Glassmaking & Glassmakers
Bottle & Glass Makers Markings
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(Click HERE to jump down this page to the listing of linked Makers Marking articles.)
The subject of bottle makers marks is a complex one - as is virtually everything to do with bottle dating and identification. However, the subject is important to refining the estimated date range for the manufacture of a bottle, how the bottle was made to some extent, and for the determination of origin (website "goals" #1, #3, and #4 noted on the Homepage).
Some glass containers make quite obvious which glass company made the item. For example, the quart canning jar pictured to the right is boldly embossed on one side with PACIFIC / SAN FRANCISCO / GLASS WORK (sic) making it easily clear that the jar was manufactured by the Pacific Glass Works of San Francisco, CA. - the first successful glass company west of the Rockies - which operated under that name from 1862 to 1876 (Toulouse 1971).
Other makers marks are not as obvious as this jar. The image at the top of this page is of the base of a Wisconsin made beer bottle embossed with C. C. G. C. / No 1. on the base; it is also embossed E. L. HUSTING / MILWAUKEE/ WIS. in a circular body plate (the reverse side is also embossed THIS BOTTLE / NOT TO / BE SOLD). This bottle was certainly made by the Cream City Glass Company (Milwaukee, WI.) which operated from 1888 to 1894 (Toulouse 1971; Lockhart pers. comm. 2007). Eugene L. Husting was in business under his name from 1877 to 1900 (Van Wieren 1995) which more than spans the time that Cream City Glass was in business, producing a certain (as certain as the historical record is accurate) date range for the production of this bottle to between 1888 and 1894. This is typical of the type of makers marks found on the bases of mouth-blown beer bottles produced from the 1870s through the 1910s until National Prohibition and is an example of how useful makers marks can be for the accurate dating of historic bottles. (Photo courtesy of Bill Lockhart.)
The following is quoted from the introduction to the book Bottle Makers and Their Marks by Dr. Julian Toulouse and is one of the better quick summaries on the subject of maker's marks pertinent to the goals of this website. (Note: Dr. Toulouse wrote his book from the perspective of assisting collector's as well as archaeologist's as implied in the following quote.):
Trademarks, whether registered or not, brand names, and other marks and symbols of identification found on bottles are datum points in determining the history and ages of the collectors' bottles. When the owner of the mark is known, and when more exact dates can be assigned to its use, the mark becomes a means of dating the piece upon which is appears. If the mark was used for many years, we may have to rely on other considerations in order to date the piece within the mark's span of years. (Website author's note: "considerations" would include manufacturing based diagnostic features - a primary goal of this website - and/or local research in to the user of the bottle, if that fact is known via embossing or labeling.) If the period of use of the mark was short, the age of the bottle may be pinpointed to a short period of time. In some instances, lucky for the collector but unlucky for the user of the mark, the period may be reduced to one or two years. One factory making beer bottles in the 1880s, whose ownership, name, and mark changed five times in eleven years, has helped historical archaeologists date a number of sites in the western United States. (Toulouse 1971)
The pictures to the left show the base of an 11 oz. beer bottle (and the entire bottle) which shows the some of the distinctive marks that the Owens-Illinois Glass Company - which had many plants around the country - used beginning in 1929 or 1930 to at least the mid-1950s. More specifically, the marks on this particular bottle indicate it was made in 1951 ("1" to the right of the diamond O-I mark) at the Oakland, CA. plant ("20" to the left of the makers mark). Why not 1931 or 1941? See the machine-made bottle dating page Question #11 for more information on this bottle. Also consult the article by Bill Lockhart - located at the following link - for more information on the marks of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, whose marks are probably the most commonly encountered U. S. makers marks of the 20th and early 21st centuries (Lockhart 2004d).
The information below directs a user towards some of these sources of information or provides links to other works that will assist in the interpretation of most known makers marks. Some marks - like the Owens-Illinois Glass Company mark shown above - have a lot of good information available to allow for definitive interpretation; a link to an excellent article on the subject is found below. Other suspected maker's marks have not even been accurately assigned to a particular glassmaker and even if the maker is known, much company specific research has yet to be done. In short, though a lot of information is available there is still a lot yet unknown; the author of this website is a member of a group that is currently pursuing that task...more on that below...
Specific Bottle Maker Articles
This section is devoted largely to the published articles of the Bottle Research Group (BRG) members - past, present...and future (more below) - on most major bottle producers in the U. S. (and eventually a few Canadian and English manufacturers). These detailed articles a being made available to users of this website without charge.
In order to make full use of this information one has to know what mark(s) were used by what company. If not known yet, it is recommended that a user first determine the origin of the marking by using the "Glass Factory Marks on Bottles" website. The following link will take one to David Whitten's exceptional webpages that cover most known American glass makers marks assigning specific markings to the known (or strongly suspected) user of the marking:
"Glass Factory Marks on Bottles" Website
David Whitten is a serious avocational student of bottle and insulator makers marks and his pages are a wealth of information on the subject. This page is a highly recommended (and free!) "first stop" for those wishing to figure out what an observed makers mark stands for on a bottle they may have and do not have Toulouse's book (discussed further down this page) although Whitten's site has much more current and accurate markings information than Toulouse's 1971 book. The site typically also includes some brief history behind the companies. (Also see his main webpage - "Glass Bottle Marks - Collecting History of the Glass Manufacturing Industry" - at the following link: http://www.glassbottlemarks.com )
Important Notice to Users!
Beginning in late 2012, additional bottle makers marking articles (and revisions of older works) by the Bottle Research Group are being exclusively e-published here in an effort directed towards the eventual completion of the:
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MANUFACTURERS MARKS ON GLASS CONTAINERS
new/revised articles are noted below in
followed by the publishing date.
They are also all found in the
"Periodical & Journal Articles" section
articles listed in
blue are those
published via other venues - primarily in
"Bottles and Extras" which is the official
publication of the
"A" Makers Markings
"C" Makers Markings
Many more to come...stay tuned!
Additional articles of interest
The Milk Route articles
The Milk Route is the official publication of the The National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors and another venue for articles published by BRG members which may be of interest to site users. To quote from their website: The National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors (NAMBC) provides research, educational opportunities and information about milk bottles, milk bottle collecting and dairy memorabilia to its members, museums and the general public... The NAMBC is often called "The Milk Route", which was an early name for the organization, and is currently the name of the NAMBC's monthly newsletter. The following are articles from that publication compliments of the NAMBC:
Liberty Glass, Lamb Glass, and updates
- Bill Lockhart (Issue #287:1-3; September 2004)
The L. G. CO. Mark (Again) - Bill Lockhart (Issue #290:2; December 2004)
Milk Bottle Production at the Knox Glass Bottle Co. - Bill Lockhart, Pete Schulz, Carol Serr and Bill Lindsey (Issue #335:1-4; September 2008)
The DuBois Glass Co. - Bill Lockhart, Pete Schulz, Carol Serr and Bill Lindsey (Issue #352:1-2; February 2010)
The IPG Mark - Not Quite - Bill Lockhart (Issue #356:3; June 2010)
The Mysterious Number System - Bill Lockhart, Pete Schulz, Al Morin and others (Issue #359:1-4; September 2010)
Blake-Hart: The Square Milk Bottle - Bill Lockhart, Pete Schulz, Carol Serr, Beau Schriever, and Bill Lindsey (Part 1 [Issue #369:1-3; July 2011] and Part 2 [Issue #370:1-3; August 2011])
...more to be added in the future...
The following are some additional articles not specifically related to makers markings or are from other publications, i.e., not Bottles and Extras or The Milk Route (see References page for the source):
A New Twist for Uncapping Old Information about Glass Artifacts
The Other Side of the Story: A Look at the Back of 7-Up Bottles Bill Lockhart (The Soda Fizz - Jan/Feb 2005)
A Tale of Two Machines and A Revolution in Soft Drink Bottling - Bill Lockhart (Bottles & Extras, Spring 2006)
The Origins and Life of the Export Beer Bottle - Bill Lockhart (Bottles & Extras, May/June 2007)
Rabbit Trails: The Twisted Path to Bottle Identification - Bill Lindsey (Bottles & Extras, May/June 2009)
The Finishing Touch: A Primer on Mouth-blown Bottle Finishing Methods - Bill Lindsey (web published on this website 2010)
Bottle Makers and Their Marks - by Julian Toulouse
The classic published reference on the subject of maker's markings, as noted above, is the aptly named Bottle Makers and Their Marks by Dr. Julian Toulouse. Published in 1971, this book is a wealth of information on bottle makers marks and the history of the companies that produced them. To quote from David Whitten's website - "(Toulouse's)...book is the best reference work ever published on glass manufacturers' marks on bottles, but it does contain many errors which have been discovered...since it was first published."
Much new information has been uncovered and older inaccurate information refined since the publishing of the book, much of which is now available on this website as noted earlier on this page. Regardless of that, this book is still a useful reference source for maker's mark information. When used in hand with the Whitten's website and more recent information - like the articles linked above - a bottle information seeker has powerful tools in their quest to find bottle dating "truth." This book is currently being reprinted by Blackburn Press; check the Historic Bottle Related Links page under Toulouse (1971) for a link to this website and the reprint. It is not cheap but may be worth it.
Glass/Bottle Makers catalogs
And finally, one of the more useful tools for determining what a particular bottle shape or type was likely used for are period bottle/glass makers illustrated catalogs. This website provides complete scanned copies (jpegs) of several never before re-printed bottle makers catalogs covering a wide array of bottle types. Click on the following links to access these catalogs:
Illinois Glass Co. bottle catalog
1916-1917 Kearns-Gorsuch Bottle Co. catalog
1920 Illinois Glass Co. bottle catalog
1926 Illinois Glass Co. bottle catalog
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