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

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This lower portion of this page is currently a work-in-progress.

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

Snuff

Utility bottles

Cleaning products
  -Ammonia
  -Bluing
  -Bleach bottles
  -Other cleaning products

Other Household 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" and the Faulkners' INKS: 150 Years of Bottles and Companies are the best published sources available to see some of 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 made and used during the 19th to mid-20th century time span covered by this website.
 

This section divides the small 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 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.  (Also see Utility Bottles below.)

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.  (Also see Utility Bottles below.)

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. Hagerty 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. Hagerty.  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.  This bottle is approximately 3.3" tall, was blown in a true two-piece mold (the mold seam equally dissects the base), has a blowpipe pontil scar, a rolled or folded finish, and exhibits no evidence of mold air venting.  All that is commensurate with the age of the bottle which was manufactured in the 1850s based on the context it was found.  Several authors have noted that these bottles are commonly found on Civil War camp sites and are usually pontiled, i.e., pontil scarred through most or all the first half of the 1860s (Russell 1998; Faulkner 2009).  The author has also observed later mouth-blown versions that are not pontiled, have tooled finishes, and blown in cup-base molds (empirical observations).  Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle: base view showing the circular blowpipe style pontil scar; close-up of the neck and finish showing the rolled or folded style of finish - a finish rarely found on post ~1870 bottles.

Glue was also packaged and sold in other bottle shapes and sizes from the mid-19th century through the end of the period covered by this website in the mid-20th century.  Future additions to the site may add additional mucilage and glue bottles examples... 

Dating summary/notes:  Generally speaking, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features follows most of the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  A few mucilage bottle specific manufacturing related diagnostic features and dating trends have been noted by the author and are discussed as follows; trends which are also common with the similar smaller (non-bulk) ink bottles:

  • 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 smooth 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 - possibly through the 1920s or so.
  • Mucilage bottles are along with ink bottles some of 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 tend to all share at least a couple similarities.  First and foremost is a moderately wide bore or mouth - usually about 1" in diameter give or take 1/8" to 1/4".  Such was necessary for the use of an application swab or sponge which was usually mounted on the end of a wire or wooden stick.  (Click 1883 patent for a shoe polish bottle and applicator to see a copy of a patent for a bottle described later but which shows the typical type applicator used for shoe polish/blacking.)  Documented use of such applicators began at least as early as 1829 (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  The second commonality is that the capacity of the bottles were dominated by those holding about 4 to 6 ounces, although "bulk" bottles or jars as well as ones a bit smaller than 4 ozs. were also used, and many products came in bottles of that size (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  However, consideration of that size along with a moderately wide bore can lead one to conclude that such a bottle could have been used for shoe polish/blacking unless strongly identified by other features or embossing as something else (empirical observations).

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.  (Note: These early American bottles were also used for snuff and likely other products also.)

This square, short neck style was made in the U. S.  from at least as early as the 1810s until well into the 20th century.  Of course the specifics of manufacture as well as the closures and finishes used varied over that time, e.g., corks and cracked off finishes in the early 19th century to screw caps and external threaded finishes in the 1920s and after.  A very common example of a late 19th to early 20th century, mouth-blown example is available at this link: Frank Millers Dressing.  This aqua example from the 1890s to 1910s period shares the same general proportions and dimensions as the much early blacking/shoe polish bottles pictured to the above left, but has a tooled "patent" finish and was blown in an air vented, cup-base mold.

The shoe polish bottle pictured at the beginning of this section (and to the left) are some of the most commonly encountered types from the late 19th well into the 20th century.  The first one above is embossed vertically inside an indented panel with WHITTEMORE / BOSTON / U. S. A.  This particular type came in at least two sizes, this being the typical larger size which is 5.5" tall.  It also has a rounded, one part "bead" type finish, an indented base and was mouth-blown in an air vented cup-base mold.  For more images of this bottle click on the following links:  base view; side view; close-up of the upper body, neck and bead style finish.  These mouth-blown bottles were produced in colorless, aqua, shades of green and amber glass; there were also lots of different size, shape, and embossing variations.  Later machine-made variations (probably no earlier than the 1930s) had screw cap finishes.  The cork (or possibly later - rubber) had the applicator swab wire embedded in the base. 

The images to the left are of a mid/late 1910s or (more likely) 1920s to early 1930s, machine-made example with the original label and dried up contents.  One side is embossed with 5 FLUID OZ. (horizontally) at the top of the embossed side and  WHITTEMORE / BOSTON / U. S. A. (vertically) below; the other side has the original label as shown (click to enlarge images).  This bottle is 5.4" tall, machine-made of colorless glass on an Owens Automatic Bottle Machine as evidenced by some of the suction scar showing on the lower body of the embossed side - a common feature with earlier (pre-1940) bottles made on that famous machine.  In the experience of the author, machine-made bottles like this lack the indented panel on the embossing side that is typical of the earlier (pre-mid 1910s) mouth-blown examples, though some mouth-blown examples lack the indentation also (empirical observations).

The Whittemore's Polish bottle to the right (two views) is a cylindrical, late mouth-blown example that dates from the 1905 to 1915 era.  It is embossed with WHITTEMORE'S on the front and POLISH on the back.  It is about 3.6" tall and just over 2" in diameter, has a tooled bead finish, a mouth or bore of about 1", and was blown in a cup-base mold.  The amethyst color is the result of the use of magnesium dioxide as a decolorizer; the original color was colorless but has since turned deep amethyst due to either exposure to ample sunlight or irradiated artificially.  These would have been stoppered similarly to the rectangular types discussed above.

By the mid-1910s, especially as machines began to dominate production, the cylindrical style began to dominate the glass bottle shoe polish market although rectangular and square bottles continued to also be used until the mid-20th century (Illinois Glass Co. 1906, 1911, 1920, 1926; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1930).  For some examples of early machine-made "shoe dressing" bottles from period bottle makers catalogs click on the following links:  Illinois Glass Co. 1906 - page 282; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916 - page 132; Illinois Glass Co. 1926 - page 144, 145 and 146.

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

Glass containers intended for the wide variety of toiletry products (e.g., perfume, cologne, cosmetics & lotions, hair products, tooth powder, Florida water, etc.) is another category of glass containers which is a massive group of highly variable shapes and sizes.  One major commonality within this group is that bottles intended for these products tend to be smaller in capacity, rarely being over about 10 or 12 ounces and often much less than that.  They also tend towards having narrow necks and smaller bores (most products being liquids) and to have been made of relatively thin glass since toiletries were not carbonated and extra heavy glass was little needed (cream jars being an often encountered exception to both the bore size and glass thickness).  Other than those attributes, the variety within this large group is staggering.  Thus, the coverage here will be primarily directed at some of the more commonly encountered types and those that offer some historic interest or relevance (or I have interesting examples of to illustrate).

The use of bottles for various toiletry products dates back a couple thousand years to the Hellenic and Roman empire periods.  For example, the small (3" tall) Roman bottle to the right dating from the Judea Period, i.e., first to second century A.D.  This large by variable class of Roman bottles are often referred to as "unguentarium bottles" as they were commonly used for holding scented oils for the body and hair as well as perfumes.  The bottle is free-blown, a light greenish color glass, a finish that was flared with some primitive tool and has evidence of a sand type pontil scar on the base.  It is also heavily patinated from the reaction of the soil it was found in with the glass over almost 2000 years.  Click the following links to see more images of this ancient bottle: side view, base view, and top view.  As with the rest of this website, the bottles covered largely date from the 19th to mid-20th century and were produced primarily in the United States.
 

Perfume/Cologne

Perfume, cologne, and toilet water bottles as a group come in a variety of shapes and sizes that is robust to say the least.  This group of bottles will often be referred to as simply "scent bottles" although historically there was a difference between perfume and scent.  Specifically, perfume was and is used primarily for personal embellishment whereas scent "commonly meant perfume that contained ammonia and was used for reviving fainting females or just 'social smelling,' i.e., masking body odors of others" (Munsey 1970).  The real difference between perfume and cologne/toilet water was essentially concentration with cologne/toilet water being much less concentrated (alcohol diluted) and less expensive than perfume.  (Note: Toilet water is really just another name for cologne as best as this author can determine.  However, bottle catalogs commonly use "toilet water" in lieu of or along with "cologne" when describing these type bottles.)  See Munsey (1970:154-160) which has a good overview in a chapter on "Perfume, Scent, and Cologne Bottles" as well as McKearin & Wilson's (1978:378-389) chapter "Smelling, Scent, and Cologne Bottles."

The author has no idea as to the total variety of these bottles - including all the subtle variations of major styles made just in the U. S. during the era covered by this website (19th to mid-20th centuries) - but it certainly is well into the tens of thousands.  As an example, there are scores of different examples in the 1926 Illinois Glass Company bottle catalog posted on this site (click 1926 IGCo. catalog to view this catalog).  Given that a large number of scent bottles were likely made in proprietary molds - which are not typically listed in bottle catalogs - it is likely the company was making several times the number of scent bottles shown.  Like many other type categories of bottles, this section not even scratch the surface of that variety.  Instead, it will show a few typical or common shapes used during the era covered by this website.  (One distinctive shape intended primarily for "Florida Water" [a type of cologne/toilet water] is covered as a separate category below.)

As noted in the introduction to this Toiletries section, most scent bottles were small in size rarely holding more than 6 ounces and often only an ounce or less, i.e., a capacity measured in drams (Illinois Glass Co 1926).  Scent bottles are also usually no more than about 6" tall (Munsey 1970). The glass thickness of scent bottles tends to be relatively thin since there was no need to contain the pressure of a carbonated product like with beer or soda.  One exception to this glass thickness trend is that the fancier stoppered perfume bottles - bottles intended to be refilled and reused indefinitely - were often made of quite thick glass making them heavy for their size.  An 20th century example (1910-1930s; 6.5" tall to top of the stopper) of a "hobnail" design, heavy glass perfume bottle with matching stopper can be seen to the right (Photo from eBay®).  (Also see the "Dating/Summary Notes" at the bottom of this section.)

The early and fairly often encountered (for such an early bottle) American cologne bottle pictured to the above left is of a style known as the "plume pattern."  This particular bottle was almost certainly blown at a Boston area glass works, most likely the Boston & Sandwich Glass Works (McKearin & McKearin 1941; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Kaiser 2009).  It has an early outwardly rolled finish, was blown in a true two-piece hinge mold, lacks any evidence of mold air venting, has a capacity of about 3-4 oz. and has a blowpipe pontil scar.  Click base view to see such showing an excellent example of a blowpipe style pontil scar.  Click reverse view to see the less ornate side where a label would have been applied by the user.  According to McKearin & McKearin (1941) there were "...probably at least 200 designs, most of which are so elaborate as to defy adequate verbal description" of this particular genre of decorative cologne bottles made in many colors (aqua the commonest) which date from the 1830s to 1850s and possibly a bit later.  (For images showing this variety, see McKearin & Wilson [1978] color plates IX and X; black & white images on pages 390-407.)  Kaiser (2009) shows an example of this particular bottle with the original label for "Eau De Cologne" overlaid with another identifying it as having been reused by a South Boston apothecary for "French Brandy."  Quite an unusual reuse of this type (and small size) bottle! 

The three very similar shaped bottles pictured to the left are cologne bottle spanning about 60 years of time moving from left to right - and all made by different manufacturing methods.  Van den Bossche (2001:220) pictures a case of six of these bottles, exactly like the center example in image, which he dates from about 1840.  The box and labels indicate that the contents were "Extrait D'Eau De Cologne" sold by "L. T. Piver, Parfumeur" of Paris, France.  This is a style that was most likely first produced in Europe in the early 19th century but also made later in the U. S. (Van den Bossche 2001; empirical observations). 

The bottle on the right (9.75" tall) in this grouping dates from the first quarter of the 19th century based on the context where found (French Quarter of New Orleans, LA.).  It is of a free-blown manufacture (likely in France) based on the asymmetry of the body, has a sheared/cracked-off flared finish that was reheated to smooth the rim edge, is of very thin glass, and has a glass tipped pontil scar on the edges of the base around a shallow push-up created with some pointed tool.  The middle example (9.1" tall) is very similar and almost certainly French made as it is essentially identical to the small case of bottles noted above (Van den Bossche 2001).  It was, however, blown in a dip mold evidenced by the abrupt and slightly flaring shoulder bulge and the very slight taper to the body which was necessary to remove it from a dip mold.  It also is of very thin glass, has a glass tipped pontil scar covering most of the very slightly indented base, and a finish very similar to the bottle described above; it dates from the 1840s to 1850s.  The final deep emerald green bottle to the far left (8.5" tall) is of American manufacture as indicated by the vertical embossing on the side reading LUNDBORG / NEW YORK.  This bottle was produced in a two piece "cup bottom" mold that lacks evidence of air venting and has a tooled bead type finish dating it from the 1870s to 1880s period most likely.  A quick look online shows that the company was established in the mid-19th century, was a prolific advertiser, used a myriad of different bottles embossed with their name, and sold under that company name well into the 20th century (empirical observations).

This distinct style of bottle is often found on historic sites across the range indicated by the noted dates of the bottles.  The following links show an example from the 1880 to 1900 era with the original labeling indicating that it was a "Concentrated Extract (of) White Rose": full view including the label; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish.  Van den Bossche also notes that this style was sometimes used for other products like balsam, oil, medicines and liquor.  He illustrated a smaller (5.5" tall) example labeled (re-used?) in Germany for a balsam (Van den Bossche 2001: 362-363).  At least one of these bottles was also found on the S.S. Republic - an American ship which sank off the American east coast in 1865 (Ellen Gerth pers. comm.). 

The deep cobalt blue toilet water bottle to the left is classified in McKearin & McKearin (1941) as GI-7, Type II.  These bottles and an assortment of very similar ones were almost certainly blown at Boston & Sandwich Glass Works in Boston (McKearin & McKearin 1941).  This bottle was blown in a three-piece leaf mold which was a mold with three equal body portions, has a capacity of about 6 oz., a tooled flared bead finish (more or less), a pontil scar on the base, and a so called "tam o' shanter" style glass stopper.  Click base view to view the blow-pipe style pontil scar on the base.  This bottle has a plain, non-patterned base although some other variations have embossed rays.  See McKearin & McKearin (1941) pages 278-282 & 288-289 for more information on these type bottles.  Those authors also noted that these bottles were used for castor oil, camphor, vinegar (as a "cruet"), and possibly other products.  They also noted that they were blown in a wide variety of colors including the pictured cobalt blue (almost purple-blue), colorless, aquamarine, sapphire blue, shades of amethyst and purple, various shades of green, and even milk glass.  All the colors outside of colorless and the cobalt shades are rarely encountered.

By the time of the American Civil War and on into the early 20th century, the number and variety of mouth blown, cheaply produced scent bottles exploded with many producers both foreign and domestic.  One of the most popular brands of the last half of the 19th century was Hoyt's German Cologne; it is pictured to the right.  Click on base view to see the cup-mold base conformation.  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish to see such.  The bottle is embossed with HOYT'S / GERMAN / COLOGNE / E. W. HOYT & CO / LOWELL, / MASS.  This bottle is the "Trail Size" (3.5") as noted on the 1885 trade card shown to the far right (click to enlarge).  The company also sold a "Medium Size" (5.75") and "Large Bottles" (7.5") which is likely the size shown on the card (Fike 1978).  The pictured "Trial Size" example has a tooled "prescription" finish, blown in a cup-base mold, and exhibits a single shoulder air venting mark above the embossing and three evenly spread out on the base.  Multiple air venting marks on the base is indicative of a bottle made no earlier than the late 1890s and most likely sometime between 1900 and the mid to late 1910s (empirical observations). 

The E. W. Hoyt  Company first introduced their German Cologne in 1871 and it was produced for a long time.  in fact, it is still being sold today as "Hoyt's Cologne" (Fike 1978).  The trade card shown has the suggested uses for the cologne listed on the back; click trade card reverse side to see such.  It was touted for use "...on the handkerchief, in the bath, on the clothes, at the toilet, opera, ball and theatre."  In addition - and keeping with the era's penchant for most bottled products having some type of perceived medicinal use - the cologne noted to be of use "...in the sick room, for headache, sinking, and fainting turns."  These types of ubiquitous advertising trade cards were handed out by thousands of druggists (and other mechants) for tens of thousands of products in the late 1800s and collected by children in scrap books.  Like many trade cards, this one does note on the back (stamped) that it was given out by "John A. Child & Co. / Druggist / Cor. Morrison & Second Sts."  John A. Child was a Portland, Oregon druggist in business as "Central Drug" from about 1878 through 1891.  He was specifically located at 167 Second Street a couple blocks west of the Willamette River when this card was handed out in the mid to late 1880s (Sanborn Map & Insurance Co., 1889; Portland Business Directories).

The small bottle pictured to the left is a interestingly shaped perfume bottle which although of a distinctive shape, is representative of the wide variety of shape (and sizes) found in scent bottles.  It is 4" tall, made of colorless glass with a slight pink tint, held only one ounce or so, has a crudely tooled "bead" or possibly "patent" finish (a hybrid of the two really), blown in a cup-base mold, and lacks any evidence of mold air venting.  This bottle likely dates from the 1870s to possibly early 1880s based on the context it was found.  As explained elsewhere on this site, smaller bottles (generally less than 6" in height) were being blown in cup-base molds and had tooled finishes at an earlier date (1870s and sometimes a bit earlier) than larger bottles (10" and above) which were typically made with applied finishes into the mid-1880s or even early 1890s with a few types (e.g., beer bottles).  Click side view to see the horizontally ribbed sides to this narrow bottle.  This bottle is actually quite crude in the body (label panels) and as the image shows, the upper neck/finish tips to one side.  This crudity is consistent with the noted era of manufacture and lack of air venting.  What company produced this bottle is impossible to tell as there are no makers markings, something that is essentially never seen on 19th century cologne/perfume bottles (empirical observations).  Who utilized this bottle for scent would likely be apparent if the bottle retained the original labels but not without them. 

The colorless and relatively modern toilet water (possibly aftershave?) pictured to the right is most likely from the 1940s or even 1950s based on the context where found (local ranch near the author) and what other bottles were found with it which included a few bottles with 1940s to 1950s date codes (Owens-Illinois Glass Co. productions).  Given the lack of original labeling nor any useful embossing on the body or base there isn't much more to say about the bottle besides it is an example of the moderately decorative glass packing often used for the noted products.  For more images click on the following links: base view (no identifiable or dateable embossing); side view (not embossed and lacking the ribbed design found on the two wider sides); and a close-up of the upper body, shoulder, neck and screw cap closure.

For an idea of the wide variety of toilet water, cologne and perfume bottles from just one manufacturer (Illinois Glass Company) in the 1920s take a look at pages 64 to 73 (machine-made) and 137 to 165 (all likely hand blown) of their 1920 catalog and pages 72 to 91 (machine-made) and 205 to 230 (still hand blown) of their  1926 catalog showing a scores of different designs. 

During the era covered by this website many tens of thousands of different shapes, sizes, designs, etc. of perfume, cologne and related scent bottles were produced by glass makers in just the U. S.  Coverage of even a small percentage of the plethora of types is not possible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about other styles/types scent bottles to show some of that additional variety:

  • "Classic Oblong" style drug/chemical bottle - This commonly encountered bottle style on mid-ish 20th century historic sites is what the maker - the Owen-Illinois Glass Co. - called in their catalogs a "Classic Oblong" and listed in those catalogs "Drug & Chemical Containers" sections (Lucas County Bottle Co. 1940s; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1952; 1962).  This example is 5.5" tall, holds 4 oz., has an external screw cap finish, and made of colorless glass that is slightly straw colored indicating glass decolorization with arsenic and/or selenium.  Click side view to see such which has several staggered vertical ribs defining the edge of the side.  Click base view to see such which, although hard to read, is embossed with DES. PAT. / 94824 along with a mold number "2" (to left side of base) and the glass makers marking (the earlier diamond O-I marking, aka "Saturn" marking) with an undecipherable plant number, but a likely "38" date code (to right side of base).  The base also shows some of the suction scar made by the Owens Automatic Bottle Machine.  The best way to understand the somewhat "Art Deco" design is to view the original Design Patent #94824 which was issued in 1935 to an (apparent) employee of the glass company.  The patent date along with the noted catalog information indicates this bottle was popular and sold by Owens-Illinois from 1935 until at least the early 1960s, this being an earlier example indicated by the 1938 date code.  (All of the later examples would also have date codes on the base, if decipherable.)  These bottles were undoubtedly also used for other products like hair tonic (discussed further down this page), aftershave, and other toiletries.
  • SOLON PALMER PERFUMER / 3 FL. OZ. N.Y. - This is embossed on the base of the perfume bottle pictured to the right which has some similarity in design (dense vertical ribbing) to the century older, early American cobalt blue bottle with the stopper discussed above.  This  4.5" tall, machine-made bottle is of unknown manufacture (no makers marking) but certainly dates from possibly as early as the late 1920s to possibly as late as the mid-1940s given the context if was found.   Click base view to see the noted embossing as well as a "4" in a circle in the middle of the base of unknown meaning (i.e., a mold or cavity code used by the glass manufacturer).  Click side view to see such.  Click close-up of the finish showing the flow restricting "sprinkler top" type external screw thread finish minus the metal or plastic screw cap.  This type finish is covered on one of the Finish Types pages and is commonly seen on many toiletry type bottles dating from the mid-1920s until very recently.
  • ...and more hopefully added in the future...

Dating summary/notes:  The dating of most 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.  One of the notable exceptions to this is with the fancier, usually stoppered, perfume bottles which were made by hand methods well into the 20th century when most utilitarian bottles were being totally made by machines.  For example, the 1926 Illinois Glass Company bottle catalog available on this website has a wide array of fancier perfume bottles that were noted as still being of "hand blown manufacture" at their Chicago Heights, IL. factory that year (and likely at least until 1929 when the company was merged to form the Owen-Illinois Glass Co.).  Click 1926 Illinois Glass Company catalog to view such beginning on page 205.  In any event, these type fancy perfume bottles are considered "specialty" bottles for which many of the dating rules do not apply; click "specialty" bottles for more information.

 

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 (internal and external use originally!) 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.  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 size bottles pictured in this section (e.g., top of this section and left bottle to the right) 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.  The typical capacity for regular size Florida Water bottles in the 19th to early 20th century was between 7 and 8 ounces; the smaller size about half that.

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 that time becoming by far the most popular brand of Florida Water in the U. S. and probably the world - Murray & Lanman's Florida Water.  It is still being produced today in several bottle sizes (regular size shown in the image to near left).  The label similarity between the two is striking given the 160 years separating them! The stated capacity on the current product is 7.5 oz. - also about the same as the earlier size.  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 the New York City directory was published that year (Wilson & Wilson 1971; Holcombe 1979; 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 the early 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 products comprise another large bottle typology group with a wide variety of shape and size variations likely numbering into the tens of thousands over the period covered by this website (19th to mid-20th centuries).  It includes hair tonics, treatments, balsam's and restoratives, hair /whisker dyes, and a wide array of other products intended for the hair or scalp for adornment and/or claimed medicinal benefits.  (Some of the latter products could have been included on the Medicinal bottles typology page.)  Many hair tonics could be considered simply a variation of the broad class of toiletry/scent bottles discussed above being more of a personal embellishment nature instead of having some other more pragmatic utility, i.e., medicinal.  As with such products made during the era, the line between personal grooming and medical treatment was often vague.  Closely related to the hair tonic bottles intended for purely personal embellishment are the highly decorative and colorful "barber bottles" used for various hair preparations within the context of the barber shop or beauty salon (or there precursors).  In general, barber bottles are a very different grouping of re-useable hair product bottles which are discussed on the Miscellaneous & Foreign Bottles typology page at this link: Barber Bottles.

As with the scent bottles noted above, the category of "hair" bottle shapes have limited commonality with each other besides being of relatively thin glass (no carbonated products to the authors knowledge) and of moderate to small size, i.e. 10-12 ounces or less in capacity.  They can be square, rectangular or cylindrical in cross-section (although figural bottles are extremely uncommon) and can be found in a wide array of glass colors.   However, if there is any class of bottles that was purposefully made in the most beautiful and intense glass colors it was the "hair" bottles which were often made purposely (not inadvertently by finishing a glass batch with a non-typical color like many 19th century bottles) in cobalt and peacock blues, claret, burgundy and other purple colors, a wide array of greens and other bright, eye catching colors.  A few examples made of brilliant glass can be found below although as with most bottle types the more ordinary aqua's, amber's and colorless glass still dominate.

The bottle pictured at the beginning of this section and to the right (reverse sides) is probably the oldest embossed bottle pictured on this site dating from the early 19th century.  The embossing covers all four sides and reads as follows: ROWLAND'S - MACASSAR / OIL - FOR THE HAIR - KIRBY ST / LONDON.  It is 3.6" tall, of colorless glass (faint grayish amber tint), has a pontil scarred base, and was blown in a true two-piece mold as indicated by the mold seam dissecting the rectangular base into equal parts.  Click base view to see the glass tipped pontil scar though it is a quite smooth example that is hard to see and may have been reheated to smooth it and allow for the bottle to stand upright.  It is also quite crude with it early flared finish, very uneven glass thickness which can be seen in the images (especially at the base), and rough wavy glass surface.  This is all consistent with it's early manufacture between about 1810 to 1830 based on the context of where excavated in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA. 

Developed by a London barber named Alexander Rowland, the product was first marketed in the late 1700s with various sources listing dates ranging from "around 1783" (Wikipedia) to 1793 (Fike 1987) to 1797 (Fadely 2016).  Named for the source of the ingredients (Makassar, Indonesia) the product was a very popular hair product made from coconut or palm oil mixed with "fragrant oils."  Due to its oily nature and penchant for transferring from head to anything it touched, it was the origin of the need for "antimacassars" - a small doily type cloth which was often crotched or embroidered and placed the upper back of a chair for protection (Wikipedia).  The product was made until at least 1953 (Fike 1987).  Although a foreign made bottle it is covered here as they are often found on 19th century historic sites in the U.S.

The small aqua bottle to the left was made in the 1850s and is embossed with DR. JAYNES / HAIR TONIC on the pictured side and PHILAD. on the reverse.  Click reverse side view to see such.  Dr. David Jayne & Son (Philadelphia) was a prolific 19th century patent medicine producer with a wide array of different medicinal products beginning in 1830 collectively called "Dr. Jayne's Family Medicines." Products included an Ague Mixture, Ague Pills, Alterative, Tonic Vermifuge (likely the most commonly encountered bottle; for internal worms), Carminative Balsam, Liniment or Counter Irritant, Sanative Pills, Life Preservative, and more.  His company also offered several different products for the hair, often with inferred medicinal properties, including Hair Dye, American Hair Oil, and Hair Tonic - the bottle illustrated here (Fike 1987; Odell 2000).  It is about 4.5" in height, oval in cross section, has a crude inwardly rolled finish, and was blown in a true two-piece hinge mold as indicated by the mold seam equally dissecting the base.  Click base view to see the mold seam which runs to and under the blowpipe style pontil scar.  The company continued in business until at least 1939 (Holcombe 1979).  A more comprehensive overview of the company can be found in Holcombe (1979:278-284).

The 1850s bottle pictured to the right is embossed on four sides with J. CRISTADORO - NO 1 - LIQUID - HAIR DYE.  The following is excerpted in part from Don Fadely's exceptional website (2016) on hair bottles (see for more information; link below): "Joseph A. Cristadoro was a New York City hair merchant from 1833 to 1888...  His occupational listings included "Barber," "Wigmaker," "Hairdresser," "Dyes," "Patent Medicines," and "Chemist." In 1875, he was in business with Anselm Cadarette and in 1883 he was working with Alexander Cristadoro (son?).  By 1889, Maria J. Cristadoro was listed as his widow..."   The product was advertised as early as 1849 and as late as 1916 (Fike 1987; Fadely 2016).  All of these bottles seen by this author have manufacturing characteristics indicating production between about 1850 and 1870; the bottles may have been labeled only after that point.

This particular bottle is 3.3" tall, square in cross-section (1" on a side), and exhibiting manufacturing characteristics similar to the previous bottle - a crude inwardly rolled finish and blown in a true two-piece hinge mold with the mold seam equally dissecting the base which also has a blowpipe style pontil scar.  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and rolled finish to see such.  There was also a similar "No 2" variant of this bottle although narrower (3/4" sides) in the body (Fike 1978).  The smaller bottle was likely the same product in simply a smaller (and cheaper) size.  There were an assortment of very similar shaped (square) and sized (one or two ounces maximum) hair dye bottles (e.g., Batchelor's, George's, Graham's) that were competing products during the mid to late 19th century; the Batchelor's bottles are probably the most commonly encountered.  Interestingly, all three of the other noted brands were also sold in larger No. 1 and smaller/narrower No. 2 bottles.

Mrs. Allen's Hair Restorer bottle in a deep reddish amethyst color; click to enlarge.The deep amethyst or burgundy colored bottle pictured to the left is embossed on three sides with MRS S. A. ALLEN'S - WORLDS HAIR / RESTORER - NEW YORK.  This product was made for a lengthy period of time possibly beginning in the 1840s as a local, home bottled product.  Embossed bottles of the Restorer and sister product Allen's Worlds Hair Balsam were probably first used about 1854 or 1855.  Susan A. Allen, the young wife of a dentist in New York City, invented the product to treat her own prematurely graying hair, i.e., a hair coloring although an 1867 advertisement noted that it gave ones hair "great growth, life and vigor...".  The brand was purchased from Allen in 1861 by Selah R. VanDuzer & Co. who more aggressively marketed both products until at the 1940s when it was being marketed as Mrs. S. A. Allen's World's Hair Color Restorer (Wilson & Wilson 1971; Holcombe 1979; Fadely 2016).

The pictured example is representative of the Restorer bottles which were produced in scores of different molds during the last half of the 19th century.  It is 7.5" tall, rectangular in cross section, blown in a non-air vented post-base mold, and has an applied double ring finish.  This particular bottle likely dates from the mid to late 1860s to 1880 or so.  They were blown in a myriad of glass colors ranging from light to dark amethyst/purple/claret, shades of green and olive, yellow and various shades of more mundane amber.  Fadely (2016) notes that in the 1850s an advertisement stated the product was "put up in dark purple bottles" although the range of glass colors after that is very wide, at least until the 1880s when shades of amber dominate.  (The Worlds Balsam was apparently only bottled in somewhat similar shaped aqua glass bottles.)  The product was analyzed by the New York Board of Health in the 1880s and found to have lead acetate which, they warned, if used continually could cause paralysis (Fike 1987)!

Some hair products were advertised primarily as a medicine for the hair/head though most of the products specifically covered in this section at least implied it did more than just make one look good.  One such product is the distinctively shaped rectangular bottle with side beveled corners to the immediate right which is embossed BURNETT'S / COCOAINE on the front panel with BURNETT on the right narrow panel side and BOSTON on the left narrow panel.  Although many believe this to be a narcotic patent medicine the bottle reads "cocoaine" not "cocaine" as the product was a compound of cocoanut oil.  It was primarily, as described in the title of an 1861 advertisement, for "PREMATURE LOSS of the HAIR" - 19th century Rogaine®.  Further claims followed that ad banner: "Which is so common now-a-days may be entirely prevented by the use of BURNETT'S COCOAINE.  It has been used in thousands of cases where the hair was coming out in handfuls, and has never failed to arrest its decay, and to promote a healthy and vigorous growth.  It is, at the same time, unrivalled as a dressing for the hair.  A single application will render it soft and glossy for several days."  (At the very least the "handfuls" of hair would be "soft and glossy.")  The product and many others (e.g., "Coltsfoot Rock, " "Kalliston," "Oriental Tooth Wash") were the production of Joseph Burnett & Co. a long lived Boston company; their various "Burnett's Extracts" were made until at least the late 1930s (Holcombe 1979). 

This bottle is 7" tall (it also came in a smaller capacity 6" version), blown in a non-air vented post-base mold, "smooth base" (i.e., no pontil scar though earlier examples do have blowpipe pontil scars and were made in two-piece hinge molds) and has a distinctive applied flared finish which is seen occasionally on 19th century medicine and bitters bottles (Odell 2000). Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish to view this finish which resembles the prescription style except that it inverted in that it is narrower at the finish rim at its base whereas the prescription finish flares outwards towards the rim.  As noted, the base is of a post-mold conformation which in hand with the applied finish and lack of air venting dates it from the mid-1860s to early 1880s; as close as one can get to dating it based on manufacturing based diagnostic features.  Click base view to see such.  Bottles for the product with this unusual conformation date from just after its introduction in 1847 (Holcombe 1979) until the early 20th century when it was likely packaged in label only bottles as this author has never seen a machine-made version although it was advertised as late as 1923 (Fike 1987; empirical observations). 

The success of this product spawned imitating competitors with an example being Palmer's Coconut Hair Tonic sold in an essentially identical shaped bottle.  An example of the bottle is pictured to the above right next to the Burnett's.  The bottle is not embossed but does have the original labeling which was very likely similar to what Burnett's Cocoaine used given that era of little to no regulation about such things.  The bottle is a bit shorter - about 6.1" tall (about the same as the noted smaller Burnett's) - was mouth-blown in a cup-base air vented mold, has a tooled patent finish, and dates from the first two decades of the 20th century.  Click reverse label view to see such; click side view to see one side of this bottle which is of the same conformation as the Burnett's; and click base view to see such.  The Solon Palmer Company...

The small, ball-neck, yellow amber bottle pictured to the left is of a shape/style often used for flavoring extracts; a type covered on the Food Bottles & Canning Jars Typology page.  However, this bottle was certainly intended only for the external use of coloring men's beards or mustaches.  This bottle is embossed vertically on one narrow side with BUCKINGHAM and on the other narrow side with WHISKER DYE.  The rectangular bottle is 4.75" tall, has four indented panels, was blown in a non-air vented cup-base mold, and has a tooled patent finish.  It is quite crudely formed with wavy, bubbly glass and a feature that one sees on occasion in mouth-blown bottles - and interior "bird swing."  This is a term for a variably sized thread/flange of glass that runs from one side to the other inside the bottle as a result of a bit of the glass "sticking" during the blowing and stretching from side to side as the bottle is inflated.  Click close up of the "bird swing" to view such as it easier to see than describe.  This example actually formed a thin membrane or shelf of glass that adhered to three sides of the bottle - the two wide sides and one narrow side.  Sometime after the glass cooled and hardened, much of the thin membrane broke away (the right side of the flaw) leaving a relatively thick strand still remaining which bridges between the two wider bottle sides.

Buckingham Whisker Dye was the product of Dr. Ruben P. Hall of Nashua, NH. who also produced the popular Hall's Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer.  The Hair Renewer first appeared on the market about 1866 with the Whisker Dye apparently following shortly thereafter (Fike 1987). Advertising noted that "Buckingham's Dye for the  Whiskers - will change the color of the beard and mustache to a natural brown or black, as may be desired, by following the directions.  Consisting of a single preparation, it is simple in application" (Holcombe 1979).  Don Fadely's great website on hair bottles has several trade cards for the product; a link to one is found here.  The product was sold in bottles like the illustrated example from the initiation of the product into the 20th century (Fike 1987; Fadely 2016).  Fike noted that it was advertised from at least as early as 1873 and as late as 1942.  However, the product was sold to the competing J. C. Ayer & Co. (Lowell, MA.) sometime in the early 1920s (Holcombe 1979) - the user of the bottles illustrated next . 

Probably one of the most popular hair products of the last third of the 19th century into the first couple decades of the 20th - judging from how often these bottles are encountered - was Ayer's Hair Vigor which was patented in January of 1868 and advertised until at least 1929 (Fike 1987; Fadely 2016).  It was first packaged in aqua, flask shaped bottles that were simply embossed with AYER in the center of the base; image to the right.  Click base view to view the noted embossing on a cup-base molded 1890-1900 example.  These flask like bottles were about 7 to 7.5" tall (variable depending on where the blowpipe was removed), were blown in both cup and post-base molds and come with applied and tooled double ring finishes.  More specifically, post-base molded examples with applied finishes date from the introduction of the product in 1867 (Wilson & Wilson 1971) until the mid 1880s (empirical observations).  Cup-base molded examples with tooled finishes date from the mid to late 1880s until at least the mid 1890s (Fike 1987) and likely until the early 1900s.  (There was some crossover here with some tooled, post-base molded bottles being seen by the author.)  It appears the flask style and the colorful rectangular versions (below) were used concurrently for a time period, i.e., late-1890s to maybe 1905 or so (Wilson & Wilson 1971; Fike 1987; empirical observations).  The flask shaped bottles had ingenious labeling covering the entire body and neck.  Click front view and back view to see both sides of an example with full labels (photos courtesy of Reggie Lynch).  The very decorative trade card to the above left dates from the 1880s. Click reverse view to see what claims were made for the product by the company as well as an illustration of the flask shaped bottle.

The peacock blue bottle pictured to the left (two views) is embossed AYER'S on one narrower side and HAIR VIGOR on the opposite side.  It is 6.5" tall, mouth-blown in a multiple air vented, cup-base mold and has a tooled bead finish with a slight indentation on the rim immediately around the outside diameter of the bore for the glass stopper (a stylized crown shape) with a shell cork shank or peg to nestle more securely.  Click view of the original stopper with shell cork to see such.  Click view of the rim indentation to see this somewhat unusual finish feature.  The base is embossed with J. C. A. CO. for J. C. Ayer & Co. (Lowell, MA.).  Click base view to see an image of the embossing which also includes a B above and 8 below the embossing - mold numbers of unknown meaning now although many examples have the B in the same location.  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish to view the upper portion of the bottle including the ring or narrow ball neck and the dark neck label still present although unreadable.  Click view of the neck, finish and stopper to see some of the original lettering on the neck label (on another example) which apparently was the main labeling on these bottles.  The lettering references the 1906 Pure Food & Drug Act, dating it no earlier than that time.  These bottles come come in the pictured color as well as shades of cobalt blue and were first used in the late 1890s (Wilson & Wilson 1971) and used until at least 1919 (Shimko 1969) with the later ones being machine-made (and usually cobalt blue glass).  For more comprehensive overview of John C. Ayer & Co. see Holcombe (1979:8-19).

The bottle pictured to the right is embossed on one narrow side with PARKER'S, on one wide side with HAIR / BALSAM, and on the other narrow side with NEW YORK.  The remaining side is not embossed and has the label shown in the image.  It is 6.6" tall (this was the large size) and an early machine-made bottle dating from the 1920s and near the end of the dominant cork closure period.  The larger label notes that it "A toilet preparation of high standard, used for imparting color to gray or faded hair."  In other words, it was apparently a hair dye or re-colorant on the order of our modern "Grecian Formula" and similar products.  Click reverse view to see the label on the reverse side - pasted right over the HAIR / BALSAM embossing - which notes the product contained as "Floreston Shampoo" which seems to be a contradiction to the main label on the other side.  Both labels note the product was produced by the Hiscox Chemical Works of Patchogue, N. Y. so it appears that this bottle was used for the hair balsam first, then reused by the same company for the shampoo?  In any event, according to Blasi (1974) the product was first sold in 1876 by David Hiscox of New York eventually becoming the Hiscox Chemical Works in Patchogue, NY (located on Long Island).  It was marketed until at least 1948 (Fike 1987). According to the AMA (1921) the product was found to be "...a solution of lead acetate with suspended salt.  The lead salt is poisonous."  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and double ring finish to see such.  The horizontal ring mold seam can be seen just below the base of the finish - a sure sign of a machine-made bottle.  Click base view to see such including the flattened diamond used by the Diamond Glass Company (Royersford, PA.) to mark its products beginning in 1924 - about the manufacturing date of this bottle (Lockhart et al. 2015d).  These bottle can be found in a several sizes, mouth-blown and machine-made manufacture, and in at least a few different colors, i.e., aqua, amber, and olive green.

During the era covered by this website many thousands of different shapes, sizes, designs, etc. of hair product bottles were produced by glass makers in just the U. S.  Coverage of even a small percentage of the plethora of types is not possible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about other styles/types of these bottles to show some additional variety:

  • "Classic Oblong" style bottle - This commonly encountered bottle style on mid-ish 20th century historic sites is what the maker - the Owen-Illinois Glass Co. - called in their catalogs a "Classic Oblong" and listed in those catalogs "Drug & Chemical Containers" sections (Lucas County Bottle Co. 1940s; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1952; 1962).  This example is 5.5" tall, holds 4 oz., has an external screw cap finish, and made of colorless glass that is slightly straw colored indicating glass decolorization with arsenic and/or selenium.  Click side view to see such which has several staggered vertical ribs defining the edge of the side.  Click base view to see such which, although hard to read, is embossed with DES. PAT. / 94824 along with a mold number "2" (to left side of base) and the glass makers marking (the earlier "Saturn" marking) with an undecipherable plant number, but a likely "38" date code (to right side of base).  The base also shows some of the suction scar made by the Owens Automatic Bottle Machine.  The best way to understand the somewhat "Art Deco" design is to view the original Design Patent #94824 which was issued in 1935 to an (apparent) employee of the glass company.  The patent date along with the noted catalog information indicates this bottle was popular and sold by Owens-Illinois from 1935 until at least the early 1960s, this being an earlier example indicated by the 1938 date code.  (Later examples would also have date codes on the base, if decipherable.)  It is likely that these bottles were also used for other products like cologne (previous section above), aftershave, and other toiletry products.
  • ...more in the future.

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. 

Don Fadely has an exceptional website dedicated to hair product bottles - both medicinal and cosmetic.  The website is an updated, online version of his out-of-print book Hair Raising Stories (Fadely 1992).  It includes excellent historical information on and images of hundreds of "hair" bottles primarily from the 19th century with some overlap into the early 20th century.  Don's website is an excellent resource for researchers as well as just plain interesting reading for anyone!  It is available at this link:  http://www.hairraisingstories.com

 

 

Lotions & Creams

Lotions and creams as a product have in common their use on the skin for cosmetic and/or medicinal purposes.  There is quite a bit of variety to be found in this subtype of bottles with some forms unique to the style though most were bottle types largely utilized for other medicinal or druggist products put to use for lotions and creams. 

The use of bottles for such skin products and other unguents dates back a couple thousand years to the Hellenic and Roman empire periods.  For example, the small (2.6" tall) Roman bottle to the right dating from the Judea Period (first to second century A.D.) is often referred to as an "unguentarium bottle" (for unguents, i.e., scented oils for the body or hair) although they were also commonly used for perfumes.  The bottle is free-blown, a light greenish color glass, a finish that was flared with some primitive tool and has evidence of a sand type pontil scar on the base.  It is also heavily patinated from the reaction of the soil it was found in with the glass over almost 2000 years.  Click the following links to see more images of this ancient bottle: side view, base view, and top view.

Similar to the scent and hair treatment bottles discussed above, this category of bottle types have a somewhat limited commonality with each other besides being of relatively thin glass (except that cream jars are often of very thick glass) and moderate to small in size/capacity, i.e. 10-12 ounces or less.  They can be square, rectangular or cylindrical in cross-section, and like the categories above, figural lotion bottles are very uncommon.  One interesting aspect of this genre of bottles is a tendency, albeit not absolute, towards more exotic bottle colors including milk glass, shades of cobalt and sapphire blue, and emerald green although just about any color except maybe black glass is possible.  As with many or even most other bottled, non-food products of the 19th to early 20th century, many or even most of these skin products also claimed to treat some affliction and were not just for beauty purposes.  The first bottle covered below is a prime example.

The milk glass bottle pictured to the upper left is embossed with PROF. I. HUBERT'S /MALVINA LOTION / TOLEDO, OHIO.  The bottle is 5" tall, square with beveled corners, mouth-blown  with a tooled prescription finish, has single air venting marks on opposite non mold seam shoulder corners and was blown in a cup-base mold.  It is faintly embossed on the base with W. T. & CO. / (undecipherable letter or number); click base view to see such.  That was one of many different markings used by the manufacturer Whitall, Tatum & Co. (Millville, NJ.) whom operated under that company name from 1857 to 1938 (Toulouse 1970).  The noted making orientation dates the bottle between about 1880 and 1895 (Lockhart et al. 2006).  The air venting would indicate manufacture no earlier than about 1885 giving a bit more refinement to the date range of 1885 to 1895.

This bottle is of the style known as a "French square" and was commonly used by druggists for their products and prescriptions.  It was called by that name in many late 19th to early 20th century bottle catalogs (Whitall Tatum 1879, 1924; Illinois Glass Co. 1899, 1926; Obear-Nester 1922).  Click Portland druggist bottle to see a virtually identically shaped and proportioned French square bottle that was made for a Portland, OR. druggist and produced in a plate mold, but as with most druggist bottles, blown in colorless glass.  This lotion bottle has some physical evidence indicating it was also likely produced in a plate mold, i.e., a slightly pronounced line or faint ridge around the edges of the embossing panel. The Malvina Lotion was first introduced in 1874 and was produced until at least 1935 (Fike 1987).  (The advertisement to the left is from 1910.)  The label indicated that it was a product that could "...cure freckles, pimples, moth patches, liver mold, ringworm and salt rheum."  (The name "Malvina" was created by the Scottish poet James MacPherson in the 18th century, likely as a derivative of the Gaelic word for "smooth brow" [Wikipedia]).  The earlier bottles were made in milk glass with later ones (probably in the early 1900s) were of cobalt blue glass (Fike 1987).  All the examples in the authors experience have been mouth-blown so the bottling after the early to mid 1910s must have been in unembossed - label only -  bottles.

The milk glass bottle pictured to the right is of the "Blake" style which was very frequently used by druggists for their products, for a wide array of patent medicines, and in the case of this bottle, skin lotion.  To view an example of a druggist use of this same style click Oregon Blake style druggist bottle.  The linked druggist example is a bit taller (5.6") but of the same design and about the same proportions.  As with most druggist prescription type bottles it is made of colorless or "flint" glass.  Also see this page (page 28) of the 1906 Illinois Glass Company bottle catalog to view two Blake variations - short and tall -  which the company offered (left page, lower two offerings).  The "short Blake" is what the bottle to right would be considered.

Specifically, the illustrated bottle is embossed with G. W. LAIRD / PERFUMER /NEW YORK.  It is 4.8" tall, has a tooled patent finish, was blown in a cup-base mold without any evidence of air venting, a square indentation on the base without any embossing (click base view to see such) and quite a bit of glass crudeness exhibited over most of the bottle.  This example, based on the context it was found and the noted manufacturing features (particularly the lack of air venting), dates from the 1870s to early 1880s; this style having been one of the earlier types to be produced in that type mold and have a tooled finish.  Later examples were air vented though no machine-made versions have been noted by the author.  The original labels on these bottles read, in part: "Laird's Bloom of Youth or Liquid Pearl for Beautifying & Preserving the Complexion and Skin.  Price 75¢. Prepared by Geo. W. Laird, Beware of Counterfeits."  The product was advertised as early as 1864 and as late as 1915 (Fike 1987).  The product was apparently quite popular during the noted advertising period as they are commonly encountered on historic sites from that period (empirical observations).

The small stoppered bottle pictured to the left moves the category into the 20th century and widespread use of machines to produce bottles.  It is body embossed with POMPEIAN / MASSAGE / CREAM and is 3.2" tall to the top of stopper.  The mouth (aka "bore") of this semi-jar is wide and it has a glass stopper which was hand ground along with the inside of the bore to fit snuggly. Click image of stopper out of the bottle to see such.  It was unusual for machine-made bottles to have a hand ground stopper fitted to them; a likely indication that this was an early (1905 to 1910 or so) machine-made bottle by a glass company that still had a hand grinding shop within the factory.  It was manufactured by some type of likely semi-automatic press-and-blow machine as indicated by the distinct, circular valve or ejection mark on the base.  Click base view to see the base and the marking. 

According to information found online at http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/ the product name - Pompeian Massage Cream & Skin Food - was registered in 1901 and first sold about that time by the inventor Fred Stecher, a druggist in Cleveland, Ohio.  The product was originally produced as an aftershave cream, sold in larger jars to barbers and smaller bottles like shown for home use.  (Apparently it was never intended for use literally as a massage cream?)  By 1906 the product was popular enough to warrant the formation of the Pompeian Manufacturing Co. where, according the 1908 advertisement (above left), they were producing and selling 10,000 jars a day.  In 1909 the "Skin Food" was dropped, possibly due to the increasing regulatory pressure being applied to patent medicine sellers due to the 1906 Pure Food & Drugs Act.  The earliest versions of these stoppered bottles (1900 to maybe 1905-07 or so) were hand blown with a tooled finishes and ground glass stoppers although most seen today were machine-made like the pictured example which dates from maybe 1907 to 1915.  The product was sold in more conventional, wide mouth, label only jars with screw caps by the mid-1920s (like some of the jars pictured in the 1926 Illinois Glass Co. bottle catalog, pages 93-98).  The Pompeian Mfg. Co. was sold to Colgate & Co. in 1927, which eventually became the familiar Colgate-Palmolive Co.  The product was advertised at least as late as 1948 (Fike 1987).

The labeled, colorless glass bottle to the immediate right is an earlier example of a product that was most popular during the first 3 or 4 decades of the 20th century.  Hind's Honey and Almond Cream produced by the A. S. Hinds Co. (full name Aurelius Stone Hinds) in Portland, Maine was a popular product which originated in 1875 but was produced until at least 1948 (Fike 1987), although for the first couple decades it was likely bottled in labeled only bottles, i.e., no embossing (empirical observations).  This labeled example is possibly the first embossed bottle and dates from the 1890s or very early 1900s.  It was produced prior to the company being bought out by Lehn & Fink (Bloomfield, NJ & the makers of Lysol) in 1907 as it notes A. S. Hinds as "Sole Proprietor."  It is mouth-blown with a tooled prescription finish; the body exhibits numerous mold air venting marks indicating the noted manufacturing range.  Click close-up of the finish to view such with obvious concentric horizontal finishing tool striations.  Click reverse view to see the label on that side.  The bottle is only embossed on the two narrow side panels.  Click narrow side view to see the A. S. HINDS within an indented panel on one side; click other narrow side view to see the PORTLAND, ME. embossing on the opposite narrow side. 

Apparently Lehn & Fink maintained the original company name and manufacturing location for some years after 1907 as mouth-blown (and machine-made bottles) dating into at least the late teens are embossed with the original name and location (see 1910 advertisement to the left).  The company also was a prodigious advertiser in magazines and on billboards (www.friendsofhinds.org 2016).  A frequently encountered bottle from the early 1900s is embossed on the non-recessed front panel with HIND'S / HONEY & / ALMOND / CREAM / ALCOHOL 7%  with A. S. HINDS & CO. / PORTLAND / MAINE / U.S.A. on the reverse flat panel.  Another variation is embossed on all four sides (only the front panel recessed) with HINDS / HONEY / AND / ALMOND / CREAM - IMPROVES THE / COMPLEXTION - ALCOHOL 7% - A. S. / HINDS CO / PORTLAND / MAINE / U.S.A. (Fike 1987; empirical observations).  Probably sometime in the early 1920s production was shifted to New Jersey with the bottles embossed with Bloomfield, N.J. instead of Portland, Maine (www.friendsofhinds.org 2016; empirical observations).  To the far right above is one of these later examples which is machine-made, has a screw thread finish, and is embossed only on the indented front panel with HIND'S /  HONEY / AND / ALMOND / CREAM / A. S. HINDS CO. / BLOOMFIELD / N. J. U. S. A.  Click side view to see one of the non-embossed and non-indented narrow side panels.  Click view of the screw cap top to see such showing the original metal cap. 

This bottle shape with the "gothic" style shoulders and indented panels was distinctive enough that it became a standard shape for skin cream lotions by at least 1920.  See page 73 of the 1920 Illinois Glass Company bottle catalog to see their version called the "Gothic Toilet Cream" (lower right corner) which was also shown on page 81 of their 1926 catalog (upper bottle).  The 1937 Whitall, Tatum & Co. "Glassware Price List" also showed that company carried a couple sizes of screw cap finish, "Hand Lotion Bottles" as standard generic offerings; bottles that looked just like the Hind's and Illinois Glass Co. "Gothic" bottles (Whitall, Tatum & Co. 1937).  For more information on the Hinds company, its advertising and products click on the following link to view a web site dedicated to it: http://www.friendsofhinds.org/william/company/company.htm

The milk glass jar pictured to the right is an example of a large assortment of wide mouth jars intended for viscous skin creams of a higher solidity (i.e., limited pourability) than could be accessed from bottles like the Hinds Cream discussed above.  This class of relative short stature but wide body and bore (mouth), cylindrical or square jars can be found in many different glass colors although in the 20th century, milk glass and colorless glass were the most popular with milk glass closely associated with "skin cream" products (as versus medicinal ointments discussed on the Medicinal typology page).  The vast majority of  these type cream jars were made beginning in the very early 1900s until well past the mid-20th century cut-off point for this website (empirical observations).  The 1920 (pages 97-98) and 1926 (pages 93-98) Illinois Glass Co. catalogs scanned and posted on this website have examples of both cylindrical and square versions including one similar in shape to the pictured example here.  This particular one is about 3" tall, machine-made most likely on a press-and-blow machine and dating from the first third of the 20th century.  Click reverse view to see the label on the reverse.  Click side view to see the ELCAYA embossing with is located on the two non-labeled sides.  The author could find no specific history on the product with a quick internet search but did find references to the it and the company that produced it (James C. Crane, New York) from as early as 1907 on into the mid-1920s.   Pond's Cold Cream was (and still is) an even more popular and long produced skin cream that, with a lot of other brands, also came in similar square, cylindrical and sometimes oval milk glass jars.  (See this website for more information on Pond's - www.cosmeticsandskin.com/companies/ponds.php )

During the era covered by this website many thousands of different shapes, sizes, designs, etc. of cream and lotion bottles were produced by glass makers in just the U. S.  Coverage of even a small percentage of the plethora of types is not possible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about a few other styles/types to show some of that additional variety:

  •  ...additional examples to be added here in the future...

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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Snuff

Snuff is the only category on this page that was primarily intended for internal consumption...at least internally as far as the mouth or nose/lungs.  (Note: Florida Water was also originally touted for internal as well as external use but was and is primarily for external application.)  Cecil Munsey's excellent 1970  book "Collecting Bottles" has a quick overview of the product as follows:  "Snuff is a powder made from tobacco and is inhaled through the nose or chewed.  There are two basic types of snuff, moist and dry.  Moist snuff is called rappee and dry snuff is known as sweet.  Rappee is subjected to two processes of fermentation (heat and moisture) whereby aroma and strength are acquired and much of the nicotine and organic acids are removed.  Sweet snuff is commonly adulterated with quicklime which gives it a biting and dry effect.  Snuffs are usually scented with musk, essences of bergamot, lavender, attar of roses, tonka beans, cloves, orange flowers, jasmine, and other scents." (Munsey 1970).  See McKearin & Wilson (1978:259-263) for more information on the origin, production, history and use of snuff - a name derived from one of the original uses of the product which was "snuffed" up ones nose.

Utilitarian bottles (of glass) intended for snuff date back to at least the late 18th century.  Fancier - and intended to be reused indefinitely - specialty bottles (not covered here; see Van den Bossche [2001] plate 163) as well as vials, boxes, pouches, mulls, and bags were also used to contain snuff from the early 16th century when this New World product made its way to Europe (Munsey 1970; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Van den Bossche 2001).  Generally speaking, utilitarian snuff bottles tend to be small to moderate in height (less than 6-7"), square (image to the left, described below) or rectangular in shape (some cylindrical and fewer polygonal bodies), relatively wide bores to fill/access the contents, and short to non-existent necks with a straight, bead, flared or rolled finish - all very simple finish types that accepted a cork, or in later years, a snap cap.  The large majority of bottles used for snuff were not body embossed; instead they were plain bottles with often decorative and informative labeling.  (1840s to 1850s labeled snuff image to the right courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.) 

These type bottles were also used variably for other products (i.e., "utility bottle" - next section below) like blacking and ink (both liquid or powdered), a wide array of dry ground spices like mustard and pepper, and medicinal powders to name a few relatively common alternative uses (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Snuff bottles were also used for less processed ground or flaked tobacco (for smoking or chewing) although such products seemed to have been typically packaged in larger wide mouth jars similar to canning jars (like the Lorillard jar discussed below) and in non-glass containers made of metal or ceramic (Toulouse 1969; Creswick 1987;).  As with many commercially bottled products in the 18th and 19th centuries, snuff was thought to have medicinal uses primarily for catarrh and headaches, though wilder claims were rampant until the regulatory limits imposed on such in the early 20th century (Young 1961, 1967; McKearin & Wilson 1978).

One additional note on a unique feature of later (~1870s into the mid-1900s) snuff bottles.  This is the presence of embossed "dots" on the base of many (and eventually most all) snuff bottles made during the noted period.  (Image to the left of a 1920s to 1940s, machine-made snuff base with three dots.)  These dots, ranging typically from one to four are thought to be indicators of the "strength" of the snuff contained, one being the mildest and four the strongest.  However, some believe that the marks are instead glass maker marks intended to track quality control of bottles produced by different machines (Gloria Thomas, Conwood Sales Co. LLC pers. comm. 2007).  In the authors opinion, given the ubiquitous presence of such dots on snuff bottles - particularly during the first half of the 20th century - and more importantly their absence on any other bottle types of the same period, these bumps being  a type of glass makers marking is extremely unlikely.  They do not visually denote any specific glass maker like most makers markings and our Bottle Research Group research has never connected embossed dots with any American specific bottle maker.  See the Bottle & Glass Makers Markings page for more information on such makers marks.  Thus, being related to some attribute of the contents (strength) seems the most likely explanation (Munsey 1970; empirical observations).

Rectangular

Rectangular snuff bottles are almost certainly the most commonly used general shape during the 19th century with some use well into the 20th century, although square bottles were most common by that time.  Although made by a lot of different glass companies (McKearin & Wilson 1978), most rectangular bottles are similar to each other in that they are short to moderate in stature (the example to the left is 5.25", the other three below ~4.25" tall), little defined neck (the finish visually "sits" in the middle of the shoulder with little to no neck in evidence), and have variably wide flat chamfered corners.  The earlier American (image to the right) and European examples (Van den Bossche 2001) are relatively taller and narrower than the later 19th century, rectangular, American made snuffs (following three images).

The tall and relatively narrow, early American, rectangular, black glass snuff bottle to the right is of a style primarily made from the late 1700s into the 1840s, at which point the next discussed style bottle became the dominant rectangular style through the rest of the century (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Van den Bossche 2001).  This example is 5.25" tall, has a faint sand pontil scar, and was blown in a dip mold (slight taper from shoulder to heel, uneven shoulder height, no visible mold seams, glass surface textural difference between shoulder and body) forming the distinct body sides; the shoulder and very short neck being formed by hand.  The finish appears to be a crude string style which was an early finishing process originating during the mid-17th century and little seen after the 1820s due to improved finishing technology (Jones 1986; empirical observations).  This indicates that this bottle was likely made no later than that, i.e., made between about 1800 and 1825.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: side view; close-up of the upper body and finish to see the smooth, glossy "free-blown" and seamless appearance of the shoulder (typical of dip mold shoulders) and the very crude finish.  Also click base view to see the equally seamless and crude base which has a faint, scattered sand pontil in evidence.  (The faint ring in the middle of the base is simply crudeness not a pontil scar.)  See Van den Bossche (2001), Plate 357, #3 for a very similar shape and size English example (with flared finish) made about 1800 and Plate 348, #1 for a similar, taller English example dated to about 1840.  Similar examples of this tall style have been seen by this author to over 9" in height but with the same approximate body width and depth.  These early dip molded rectangular (and square) snuff bottles were typically blown and body formed in clay molds (McKearin & Wilson 1978).

Snuff bottle in dark olive green which is almost black; click to enlarge.The dark olive amber (aka "black glass") rectangular snuff bottle with chamfered corners pictured to the far left is an example that dates from the 1850s based on the context of where it was found in Oregon.  (The example to the immediate left is of an almost identical type snuff with the original labeling.  Image courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  Both are examples of the dominant rectangular style made from at least the 1830s until the early 1900s.  The main difference between this style and the one previously discussed is the ratio between the the height and widest base width.  Specifically, this "short" style is typically about 1.5 times taller than wider, whereas the earlier style is 2 to 3+ times taller than wider. This olive example is 4.25" tall with a base that is 2.6" wide (longest measurement) by 1.7" deep (shortest).

Both the pictured examples were made in full sized true two-piece "hinge" molds which formed virtually all the conformation of the bottle with just nominal tooling done at the cracking off point to form a simple flared finish.  These molds were typically made of iron (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Click base view to see the blow-pipe pontil scar (the dissecting base mold seam is present but not visible in the image) as well as several mold induced indentations ("debossing") that are of unknown meaning but similarly produced, it appears, as the "F" on the base of the labeled example above.  Various types of such "debossing" (and sometimes embossed lines or numbers) are often seen on the base of these earlier, fully molded snuff bottles (McKearin & Wilson 1978) and may just be glass works specific mold markings for their use.  Is it is possible that these figures were early strength indicators like was later indicated by the previously noted dots?  Click on the following link to see a side view of this bottle: side view.   As noted earlier, these bottles are very rarely body embossed but are seen on occasion.  Click E. ROOME / TROY / NEW YORK to see an image of a body embossed example that is essentially identical shaped and sized which also dates from the 1840s or 1850s as it is also blow-pipe pontil scarred; click base view to see such which also shows the typical dissecting mold seam of a two-piece hinge mold (upper right to lower left corner of the base).  (Images from eBay.)  On rare occasions, the typical flat chamfered corners on these rectangular snuffs are distinctly incurved; likely a purely decorative feature.  (See McKearin & Wilson [1978], plate 75, #15.)

The amber rectangular snuff with flat chamfered corners to the right has the exact same dimensions as the olive amber snuffs pictured above.  It was also blown in a true two-piece mold (no separate base plate) as indicated by the mold seam diagonally dissecting the base; click base view showing this very distinct mold seam.  Besides glass color, the differences between the bottles is that the amber one - dating from the 1870s based on the context it was found - has no pontil scar (i.e., was held for the simple finishing work with a snap case tool), has an early tooled bead finish (tooled finish as described on the Finishing page), and has the earliest embossed base "strength dots" the author has seen on a snuff bottle: two distinct dots with a couple strangely placed smaller ones next to one of the distinct dots (mistake?).  Mouth-blown snuff bottles of this era into the 20th century do frequently have these embossed dots.  By the 1920s or so, machine-made square snuffs (discussed below) seemed to have become overwhelmingly dominant and virtually all of those seen by the author have had the embossed dots.  Click on the following links to see more images of this snuff bottle: side view;; and close-up of the shoulder and tooled finish.

Square

Like rectangular snuff bottles, square examples were also commonly made through all of the 19th century and into the mid-20th century.  In the experience of the author, however, rectangular snuff bottles were more commonly used in the 19th century than square ones with that reversing in the 20th century where square bottles seemed dominant (empirical observations).  For example, only one style of snuff bottle was offered in the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog and it was square.  See IGCo 1906 catalog page 106 - which is completely scanned and posted on this website - offering it in four sizes: 2, 3, 4 & 6 oz. capacities.   (Note: The author has never actually seen the two smaller sizes indicating they were uncommonly used?)

The very early American, olive amber snuff bottle pictured to the left possibly dates from as early as the late 18th century to as late as about 1830 (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  It, like the first rectangular snuff discussed above, was blown in a dip mold to form the shape of the body with the portions above the top of the sided body "free-blown" like all dip molded bottles although such work was usually assisted with the use of various simple hand tools used by the blower.  This example is about 5" tall, has rounded but not chamfered corners, and a blow-pipe type of pontil scar on the base. (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  See Plate 269, #1 of Van den Bossche (2001) for a similar American made example which the author dated between 1800 and 1820.

The early to mid-19th century (probably 1830s or 1840s), dark honey amber snuff bottle to the right is likely the product of some New England glass company though most all glass companies that produced bottles during that era produced snuffs.  Such ubiquity makes the assignment of any particular bottle to any particular glass company an educated guess at best.  This example is a bit over 5" tall, 2.75" wide sides, a likely heat smoothed "bead" type finish, and a blow-pipe style pontil scar on the base.  Click base view to view an image of the base with the pontil scar in the center (around the catalog number). 

It, like the slightly earlier square snuff above, was blown in a one piece dip mold resulting in the absence of any mold seams on the base, body or shoulder.  It also has a smooth, polished look to the entire body and shoulder inferring that it may have received overall fire polishing which could have removed evidence of any mold seams if they were present.  During fire polishing the bottle would have been held by the pontil rod at the opening to the glass furnace or at a "glory hole" if made towards the end of the noted manufacturing period.  This would have resulted in the base being away from the intense heat and not receiving little if any polishing which could have "erased" a base mold seam.  Close inspection of the base shows no evidence of a base mold seam, which in hand with the slight taper inwards from shoulder to base (visible in the image), is added evidence that the bottle was indeed dip molded.

The four machine-made square snuff bottles pictured to the left are all from the 20th century and represent the dominant shape and size during the first half of that century - machine-made ones dating from as early as the 1910s to probably the 1930s or 1940s (possibly later).  All four held about 5-6 ounces, have a bead type finish (which facilitated a snap cap as the closure), and were always made in a shade of amber glass (empirical observations).  Click base view to see the bases of these four bottles showing the strength dots discussed earlier. 

An example of the original labeling on these type machine-made snuff bottles from the first half of the 20th century can be seen by clicking Garrett's Rappe Snuff original label.  Some of the Levi Garrett & Sons snuff products (moist and dry snuff) are still produced - some with the Garrett name - by the American Snuff Company.  It is unknown what glass company or companies made these bottles although they are commonly encountered on 20th century historic sites.  Garrett was the likely user of the above pictured bottles, though without the labels, it is impossible to say now.

Cylindrical

Early American snuff or utility bottle in yellowish olive green; click to enlarge.Cylindrical bottles were used for snuff date over the entire range of time covered by this website, i.e., late 18th century to the mid-20th.  However, like the square snuff bottles already discussed, cylindrical bottles/jars were (debatably) most popular from the late 19th through the first half of the 20th century.  The moderately wide mouth, light olive yellow bottle pictured to the right is of a style generally called a "utility" bottle, but which could have been used for a variety of products...including snuff.  (See the next section on "Utility bottles.")  It is almost identical in shape, size and color to an example pictured in McKearin & Wilson (1978) - Plate 75, #7 - which they estimate the age as "late 18th-early 19th century" and in a group of bottle shapes which they simply referred to as "Commercial Containers, late-18th-mid-19th century."  The age of the pictured bottle can't be determined with certainty, but it dates no later than about 1840. 

Like several of the earliest snuff bottles already discussed, this bottle was blown in an open top, likely one piece dip mold to form the basic body shape.  This is evidenced by a total lack of mold seams (and is too early to have been turn-molded) and a subtle glass thickness discontinuity just below the shoulder; the latter a manufacturing related diagnostic feature that is much more evident on cylindrical bottles than on square/rectangular dip molded bottles (empirical observations).  There is a blowpipe type pontil scar within the domed base, the base being indented by the pontil rod head being attached and pushed inwards while the hot glass was still plastic and pliable.  Click base view to see such.  This bottle - really a very small jar at 4.75" tall - also has a bead type finish, this one likely formed by reheating the cracking-off point and down-tooling that glass with a jack or something as simple as an iron nail.

A commonly encountered, though much later (1910s) cylindrical wide mouth jar used for snuff is pictured to the left (images from eBay®).   It is 6.5" tall and 3.25" in diameter (about a pint), has a smooth non-ground rim indicating it was machine-made.  Click view of the jar and lid separated; the smooth, non-ground rim is viewable.  There is also a distinct valve mark present in the center of the base specifically indicating manufacture by some type of press-and-blow machine.  The base is also embossed with P. / LORILLARD / Co.; click base view to view the embossing and the valve mark. 

The jar has a glass lid that screwed into place with the help of a wire retainer ("ring-clamp").  Click close-up of the upper body, shoulder and closure/cap to see such.  The lid is embossed around the outside perimeter with AMERICAN SNUFF CO. OF NEW JERSEY - PAT JULY 16 1872.  Inside that embossing is PATENTED JANUARY 18 1876.  Click view of the lid embossing to view the embossing.  The following is from the The Cohansey Companies article (also linked below) explaining the closure patents:

"Charles G. & William L. Imlay received Patent No. 129,235 for an “Improvement in Fruit-Jars” on July 16, 1872. The jar finish had two “screw threads or inclines” to allow the cap to screw onto the finish. The glass camp had a “groove or recess in[side] the cover.” A “metallic ring, preferably of galvanized steel” formed a “ring-clamp” with two “downward-bent hook[s]” was fitted into the groove around the side of the lid, where the hooks screwed into the finish. Although the invention was used extensively by Cohansey, the Imlay's never assigned the patent to the glass house.

"On October 25, 1875, Thomas Hipwell applied for a patent for an “Improvement in Fruit-Jar Clamps. He received Patent No. 172,316 on January 18, 1876 and assigned it to the Cohansey Glass Mfg. Co. (Figure 6). This was an improvement on the Imlay patent of 1872. The main improvement was the formation of two additional hooks that clamped the wire device onto the glass lid, eliminating the need of the groove in the side of the lid. This became known as the “Hipwell-style” lid or the “Cohansey closure.” According to Roller (1983:90), “the Cohansey closure was very popular with the packer trade, and numerous variations of specially-embossed Cohansey closure jars may be found.” These closures with four “hooks” became the main Cohansey lid."  (Lockhart et al. 2014u:329-330)

This jar was used by the P. Lorillard Company which included the American Snuff Company sometime from 1911 on for some years (Lockhart et al. 2014u).  The fascinating history behind these jars - which included many mouth-blown variations - is beyond the scope of this section.  If interested, a comprehensive history of the array of Lorillard/American Snuff Co. jars is available on this website as a part of "Encyclopedia of Manufacturers Marks on Glass Containers," i.e., the article on The Cohansey Companies,  p. 353-362.  That article also notes that this examples lid is likely not original to the jar; the jar dating from 1911 or after and the lid dating from 1900 to 1911.

During the era covered by this website hundreds if not several thousand of variations on the above discussed bottle types, as well as other styles used for snuff, were produced by glass makers in just the U. S.  Coverage of even a small percentage of the plethora of types is not possible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about a few other styles/types to show some of that additional variety:

  • Four early American blacking bottles - ca 1820s-1840sSome of the earliest American-made and fully molded (not dip-molded) bottles used for snuff 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.  These bottles were discussed earlier on this page under "Blacking/Shoe Polish" bottles and are mentioned in the next section on "Utility bottles" since they were used and re-used for a variety of products including shoe polish, snuff and other granular or semi-solid products.

  • ...additional examples may be added here in the future.

Dating summary/notes:  Snuff bottles are quite commonly found on 19th to early 20th century historic sites - historic proof of the power of tobacco to be addicting - and are often an excellent bottle/fragment to find that assists in the dating of that site.  Fortunately, the dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features very closely follow the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  There are no significant bottle type specific, manufacturing related diagnostic features or dating trends that have been noted by the author. 

One type specific, non-manufacturing based dating feature is the noted strength dots embossed on the base of later mouth-blown snuff bottles and a large majority of machine-made ones.  Specifically, the dots first seem to appear after the American Civil War, i.e., 1870s or so (rectangular example noted earlier).  They are, in the experience of the author, never seen on earlier snuff bottles - those that were dip molded or pontil scarred.  They are sporadically seen on mouth-blown snuffs from the 1870s to early 1900s and almost always seen on square machine-made ones dating after about 1910.  (Not sure about rectangular machine-made snuffs; more study needed.)

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Utility bottles

Early utility or ink bottles; click to enlarge.The term "utility bottles" is applied to a multi-tasking category using what seems to be a collector type term than something originating with the bottle making industry like most of the terminology used on this website.  It is not the same as the term utilitarian bottles used on this website although virtually all "utility bottles" were inexpensive "utilitarian bottles" and the dating guidelines that form the core of this website for "utilitarian bottles" include virtually all "utility bottles."  Confused?  Well read on...

Bottle makers catalogs from the the early to mid-19th century are essentially non-existent.  All the more or less available ones are from the very late 1800s (the author's earliest is an 1879 Whitall, Tatum & Co. copy) up to the mid-20th century cut-off point for this website.  The common term during the last quarter of the 19th century for what appear to be "utility bottles" were "packing bottles" or simply "packers" (Whitall, Tatum & Co. 1879, 1924; Illinois Glass Co. 1899, 1926; Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. 1916; others).  It is assumed those terms predate those catalogs as glassmaker terminology and were used back as far as commercial products were being bottled during the mid-19th century, if not before (McKearin & Wilson 1978). 

One early 20th century bottle catalog (Illinois Glass Co. 1906) narrowed down their individual listings of packing bottles with qualifiers like "Druggist' Packing Bottles (bulk pharmaceuticals/chemicals," "Flint Packing Bottles (flint=colorless glass which was popular for food products so the customer could see the goods)," heavier glass "English Packing Bottles" (in green or amber), and a wide array of  "Pickle and Preserve Ware" which didn't have "packer" or "packing" in the names, though the food section noted that they "...commend these pages of our Catalogue to all Bottlers of Food Products...", i.e. commercial packing companies.   The catalog notes that those packers could be purchased in sizes ranging from 4 ounces to a two gallons in "narrow" or "wide" mouth versions.  For simplicity I will just use the term "utility bottles" in this section.

The term utility bottles typically pertains to cylindrical bottles that were used for a variety of products as dictated by the purchaser/user of the bottle.  Such bottles could have narrow to moderately wide bores (mouth) with liquid products being bottled in the narrow mouths and viscous (e.g., syrup, oils), semi-solid (e.g., blacking, powdered products), granular (e.g., salts, spices), or even solid but small products (e.g., olives, other preserved foods) in the wider bore types.  Generic bottles - meaning here multi-product use in nature based on the needs of the purchaser (user, bottler, packer) - by definition have no identifying embossing or other permanent markings (e.g., applied color labeling, acid etching) on them identifying the contents.  Instead, they were paper labeled by the user as to the contents contained therein.  In the absence of the original label (and contents), identifying marking features (e.g., a branded closure of some type), or reliable context where found (unusual with excavated items) the exact use of the bottle can't usually be determined.  Utility bottles were also not of a shape exclusively used for or strongly identified with one particular product (e.g., soda, beer, milk).  Utility bottles were simply bottles commonly used for many purposes though virtually always for non-carbonated products which demanded heavier glass and more secure and/or complicated closures.  (Re-use of bottles during the 19th and early 20th centuries is not discussed here as about any bottle could be reused as a utility bottle.)

Early utility or ink bottles; click to enlarge.The two small (approx. 6" tall and 2" in diameter) utility bottles to the left are from the pre-Civil War era, dating from between the 1830s and 1850s.   Both are generic utility bottles commonly used during the noted period.  So without a label identifying the actual use one can never know for sure although these type bottles were used very commonly for ink though neither has a pour spout which is common on bulk inks.  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 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.  (Also see the Bulk Ink section of this page.)

Utility or ink bottle from the 1840s or 1850s; click to enlarge.The small (4.25" tall, 1.5" in diameter) olive green bottle pictured to the right is a commonly encountered utility bottle type (usually in aqua glass, less commonly in other colors like olive green) that was also commonly used for a myriad of medicinal products as well as many other liquid products like ink.  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 bottles pictured above, this style of utilitarian bottle was a common production item for many earlier glass houses in the eastern U. S.

Early American snuff or utility bottle in yellowish olive green; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the left is a very early American utility bottle that likely was used for snuff (and discussed in that section above) although could have been used for a variety of granular, flaked, semi-solid and even liquid products depending on the needs of the user.  This bottle was blown in an open top, likely one piece dip mold to form the basic body shape.  This is evidenced by a total lack of mold seams (and is too early to have been turn-molded) and a subtle glass thickness discontinuity just below the shoulder; the latter a manufacturing related diagnostic feature that is much more evident on cylindrical bottles than on square/rectangular dip molded bottles (empirical observations).  There is a blowpipe type pontil scar within the domed base, the base being indented by the pontil rod head being attached and pushed inwards while the hot glass was still plastic and pliable.  Click base view to see such.  This bottle - really a very small jar at 4.75" tall - also has a bead type finish, this one likely formed by reheating the cracking-off point and down-tooling that glass with a jack or something as simple as an iron nail.

The large amber bottles pictured here are 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 "packer" type bottles that were 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 more importantly, 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, 1906).  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.   (Also see the "Poison & Chemical bottle styles" section of the Medicinal/Chemical/Druggist Bottles typology page.)

Packer utility bottle from the 1920s; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the left is a small generic utility or "packer" bottle that was produced by the Illinois Glass Company in the 1920s.  It has that companies makers mark of the letter "I" within a flattened diamond on the base (link below).  This specific bottle with the Kork-N-Seal finish and cap is illustrated in that companies catalogs from the 1920s and was called a "Round Packer."  It was available with two finishes/closures - the illustrated Kork-N-Seal and the Goldy which was similar to the crown finish - an in 4 sizes ranging from 2 to 14 ounces (Illinois Glass Co. 1920, 1924).  Click on IGCo. 1920 catalog page 41 to view the page from that catalog showing this bottle (lower half of the page).  The example pictured here is approximately 5" (13 cm) tall and is the 6 oz. size listed in the catalog.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle: base view showing the "I in a diamond" makers mark for the Illinois Glass Co.; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish/closure.  What this specific bottle held is unknown, though some of the sediment from the contents is still visible.

During the era covered by this website there were many thousands of types and variations of utility bottles produced by glass makers in just the U. S.  Coverage of even a small percentage of these types is not possible, of course, though the following includes some additional images/information about a few other styles/types to show some of that additional variety:

  • Four early American blacking bottles - ca 1820s-1840sSome of the earliest American-made and fully molded (not dip-molded or free-blown) bottles used as utility 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.  (These bottles were discussed earlier on this page under "Blacking/Shoe Polish" bottles.)

  • ...additional examples to be added here in the future.

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, and many other products.   These could also be considered as "poison" bottles to some extent as most cleaning substances are such - poisonous.

(Authors note: Although some of the bottle shapes covered below were certainly used for the noted products, many of these types were generic in nature and certainly 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 and in the Utility bottles section above.)

Ammonia

San Francisco ammonia bottle from the 1880s.Household ammonia is a solution of NH3 in water used for various cleaning needs. (For example, most glass cleaners today are contain ammonia.)  Ammonia was sold in a relatively narrow range of bottle types with either oval or cylindrical bodies and moderate length necks, though in various sizes (a few ounces to a quart or more) dependent on the needs of the producer.  (Note: The same types of bottles - oval and cylindrical - were also used for bluing during the same noted eras; bluing is covered in the next section.)  It is unknown when ammonia was first commercially bottled although the first example noted here likely dates from the 1870s though certainly the product was bottled commonly prior to that time.  (For more information on ammonia - history and production - see this Wikipedia page:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonia#History)  Cylindrical bottles will be covered first using examples that are clearly embossed as to their ammonia contents although a large majority of bottles used for ammonia (like with most bottle types) were just paper labeled.

The bottle pictured to the left is typical in shape and design of the cylindrical type used for ammonia, although the glass color is not typical, i.e., cobalt blue instead of more typical aqua, amber or colorless glass.  The embossing is:  AMMONIA / MNFD. BY / S. F. GASLIGHT CO.  It is about a quart in size, 9" tall, has an applied double ring finish, and was blown in a post-base mold.  It probably lacks mold air venting marks. (Photo courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)  Pictured to the right are a pair of more typical aqua glass ammonia bottles from the same company.  The embossing on the larger (quart) size is the same as the blue example to the left; click close-up of the quart embossing to see such.  The smaller (pint) example is embossed a bit differently as follows: AMMONIA / MANUF'D BY / S. F. GASLIGHT CO (no period after the CO and MANUF'D instead of MNFD).  Click close-up of the pint embossing to see such. 

Both of the aqua bottles have tooled patent style finishes and are of a typical blue aqua colored glass indicative of being blown at the San Francisco  & Pacific Glass Works - at least indicative if a Western American utilized bottle dating from the 1860s to 1890s.  The quart (9" tall & 3.6" in diameter) was produced in a post-base mold and has the unusual "blob" type air venting on both front and back shoulders that indicates manufacture in the early to mid-1880s according to Thomas (2002).  (These same type "blob" air venting marks can be seen on the shoulder corners of some versions of the PERUVIAN BITTERS which were certainly produced in San Francisco also.) The pint example (7.75" tall & 2.9" in diameter) was produced in a cup-base type mold and has the somewhat later (mid-1880s to 1890s) single "dot" air venting mark on the front and back shoulders.  Certainly unembossed versions of these bottles could have been used for many other products as they fit the general theme of "utility" bottles discussed earlier on this page.  However, ammonia was a common use for these type cylinders though without the original labeling (or embossing) it would be impossible to say.

Oval (in body cross-section) ammonia bottles were also ubiquitous during the late 1800s into the mid-20th century.  Like the cylindrical examples above these were also usually not body embossed, instead typically having paper labeling to identify the contents.  An example of such is pictured to the left which was used for ammonia by the American Stores Co. of Philadelphia, PA.  This bottle is machine-made, 10.25" tall, 4.25" side, 2..8" deep, has an Owens-Illinois Glass Co. makers mark, as well as a distinct suction scar visible on the base.  Click on the images to left to enlarge; click base suction scar for a close-up of that feature on this bottle. 

This bottle also has an interesting 2-part finish which is made up of a narrow "bead" first part on top of an "oil" (or "ring") finish.  The only other embossing on the base besides the makers mark is the number "3" below that mark.  That could be a possible date code for 1933 though it may also be a plant code, which if was the case, would be for the Fairmont, WV plant which used it from 1930 to 1980 (Lockhart & Hoenig 2015).  The number may also just be a mold code of unknown meaning. 

This style of bottle (finish types could vary somewhat) was used for ammonia from the from the mid-1910s to at least mid-1930s as a machine-made item; mouth blown equivalents date back to at least the early 1890s (and probably before) up until the mid/late 1910s when machines dominated (Whitall, Tatum 1892; Illinois Glass Co. 1899, 1903,1911,1926; Owens-Illinois Glass Co. 1933).  Click on Illinois Glass Company 1926 bottle catalog page 150 to see an "ammonia oval" bottle (upper one) identical to the illustrated example which was available in 10, 12 and 32 oz. sizes.  The IGCo was one of the main companies that restructured in 1929 to become the Owens-Illinois Glass Company (Lockhart & Hoenig 2015); this style carrying over unchanged to the new company.  The lower ammonia oval in the linked 1926 illustration is the same shape but with a more classic "oil/ring" style finish which is also commonly seen on mouth-blown examples.  That variant was available in more sizes ranging from 5 oz. to 32 oz. 

Lashes Bitters embossing; click to enlarge.Lashes Bitters with ammonia label; click to enlarge.The 1933 Owens-Illinois Glass Company catalog posted on this site also lists this "ammonia oval"; see the following link - O-I Glass Co. 1933 catalog file #4 (pages 27-28).  This bottle is on page 27 (left bottle) which came in 10, 12, 16 and 32 oz. sizes.  The illustrated bottle here would have been catalog #B-87 which took a "rubber cork" according to the catalog.  (Rubber corks were commonly used with ammonia and bleach from the early 20th century on.)  As the catalog notes, these oval bottles were used for bluing also.

Bottles used for ammonia didn't always fit the look of the typical shapes typically identified with the product.  Local product producers often re-used other types of bottles for ammonia, as well as other cleaning products such as bleach and bluing.  Re-use of bottles was very common from Colonial days to well into the 20th century (Busch 1987).  As an example, the bottle pictured to the left obviously began its life as a bitters container for Lash's Bitters.  This  product originated in Sacramento, CA. though in the 20th century its popularity justified offices in Chicago and New York (Wichmann 1999).  However, as indicated by the label on the reverse, this particular bottle finished its useful life as an ammonia container - a decidedly poisonous substance - from a Cleveland, OH. concern.  Click label close-up to view more label details.   Medicinal and bitters bottles were commonly reused for bluing and ammonia (Busch 1987).  This machine-made bottle dates from between the mid 1910's and mid 1920's; when it was used for ammonia is unknown, but likely during that same era. 

A few more ammonia bottles are shown and briefly discussed below to show a bit more depth of variety:

  • The quart amber bottle to the right is fairly generic (i.e., "utility bottle") but also certainly of the style used for ammonia and likely was.  It is 9.6" tall, 3.5" in diameter, has a tooled "bead" finish, single small mold air venting bumps on opposite shoulders, thick mold seams (indicating loose fitting mold parts), is very crude, bubbly and "whittled" and was blown in a post-base mold.  Of dating interest is that the base is embossed with O.G.W. (not pictured) which indicates manufacture by the Oakland Glass Works (Oakland, CA.) which was in business for less than a year - September 1884 to March 1885 - when it shut down due to financial reasons and partially burned down shortly thereafter (Friedrich 2010).  The manufacturing details noted would date this bottle between the early/mid 1880s to mid 1890s although the crudity would lean one towards the early end of that range.  The presence of the makers marking certainly narrows it dramatically to the 6-7 month period of operation.

  • The very similar bottle - to the one above - is one of the more common embossed ammonia bottles.  It is embossed horizontally on the body with GREER'S / WASHING / AMMONIA / (script signature of Greer) / TRADE MARK. Click close-up of the embossing to view such.  This example has the same manufacturing attributes, dimensions, and tooled bead finish as the unembossed example above and likely dates from the 1880s or 1890s.  For an example of a bit later aqua example click on the following link: aqua Greer's Ammonia bottle.  Images of a larger (10.75" tall & 4.5" in diameter), mouth-blown, aqua example from about 1900 is available at the following links: full view of bottle showing the tooled "patent" finish; close-up of the embossing.  The author couldn't find any definitive history on this company, though it appears to be from another San Francisco company and may be from the same S. F. Gaslight company but under a later owner/company name.  (This author did find a reference to the product in an 1892 Oakland, CA. newspaper online.)

  • Image of an early 20th century ammonium bottle with an inside thread finish and hard rubber stopper; click to enlarge.Image of an ammonium bottle with an inside thread finish showing the threads; click to enlarge.To the right are close-up images of the finish of another another cylindrical ammonia bottle.  In overall shape and dimensions it is about identical to the two discussed just above; it is also not body embossed.  However, it has an inside threaded finish which took a hard rubber stopper as shown.  Click on quart sized ammonium (or chemical) bottle to see the entire bottle.  It most likely dates between 1890 and 1910 based on diagnostic manufacturing features (i.e. tooled finish, single point air venting, post-mold base conformation).  An inside thread finish on this style of bottle is unusual, but is indicative of the variety of bottles that such a finish can be found on.

  • ...more in the future?

 

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.

Bluing (Blueing)

As noted earlier, bluing - a product used in washing for enhancing or maintaining the color in light/white clothing - was also bottled in typically generic oval and cylindrical bottles during the same era ammonia was bottled, i.e., from at least the 1870s into the mid-20th century.  Only one largely embossed, but very common, bluing bottle is covered here.

By far the most popular, bottle identifiable, bluing was Mrs. Stewart's Concentrated Liquid Bluing.  The product was first sold in 1883, likely in label only bottles.  The example pictured to the left is an early (1907 to 1920) machine-made, cylindrical version which is body embossed with MRS. STEWARTS / BLUING / MINNEAPOLIS.  It was certainly made on an Owens Automatic Bottle Machine as indicated by the faintly visible (in the image to the left) suction scar on the base.  It is of colorless glass (pink tinted; some were made in aqua glass also, with earlier aqua examples mouth-blown?) and stands 5.5" tall holding about 10 oz. - the typical height/capacity for cylindrical examples.  The reverse side (click here to view) is embossed on the shoulder with L. F. Co in a flattened diamond.  This stands for the Luther Ford & Co. the long time producer of the product (Source: www.mrsstewarts.com ).

In 1920 the embossing moved from the body up onto the shoulder where it remained until at least the 1960s ( www.mrsstewarts.com ).  An image of a shoulder embossed cylindrical example from the 1930s is available at the following links.  Click full bottle view to see the entire bottle which has THIS CONTAINS MRS. STEWART'S BLUING embossed around the shoulder; the same embossing on the shoulder of the labeled oval bottle shown and discussed below.  Click shoulder view to view some of the embossing.  Click base view to view the makers marking indicating manufacture by the Owens-Illinois Glass Company in the 1930s.  How is that known?  Although no date code is in evidence the number "10" is visible on the base opposite the O-I manufacturers marking.  This would not likely be a date code (which were single numbers at that time), but instead the likely plant code for the Newark, OH. plant which used that number from 1930 to 1938 (Lockhart & Hoenig 2015).  The linked bottle is also machine-made, a patent finish which was cork (and wax) sealed, and is 5.5" tall.  (Images from eBay.)

The label for the product for many decades was as shown to the right.  This is an example of a later oval body, shoulder embossed, 5" tall (4 oz capacity), machine-made version dating from no earlier than the 1930s (or later for this example) when oval bottles first offered.  The oval body bottles - made from the mid-1930s through the 1950s - had a cork accepting patent finish which had an unusual feature in that the outside surface of the finish was slightly concave, not vertically flattened like the typical patent finish (previously discussed examples).  Click on side view of an oval bottle to see this finish feature.  The label indicates it was "no-drip" so that feature must have help inhibit dripping although the company noted the corks were sealed in wax as part of their "no-drip" feature.  In any event, according to the company website the no-drip labeled bottles were first produced in 1933 which was likely when that finish began also.  Later (1962 and on) the bottles had a screw-cap finishes.

See http://www.mrsstewart.com/the-history-of-mrs-stewarts-bluing/ for more information on the product including whose famous face is on the label.  (Note: That website also has a link to a useful and downloadable PDF file about the company history.)  This product is still being sold today although in plastic bottles since the 1970s.  These bottles are ubiquitous on early to mid-20th century historic sites; the dating of which could be roughly summarized as follows (there is overlap of cylindrical and oval versions): 

-Mouth-blown, body embossed, tooled patent finish, cylindrical (not pictured): pre-1907.  (The earliest examples from the 1880s and possibly 1890s were likely label only cylindrical bottles. This author believes that mouth-blown body embossed examples do exist; images will be added when available.)
-Machine-made, body embossed, patent finish, cylindrical, 10 oz. capacity (first example above): 1907 to 1920.
-Machine-made, shoulder embossed, patent finish, cylindrical, 10 oz. capacity (linked images above): 1920s and 1930s (possibly in the 1940s?).
-Machine-made, shoulder embossed, noted concave patent finish, oval, 4 oz. capacity (labeled example above): 1930s through 1950s.
-Machine-made, shoulder embossed, screw threaded finish, oval body, sizes? (not pictured): 1962 until early 1970s (plastic bottles after that time).

A couple more bluing bottles are shown and briefly discussed below to show a bit more variety:

  • The two small (5.75" and 6" tall), oval bluing bottles to the right are from the 1875-1885 era.  The bottle on the left is embossed with GILLET'S / CHINESE / LIQUID /  BLUEING  / TRIPPLE (sic) STRENGTH  (embossed lettering painted to be more visible).  The right one is embossed in a similar fashion with JAQUES / MADRAS / LIQUID / BLUEING / EXTRA STRENGTH.  These bottles both have applied finishes and were blown in post-base molds.  Click base view to see the bases.  (The GILLET'S is embossed on the base with A & D. H. C. for A. and D. H. Chambers - a large Pittsburgh, PA. glass and bottle maker who used that marking for over two decades, i.e., 1860 to about 1884).  Neither bottle is mold air vented which in hand with the applied finishes and post-mold base production indicates a probable manufacture prior to the mid to late 1880s to possibly as early as the late 1860s to early 1870s.  Of note, these bottles are almost identical in shape and overall "look" to the Jamaica Ginger bottles of the era, though that product was for internal consumption unlike bluing (or blueing).  See this section of the Medicinal bottles typology page for an example of that type bottle.

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. 

Bleach

Clorox bottle from 1929-1930; click to enlarge.As a class of bottles, those used for bottling bleach were very similar in shape and sizes to the cylindrical ammonia bottles discussed above, though it appears that the product was not typically bottled in oval bottles like ammonia (though one could certainly find exceptions to this with a dedicated search I would speculate).  In addition, bleach was often packaged in large handled jugs whereas ammonia was apparently not, though that may not be the case and just that this author hasn't encountered then in quantity.  Since there were two main brands that dominated the American market - Clorox and Purex - a few of these bottles will be briefly covered below.  Both brands originated in the 20th century and still continue into the 21st century dominating the brand name market for bleach though they both only come in plastic bottles/jugs for the past few decades.

Clorox bottles:  Clorox was first produced in 1913 and converted completely to plastic bottles in 1962 (Clorox.com website).  The dating of Clorox bottles has been made easy to do compliments of a page on the company website that covers the various styles over the years.  It is available at the following link:  http://www.thecloroxcompany.com/company/history/bottleguide/  The following information is based on the information from that website:

Clorox bottle base - ca. 1929-1930Prior to the use of these first embossed bottles in 1929 (image to the left) the product was first "bottled" by the predecessor to the Clorox Co. (The Electro-Alkaline Co.) in large (5 gallon) ceramic jugs and made available only to commercial or industrial concerns.  Beginning in 1918 and running until 1928, it was bottled for public use in 15 oz. amber bottles which were labeled only as to the contents - no embossing.  These generic or "utility" bottles (no specific image available) were also used by other companies for other products. Thus, without the original labeling it would be impossible to tell what product was used in them.  (Note: The Clorox website has no other specific information about these early bottles although it is almost certainly the smallest labeled bottle shown in the image of three bottles at the top of the above linked page.  That bottle is similar in shape and color - though much smaller - to the bottles at this link - amber utility bottles.)  

The Clorox bottle pictured to the upper left (base to the right) is the earliest identifiable (embossed) glass packaging, dating from from 1929 or 1930.  It is, as are all Clorox bottles, machine-made.  This example is a quart in capacity (a half gallon size was also made), about 10" tall, and was sealed with a rubber cork.

The four bottles pictured to the left range in age from 1931 (smallest bottle on right) to 1942 (screw finish bottle on the left).  Screw cap finishes started in 1940.  Click on shoulder view of all four bottles to view such showing that all have solid CLOROX embossing on the shoulder, dating them all prior to 1951 (1929 to 1950); after that point the lettering was outline embossed like the jug below.  Cork finishes date Clorox bottles prior to 1940 (1929 to 1939); the two bottles in the middle are from 1932 (darkest amber example) and 1933-1936 (lighter example which has "32 oz." embossed on the shoulder).  Click image of all four bases to view such showing that they all have the CLOROX in a flattened diamond embossed on the base plus REG. U.S.  PAT. OFF.

The image to the right is of a half gallon size jug that dates 1951-1954.  (Images from eBay.) Single finger handles like this example first began on the half gallon size in 1939 (wider double finger handles in 1955) and continued until glass was discontinued in favor of plastic in 1962.  This example has the CLOROX embossed in outline, dating it no earlier than 1951.  That with the double finger ring handles beginning in 1955 date this single ring handled jug to the 1951-1954 range.  However, the base has a clear Owens-Illinois Glass Co. makers marking with what appears to be a "48" - or at least a two digit number beginning with "4" - to the right of the mark.  Click base view of the Clorox jug to view the base with the date code in the upper portion of the image.  This date code seems to contradict the information given on the Clorox website?  The base also shows a "20" (lower portion of image) which is for the Oakland, CA. plant which used that number from 1936 to today; so that doesn't help with the dating conundrum.

Purex bottles:  The competing brand for Clorox was Purex.  Here is a very brief history of the product origin from Wikipedia"Purex Laundry Detergent was originally founded by Lionel S. Precourt with his son, Ray in 1922, in Los Angeles, California.  The father and son team began to make their household bleach from their hedquarters in their 400 square foot garage.  In 1923 the name "Purex" was created and used on their first bleach product.

It is not known when the first bottles were used, though the Canadian Purex website ( www.purexlaundry.ca/about-us/about-purex ) notes that it was first "...sold in amber pint jars...".  This author would speculate that since the bottles shapes they used are almost identical to those used for Clorox, that the timelines for similar glass containers would also mirror that history.  It is not known when the first identifiable (embossed) bottles were used, though it was likely in the late 1920s or early 1930s, similar to Clorox.  A few examples are shown below: 

The quart Purex bottle to the left is very similar to the earlier Clorox bottles above dating from the 1930s and 1940s, except the Purex bottle has a horizontal neck ring below the base of the more or less two-part finish whereas the Clorox bottles did not.  The bottle is 9.25" tall, 3.75" in diameter, and is, of course, machine-made.  This bottle does have the makers marking for the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company (a large stylized "H" over a small "A"); a marking which was used first in 1923.  Unfortunately they also used that marking until at least 1971 so it doesn't help with the dating of this item (Lockhart et al. 2016d).  Click quart Purex bottle base view to see such which also shows an embossed catalog number of "K-4160" above the HA marking and a number "4" below it faintly.  (Images from eBay.)  The number is most likely a mold cavity code and not connected with a date of production.   The "K" is believed to be for the old Kearns-Gorsuch Co. glass plant (Zanesville, OH.) which Hazel-Atlas acquired in 1929, thus making this bottle date no earlier than that (Lockhart et al. 2016d).

The gallon jug pictured to the right is much more datable as it has the Owens-Illinois Glass Company "diamond O-I" makers marking on the base along with a date code "6" to the right of the marking indicating a manufacturing date of 1946.  Why not 1936 or 1956 - both of which lie within the date range for that marking?  1936 is not possible as the base of the jug has the stippling which was not used on that companies products until 1940.  By 1954, the company was converting over to the new "I" in a larger "O" marking although the old "diamond O-I" marking was used somewhat into the 1960s.  I would speculate that since this jug was made at the companies main glass plant (Alton, IL; see below), it probably led the way in implementing the new mark from the beginning in 1954, although there is no guarantee since O-I base markings have many seemingly whimsical exceptions.  Given the likely similarity in dating with Clorox products and the fact that this jug has a single finger sized ring handle (which was abandoned in favor of two finger jug handles by Clorox in 1955), 1946 is the most likely manufacturing date. 

The base of the jug is embossed also with PUREX in raised letter - the shoulder embossing also being indented or "debossed" like the bottle above - and DES. PAT. APPLIED FOR at the bottom.  Click Purex base view to see an image of the base which also shows a plant code of "7" to the left of the makers marking.  This indicates the jug was made at the companies Alton, IL. plant (Lockhart & Hoenig 2015).

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.  As noted earlier, the dating of Clorox bottles can be done via the companies website at this link: http://www.thecloroxcompany.com/company/history/bottleguide/   Unfortunately, there is apparently no equivalent resource for the dating of the various Purex bottles styles.  Both brands are ubiquitous on Western American (and Western Canadian most likely) historic sites from the early to mid-20th century; probably the same holds for the rest of the U.S. as both products were and are widely distributed.

 

Other cleaning products

Other cleaning product bottle types may be added in the future as possible...

 

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Other household bottles

This section may be expanded more in the future (e.g., pesticide/bug killer products, ????).  For now only a few commonly encountered machine oil bottles will be addressed.

Machine oil

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

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

 

Miscellaneous

Other types of household product bottle types may be added in the future as possible...

 

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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 some of 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.  Although 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.


8/27/2016

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