY & LANMAN / NEW - YORK and actually probably the oldest embossed Florida Water bottle known as it dates from between 1854 and 1857.  How do we know that?  First off, the base has a sharp "blowpipe" style pontil scar within the post-mold base type, indicating a manufacture no later than the American Civil War.  (Click base view to see the base of this bottle.)  It is the only Florida Water bottle known to the author that was early enough to be pontil scarred.  Use of the shape by this company as early as the 1850s was speculated on by Sullivan (1994) based on her research indicating that the label was registered in New York in 1857, but she was unaware of this example.  However, this is where the manufacturing based diagnostic feature dating ends and the original label takes over.

David T. Lanman - in silent partnership with Lindley Murray - was a druggist located at 69 Water Street in New York from 1836 to 1854. He did business as a "wholesale druggist" at the same address from 1854 to 1857 under the name D. T. Lanman & Co. - Murray having left the partnership in 1854.  That same year, George Kemp was also listed as doing business at that address; he apparently being the "Co." in the name at that point.  The partnership of Lanman & Kemp was formed and operated at that same address from 1858 to 1870 when they moved to another NYC address.  So this bottle can date no earlier than 1854 and no later than 1857 or early 1858 depending on when that years New York City directory was published (Wilson & Wilson 1971; Holcombe1979; Sullivan 1994).

The vertically body embossed Murray & Lanman bottles were quite similar during the 100 year span from the 1850s until at least the 1950s (Sullivan 1994) although more modern bottles (image above) have the embossing on the shoulder.  Some of the earlier, non-pontil scarred examples dating up to 1870 are embossed with FLORIDA WATER / MURRAY & LANMAN / NO 69 WATER ST. / NEW - YORK.  From 1870 to the end of the mouth-blown era for these bottles (mid 1910s?) the bottles were embossed with FLORIDA WATER /MURRAY & LANMAN / DRUGGISTS / NEW YORK  (Fike 1987).  Bottles with that embossing are found in the usual two sizes (like shown to the right) as well as a small sample size which is only 3.5" tall and less than 1" in diameter (Moss 1968).  Bottles with the same embossing are also found machine-made first with the usual cork closure beginning probably in the mid-1910s into at least the 1930s (possibly later) when the closure was changed to a external threaded finish with screw cap (empirical observations).

Large and small size Florida waters from ca. 1880.The two standard size and shape Florida Water bottles pictured to the left are from a West Coast competitor to Murray & Lanman, the product being produced and bottled by the large druggist firm of Crane & Brigham in San Francisco, CA.  The larger bottle is embossed inside of an indented panel (plate mold?) with CRANE & BRIGHAM / SAN FRANCISCO and though it doesn't say what it contained, it certainly was used for Florida Water.  It is also about 9" tall, has a typical applied "oil" finish, a smooth (non-pontiled) post-molded base which is about 2.25" in diameter, and lacks any evidence of mold air venting.  The smaller size is embossed within an indented panel with simply C. & B. / S. F. although it is certainly a bottle also used by Crane & Brigham for Florida Water.  It is 6.25" tall, body that is 1.6" in diameter, has a tooled "oil" finish but is otherwise similar in manufacture to the larger bottle including no mold air venting in evidence.  These features would indicate a manufacturing date sometime between the mid-1860s to maybe as late as the mid-1880s.  (Note: See the main Bottle Finishes & Closures page for information on the changeover from applied to tooled finishes, which on average occurred with smaller bottles quite a few years prior to larger bottles.)

The availability of some company history helps the dating process in that the partnership was formed in 1860s (sometime between 1861 and 1863) and ended with Crane retiring in the "early 1880s" (Shimko 1969; Wilson & Wilson 1971; Fike 1987).  Both bottles were certainly products of the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works (or possibly that combined company's pre-1876 antecedents - the San Francisco Glass Works or Pacific Glass Works) as they have the distinct blue aqua color associated with aqua glass products from those companies (Friedrich 2012; empirical observations).  In addition, the larger example exhibits the distinct outwardly curved forward leg on the "R" in the embossing.  This is widely acknowledged as an informal "signature" of a yet unknown mold engraver or machinist for the companies (or independently) in the Bay Area doing his work between about 1870 and the mid-1880s (empirical observations).  All this information points towards the most likely manufacturing date range of the 1870s to possibly the very early 1880s for these bottles.

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.  It should also be noted that there were scores if not hundreds of different brands that used this style bottle with their own embossing (Moss 1968; Fike 1987; Sullivan 1994) as well as untold hundreds of brands that used label only bottles; bottles that would have been this same shape but without body embossing.
 

 

Hair products

Hair tonics, hair & whisker dyes,...

 

 

Lotions & Creams

Lotions and creams have in common their use on the skin...

 

 

Other

Others include tooth powder,  ...

 

 

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Snuff

Snuff is the only category on this page that was intended for more or less internal consumption, i.e., at least internally as far as the mouth (or nose).  McKearin & Wilson also have a section on this p.259+

The dots on the base of 20th century snuff bottles are thought to be indicators of the strength of the snuff contained, though it appears that the marks are instead glass maker marks intended to track quality control of bottles produced by different machines (Munsey 1971; Gloria Thomas, Conwood Sales Co. LLC pers. comm. 2007).

Snuff bottle in dark olive green which is almost black; click to enlarge.Rectangular

 

 

Square

 

 

Cylindrical

Early American snuff or utility bottle in yellowish olive green; click to enlarge.Cylindrical may be covered under utility bottles below since a cylindrical snuff may just be a wider mouth utility bottle...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Utility bottles

Early utility or ink bottles; click to enlarge.Utility bottles is somewhat of a catch-all category for bottles using a collector jargon type term.  It pertains to typically cylindrical bottles that were used for a variety of products....

 

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...

Utility or ink bottle from the 1840s or 1850s; click to enlarge.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.

 

Early American snuff or utility bottle in yellowish olive green; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the right is a very early American utility bottle that likely was used for snuff (and discussed in that section above) although

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.

Packer utility bottle from the 1920s; click to enlarge.

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.

 

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

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.)

Ammonia

San Francisco ammonia bottle from the 1880s.Ammonia bottles... 

(Photo courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)

 

 

Bleach

Clorox bottle from 1929-1930; click to enlarge.

Bleach bottles....

Clorox bottle base - ca. 1929-1930Clorox bottles...

http://www.clorox.com/

(Clorox bottle images courtesy of Hal .)

Purex

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating of Clorox bottles can be done via the companies website at this link: http://www.thecloroxcompany.com/company/history/bottleguide/

 

 

Other

 

 

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Other household bottles

Others - pesticides/bug killers, machine oil (sewing machine, battery oil, 3-in1 oil)...

 

Pesticide bottles

Pesticides...  These bottles could also be considered as "poison" bottles as virtually all pesticides are poisonous to humans.  However, the bottle shapes associated with this category have marked differences from the genre of "poison" bottles. 

Lyon's Powder, ????

 

Machine oil

Machine...  http://www.3inone.com/about/history/

Sperm Sewing Machine Oil, 3-in-1 oil, Edison Battery oil

 

Miscellaneous

 

 

 

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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.


3/30/2014

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This website created and managed by:
Bill Lindsey
Bureau of Land Management (retired) -
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Questions?  See FAQ #21.

Copyright © 2014 Bill Lindsey.  All rights reserved. Viewers are encouraged, for personal or classroom use, to download limited copies of posted material.  No material may be copied for commercial purposes. Author reserves the right to update this information as appropriate.