Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes

Group of 18th and 19th century wine bottles; click to enlarge.

Wine & Champagne Bottles
HOME: Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes: Wine & Champagne Bottles

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Early 20th century small hock wines; click to enlarge.Wine and champagne (carbonated or "sparkling" wine) bottles were, generally speaking, produced in a much more limited variety of shapes than the spirits/liquor containers discussed above.  (Note: On this page the term "champagne" is referring to all sparkling wines, not just those from that region of France.)  A large majority of wine/champagne bottles are round in cross section; square, rectangular, or other body shapes are unusual, though they do exist to a minor extent with wine bottles, especially in the 20th century.  Champagne, being carbonated, pretty much had to be contained in round heavy glass bottles (like all carbonated beverages) since round bottles are inherently stronger than other shapes, all other things being equal (glass thickness & quality).  In addition, a large majority of wine/champagne bottles were (and continue to be) produced in some shade of olive green, with amber and aqua/colorless glass occasionally used; other colors were unusual (McKearin & Wilson 1978, Van den Bossche 2001).  Sizes of wine bottles can vary widely from small "sample" sizes of a few ounces to very large demijohns and carboys that held many gallons.  Champagne bottles were typically made in limited sizes with a very large majority being less than a half gallon.

Wine - primarily the fermented juice of grapes - has been a common beverage since at least 2000 B.C.  The fermentation of grape juice creates alcohol (typically 10-15% by volume) which both preserves the juice - enhancing the potential for long term storage - and adds extra dimensions and characteristics of particular appeal to humans since time immemorial.  Wine is, of course, an extremely popular beverage today around the world.  Wine was historically stored in wooden casks, clay/ceramic amphorae and jugs, and other containers though some bottles were likely being used for wine storage as early as the time of Christ (Munsey 1970, Van den Bossche 2001). 

Champagne bottle used for wine; click to enlarge.Bottles for containing, distributing, or dispensing wine were common in the U. S. from the mid 17th century to the present day.  The earliest wine and spirits bottles in the American colonies were typically English made imports as no significant production of these type bottles was likely done on American soil until the late 18th century (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Wine being one of the most common beverages of the past 300-400 years (next to water and possibly beer/ale) results in wine bottles and fragments being one of the most commonly encountered items on historic sites.  The exception to this is during National Prohibition in the U.S. (1919 to 1933) when the production (and it was hoped, consumption) of alcoholic beverages was made  illegal, though of course, production was still occurring either for sacramental (particularly wine) purposes, for "medicinal purposes" (requiring a doctors prescription), for in-home use, or simply illegally.  See the discussion on the subject in the introduction to the Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes: Liquor/Spirits Bottles page.

Wine/champagne bottles have followed very similar and relatively narrow design patterns during the entire period covered by this website - the 19th to mid-20th centuries.  One distinctive feature of most wine/champagne bottles which is not common on other bottles is the presence of a kick-up or push-up in the base.  In the wine world this basal indentation is known as a "punt" though that term was not apparently used by glass makers.  Wine and champagne bottles today closely follow many of the same dominant designs that were used in the mid to late 19th century.  This includes the ubiquity of the cork (or now synthetic cork substitutes) accepting champagne finishes and the continued presence of punts (Shultz 1980).  Because of this lack of diversity this webpage is relatively brief.  As with all historic bottle types and shapes however, there is a wide variation of subtle differences to be found within the various diagnostic shape classes which are covered on this page.  Thus, don't dwell too closely on minor nuances. 

Several excellent sources of information on very early wine bottles (17th and 18th centuries) are available and recommended since this website does not comprehensively cover bottles made prior to the early 19th century.  Three notable publications are: American Bottles and Flasks and Their Ancestry by Helen McKearin and Kenneth Wilson (1978);   Cylindrical English Wine & Beer Bottles 1735-1850 by Olive Jones (1986); and Antique Glass Bottles: Their History and Evolution (1500-1850) by Willy Van den Bossche (2001).  An excellent historical overview of the 19th century wine trade, with a special emphasis on Western America, is found in The Bottles of Old Sacramento: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Glass and Ceramic Containers Part 1 by Peter Schulz, et al. (1980).


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.  Wine and champagne bottles are listed primarily on pages 136-147.


 

Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes:
"Wine & Champagne Bottles" page
Organization & Structure

Group of 18th and 19th century wine bottles; click to enlarge.This page is divided into just two categories due to the relative simplicity of the design and limited variations of these types of bottles, as follows:

Wine bottle styles
  -Early Wine Bottle Shapes
  -"Bordeaux" shape
  -"Burgundy" shape
  -"Hock" or "Rhine" shape
  -Other wine shapes

Champagne bottle styles

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 almost 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.

 


 

Wine bottle styles

Wine and champagne bottles are some of the most commonly recovered items from historic sites throughout the U.S. since the consumption of wine was (and is) very common in most "Western" countries (Jones 1986).  As already noted, wine and champagne bottle shapes tend to be some of the least diverse of any group of bottles covered on this website, though many of the shapes are very diagnostic of being a wine or champagne bottle.  In addition, most of these specific shape classes have been in use for 125 to 150 years or more, continue to be used today, and are often very closely identified with certain types of wines.  Some of the pictures found below are of modern bottles in styles that go well back into the 19th century with little change in the overall "look" of the bottle.  Given this almost unprecedented similarity through time, the dating of these bottles by shape is largely impossible and other manufacturing related diagnostic features must be used to determine the approximate age range of items; a subject that is covered on various other pages on this website (Schulz 1980; Wilson 1981). 

One other note on wine bottles is that they are somewhat rarely embossed, but instead product identified with labels or frequently with blob seals.  Most other types of bottles show a tendency towards more embossed examples through the last half of the 19th century and into the first couple decades of the 20th.  This is not true for wine bottles where if anything, the tendency was to move from applied blob seals (two shown in the picture at the top of this page) to completely unadorned bottles that were labeled only through that same time period (Munsey 1970).  (Note: Blob seals were in use for wine bottles from the early 17th century until well into the early 20th century, though proportionally (not in absolute numbers) there were likely more used on bottles prior to 1860 than after that time.)

Note:  One potentially confounding factor when trying to date wine (and champagne) bottles is that many, or possibly even a majority, of wine bottles were imported from Europe, often with European wine in them.  Since the technology of European bottle makers lagged behind North American manufacturers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890 to 1920), bottles produced during this period in Europe often exhibit manufacturing based diagnostic features which would date them several decades older if they had been produced in the U.S. or Canada (Davis 1949).  When attempting to date known or suspected imported items please keep this in mind.

Early wine bottle shapes

18th century "onion" wine/spirits botte; click to enlarge.The variety of shapes of early (pre-1860) wine bottles is surprisingly diverse - given the limited numbers of bottles produced during that era - compared to the shapes found in later years.  The bottles pictured here are a sampling of just some of the different shapes that were used for wine primarily during the first half of the 19th century and before.  However, all of the types of bottles pictured here were also have been used for various other liquids and beverages including spirits, hard cider, and ale/beer as well as other products on occasion including even caraway seeds and ground pepper (McKearin & Wilson 1978; McDougall 1990).

The bottle pictured to left is a very early "Belgian type" wine or spirits bottle that dates between 1700 and 1730.  These bottles were commonly used for wine as well as spirits like rum.  This type bottle is European in origin (Belgium or Dutch) though ones like it were imported into this country during the early to mid-18th century since few if any utilitarian bottles like this were being made in the U.S. at that time.  Click on the following hyperlinks to view more images of this bottle: base view; finish and upper neck view.  It is also thought that these type bottles were occasionally used for sparkling wines also as they typically have relatively heavy glass and could likely withstand the pressure of carbonation (McKearin & Wilson 1978).

Front view of a New England chesnut flask from the early 19th century.The chestnut flask pictured to the right is a typical early American example that was most likely produced by a New England glasshouse between 1790 and 1820 - the heyday of this particular style.  It is free-blown, has a blowpipe type pontil scar in its pushed up base, and is medium olive green in color.  Click on the following link to view more pictures of this chestnut flask: side view; base view showing the blowpipe pontil scar.  This bottle is also discussed more on the Liquor/Spirits Bottles page (in the "Other Miscellaneous Shapes" section).

New England Glass Bottle Company bottle in black glass; click to enlarge.

The black glass (very dark olive amber) wine, spirits, or ale/porter/cider bottle to the left is of early American origin being blown by the New England Glass Bottle Company (Cambridge, Mass.) between 1827 and 1845 (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  That company name is embossed very faintly on the base of this bottle - click NEGBCo base marking to view a picture of the base.  The center of the base has a sand pontil mark that is typical of the era.  Click shoulder, neck & finish to view a close-up of those portions of this bottle.  Like its English counterparts, this bottle was made in a three-piece mold though very similar types were also free-blown (usually earlier) and produced in dip molds.  This wide squatty style was common in different variations from the late 18th century into the middle of the 19th century.  As indicated this shape saw wide usage as a beverage bottle; it is also discussed more on the Liquor/Spirits Bottles page (in the "Cylinders" section).

Image of a mid-19th century spirits/ale bottle; click to enlarge.The utility bottle pictured to the right was blown in a dip mold which is indicated by the faint line at the shoulder/body junction, faintly textured (from the mold surface) surface to the bottle body below the shoulder, and the smooth glossy glass surface at the shoulder and neck (click photo to enlarge).  It has a crudely applied mineral finish, a faint sand pontil scar on the base, and likely dates from between 1850 and 1870.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle: shoulder/neck close-up, base view.  Of interest on this bottle is a faint bluish cast to the apex of the moderately pushed-up base.  This is frequently seen on mid 19th century black glass bottles and is likely the result of the iron rod that was used to form the push-up base and/or pontil rod. 

This general type of bottle was also mouth-blown in two and three-piece molds and later (late 19th and early 20th centuries) in turn-molds.  This shape was undoubtedly commonly used for a variety of beverages and physically similar examples can date from the early 19th through early 20th century.  Thus, manufacturing based diagnostic features must be used to come up with a reasonable date range for this style.  Even then, the typical absence of embossing on most of these type items (and the rarity of original labels) which often allows for dating refinement, makes for relatively imprecise dating reliability.  See the discussion of this type bottle on the Liquor/Spirits Bottles page.  This shape of bottle compared to the ones above shows the trend of wine bottles from wider and squatty to taller and narrower as time progressed (Jones 1986).  Click on the following links to view an early 19th century (1816 or slightly before) free-blown English wine bottle - with the original label - that would be a precursor to the utility bottle pictured to the right: full view showing the dated 1816 label; base view showing a sand (or possibly "disc") pontil scar and unusual lack of a push-up base (photo from eBay®).

Additional images/information on early squat wine bottles:

  • Mid to late 17th century English onion bottle; click to enlarge.Early English "onion" bottle - This is the earliest bottle illustrated on this website (excluding the Roman bottles found on the Glassmaking & Glassmakers page) dating from the 1680s to 1720s period (Dumbrell 1983).  It is English in origin, very dark olive green glass (i.e., "black glass"), free-blown with a glass-tipped or blow-pipe pontil scar, and has a period typical string rim finish type.  This bottle is European in origin and pre-dates the time period covered by this website but is included to show an example of a bottle typical of some of the earliest types than can be found in North America (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  These bottles were certainly used for both wine and spirits.  (Image courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)

Dating summary/notes:  These early types of wine bottles are a sampling of those used during the first half of the 19th century (and before) as there was a relatively wide assortment of shapes - given the era - that saw duty as wine bottles (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  The general dating ranges for each of the pictured examples is in the description of the bottle above, and not reiterated here.  The reasons for the relative diversity of shapes used to contain wine during this earlier era is varied and includes the following:

  • During this period bottles were a scarce and relatively expensive commodity and what one used to bottle a product was what one could acquire - new or used.  Many types of bottles saw use for a wide array of products.  For example this type of early American Stoddard utility bottle (ca. 1830-1850) was known to have been used for an assortment of liquid products, e.g., ink, liquor, medicine, cosmetics, oils, and other products (McKearin & Wilson 1978).
  • There was a decided lack of variety of bottle shapes in general during this early era, necessitating the use of more different types of bottles for a given substance than later (late 19th and early 20th centuries) when more bottle types were available and identified with specific products.  The lack of variety of early shapes in general was probably a function of limited manufacturing techniques to make unusual designs (only so much one can do free blowing or with a dip mold), limited market or demand for different shapes, and the labor intensity of making bottles (and high glassblower pay) which made bottles quite expensive to produce (Scoville 1948).

For more information on the subject of early wine (and spirits) bottles is Olive Jones 1986 work entitled "Cylindrical English Wine & Beer Bottles: 1735-1850" (Jones 1986).  Also see Hume's (1991) "A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America" for more information on the subject including an illustrated time series of primarily English-made wine/spirits bottles from 1652 to 1834.

 

Bordeaux shape wine bottle; click to enlarge."Bordeaux" shape

This distinctive and familiar shape of bottle is commonly referred to as a "Bordeaux" type bottle; they were also called a "claret", "sauterne" (the latter primarily in light green or aqua glass), and likely other names (IGCo. 1906, Obear-Nestor 1922, Lucas Co. Bottle Co. 1940s).  These names also refer to the application to which these bottles were typical used, i.e., to bottle Bordeaux region wines which include cabernet sauvignon, claret, and sauterne (sweet wine from the Sauterne region of France).  These bottles are typified by having a tall body with almost vertically parallel sides (with sometimes a bit of a taper from shoulder to heel), a moderately steep shoulder, moderately short but distinct neck (a bit less than a third the length of the body), and usually a champagne style single part finish.  The bases usually have a moderate to deep push-up with the presence of a mamelon common.  Click Illinois Glass Company 1906 catalog - page 136 to view that companies available Bordeaux bottle, which is specifically noted as a turn-mold.

This shape originated in Europe by at least the early to mid 19th century and likely came to the U.S. shortly thereafter.  The style follows the chronologic trend of wine bottles from wider and squatty to taller and narrower, which is shown somewhat by the bottles pictured in the previous section.  French made bottles of this specific style (free-blown but without pontil scars) were found on the Steamboat Bertrand which sank in the Missouri River in 1865 and were likely being made at least as early as the 1850s (Switzer 1974, Jones 1986, Van den Bossche 2001).  A bottle very similar to the Bertrand examples is pictured below left.  "Claret" bottles were noted as being produced by American manufacturers as early as 1829, though the shapes were not specifically described.  One 1831 New England Glass Company ad noted that their "claret" bottles were a "correct imitation of the French" implying that this style could date back well beyond the early 1830s date for imports (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  The Bordeaux style does appear to be a distinct evolutionary change from the utility bottle pictured in the section above (bulging neck, mineral finish) and these early ads may have been describing that type bottle instead.

Modern (2005) Bordeaux style wine bottle; click to enlarge.In any event, this shape most likely dates back at least to the 1840s for wine and continues to be used today for many types of red wines (few white wines) produced throughout the world.  The picture to the right shows a typical 3/4 liter example with contents that was bought in 2005 and is virtually exactly like it's 100 year older brother above, including a kick-up base, olive green color, and cork closured champagne finish.  Click close-up of shoulder, neck, and finish to view a close-up picture of this modern bottle.  Upon close inspection of these two bottles the only substantive differences are related to the method of manufacture, the modern version being of course machine-made.

The bottle pictured above left is a likely early 20th century example of a Bordeaux style bottle that was produced in a turn-mold as it has no side-seams and the distinctive concentric horizontal rings on the body typical of that manufacturing method.  This bottle is actually labeled Vin Zymo Elixir Wine Tonic (San Francisco, CA.); not actually wine itself though "wine tonic" was certainly wine based.  The label on this bottle implies a dating no earlier than the early 1910s based on the contents or capacity notation, which was not required prior to this time.  The high alcohol content (30%) with no mention of "medicinal use" indicates a pre-Prohibition (pre-1920) product (Lockhart pers. communication 2003).  This bottle could date from the same era as the label since turn-mold bottles were still being produced at least as late as the early 1910s (Illinois Glass Company 1911, Toulouse 1969b).  However, the bottle could possibly pre-date the label and have been re-used for this semi-medicinal product since the bottles method of manufacture (turn-mold, tooled finish) was being used at least as early as the late 1880s.  However,  it is impossible to ascertain this for certain.  Click on the following links for more pictures of this Bordeaux shaped wine bottle: base view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish; view of the label on the other side.

Mid 19th century Bordeaux wine bottle; click to enlarge.The small size (9.2" tall and pint + or -) Bordeaux style bottle pictured to the left is dip molded (there is a faint "ridge" at the shoulder indicating a dip mold heritage) with a crudely laid on ring type champagne finish (laid around a non-fire polished roughly cracked-off bore) and a crudely pushed up and fairly deep kick-up/push-up base. This bottle exhibits a lot of the characteristics and crudity of a bottle made during the first half of the 19th century, but is not obviously pontil scarred making it likely to date around the Civil War period of 1860-1870, since after this period dip molded bottles become more and more unusual and prior to this period pontil marks are almost universal.  Click on the following links for more view of this bottle: base view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.  This bottle is very similar to those pictured and described in Switzer (1974) that were determined to be French in origin and dating right from 1864 to early 1865, when the Steamship Bertrand sank in the Missouri River.  Earlier Bordeaux style bottles tend to have a bit more slope to the shoulder compared to the later ones with a sharper angle; compare the bottle to the left with the two pictured above (Van den Bossche 2001).  However, this feature appears not to be definitive of an early manufacture since, as with most bottle styles, there were subtle variations made throughout the many years of use.

Civil War era Bordeaux wine bottles; click to enlarge.The two sizes of similar early Bordeaux bottles to the right also date conclusively from the mid-1860s as they were recovered from the from the Steamship Republic© which sank off the coast of Georgia during late October of 1865 (Gerth 2006).  These bottles are also free-blown or dip molded, have laid-on champagne type finishes, and very deep kick-ups.  (Photo by George Salmon Photography, courtesy of Odyssey Marine Exploration.)

Dating summary/notes:  The Bordeaux style of wine bottles were made for an exceptionally long period of time - from possibly the early 19th century (surely from no later than the 1840s) to the present day.  Occasional examples can be found with a different type finish (primarily external screw threads in the 20th century), though the majority of the bottles made up to the present have a cork accepting champagne finish but are otherwise identical in shape.  This shape of bottle can be mouth-blown in a turn or two-piece mold or machine-made.  Thus, the general dating of this style must be done using manufacturing based diagnostic features; see the Bottle Dating pages for more dating information.  Click on the following link to view a webpage that describes the three major wine bottle shapes (the Bordeaux and the following two shapes): http://www.cellarnotes.net/bottleshapes.html

One potentially confounding factor when trying to date wine (and champagne) bottles is that many, or possibly even a majority, of wine bottles were imported from Europe.  Since the technology of European bottle makers lagged behind North American manufacturers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890 to 1920), bottles produced during this period in Europe often exhibit manufacturing based diagnostic features which would date them several decades older if they had been produced in the U.S. or Canada (Davis 1949).  When attempting to date known or suspected imported items please keep this in mind. 

It should also be noted that identically shaped bottles (in aqua as well as olive green) were used from the very early 19th century until well into the 20th century for olive oil.  See the cylindrical olive oil bottles section of the Food Bottle & Canning Jars typology page for more information.

 

Burgundy style of bottle of modern manufacture; click to enlarge."Burgundy" shape

This distinctive and familiar shape of bottle is most often referred as a "Burgundy" or sometimes "cognac" bottle, though other names are of course possible (IGCo. 1906 & 1920, Obear-Nestor 1922, Lucas Co. Bottle Co. 1940s).  These names also refer to the application to which these bottles were typical used, i.e., to bottle Burgundy region or type wines which include pinot noir, chardonnay, chablis, beaujolais, and various other red and white wines.  The style was also used for cognac (distilled white wine) though the cognac bottles tend to be taller in the body (discussed more below).  Burgundy bottles have a moderate height body with almost vertically parallel sides, a long sloping shoulder which merges seamlessly into the neck which is usually topped by a champagne style single part finish.  The height of the shoulder and neck in combination is usually equal to or a bit more than the height of the body (heel to shoulder).  The bases usually have moderate to deep push-ups with the presence of a mamelon common, though later 20th century ones have minimal push-ups and small to non-existent mamelons.

Like the Bordeaux style bottle above, the Burgundy shape originated in Europe by at least the early 19th century and likely came to the U.S. shortly thereafter.  It seems to have first shown up in the U.S. prior to the Civil War and follows the chronological trend of wine bottles from wider and squatty to taller and narrower, which is shown somewhat by the bottles pictured in the previous section (Jones 1986, Van den Bossche 2001).  The Burgundy style appears to be a slight evolutionary take off from the very similarly shaped champagne bottle which date back at least to the early 19th century, though these were likely imported from England or France, as the earliest mention of champagne bottles by an American manufacture is 1829 (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  Champagne bottles tend to be a little wider in the body and made with heavier glass; differences that are usually distinct when one has the two types side by side.  In addition champagne bottles were usually made in a darker olive green color than the Burgundy style, though this is quite variable and a likely meaningless distinction.  In a sense, the Burgundy/champagne shape is a hybrid between the Bordeaux style noted above and the tall slender hock wine style discussed next.

Modern Burgundy style bottle used for sake; click to enlarge.This precise shape continues to be used today for many types of red and white wines produced throughout the world.  The example pictured above is of a full (Chardonnay) 3/4 liter bottle bought in 2005 which is virtually identical to the mouth-blown ones from 100 years or more ago, including its kick-up base, typical olive green color, and cork stoppered champagne finish.  Click close-up of shoulder, neck, and finish to view a close-up picture of this modern bottle showing the lack of clear transition from the shoulder to the neck.  For an illustration of an identical looking example from a 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog, click IGCo. 1906 catalog - page 140-141; the Burgundy shape is pictured on page 141 on the far right.  A cognac bottle is pictured next to the Burgundy shape and is very similar except that the body is a bit longer and the shoulder/neck combination a bit shorter.

The bottle pictured to the right is another modern Burgundy style bottle that was used for sake, showing that there was and is some alternative use of this style beyond certain types of wine.  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish to view the unusual cork stoppered finish on this example, which would be considered a bead finish.  Most Burgundy style bottles have a champagne finish, though in more recent times (mid-20th century on) external screw threads are common.  However, the latter type finish is not widely used with the exception of "cheap" wine, simply because it is associated with cheap wine and few wine producers - not unexpectedly - wish their product to be thought of that way.

Dating summary/notes:  The Burgundy/champagne style has been made for an very long period of time - probably as early as the mid-19th century to the present day.  This shape of bottle can be mouth-blown in a turn or two-piece mold or machine-made.  Thus, the general dating of this style of bottle must be done using manufacturing based diagnostic features; see the Bottle Dating pages for more dating information.  Click on the following link to view a webpage that describes the three major wine bottle shapes (the Burgundy and the shapes above and below): http://www.cellarnotes.net/bottleshapes.html

One potentially confounding factor when trying to date wine (and champagne) bottles is that many, or possibly even a majority, of wine bottles were imported from Europe, up until at least National Prohibition.  Since the technology of European bottle makers lagged behind North American manufacturers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890 to 1920), bottles produced during this period in Europe often exhibit manufacturing based diagnostic features which would date them several decades older if they had been produced in the U.S. or Canada (Davis 1949).  When attempting to date known or suspected imported items please keep this in mind.

 

Late 19th century hock wines; click to enlarge."Hock" or "Rhine" shape

This is the third and last of the three dominant styles of wine bottles which bridge the time from at least the mid 19th century to the present day.  This particular shape was - and still is - referred to as a "hock" or Rhine wine.  Glassmakers during the early 20th century called them by either name (IGCo. 1906 & 1920, Alther 1909, Obear-Nester 1922).   Click on the following link to view the illustration and listing for hock wine bottles in the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog - IGCo. 1906 catalog - page 138 (right side of the left page).  This catalog indicates that these bottles are of German or French origin, though sold through this American glass company catalog.  During the 19th century, hock wine bottles typically contained both red and white Rhine and Mosel wines.  The term "hock" is reported to be an English pronunciation of the abbreviation for Hockheim, which is a vineyard village south of Mannheim, Germany from which the first Main-Rhine wines were exported to England (Van den Bossche 2001). 

The distinctive shape of these bottles is typified by being tall and slender with no sharp break where the body merges into the shoulder (though the shoulder starts where the parallel body sides just begin to converge) and no discernable break where the shoulder becomes the neck.  The diameter of these bottles simply gradually and gracefully diminishes from a point at or just beyond 1/3 of the height from the heel to almost the finish base.  This general shape dates back to at least the 1820s or 1830s in Europe, though these early to mid 19th century examples are just slightly "squattier" in shape (relatively speaking) than those pictured here.  They were also typically free-blown or dip molded, often exhibiting pontil scars reflecting the technology of that period, and are sometimes blob sealed (Boow 1991; Van den Bossche 2001). 

Early 20th century small hock wines; click to enlarge.From the 1870s on (possibly earlier), hock wines were primarily made in the longer graceful shape shown here, either in two-piece post or cup-bottom molds, or most commonly in turn-molds (Van den Bossche 2001, empirical observations).   Hock wine bottles from the 19th and early 20th centuries are most often seen in shades of olive green or amber, but were produced commonly in a wide array of other colors from colorless to aqua to red amber (a common color; see bottle to the right pictured above) to various shades of blue or bluish green (bottle to left below).  Machine-made examples typically date from the mid to late 1910s and after (see last note at the bottom of this page for a dating caution).  Today this precise shape is synonymous with white wines made throughout the world from an assortment of grapes including Riesling (usually green bottles) and Gewurztraminer (usually amber bottles) (Van Den Bossche 2001). 

The tall hock wine bottles pictured above are of the typical shape, size, proportions (approximately 3/4 liter/25-26 oz. capacity and 12-13" tall) that have been used from at least the 1870s or 1880s to the present day.  Both of these bottles were produced in a turn-mold, as they have no body mold seams in evidence and distinctive horizontal rings from the turn mold process.  Both also have applied champagne finishes and moderate push-up bases with small mamelons.  Like most (we believe) hock wine bottles these bottles were very likely imported from Europe and date from the late 19th or early 20th centuries.  Because of this, they have true applied finishes at a later date than similar American made products (see notes below).  Click on the following links to see more images of these bottles: base view; close-up of the upper half of the olive green example.

Early 20th century Virginia Dare wine bottle; click to enlarge.The bottles pictured to the right above are downscaled examples of the typical hock wine shape which date from the same era as the bottles above, i.e., 1890-1920.  Both have typical champagne finishes, though the blue green one (left) is applied (and likely foreign made) and the smaller amber one has a tooled finish (and possibly American made).  The smaller example was also made in a two-piece cup-bottom mold (not turn-mold) which may be an unusual configuration for a foreign made hock wine.  Click on the following links for more pictures of these bottles: base views of both bottles; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish of the blue green bottle.

During the first half of the 20th century, some hock wine type bottles were produced in primarily colorless glass (sometimes with a slight pink or straw colored cast) that were elaborately embossed with the brand name VIRGINIA DARE WINES ( Garrett & Co., New York) with additional embossing of an eagle on a shield.  These very common bottles held different wines produced by this company and are usually machine-made, though some early ones are mouth-blown, dating from just before Prohibition to the mid-20th century.  The picture to the left is of an example that is 13" tall and has a brandy type finish and likely dates from the late 1910s or 1920s (excuse the poor quality of the picture which is off eBay®).  Shorter versions were also made.  Later examples had an unusual brandy finish with a crown cap bead lip or upper part (1920s and 1930s) and external screw threads (40s and 50s) (date ranges estimated based on empirical observations).  Please note that the vast majority of hock wine bottles have neither body embossing nor blob seals.

Prohibition era "wine tonic"; click to enlarge.An interesting variation of the bottle above is another product from the same company that was most likely produced during National Prohibition (1920 to 1933).  This bottle is also a shape variation of the hock wine but used for a medicinal product - see picture to the right (from eBay®).  The "Old Monticello Tonic" was likely a product intended to skirt the alcohol-as-beverage related regulations of Volstead Act by affirming its medicinal qualities.  The label notes that the product is "A Truly Stimulative and Blood- Building Medical Preparation. Agrees with the Constitution, Containing the Nutritive Properties of Proteins and Phosphates So Combined in a Rare Old Wine of Known Tonic Value As To Make A Most Effective Remedy For Indigestion. Anemia and Neurasthenia. Dose 1 to 1 1/2 Ounces - Before or after Meals Alcohol - 18% Manufactured under Authority of Internal Revenue Department Permit No. N.Y.H. 13369. Garrett & Company, Inc. Bush Terminal No 10 Brooklyn, N.Y."   This bottle is embossed on the reverse with "Garrett & Co. Inc. Monticello New York, St. Louis, Established 1835 Refilling Prohibited Reg. U.S. Pat. Off."   Click on the following links to see more views of this bottle:  side with embossing which also shows the crown cap seal; close-up of the label noting a high alcohol content for wine which was most likely fortified.

Bottles of this shape were also used on for bay rum (men's aftershave).  Typically the bay rum bottles are more slender in the body than the hock wines, though this is most apparent only when compared side to side and may not be a universal differentiation trait.  Click on bay rum bottle to view an 11.5" hock style bottle which is labeled as having contained bay rum.  The label notes that it was "French’s Bay Rum Imported by Geo. C. Goodwin & Co. 38 Hanover St. Boston."  This bottle was made in a two piece mold, has a crudely applied champagne finish, and dates from about 1870 to 1880 (photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions).

Dating summary/notes:  Like the two other bottles listed just above, the hock wine style has been made for a very long period of time - from at least as early as the 1830s - and continuously up to the present day.  Occasional examples can be found with a different type finish (external screw threads, a brandy finish with a crown cap bead lip or upper part), though the vast majority of the bottles made up to the present have a cork accepting champagne finish and are otherwise identical in shape (IGCo. 1920).  This shape of bottle can be free-blown or dip molded item (pre-1870), or turn or two-piece molded (1880 to 1920s), or machine-made (late 1910s to date).  Thus, the general dating of this style of bottle must be done using manufacturing based diagnostic features; see the Bottle Dating pages for more dating information.  Click on the following link to view a webpage that describes the three major wine bottle shapes (the hock wine and the previous two shapes): http://www.cellarnotes.net/bottleshapes.html

One potentially confounding factor when trying to date wine (and champagne) bottles is that many, or possibly even a majority, of wine bottles were imported from Europe, at least up until National Prohibition.  Since the technology of European bottle makers lagged behind North American manufacturers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890 to 1920), bottles produced during this period in Europe often exhibit manufacturing based diagnostic features which would date them several decades older if they had been produced in the U.S. or Canada (Davis 1949).  When attempting to date known or suspected imported items please keep this in mind.

 

Other wine shapes

The three bottle style shapes noted above account for a large majority of the wine bottles produced over the past century or more.  However, even with this dominance there were variations on the above themes, a couple of which are covered here.

Jules Pernod pastis bottle; click to enlarge.Absinthe/Pastis: Absinthe and the related Pastis were types of distilled beverages that came in bottle types that were also likely used for wine.  Both beverages were (and are) composed of alcohol (40-50%) and a mixture of herbs and spices (commonly including anise), which were and are closely guarded secrets.  Absinthe contained wormwood which had reputed hallucinogenic effects which caused it to be outlawed most places during the early 20th century (1915 in France where it originated), though it is made again today including in France (Reed 1966).  Pastis was a similar beverage that persisted as it did not contain wormwood.  It continues to be a traditional drink in portions of southern France (i.e., Provence) where it is mixed with cold water.  Click on the following link to read more about Pastis: http://itotd.com/index.alt?ArticleID=248  (this site also contains a link to another website about absinthe).

Apparently these products were quite popular in the United States as this shape of bottle is commonly encountered on historic sites.  It is likely, however, that this style was also used for various other wine and spirits products.  The bottle pictured to the left has a blob seal on shoulder with the name JULES PERNOD (and a cross) embossed within it.  Jules Pernod was a large producer of pastis during the late 19th and 20th centuries and is still in business under the name Pernod-Ricard (source: the website linked above).  This particular bottle was produced in a turn-mold and has an applied single part finish that is similar to the champagne finish except that it is rounded instead of flat on the outside surface.  This style of bottle was also free-blown and possibly dip molded, so one needs to look closely to determine the method of manufacture (Reed 1966).  Click on the following links to view more pictures of this bottle: base view showing the high push-up; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish showing the embossed blob seal.  Follow the next link to a website on the legend and lore of absinthehttp://www.oxygenee.com

Early to mid-20th century chianti wine bottles; click to enlarge."Chianti" style:  A very distinctive wine bottle style are the uniquely shaped bottles used almost exclusively for the Italian "Chianti" wine.  This style still sees some limited use today though most Chianti is bottled in the Bordeaux style bottles now.  The image to the right shows a pair of these bottles with the very distinctive cylindrical bulbous body which lacks even a cursory flattened base making it impossible for them to stand up on their own.  Instead, these bottles were contained inside a straw basket (known as a "fiasco" in Italian) which was woven in a fashion that included a wicker base allowing the bottle to stand up (Wikipedia 2011).  (Images from eBay®.)

The pictured Chianti bottles (lying on their sides) are 10.5"(left) to 11.0" tall and are both machine-made likely dating from the 1920s to 1930s era given the relatively crude manufacturing (e.g., wavy, uneven bubbly glass; thick mold seams).  The bases show the typical "look" of machine-made examples of this style with a  large (several inches in diameter) incised circle up the body a ways (toward the finishes) from the apex of the base; click Chianti bases to see such as it is easier to see what is meant here than describe it.  The manufacturing cause of these circles are unknown to the author although they were most likely caused by the interface of the body mold halves and the base plate of the machines "blow" mold.  Mouth-blown examples of these bottle lack this unusual seam and have either an applied or tooled finish (empirical observations).  The finishes of the illustrated bottles (click Chianti finishes to see close-ups) show typical diagnostic features of a machine bottle including the horizontal ring-mold seam just below the base of the finish and a vertical side mold seam extending to the rim of the finish.  (9/2013 note: The wire wrapped around the neck of the green bottle was for hooking several of these bottles together either for decorative or functional purposes, possibly at a later time.  A user of this site forwarded an image of three of the bottles tethered together by these same type wires to form the base of a lamp purchased in the 1950s!)

The history of this wine type, including an image of a traditional shaped bottle in the straw basket is available at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chianti  Even though these bottles are believed to all be of foreign manufacture, they are covered on this site as they are very commonly encountered in the U.S. and the author of this site receives a disproportionate number of questions about them (they are commonly seen at flea markets and yard/garage/patio sales - with and without the wicker).

Dating summary/notes:  Mouth-blown examples of both type bottles date from the mid 19th century (possibly late 19th century for the Chianti bottles) into at least the 1920s (and possibly 1930s).  Machine-made examples date from the mid to late 1910s to the present day.  The general dating of this style of bottle must be done using manufacturing based diagnostic features; see the Bottle Dating pages for more information and begin the process of determining a date for a specific bottle of this type.  Click on the following link to see the absinthe bottle offered by the Illinois Glass Company in 1906 which were likely imported by them: IGCo. 1906 catalog - page 132-133 (middle of the right hand page).  The Chianti bottles have not been found in any of the bottle makers catalog in the authors possession; it is believed that all bottles of this style are foreign made and imported into the U. S.

As noted for the bottles above, one potentially confounding factor when trying to date most wine (and champagne) bottles is that many, or possibly even a majority, of wine bottles were imported from Europe, at least up until National Prohibition.  Since the technology of European bottle makers lagged behind North American manufacturers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890 to 1920), bottles produced during this period in Europe often exhibit manufacturing based diagnostic features which would date them several decades older if they had been produced in the U.S. or Canada (Davis 1949).  When attempting to date known or suspected imported items please keep this in mind.


Circa 1915 to 1925 wine bottle shaped like a spirits bottle; click to enlarge.Spirits shapes used for wine:  Occasionally, shapes closely identified with containing spirits were used for wine (and likely vice versa).  One example is pictured to the left which is the shape of the "Tall, Square Long-necked Spirits bottle" covered in that section of the Liquor/Spirits bottle page.  This bottle is machine-made and body embossed with URBANA WINE CO. INC. and a city in New York which can not be read.  (Apologies for the poor images which were off of eBay®.)  TheLabeled liquor bottle from 1850; click to enlarge. base (base view) is embossed with the makers mark of an "H" in a triangle indicating manufacture by J. T. & A. Hamilton (Pittsburgh, PA.) who were in business from 1884 to 1943 (Toulouse 1971).  However, this bottle most likely dates from around 1915 to 1919 (Prohibition) though could also have been a "medicinal" wine product produced during Prohibition, i.e., the 1920s.

Another type spirits bottle used occasionally for wine were the "Patent" style cylinders which are also covered on the Liquor/Spirits bottle page.  The pictured bottle (to the right) is a three-piece mold, "Patent" style (though not embossed as such) spirits bottle with an applied "mineral" finish and a sand pontil scar on the base (click base view to see such).  The original label reads "PURE MOUNTAIN MALMSEY A PLEASANT SWEET WINE BOTTLED BY G. W. HOLDEN 1850."  The labeled noted date of bottling fits well with the diagnostic characteristics of this bottle and is almost certainly the year (possibly 1849) when the bottle was manufactured.  Malmsey was an alternative name for the varietal grape known also as Malvasia.  (Information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvasia)  This also indicates that the style of bottle was occasionally used for wine.

 

One fascinating source of information on the types of wines (and spirits) available in the West during the early 20th century is found at a Harvard University website which contains an entire 1912 H. Jevne Company (Los Angeles, CA.) Grocers catalog.  A link to this catalog follows: http://pds.harvard.edu:8080/pdx/servlet/pds?id=2845731&n=89&s=4.   On pages 6 and 7 one will find the index to the entire catalog.  Pages 87 through 100 contain the listings for scores of wines and spirits types and brands that they offered (the listed link should take one to page 87 of that catalog).
 

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Champagne bottle styles

Sparkling wine or champagne was almost exclusively bottled in one specific type bottle with few changes in the basic shape over the past two centuries.  Even though the term "champagne" is specific to sparkling wines produced by that region of France, the term is used here generically for this shape of bottle since it is so commonly used by archaeologists and collectors in referring to this shape.  Since there is only one type bottle used commonly for champagne, lets move to that discussion...

Champagne bottle from about 1900; click to enlarge.Champagne bottles

Champagne style bottles are one of the more common alcoholic beverage bottles found on mid 19th to early 20th century historic sites.  Apparently this style, though primarily used for champagne, was also used for other products (particular wine - see image below) since these bottles are found more commonly than one would expect for an upscale product like champagne.  Possibly sparkling wine was a more common and inexpensive beverage in the past?  For example, champagne bottles were a very commonly excavated item at Western Army forts where the occupants were by no means well off, though it is possible that the better paid officers were the primary consumers of the product (Wilson 1981).  Champagne bottles were also apparently commonly used for beer bottling as evidenced by the late 19th century trade card pictured below which is obviously a typical olive green "champagne" bottle used for "Clausen's Champagne Lager Beer."  That use may help explain the commonness of these bottles at Western forts as well as other areas?

Champagne bottle used for lager beer; click to enlarge.Champagne bottles are morphologically very similar to the Burgundy wine style discussed above except that champagne bottles are typically proportionally wider in the body and made with distinctly heavier glass to withstand the internal pressures of carbonation.  Both types do share the following similarities: moderate height body with almost vertically parallel sides and a long sloping shoulder which merges seamlessly into the neck which is usually topped by a champagne style single part banded finish.  The height of the shoulder and neck in combination is usually equal to or a bit more than the height of the body with both styles.  Champagne bases usually have deep push-up's with the presence of a mamelon common though not ubiquitous, though mid to late 20th century examples often have minimal push-ups and small to non-existent mamelons (McDougall 1990).  Since champagne bottles are more commonly encountered on historic sites than the Burgundy style bottles it is likely that these two slightly different types were commonly used for either product, i.e., champagne bottles used for Burgundy type wines.  It appears that in more recent years (possibly after National Prohibition) the Burgundy style bottle has become more distinctly separated from the champagne bottle, though more investigation is necessary (empirical observations).

Champagne style bottle known to date from 1811.The champagne/burgundy style bottle shape dates back to at least the very early 19th century in Europe with the earliest ones in the U. S. found examples likely imported from England or France.  The quite typical champagne style bottle pictured to the left is known to date from 1811 as it was recovered from the British Royal Naval ship HMS St. George which sank off the North Sea coast of Denmark on Christmas Eve 1811.  (Photo courtesy of K. Charles Cooper, Maritime Archaeology Program, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg.)  Although all the manufacturing details are not known it appears to have been either dip-molded or fully free-blown, certainly a pontil scar of some type, a high push-up within the base, made of very heavy glass an applied narrow string type finish variations of which were one of the most common styles used on spirits and wine bottles made from the mid-17th century into the first third of the 19th century (Jones 1986; Van den Bossche 2001; Cooper 2012).  The bottle is likely of French origin, but could possibly be English (Cooper 2012).

The earliest mention of champagne bottles being made by an American manufacturer was is 1829 in an advertisement from the New England Glass Bottle Company (McKearin & Wilson 1978). The earliest champagne style bottles were produced free-blown or with a dip mold prior to the mid-1870s, often exhibiting pontil scars of various types on the base (Switzer 1980; McDougall 1990; Van den Bossche 2001).  From the 1870s on, bottles were typically mold blown, either in a two-piece mold or even more commonly, in a turn-mold.  Machine-made examples date from the mid to late 1910s and later.

The large size (approx. one quart) champagne bottle pictured to the above left was produced in a turn-mold and appears to have a tooled champagne finish.  (It is often difficult to tell with a turn-mold bottle if the finish was tooled or applied.)  This particular bottle dates from around 1895 to 1910 based on the context of where it was found in Eastern Nevada.  The bottle body has no evidence of side mold seams - consistent with it being a turn-mold - but also exhibits no sign of the horizontal concentric rings which are common on turn-mold produced items.  This could be a function of a relatively fresh coating ("paste") on the inside of the mold prior to blowing or possibly post-molding fire polishing, which is unlikely for cheap utilitarian ware such as this (Toulouse 1969b).  This bottle could be mistaken for free-blown, except that method of manufacture is inconsistent with the high level of symmetry to the body (see Bottle Body Characteristics & Mold Seams page) and the bottles known noted date range.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle: base view showing the relatively deep kick-up and mamelon; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish with some of the foil neck seal still in evidence.

Champagne bottle used for wine; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the right is the smaller (approx. pint) version of the classic champagne shape with a label for a French Pommard regional wine, i.e., pinot noir, which has been traditionally bottled in the Burgundy shape.   This bottle was produced in a turn-mold, has very heavy glass, a tooled champagne finish, and likely dates from the early 1900s (1900 to 1915).  The bottle was almost certainly made in Europe also.  For more images of this bottle click on the following links: base view showing kick-up; close-up of the finish and upper neck.

Dating summary/notes:  The champagne style has been made for an exceptionally long period of time - at least as early as about 1800 up to the present day.  Occasional examples can be found with a different type finish though the vast majority of the bottles made up to the present have a cork accepting champagne finish and are otherwise identical in shape.  A notable exceptions is that the earliest champagne bottles (1850s and before) will have have a sheared (aka straight) finish or string finish (Jones 1986; McDougall 1990).  More recent (late 20th century) champagne bottle finishes will accept a cork closure (often plastic with cheap champagne) though also have a flaring collar (flaring out from top to bottom) below a crown cap accepting bead lip or upper part. 

The champagne style of bottle can be either free-blown or dip molded item (pre-1870), turn-molded, two-piece molded (both most common from about the mid-1870s through the 1910s and probably to a small degree even into the 1920s with imported bottles) or machine-made (mid 1910s to date).  It has also been observed that earlier (generally pre-1860) pontil scarred champagne bottles will almost exclusively have a sand pontil scar if there is a distinct mamelon present, though may have a blowpipe or sand pontil scar if there is no mamelon in evidence.  Champagne bottles with an  iron pontil scars are not known to the author but are possible (McDougall 1990; empirical observations).  Due to the wide span of production of this style dating must be done using manufacturing based diagnostic features; see the Bottle Dating pages for more dating information.

As noted for the wine bottles above, one potentially confounding factor when trying to date champagne bottles is that many, or possibly even a majority, of champagne bottles were imported from Europe, at least up until National Prohibition.  Since the technology of European bottle makers lagged behind North American manufacturers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (1890 to 1920), bottles produced during this period in Europe often exhibit manufacturing based diagnostic features which would date them several decades older if they had been produced in the U.S. or Canada (Davis 1949).  When attempting to date known or suspected imported items please keep this in mind.  Also see the discussion of the "champagne" finish at this link:  champagne style finish.  It includes a short discussion on some subtle differences between two variations of the champagne finish that have dating utility.

 

Other champagne shapes:  This section is left open for suggestions about alternative champagne bottle shapes since the author of this website has not seen very much champagne offered in bottles that deviate much from the general shape discussed above.  Finishes can vary somewhat but the essential shape as described above is ubiquitous.

 

 

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


1/1/2014

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This website created and managed by:
Bill Lindsey
Bureau of Land Management (retired) -
Klamath Falls, Oregon
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