Dating old bottles uk

Bottledigging UK

If you are interested in identifying what a bottle was likely used for - i. This very large complex of pages includes bottle type specific sub-pages with extensive style based dating information, including complete scans of 5 different early 20th century to bottle makers catalogs spanning the mouth-blown to machine-made bottle manufacturing era! Be aware that none of the pages are all inclusive since related information exists on one or many other website pages.

For example, there is information pertinent to dating a bottle on virtually every website page.

Bottle Collecting in the UK

The title of any given page gives the predominant theme of that page and would be the first place to start when pursuing information on that particular subject. However, the process of bottle identification and dating is quite complex with many exceptions; thus, the need for many web pages covering a lot of descriptive information.

A listing or "map" of all the main subject pages and connected sub-pages found within this website is found at the following link Website Map. Use that page to get a feel for the structure of this website and to access any of the other web pages. It is suggested that if you only bookmark one page of this website for future reference, that it be the Website Map.

That page also includes a summary of recent changes and additions to this website. When possible, the information on this website is given general reliability rating estimates e. Return to the top of this page. Baffle Marks and Pontil Scars: A Reader on Historic Bottle Identification. This huge pages , recently released work is one of the best "bottle books" there is for helping with the complicated subject of bottle identification.

It also includes "Bottle Dating Worksheets" pages 51 to 55 by Rebecca Allen and this author to assist in the systematic dating of an historic bottle based on the information in that dating key as well as other information on the website. In part, this book fulfills this authors long time desire to have a hard copy "field guide" version of this website for use by archaeologists and others by having at least the dating portions available in printed form to take to the field.

Beyond that the book includes more information about historic bottle identification typology , bottle production, and more than can be summarized here. The book is available at www. It is also available as a downloadable PDF file.

Welcome to the British Antique Bottle Forum website….

All proceeds from sale of this book go directly to benefit the work of the Society for Historical Archaeology! This website is designed to provide information on the dating of typical utilitarian bottles and jars made in the United States from the late 18th through midth centuries. It does not attempt to address the dating of "specialty" or imported bottles made during that time, though much of the information found on this website is pertinent to these items to varying degrees.

What is a utilitarian bottle or jar? What are specialty bottles? Both are hard questions to answer and the answer is somewhat arbitrary in the end. For this website the distinction between the two categories is related to the varying time frames that different glass making techniques were used for for the two classes of bottles. Click on utilitarian bottles or "specialty" bottles to view the portion of the Glossary Page that covers these subjects.

We have tried to define the distinction between these two classes of bottles from the perspective of the intent of and information found on this website. Time has taken its toll on records, of course, but much of what happened in the past was simply not documented well or at all as with most endeavors of common people in the past. As noted in Munsey's book, " When it comes to methods of dating bottles As Munsey also notes - " Most of what is used today to date bottles Still all true today.

This body of information will be utilized and extrapolated to make dating and typing estimates for the majority of bottles for which there is either no specific company or glass maker information available or such is not possible to determine because the bottles are unmarked i. To the authors knowledge, the first and only serious attempt at using a key to date American bottles was done in a Historical Archaeology journal article entitled A Dating Key For Post-Eighteenth Century Bottles by T. Stell Newman Newman Newman's key made a noble attempt at simplifying bottle dating, but is weakened by the fact that the subject is much too complex to be conducive to such a simple approach by itself.

Also, the format and space constraints of a journal article do not allow for the elaboration and illustrations necessary to make a key function fully Jones b. Newman wryly recognized all this with his reworking of an old saying: A pdf copy of Newman's article is available now courtesy of the SHA by clicking on this link: This website is designed to have the informational depth, pictures, and illustrations necessary to solve the problems of the Newman key though his warning still holds though hopefully less so.

This entire website is essentially a key to the dating and typing of bottles. Before jumping into the key, it must again be emphasized that no single key can get a user to an absolutely precise date for any bottle. The best the following key can do is get a user to a reliably close dating range estimate.

Other information on this website usually must be reviewed to fine tune the information about a specific bottle. In addition, other references beyond the scope of this website usually must be consulted to get as complete of a dating and typing story as is possible for any given bottle. Keep this all in mind as you progress through the key which follows and on into the other website pages Starting with Question 1 , follow through the questions as suggested. There is frequent hyper-linking between the diagnostic characteristics and terminology listed on this page and other website pages.

This is done to allow the user to get more information or clarification as they proceed through the key. Pursue these links freely since they will take a user to more details on bottle dating and identification and hopefully add to the users knowledge and understanding about the bottle being "keying out". When a dating sequence dead ends, it will be noted and other website pages suggested and hyperlinked for the user to consult.

The three questions found on this page below answer several basic questions about a given bottle. Answers to these questions will then direct a user to one of the two additional dating pages which are extensions of this key for the two major classes of bottles - mouth-blown bottles and machine-made bottles. Read the questions - and accompanying explanations and exceptions - very carefully as the correct answer is critical to moving properly through the "key. This page guides a user through the key for seven different type and age bottles with several being side-by-side comparisons of very similar bottles of different eras.

This page also shows how other portions of this website can provide information pertinent to the bottle in question. See the About This Site page for more information about the author and contributors. For brevity, most of the specific references are not noted in the key's narratives. They are noted on the other website pages which expand on the information summarized in the key. If you know your bottle is machine-made click Machine-Made Bottles to move directly to that page.

If you know your bottle is mouth-blown aka hand-made click Mouth-blown Bottles to move directly to that page. If unsure about what embossing or vertical side mold seams picture below are, click on Bottle Morphology to see this sub-page for a illustration and explanation of these and many other key bottle related physical features. Return back to this page by closing the Bottle Morphology page. Vertical side mold seam on the neck of a beer bottle ending well below the finish, indicating that it was at least partially handmade - ca.

YES - The bottle has embossing or visible vertical side mold seams somewhere on the body between the heel and the base of the finish or lip. A bottle may have mold seams but no embossing, but all embossed bottles were molded and have mold seams even if they are not readily apparent. This bottle is either free-blown , "dip" molded , or was produced in a "turn-mold" aka "paste-mold" where the side mold seam is erased during manufacturing. A "NO" answer is much less likely than "YES" for this question as a very large majority of bottles made during the 19th century and virtually all made during the first half of the 20th century were mold blown resulting in mold seams; see the note below.

Antique Glass Bottles - BASIC DATE CODES EXPLAINED

A low probability though possible "NO" alternative is that the user has an unembossed, molded bottle with no visible vertical side mold seams. This can be due to one or a combination of factors including post-molding hot glass "flow" masking the mold seams, fire polishing of the bottle body, or atypically good mold fitting precision.

If necessary, look very closely at the bottle shoulder - the best location to see vertical side seams on mouth-blown and most machine-made bottles - in good light with a hand lens to see if there is at least some faint evidence of where the mold edges came together. Often the vertical side mold seams are evidenced by very faint changes in glass density in lines where one would expect mold seams to be. One of the longest running "myths" in the world of bottle dating is that the side mold seam can be read like a thermometer to determine the age of a bottle.

The concept is that the higher the side mold seam on the bottle the later it was made - at least in the era from the early to mid 19th century until the first few decades of the 20th century. Mold Seams of Bottles" chart Figure 9. Kendrick's explains in the text pages that It is true that the mold seams can be used like a thermometer to determine the approximate age of a bottle. The closer to the top of the bottle the seams extend, the more recent was the production of the bottle. The chart accompanying this statement notes that bottles made before have a side mold seam ending on the shoulder or low on the neck, between and the seam ends just below the finish, between and the seam ends within the finish just below the finish rim top lip surface , and those made after have mold seams ending right at the top surface of the finish, i.

Although there are examples of bottles having mold seams that fit these date ranges properly, the issue of dating bottles is vastly more complicated than the simple reading of side mold seams. If it were that simple much of this website would be unnecessary! For example, the process that produces a tooled finish frequently erases traces of the side mold seam an inch or more below the base of the finish whereas the typical applied finish has the seam ending higher - right at the base of the finish Lockhart et. The reason this is noted here is that the concept keeps popping up in the literature of bottle dating and identification ranging from Sellari's books Sellari For a broader discussion of this subject see Lockhart, et al.

If unsure about what the lip , rim , or finish of a bottle is, check the Bottle Morphology sub-page. If you need more information on this diagnostic feature - including various images - click the following link: This is a "machine-made" bottle or jar and will also usually have a highly diagnostic horizontal mold seam just below the finish that circles the neck. The picture to the left shows both of these mold seams click to enlarge. If your bottle fits this description, click Machine-made Bottles to move to the related webpage which allows the user to pursue more information on bottles produced almost totally in the 20th century by some type of automatic or semi-automatic bottle machine.

The vast majority of U. If your bottle has a ground rim or lip, more information can be found at the following link: The following is a discussion of the most common exceptions to the side mold seam "rule" describing a few types of machine-made bottles on which the vertical side mold seams do not quite reach the top edge of the finish making them possible appear to be mouth-blown.

Fire Polishing - Occasionally encountered machine-made bottles may have fire polished finish rims - a process which eradicated evidence of the neck-ring mold seam on the rim of the bottle. These bottles will not have the side mold seam proceeding from the upper finish side over and onto the rim itself. Ostensibly this was done to remove the mold seam "bump" that was sometimes left by earlier machines - an action which may have helped facilitate better sealing with crown caps, screw-thread caps, or similar closures which sealed on the rim of the finish.

These bottles will, however, have the vertical side mold seam progressing all the way to the very top of the finish side, just not onto the rim. They will also have other machine-made characteristics as described on the Machine-made Bottles page. In the experience of the website author, these machine-made bottles are rarely encountered and likely a function of early machine-made wares to s that had less precise mold fitting and resulted in the need for fire polishing to enable proper closure.

Milk Bottles - Many milk bottles made with press-and-blow machines from the very early s into at least the s resulted in vertical side mold seams that gradually fade out on the neck distinctly below the base of the finish. Click here for a picture of a typical s to s milk bottle. This exception to the side mold seam "rule" was caused by the specific workings of these machines which masked the upper portion of the side mold seam.


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Click on the image to the right to view both mold seam features pointed out on a press-and-blow machine manufactured milk bottle made by the Pacific Coast Glass Company San Francisco, CA. If your bottle is a milk bottle that fits this description, click Machine-made Bottles to move to the Machine-made bottles dating page for more possible dating refinement and to pursue more information.

The image to the left is a close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish of a small Sheaffers ink bottle click to enlarge for more detail. The image shows the vertical side mold seam ending on the outside edge of the 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. These features are pointed out - and much more readable - on the larger hyperlinked image; click to view.

The image to the right is a close-up of a small, medium green, machine-made ink bottle. As above, click on the image to view a larger and much more readable version with the various features pointed out. This termination of the side mold seam within the finish short of the rim Sheaffers ink or actually short of the finish itself green ink on these bottles makes it appear upon casual glance that these are mouth-blown bottles having either an improved tooled finish Sheaffers or an applied finish green ink. 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 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. 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.