EARLY AMERICAN BOTTLES &
(Civil War era & before)
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DR. TOWNSEND'S - SARSAPARILLA - ALBANY / N. Y. - Here offered is a big and heavy (2 full pounds of glass!) classic early American medicinal bottle from New York which is well know to most collectors. Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla bottles were made in this basic shape and embossing pattern in scores of different molds from the 1830s until at least the 1880s.
The excellent article series on Townsend's in Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine a couple years back (by Rick Ciralli) covers the varying molds of the earlier (and largely pontiled) examples including this one (August 2015 issue, pages 36-37) which is the "very scarce" mold DT-17. Rick's pictured example is a "medium olive green" though this offered one is more of a medium to dark-ish (lighter in the upper 3/4ths and dark in the lower 1/4th) olive amber.
This 9.5" tall example is very crude with varying color intensity and some fine swirls through the body, a very crudely applied and formed one part tapered lip/finish with nice slop-over below the bottom of the lip that is visible in the images. The glass surface is also nicely crude with indentations, texture, bubbles of all sizes in the glass, etc. Click base view to see such showing the large, rough and very distinct glass-tipped, disk or possibly a very crude "sand" pontil scar (aka "sticky ball pontil"). Not sure which to call it though the linked base view shows what is there well. (For a discussion of pontil types see my educational Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website page on such.) The bottle is in about mint condition with no chips, cracks, pings or significant staining inside. It has some minor fine scratching here and there - hard to see. It has no staining I can see on the inside, but does have some spotty light wear (faint staining?) in a few patches here and there on several of the panels. Kind of adds to the look of age to my eye and is not distracting. An ex-Glass Works Auction item from some years ago. Overall this is an excellent, early and appropriately crude example of a Townsend's likely dating from the 1840s. $475
GRANITE / GLASS / CO - STODDARD / N H - This is a nice example of a desirable New England flask made by the famous Granite Glass Co./Works in Stoddard, NH back in the mid to late 1850s. It catalogs in McKearin & Wilson's classic 1978 book ("American Bottles & Flasks and Their Ancestry") as GXV-7 - one of the three similar flasks from Granite Glass (GXV-6 to 8). According to "The Book" the company was formed in 1846 and operated until 1860, though the 3 to 4 years prior to that time they were having financial difficulties. Products from the company are widely sought out as they produced some iconic early New England glass including "Saratoga" style mineral water bottles, colored pontiled medicines, blacking bottles, umbrella inks and others as well as the usual "junk" bottles (i.e., black glass ales and spirits). Good references on the subject beyond the noted "American Bottles & Flasks" are books by Anne Field's "On The Trail of Stoddard Glass" (1975) and "Yankee Glass" by The Yankee Bottle Club (1990).
This particular GXV-7 mold sometime is seen with a pontil scar whereas the other two molds do not come that way. This indicates that this is likely the older of the molds but towards the end of its use, i.e. likely date from the mid-1850s. A view of the indented smooth base is available at the following link: base view. This example is that nice medium to deep golden amber - that beloved Stoddard amber although many of their products range from olive to olive amber in color. Click window view to see such in natural daylight. The glass is whittled and packed with various sized bubbles (this shows some in the previous linked image). As noted it has a smooth non-pontil scarred base, a crudely applied double ring lip/finish, and is a "pint" size (all 3 molds are more or less pints) that stands 6.75" tall.
Condition of this bottle is essentially perfect as it really doesn't have much wear except where it should be on the base. I guess there is some hard to see small spotty wear spots on the lower body but it is negligible. The glass over all shiny and free of any noticeable scratches. The rim of the lip has crudeness with no chips or dings. There is one small spot where it was slightly "under filled" as to the quantity of applied glass leaving a smooth glossy surface which shows no sign of having been fooled with as far as buffing (I looked closely under high magnification). Click finish view to see a close-up image of the finish. A nice example of a for sure Granite Glass/Stoddard product...it sez so right on the sides! $375
HARRISON'S / COLUMBIA / INK - Although these little ink bottles are not particularly rare, they are quite coveted due to the multi-sided conformation, cool name and early manufacture. They also come in an array of colors which are WAY more expensive than this more typical aqua example. I cover these particular bottles in more depth on my Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website at this page: http://www.sha.org/bottle/household.htm However, here is the brief write-up on the company that I have on the linked page:
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).
The offered example is a nice blue aqua in color, has a crudely rolled lip or finish, a blowpipe type pontil scar to the domed base, and dates from the 1840 to 1860 era. The bottle is near mint with no chips, cracks or staining (may have been professionally cleaned?) and only a couple light scratches to a rear panel opposite the embossing which is pretty decent for these bottles which can be somewhat faint at times. It also has some nice waviness to the glass and an overall look of crudity commensurate with the early era of its manufacture. Nice ink! $95
Medium olive with an amber tone early American umbrella ink - These New England umbrella (or fluted or pyramid style) ink bottles are quite popular with collectors and are reasonably acquirable examples of early American utilitarian bottle making from the first half of the 19th century. People speculate about where these early umbrella inks were made as such umbrella inks were standard offerings from New England & New York/New Jersey (Midwestern even?) glass houses of the early to mid-19th century (McKearin & Wilson 1978). Like many of these lovely bottles, it is a beautiful little jewel that looks like it was poured into the mold.
This example was reportedly found in an old house in Greenfield, Mass. which is not very far (30-35 miles) south of Keene, NH. So likely a Keene product? I've seen similar examples from the same mold (see next "Note" paragraph) attributed to Keene as well as Stoddard (only 12 miles or so NE of Keene). Both glass houses produced a wide array of utilitarian bottles - including figured flasks - in olive, olive amber and amber colored glass. Since these type bottles were never makers marked it can't be determined precisely where it originated. (If someone out there has a better feel for these type ink bottles than I (3000 miles away would) please let me know what your thoughts on this subject!)
(Note: I have had at least 3 or 4 other examples of umbrellas from this same mold. How do I know that? Even though the bottles are always pretty crude like this one, there are three variably reliable attributes that together make this mold fairly easy to identify. The first is that the two-piece mold seam on the base is "keyed" - i.e., with the mold seam dissecting the base with a squared off flange on one side fitting into the opposite indentation on the others mold side. If unfamiliar with the concept, I discuss it on my educational website at the following link: https://sha.org/bottle/bases.htm#Key%20&%20hinge%20molds I'm sure that some other similar inks also have that conformation so not definitive. The second attribute is the straight neck like shown in this example. It doesn't usually flare at all near the end nor have a "rolled" in/out lip or (in my limited experience) any other finishing method. Instead, it is apparent that once the pontil rod was affixed the blowpipe was "wetted" or "cracked" off (not sheared which I think was more unusual than people think?) leaving a broken lip surface with was variably fire polished to smooth it out and make it safer, if nothing else. However, that attribution could also be found on other glass works products I suppose. The clincher is that on the base at the edge perpendicular to the middle of the "key" mold seam is a variably faint embossed line "pointing" at the key flange mark. The embossed line is almost 1 cm long and is visible at the top edge of the base image at the following link, which also shows the blowpipe type pontil mark. Click BASE VIEW to see such. All three of those attributes have come together in the handful of examples I've owned of this mold. So whichever glass works it was, it was likely that they were all made there...unless the mold was passed around. Won't get into that speculation but certainly such happened in the old days between glass houses close to each other.)
Back to this bottle... The color of these great ink bottles are often pretty hard to describe as well as photograph . I've taken several images of this bottle and it is more green than the images show except for the following one which has an florescent light behind it. Click backlit view to see this image which also shows the seed bubbles scattered about. My wife calls it gray olive amber but I'll just call it olive with a strong amber tone. It has has the noted "cracked off" and re-fired straight finish or lip (close-up above), the noted blow-pipe pontil scar on the base, was blown in a two-piece mold as also described above, and dates most likely from around late 1830s to early 1850s. The surface of the glass is glossy, waxy, with some rippled whittle along with some glass thickness waviness. Since I didn't find it in the house (that was the story that came with it though I believe it to be true) and can't affirm personally that it has never been buried or professionally cleaned but there is not evidence of either. In any event, the condition is essentially dead mint with no chips, cracks, or staining...just 190 years of wear on the base. Nice example of these iconic ink bottles. $295
Wickered & handled miniature demijohn "cologne" bottle - The wicker and handles are, of course, just embossed on this cute little bottle. These are early American (pre-Civil War) bottles that were largely produced as containers for cologne, though other "...cosmetic liquids as well as cologne and toilet or "sweet" waters" according to McKearin & Wilson's 1978 book "American Bottles & Flasks." They dated the large and interesting group of Antebellum cologne bottles to "183o-1860s." The open oval label space on the reverse (second image to the left) would have told the story about the contents if the label was still there, but it is long gone.
This example - like most of the earlier ones I've seen - has a "blowpipe" style pontil scar (right image) which was formed by using the end of a (in this case) very small diameter blowpipe doing double duty as a pontil rod. (I discuss pontil types at length on my other educational "Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website" on the following linked page: https://sha.org/bottle/pontil_scars.htm ) I have two of these bottles and a quick comparison indicates they were made in totally different molds though upon casual looking appear identical. They are not - having different looks to the wicker embossing, the faux handles and other subtle features - indicating that these bottles were either made over a long period of time (wearing out molds) or were made by different period glassworks...or both. (I've also seen later examples which are not pontiled, were blown in a cup-base mold and have tooled finishes dating them to the later portions of the 19th century or even early 20th. It was a popular style for cologne.)
This offered example is about 2.75" tall, has an inwardly rolled "straight" finish or lip, made in a true two-piece "hinge" mold and of a pale bluish aqua glass. This example is perfect mint condition with no chips, cracks, or staining; I doubt it was ever buried. It does have a bit a little wear on the base from sitting somewhere for at least a century and a half. $60
ROWAN'S - TONIC - MIXTURE - OR / VEGETABLE - FEBRIFUGE - PHILADA - This bottle is one of the oldest I have for sale and among the earliest embossed patent medicines bottles made in the United States. It is also one of a small handful of over 4 sided medicine bottles that are embossed on every side - six embossed sides in this case. And if that were not enough it is also unusual in that it has "left hand" embossing, i.e., it reads from the base to the shoulder (and best read holding it in ones left hand) whereas the vast majority of vertically embossed bottles read "right handed."
According to the late John Odell's book on pontiled medicines (a great book BTW!) the product first claimed to have been sold in 1830 and continued (apparently) until about 1843 when it was renamed "Rowan's Improved Tonic..." and the bottles (likely) began to be embossed as such (I believe IMPROVED / TONIC on one side?). Not sure of the precise dates of manufacture, but suffice to say 1830s and 1840s...early!
In any event these are early, crude, and light glass bottles that have a lot of appeal for an aqua medicine bottle. It is about 5.5" tall, blown in a true two-piece "hinge" mold, and sports a nice blowpipe style pontil scar; click base view to see such. The lip is a short, tapered banded example that was tooled or rolled over to the outside to form it. The surface of the bottle is very wavy, lumpy and crude which is largely a function it appears of the rough, unpolished surface of the likely iron mold it was made it. The bottle also appears to have been professionally cleaned at some point and there is still some faint surface etching visible on most of the sides. However, it is very hard to see due to the noted crude "as blown" surface and is non-distracting. Outside of the noted glass surface issue, the bottle is otherwise in about perfect condition with no chips, cracks, dings, flashes, or other issues. Great bottle that is one of the earliest of the "medicinal tonic" bottles I've collected. $100
FOR PIKE'S PEAK (walking dude/prospector above flattened oval) - (eagle with banner in beak above squared oval) - This is McKearin & Wilson classification #GXI-30 - the large quart size and one of the more abundant quart Pike's Peak flasks. Celebrating the gold rush to Colorado in 1859, these popular flasks were made throughout the 1860s and possibly into the early 1870s. This a very nice, clean, blue aqua example with the typical applied "champagne" style banded finish common on flasks made at various Pittsburgh, PA. glasshouses - where the majority of Pike's Peak flasks were made.
This example is near mint with the original sheen (never professionally cleaned nor buried) to the glass, a nice deeper blue-aqua color glass with some body crudeness, neck stretch marks & bubbles, and a "key-base mold" smooth base. On close inspection, the bottle does have a small (3-4 mm in diameter), faint, iridescent impact mark at the heel underneath the walking dude/oval and a very small "flea bite" on the inside of the finish which appears to be a bit of "in making" roughness. Otherwise an above average, clean, bright, blue aqua example which is big and boldly embossed. $75
Early "Dutch" Gin Bottle - If you're in the market for a virtually pristine early bottle, this is a fine example. It is quite unlikely this bottle was actually blown in the U.S. (or the American Colonies) though I did acquire it from an old collection in New Orleans about 35 years ago - a collection put together in the 1950s and 1960s. It may have been found there even.
The style is thought to be pretty much Dutch or at least from the Low Countries in Northern Europe, possibly even Germany. They are found all over the world in the places colonized by those type of European countries. [NOTE: A great source of information on such bottles is found in Willy Van den Bossche (a Belgian) book "Antique Glass Bottles - Their History and Evolution (1500-1850)". Although out of print, it is available used online from many book vendors.]
This bottle stands 9.75" tall from the base tips to the top of the "pig snout" style finish which has the period "slop" or globiness that collectors love. It was blown in a dip mold which was a very early type of mold, dating back (I believe) to the Roman era. If unfamiliar with that type of molding, see my other educational website for a overview of such at this link: http://www.sha.org/bottle/glassmaking.htm#Dip molds. The sides are about 3.5" wide at the shoulder tapering to 2.75" at the base. Bottle looks to hold at least a quart and probably more like 40 oz. give or take. The base has a blowpipe style pontil which is somewhat oval in conformation. The glass is crude and wavy with lots of little bubbles scattered throughout; color is olive amber and very clear (not cloudy). There is essentially no staining to the glass just a bit of wear on base corner tips, a tiny bit at the upper shoulder edges where apparently it was laid on its side (?), and just a minor scratch here and there. Click on the images to see larger versions showing its beauty even more. A beautiful example of this style which dates from the 1770s to very early 1800s according to the book noted above. A solid 225+ year old bottle in exceptional condition as it appears to have never been buried if that is possible. $165
No these aren't technically early American but certainly bottles that were used extensively during the earliest decades of the newly formed United States. (These bottles were likely imported and used in the US as that is where I acquired them.)
These two very similar styled English bottles were acquired to illustrate a major evolution in bottle making on my educational Historic Bottle Website. Specifically, it shows two largely identically shaped, approximately one quart English spirits/ale/wine bottles which were made in distinctly different ways.
The earlier example on the left in the image to the right (left base to the immediate right) was produced in a dip mold where the body from the base of the shoulder down was molded in a one-piece "dip" mold. Once formed the shoulder and neck were essentially "free-blown" being formed by the glassblower using skill and some cursory tools to shape it as you see. (Dip molding and how to identify such bottles is discussed on my Historic Bottle Website at the following link: https://sha.org/bottle/body.htm#Dip%20Molds )
The bottle to its right (right base) was produced in the revolutionary "Rickett's" mold which was first introduced and patented in England in 1821 and was quickly accepted (pirated really) and used in the U.S. by the mid-1820s. It was fully formed from the base of the finish down by that multi-part mold. (Rickett's molds are discussed on my Historic Bottle Website at the following link: https://sha.org/bottle/glassmaking.htm#Three-piece%20molds )
Very rare English dip molded spirits/ale bottle with Embossed "P"! - The bottle on the left in the image to the far right is quite unique in that it has an embossed "P" on the body just below the point where the dip mold ended and the "free-blown" portions of the shoulder begins. Click close-up of the embossed P to see such. I always thought such was impossible (How could the inflated bottle be "pulled" out of the mold?!) until I saw an example of this bottle on eBay I think. The only way such could happen is if the embossing was very lightly engraved on the surface of the mold or that the open topped dip mold was actually two part and could opened to exit the bottle. Since there is absolutely no evidence of vertical side mold seams and given the embossing is very flat - indicating the mold engraving was quite shallow - the latter must be true? I've only seen one other example of these "P" dip mold bottles and only one other similar bottle which was embossed low on the body (with BGW) at a recent Glass Works Auction.
The bottle measures 8.75" tall, 3.6" in diameter (which is a bit variable due to crudity and where one measures), medium dark olive amber, sand pontil present on the pushed up base and has an crudely applied two-part finish or lip. The base shows a bluish cast which I believe is a function of the application of the hot pontil rod and/or the use of separate metal rod to actually "push" up the center of the base while the glass was still hot. Click close-up of the base to see such. The sand pontil is hard to see (small light colored specs here and there are visible) but it is there; the bluish cast is quite apparent.