Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes

Late 19th to early 20th century barber bottle; click to enlarge. Late 19th century fire grenade bottle. Late 19th century English codd bottle; click to enlarge. A van Hoboken gin; click to enlarge.   

Miscellaneous & Foreign Bottles
HOME: Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes: Miscellaneous & Foreign Bottles

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This page is currently a work in progress.

This Miscellaneous & Foreign bottles page is one of two typology pages (in addition to the Household bottles [non-food related] page) which largely comprise the "catch-all" sections for American-made bottles that do not neatly fit in any of the other major typology pages.  This particular page also includes a smattering of foreign bottles which were commonly imported into the U. S. and Canada and likely to be found on U. S. and Canadian historic sites.  It will also briefly address the subject of reproductions and modern (mid-20th century or later) "fantasy" bottles about which this author gets many questions.

This section of the typology pages probably doesn't need any further discussion or introduction; it just contains moderately significant categories that are not otherwise covered anywhere else within this website.  The other typology pages (e.g., "Liquor/Spirits bottles", "Food Bottles & Canning Jars", etc.) have larger introductory sections than this page or the "Household bottles (non-food related)" page.  This is because the "miscellaneous" and "household" categories are much wider ranging in diversity, lacking an overall binding "theme" compared to the other major categories.  Instead, this page will have specific bottle type introductions incorporated into the opening paragraphs within each given section listed.  Given this structural difference, the introduction for this page is considered complete; please scroll down to the "Organization & Structure" section below to begin.



Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes:
"Miscellaneous & Foreign Bottles" page
Organization & Structure

This Miscellaneous & Foreign Bottles page is divided into the following categories and sub-categories based largely on the different contents that each group held, and within those groups, by various dominant shapes or other logical categories.  Additional categories and/or sub-categories will almost certainly be added as future updates to this page.

Barber bottles

Fire Grenades

Carboys & Demijohns

Battery jars

Foreign bottles

 -Chinese/Asian bottles
  -European bottles
  -Other foreign bottles


Other miscellaneous bottles
 -Figural bottles (not fitting another category)

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 50 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.



Barber bottles

Late 19th to early 20th century barber bottle; click to enlarge.Barber bottles could have been included along with "hair products" on the "Household Bottles (non-food related)" typology page, though due to their specialty bottle nature, they are covered separately as the dating timelines discussed for utilitarian bottles simply do not work with this class of bottles.  A synopsis of this class of specialty bottle is found in Munsey (1970:171) and quoted in part below:

"During the last fifty years of the nineteenth century, when many men went to barbershops for a shave as well as a haircut, it became the custom to provide special customers with personalized shaving mugs and hair tonic bottles.  In addition, each barber had his own set of two bottles of tonic for other than special customers, and a matching bowl.  Some barber bottles could be more properly called dresser bottles because they were used in the home... 

"The tonics kept in these bottles were bay, witch hazel, "Tiger Rub" (perfumed alcohol, and a variety of liquids with such appealing names as "Lilac," "Rose," and "Spice."  Some of these tonics were commercial products and some were made by the barber himself.  The 1906 Pure Food and Drug laws prohibited such personalized mixtures (*See note below) and restricted the manufacture of some commercial products.  This coupled with the success of King Camp marketing the safety razor in 1903 (which reduced daily trips to the barber, brought about the death of barber bottles in both the shop and the home."   

(*Authors note: As noted at the 1906 Pure Food and Drug laws link, until the 1912 passage of the Sherley Amendment to the 1906 Act, enforcement of the Pure Food and Drugs Act was limited at best.  Even then, enforcement was a process that took years to make a difference.) 

Image of an early 20th century decorative barber bottle.The primary heyday of this class of bottles was from between the 1870s until the late 1910s.  By the 1920s, when these bottles ceased to be produced in quantity, they had moved from a working container into the early realm of collectability due to their beauty (Munsey 1970; Holiner 1986). Barber bottles were certainly produced, sold and used well into the 1910s.  For example, Theo Koch & Sons - a New York barber supply company - in their Barbers Supplies catalog of 1915 still offered a wide array of imported "Stand Bottles" made in "Bohemia" which at that time included all/parts of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria and Hungary.  The bottles were also made in other European countries such as England, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and France.  And many were made in the United States.  Unfortunately, few barber bottles were marked with the place of origin so attribution to any country, much less glass company, is usually not possible.  American companies such as The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company, New England Glass Works, Fostoria Glass Company, Fenton Glass Works, Whitall Tatum & Co. and others made these bottles also (Holiner 1986).

Sprinkler closure in a late 19th century barber bottle; click to enlarge.Late 19th or early 20th century barber bottle base with pontil scar; click to enlarge.The pale green barber bottle pictured to the above left (neck and base views to the immediate left) is, generally speaking, a typically shaped example from the late 19th to early 20th century.  It has a "dot and daisy" pattern which was common on period barber bottles (Holiner 1986:49-52). The base shows a glass tipped pontil scar which is quite commonly encountered on barber bottles, even though a very large majority were made well after the period when pontil scars were phased out in favor of snap tools for virtually all utilitarian bottles.  The bottle also has a tooled "bead" style of finish and was molded using the turn-mold process which eliminated all evidence of the vertical side mold seams.  The image to the far left shows the neck and finish of this bottle with the original sprinkler top in place - a perfect closure for the shaking out of the contents onto ones head or on a comb and one commonly found on barber bottles.

The bottle pictured to the right above is an opalized (white details) and frosted (between the white) "daisy and fern" design dating from the 1890s or early 1900s, and possibly American made (Holiner 1986:78).  It has a smooth base (not pontil scarred) but otherwise exhibits a hand-made, art glass quality manufactured look.  It also has a sprinkler top still in place.

The following barber bottles give some idea as to the variety possible in both shape and colors.  These bottles date from the 1885 to 1920 era and are provided compliments of Glass Works Auctions.  There were likely thousands of different variations of these bottles made during the era noted above.


Dating summary/notes:  As a specialty bottle type, barber bottles will rarely follow the dating rules based on manufacturing related diagnostic features as discussed on this website.  They are really a form of art glass where older hand processes continued until well into the 20th century.  For example, an amber glass, floral Art Nouveau style barber bottle with a pontil scar shown in Holiner (1986:54) is specifically illustrated in the previously noted 1915 Koch & Sons Barbers Supply catalog as available in "eleonor-green,"roman-gold, and sky-blue" (Holiner 1986:119).  The best source of information, including scores of colored images and excerpts from barber supply catalogs, is "Collecting Barber Bottles" by Richard Holiner (1986).  Freeman (1966:370-371) also covers the subject and there is an article (which the author has not seen) entitled "Barber Bottles" in the Western Collector Magazine (January 1966) by Otha Wearin that may be of use.

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Fire Grenades

Fire grenades are an unusual and somewhat limited class of bottles which can vary widely in shape, though were generally shaped and sized like those shown here - at least during the couple decades of the 19th century through the first few decades of the 20th.  Dr. Cecil Munsey's 1970 book "Collecting Bottles" sums up concisely, what a fire grenade was:

"Early in the 1870s, it became popular to have round glass bottles filled with carbon tetrachloride stationed at critical points in homes, businesses, trains, and other appropriate places.  These bottles were designed to be thrown into fires, where the impact would shatter the bottle, spill the carbon tetrachloride*, and extinguish the fire.  It is not known who was the first to invent this ingenious method of extinguishing fires but it is known that the first American patent granted for a fire "extinguisher"** was awarded to Alanson Crane of Fortress Monroe, Virginia in 1863."

(*Other chemical solutions were also used like the carbonic acid noted below.  **Alanson Crane's patent #37,610 was for an "Improvement in Fire-Extinguishers" which was a water pipe and sprinklers system for buildings, not a throwable and/or breakable container.)

The 6.5" tall, turquoise blue fire grenade pictured to the left above and to the right was one of the first commercially produced and most commonly encountered today.  As the images show, it is bulbous bodied with an overall diamond quilted pattern covering the body as well as four flattened circular areas evenly spaced around the body.  The first side (above image) is embossed on the front top to bottom with HARDEN'S HAND / FIRE / EXTINGUISHER / GRENADE.  The next side is embossed with AUG 8 71 / PAT' AUG 14. 83 indicating important patents dated August 8th, 1871 and August 14th, 1883 (more below).  The third side has an embossed star with the word STAR in the middle.  The fourth side is flattened but absent any embossing; likely it originally contained a paper label.

The 1871 patent (#117,891) was issued to Samuel B. Johnson of Philadelphia, PA. for the concept of a breakable ("...constructed of metal, glass, or other material suitable for the purpose intended..."), fire extinguishing "grenade" that could be hurled into a fire to put it out.  Johnson did note that "It is preferable that the vessel be in the form of a grenade or bomb, and constructed of glass, that it can be easily thrown or discharged, and break when it strikes the spot against or towards which it is intended."

The 1883 patent (#282,981) was issued to John J. Harden of Chicago, IL. for a "Hand-grenade for Fire-extinguishers."  Apparently, Harden acquired rights to Johnson's 1871 patent for a throwable glass grenade, but refined his product further with the 1883 patent which was basically for a glass bottle with a specific finish and seal.  Click view of the neck and finish to see a close-up of the grenade's neck, finish and closure which still retains the cement seal - which fills the length of the neck also - and most of the original contents (some evaporation through the seal).  The patent was for - "A hand-grenade for fire-extinguishing purposes, consisting of a receptacle formed of glass or other frangible, material and having an orifice provided with a stopple fitted therein, the stopple being provided with an interior recess opening into the interior of said grenade, containing the requisite acid and alkali, forming a charge of carbonic-acid, or other fire extinguishing gas, said orifice being also provided with an enlargement above said stopple, and ending with an inwardly-inclined flange...".  This translates from that patent-speak into a throwable glass bottle ("grenade" which was not specifically patentable at that juncture in time) with the unique finish shape and cement seal ("stopple") as shown (which was patentable).

Late 19th century fire grenade bottle.All of these Harden's bottles were mouth-blown in a two-piece, (probably) cup-base mold in the experience of the author, i.e., none were machine made.  This indicates a manufacture between 1883 and the 1910s.  They have a crudely cracked-off finish rim with the two-part "finish" (the bulbous ring and the outwardly flared upper portion) having been fully molded by the full length bottle mold and received little if any finishing work/tooling after being removed from the mold and cracked 0ff the blowpipe.  The finish formation is similar to the improved tooled finish except that there was no actual tooling.  If anything was done to "finish" the finish, it was a bit of grinding of rough rim to make it much less sharp (and dangerous) though they are still very rough as shown in the view of the neck and finish.

The turquoise blue fire grenade pictured to the left is a Hardin's fire grenade variation, most likely a bit later in manufacture (early 1900s) though mouth-blown manufactured in the same fashion as the example above.  It is about the same size and dimensions as the example above, but differs in the body design which is numerous vertical ribs broken in the middle by a protruding body encircling band.  The band is embossed with HARDEN'S HAND GRENADE FIRE EXTINGUISHER and on one shoulder side has the word STAR inside a star in a circle, the same as found on one side of the earlier discussed bottle.

There were many other types of fire grenades made in various shapes from the 1870s until 1920s or later; see Munsey (1970:196-197) to view a more types illustrated there.  This author knows of no book dedicated to the subject although there is some information and additional images of these type bottles in Freeman (1964:350-351) and Ferraro (1966:63-67).  A few additional 1870s to 1910s "grenades" are listed as follows:

  • Hayward's Hand Fire Grenade - Three different examples of this competitor to Harden's product are shown to the right.  These are usually embossed in some way with HAYDEN'S HAND FIRE GRENADE along with the same patent date (August 8, 1871) as on the Harden's grenades, which as noted earlier, was for the concept of a throwable and breakable container filled with a fire retardant liquid to squelch a fire when small.  All these fire grenades were made in about the the same way as the Harden's discussed above - mouth-blown and in bright colors though often (usually?) with a more conventional finished lip, i.e., tooled to form and not just left as a rough, cracked off rim with cursory grinding.  (Photos courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)

  • More glass fire grenades may be listed in the future...

Dating summary/notes:  The dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features closely follow the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  There are no significant bottle type specific, manufacturing related diagnostic features or dating trends that have been noted by the author with one exception.  There is a strong trend in these bottles towards having cursory, crude and largely untouched (slightly ground down) "cracked-off" finishes, like the two examples illustrated here.   This isn't as much a dateable feature as almost a finish style that is virtually only found on mouth-blown fire grenade bottles; a feature of possible use in fragment identification.

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Carboys & Demijohns

The term "carboy" and "demijohn" are largely alternative names for the same category of large glass bottles - those with a capacity of about a full gallon on up to 15 gallons and even larger on occasion (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1920; Munsey 1970; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  The most commonly observed sizes range between about 2 and 5 gallons (empirical observations).

A few of the references consulted noted either a functional or design differentiation between these two large bottle names.  For example, Odell (2008) mentioned that functionally "Demijohns were for potable and non-corrosive liquids" with "carboy contents...strong chemicals - mostly acids."  Munsey (1970) noted stylistically that "Demijohns were usually manufactured in a bulbous or bladder shape and have rather long necks; carboys, on the other hand, were generally cylindrical in shape and had short necks."  For example the large olive green bottle to the left would be a "demijohn" with the 5 gallon bottle illustrated to the right below being a "carboy."  The latter "carboy" shape has been commonly used for drinking water - a decidedly potable and non-acid liquid - from at least the early 20th century to the present, though typically plastic bottles today.  (In fact, the 5 gallon "carboy" illustrated below right - and from a 1920 bottle makers catalog - is labeled as a "water bottle.")  To add to the confusion the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog scanned and located on this website shows a listing for a cylindrical, short neck "demi-john" (page 110) and a bulbous/bladder shaped "carboy" (page 112) - the reverse of Munsey's styles differentiation.  For simplicity sake, the term demijohn is largely used here for all large capacity glass bottles. 

Large capacity, bulk bottles were used in America at least as early as the middle of the 18th century although at that time they would have been predominately imported from Europe.  Such large bottles, however, date back to at least the 14th century in France although the term demijohn (sometimes hyphenated "demi-john") seems to have originated in the 17th century, possibly in Persia.  In any event, origin of the term is obscure today (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Odell 2008).  Even though the first demijohns were reportedly made in America by the 1760s,  significant production in the U.S. did not occur until the 1820s with companies such as the New England Glass Bottle Company (formed in 1827) producing up to 3000 a day (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Odell 2008).

Demijohns were typically covered in wicker for protection, i.e., covered with woven thick grass (including bamboo), reeds, sedges, and/or in particular, narrow willow twigs.  Such large glass bottles, especially when full of liquid and heavy, were quite fragile and easily broken with even minor bumping against each other or any hard surface.  The wicker covered example to the right is of a bladder shape similar to the olive green demijohn above.  Click group of three wicker covered demijohns to view wicker covered demijohns ranging from about a gallon to about five gallons.  Click U.S. Patent No. 348,665 to see an 1886 patent for a base related innovation for applying wicker to a demijohn.  The shape of demijohns were typically like those shown in this section largely because these shapes were the easiest to cover quickly and effectively with wicker; essentially a mandatory requirement for proper protection.  The wicker work was typically done by children, including girls, inside the glass factories or outside as contracted work (including with orphanages).  This was one of the rare documented instances in the 19th century of females being regularly involved in the manufacturing of bottles (Odell 2008).

From the mid-19th century on, most American glass companies that produced hollow-ware (aka "bottles") also produced demijohns for bulk liquid storage. An example of the typical limited offerings available in the U.S. can be viewed in the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog scanned and available on this website at the following link: 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog.  (See pages 110 to 115.)  Page 111 of that catalog shows a (likely) cylindrical demijohn inside one of the many vehicles used to both protect the large demijohns from breakage and to dispense the contained liquid in an efficient manner.  Often the bottle inside these wooden cases were wicker covered also.

The large oval/bladder shaped demijohn pictured at the top of this section is a mid-19th century, mouth-blown, most likely European made example.  It holds at least 5-6 gallons, was blown in a 3-piece mold, has a large applied "oil" type finish, and likely is pontil scarred in some fashion.  A demijohn of this size certainly spent its useful life covered in wicker to have survived breakage, though the wicker was removed (or rotted off) at some latter point in time and then stored away for decades.  Demijohns of various shapes and sizes are commonly encountered today as they were usually reused for many years and not disposed of unless broken, often being stored away and forgotten.  The wicker being dried vegetation most often fell apart with time though examples with wicker (images above) are not uncommon if the demijohn was stored in a dry place like an attic or cellar.

The relatively small, though commonly encountered size/shape, demijohns pictured to the right are almost certainly American made and date from the last quarter of the 19th century.  These both are about 15-16" tall, 5-6" in diameter, have applied "oil" type finishes, were blown in two-piece post-base molds, and hold upwards of two gallons.  As already discussed, these bottles were virtually always covered in wicker for protection, sometimes with a woven in wicker "handle" (for carrying and pouring) spanning the area between the mid-shoulder and the upper neck.  This general type of tall and relatively narrow bodied demijohn was blown in a myriad of glass colors although a very large majority of them were blown in shades of aqua or amber glass, as illustrated.  Examples blown in shades of moderate to deep green are more uncommon and this author has even seen a few blown in sapphire and cobalt blue!  This is a very common shape produced and used in the U.S. for a myriad of liquid products though were probably most commonly used for wine and spirits.  A vast majority of demijohns of this shape were mouth-blown being made up until at least the mid-1910s.  The shorter necked, wider bodied demijohns were a generally later design; these are discussed next.

The illustration to the left shows the Illinois Glass Company's "5-Gallon Machine Made Water Bottle" produced by their new (January 1919) "Carboy Factory" in Alton, IL.  This illustration is from that company's 1920 "Bottles of Every Description" catalog.  (That entire catalog has been scanned and is available on this website by clicking on the following link: 1920 Illinois Glass Company catalog)  The illustrated bottle is typical of demijohns made for storing and transporting all liquids, though this one notes it is a "5 Gallon Machine Made Water Bottle." (Note: The author of this site was a home brewer for many years and used 6 to 7 gallon bottles almost identical to this, albeit made of plastic, for fermenting beer).  Although a few mouth-blown examples of this particular shape - large, wide body with a relatively short neck - have been noted by the author, a large majority of them were machine-made; versions of these demijohns in glass are still being made today.

Dating summary/notes:  The dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features roughly follow the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  There are several manufacturing related diagnostic features or dating trends that have been noted by the author. The first is that these bottles tended to be made by mouth-blown methods a bit beyond when a majority of most other bottle types were being made on machines.  For example, the 1920 Illinois Glass Company catalog linked above notes that their new carboy factory in Alton, IL., completed in January 1919, had "...installed in it an Automatic Machine, the capacity of which is devoted exclusively to the manufacture of Carboys, Water Bottles and large Containers, ranging from two to twelve gallons."  This implies that prior to that time the production of carboys and "large Containers" was likely still done by hand methods, aka "mouth-blown."

The other bottle type specific dating irregularities noted is that demijohns tended to have applied finishes later than most other bottle types as well as being produced in molds with a post-base configuration mold later.  Specifically, applied finishes are thought to have been used on mouth-blown demijohns - like the two amber examples to the above right - into the late 1890s and possibly early 1900s, which was well after most bottle types were having finishes formed by tooling.  See the main Bottle Finishes & Closures page for more information.  In a related fashion, post-base molds were used into the early 1900s with those types of commonly encountered demijohns, again well beyond the period that most other bottles (excluding many mouth-blown fruit jars and beer bottles) were being largely made in cup-base molds.  See the post-base (aka "post-bottom") mold section of the Bottle Bases page for more information.

The most useful references known to this author on this genre of large bottles - and leaned on heavily in the preparation of this section - are noted below:
Odell, John
. 2008. Big Bottles, Big History - Demi-Johns and Carboys.  Antique Bottle & Glass Collector 25(7):28-33.   Excellent article on the subject.  This article is available online at the following link:

Also see the book "American Bottles & Flasks and Their Ancestry" (McKearin & Wilson 1978:255-259).

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Battery jars

Battery jars are a small but occasionally encountered genre of glass jars.  They are typified by being square or cylindrical, wide mouth jars of usually about a quart or two capacity.  They were designed to facilitate the inclusion of the various parts (electrolyte conducting solution, a cathode of carbon, a depolarizer of manganese dioxide, and an anode of zinc) necessary to make an early version of a wet cell battery (Wikipedia 2016).  Such jars were used for a variety of purposes like railroad switches and for early telegraphs and telephones.  They were not rechargeable like modern batteries.

The illustration to the right is from the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog showing four of their five battery jar offerings.  (Note: The same exact jars were also offered in their 1899, 1903, 1908 and 1911 catalogs; none are listed in the 1920 or 1926 catalogs.)  This page (click to enlarge) notes the availability of the jars in "flint or green" glass - aka colorless or aqua - which are the only colors of the examples observed by the author.  The first three (two square, one cylindrical) are available in just one size which would roughly have a liquid capacity of about a quart. 

The fourth jar is entitled "Round Battery Jars - Flint. Turn Mold" which indicates these were made in a turn (or paste) mold and in only colorless glass.  These were available in over a dozen sizes from a very small 4" x 4" (pint or so) to a robust "9 x 15" which would have been at least a couple quarts in capacity.  Of course, most of the battery "contents" would have been the solid parts noted earlier surrounded by a electrolyte conducting solution bath.  The inertness of glass to that solution is why these batteries were contained in glass even though that made them fragile.  Offsetting the fragility of glass was that they were blown with at least moderately heavy glass thickness (empirical observations).  This illustration indicates that three of the jars had perfectly round rims with one (lower left corner) having a "pour spout" and the name "Le Clanche Battery Jar"; more on that below.

The square, aqua battery jar shown above is a proprietary battery jar which is embossed on the front with TRADE / GONDA / MARK / THE / LECLANCHE / BATTERY CO. / NEW YORK.  On one side it has horizontal fill lines with the numbers "1 2 3" beside; click side view showing fill lines and numbers to see such.  On the opposite side is an "M" embossed towards the base with the base having the number "2".  (No images of the other side or base and no meaning known for the "M" or the "2".)  It is 6 3/4" tall,  4" wide body sides, a wide mouth with a hand ground rim and no "pour spout and was mouth-blown in a cup-bottom mold.  Not sure what the GONDA refers to though it was likely just a model/product name for that particular battery?

George L. LeClanche (Engineer, Paris, The Empire of France) was issued a patent in 1866 for an "Improvement In Galvanic Batteries" (he was also issued several closely related patents in the 1870s). To view the original patent click US Patent 55,441.  Batteries had been invented decades earlier (Wikipedia), so this patent was largely for the specific contents and their orientation within the jar - metal and carbon parts and an electrolyte fluid.  The patent had nothing to do with the jar itself (unpatentable by this time) though he specifies the use of "...a bottle or jar having a large mouth."  The patent also notes that "It is well understood that the two wires must be allowed to pass through the mouth of the bottle" - also implying a non-patentable feature?  A 1919 illustration of a battery jar similar to the one above (and to the left) is found at the following link: LeClanche Cell.  This illustration of the "LeClanche Cell" clearly shows a "pouring spout" on the rim of the jar - the location where the wires emerged from the jar - though this feature was not specifically mentioned in the any of the patents found.  The illustration to the left is the fifth battery jar listing in the above earlier noted 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog. 

Based on the listings in this catalog, it seems the name "LeClanche" (or "Le Clanche") was attached to jars with this wire exiting rim feature as the other listed "no-name" jars do not have such a feature illustrated.  This seems to indicate that the name "LeClanche Battery Jar" was a general name for that type of battery jar with a "spout," somewhat like the way "Scotch tape" is universally used for most clear, adhesive tapes.  What the connection is between Mr. LeClanche and the LeClanche Battery Company is unknown.  The company may have simply appropriated his name, being a foreign national, as their name?

The cylindrical battery jar to the right is embossed in a circular plate with WESTERN ELECTRIC CO. / NEW YORK.  The base of this jar indicates manufacture in a cup-bottom mold - typical of these jars from the late 19th to early 20th century.  Click base view to see such.  Like virtually all mouth-blown battery jars this example has a ground rim; this is shown in the close-up view of the jar to the right (click to enlarge). Western Electric, which was founded in 1869, is still in business today although as part of a larger company.  A history of the company is available at the following link: Western Electric history.

It is not known for sure when glass battery jars were phased out although they are NOT listed in the 1920 or 1926 Illinois Glass Company catalogs so it appears that they were replaced by less fragile materials by about that time?  This author has never seen a machine-made glass battery jar that is similar to the ones shown here, though such likely exist.  For more information on the history of batteries, including battery jars, George LeClanche and more, search Wikipedia for the page entitled - "History of the Battery" (with no quote marks).

Dating summary/notes:  The dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features roughly follow the guidelines presented throughout this website and summarized on the Bottle Dating page; see that page for more information.  However, glass battery jars like these seem to have disappeared about the time that bottles and jar production was dominated by automatic bottle machines in the late 1910s.  The battery jars noted by this author over the years have been subtle variations of the ones illustrated though it is almost certain that machine-made ones do exist dating from the 1910s into the 1920s and likely later (more research needed).

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Foreign bottles

Many types of foreign-made bottles are commonly found on historic sites in the United States and Canada.  The number of uniquely different bottles made outside those countries would certainly rival the immense variety made within, i.e., many hundreds of thousands in both regions.  Although beyond the scope of this website, which deals with historic bottles made in the U. S. and Canada between the late 18th century to mid-20th century, a few commonly encountered foreign bottles are briefly covered here.  More may be added in the future.

Chinese/Asian bottles

Chinese bottles are commonly found in many places within the eleven Western states, Hawaii and Western Canada in areas known to have significant Chinese populations from the mid-19th on, which was just about anywhere.  In the United States, Chinese bottles are most commonly encountered in the three Pacific coast states and British Columbia with diminishing probability as one moves east (empirical observations).  The Chinese also immigrated to many other portions of the U. S. and around the world, so Chinese bottles can be found in Peru, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.  In the western U.S. the Chinese were particularly drawn to the "Chinatown" sections of big cities (notably San Francisco and Portland in the 19th century), mining camps virtually everywhere in the West (the author found an "opium" bottle next to his BLM office in Ely, Nevada; a long time mining area), along the railroads (the Chinese provided a vast majority of the labor for the Central Pacific RR from Sacramento to Utah), salmon canneries, agricultural areas, and other places that were desirous of a highly effective workforce (Wegars 1993).

Although glass from imported Chinese made bottles is commonly found on historic sites with Chinese occupation, glazed ceramic containers/fragments are even more commonly encountered since much of what was imported for Chinese use was contained in crude, ceramic containers.  The dark brown glazed ceramic jug to the right is an example of one of the most commonly encountered shapes; a container with a pouring spout frequently used for soy sauce.  A wide variety of shapes and sizes of ceramic, stoneware and porcelain containers and dishware were imported into the U. S. by and for the Chinese here.  Works such as Wegars (1993), Felton et al. (1984), Merritt (2010) and others deal with Chinese ceramics; a subject beyond the scope of this website. 

The three very small (2.5" to 3") bottles pictured above left (with label side up) and just below left (reverse side) are commonly encountered Chinese medicine bottles ubiquitous to virtually all areas occupied by the Chinese from their first immigration into this country during the earliest days of the California Gold Rush until at least the 1930s (and possibly a bit later).  These bottles are referred to by collectors as "opium bottles" although it is unlikely such small, narrow bottles with a capacity of a small fraction an ounce would ever be used for a sticky, thick substance such as opium which was packaged primarily in metal tins (Wegars 1993).  They typically held various Chinese medicines of different types - some liquid, other more of an oil based substance. (It is possible that opium was one of many ingredients in these medicines?)

These small medicine bottles were relatively narrow, typically square to very slightly rectangular in cross-section though cylindrical examples are known, and usually from about 2" to 3" tall.  They were often made of proportionally thick glass compared to their size and poorly annealed as they would actually crack and/or fall apart easily with changes in temperature.  They held a miniscule amount - usually a small fraction of an ounce capacity - although some were a bit larger holding possibly a half ounce or so.  Glass colors were usually aqua though colorless glass is frequently encountered.  Other colors are unknown to the author, but are possible.  These bottles were always hand-blown, apparently in small dip molds given the lack of mold seams but with typically flat, uniform body sides.  Some have been observed with Chinese symbols embossed on the base.  Beyond that, little is known to this author about these bottles though it is suspected that they were made the same way for many centuries and as late as the 1930s, as such bottles have been observed by the author in context with bottles that firmly dated no earlier than the late 1920s or early 1930s (empirical observations).

The medium to deep blue-green bottle to the right is a style that is frequently seen in areas with Chinese (and/or other Asian?) immigrants residing from about 1900 through at least the 1920s.  It is thought they were typically used for beer but could well have been used for other liquid products (e.g., rice wine?).  They are crudely mouth-blown, often exhibiting on the body the horizontal concentric rings of being spun in the mold (aka "turn mold" production) and have have tooled (sometimes applied and tooled) crown finishes - a finish not invented until 1892 but saw limited use until about 1900.  (See the Bottle Closure Types page for more information on crown caps and finishes.)  This particular example (about 9" tall) is quite crude with hundreds of small bubbles in the glass, a finish that is very poorly tooled, and a neck that is quite off center.  Click close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish to see such.  Click base view to see the unembossed base with a small round indentation in the middle with a utility or meaning (if any) unknown.

These type beverage bottles are usually seen in various shades and intensities of green glass including aqua; other colors have not been observed by the author but could certainly exist.  It is not known for sure if these type bottles were made in China, Japan and/or other Asian countries.  (The author welcomes any information users of this site could contribute to a firming the dating and use of this bottle type.)

The other similar, though more pure green, example pictured (left) has a thick horizontal ring at the neck/shoulder junction - a common feature on these type bottles.  The precise date these bottles were made is unknown, but they may date from the 1920s or even 1930s when such ring neck beer bottles were being commonly made by American glass companies; possible an emulation of that style during that time?  This bottle is also about 9" tall, mouth-blown with a nicely symmetrical tooled crown finish, and also exhibits the faint horizontal concentric rings on the body indicating that it was produced in turn-mold.

The image of the base of this bottle shows that it is profusely embossed with three Chinese (?) symbols interspersed with three barley (?) stalks and with a "B" in a circle in the center.  The barley stalks would certainly indicate the bottle was used for that greatest of fermented barley beverages - beer.  What the Chinese (or other Asian?) characters mean is unknown, though it may well be the brewery and/or or place of origin. 

Of particular interest with this bottle is that it is both certainly a turn-molded bottle and it has embossing on the base - something rarely seen on turn-mold bottles.  Although the exact process that allowed this to occur without "erasing" the embossing when the bottle was spun is unknown, it may have entailed the use of a mold base plate that dropped away from the other mold pieces above when the bottle was spun?  (The bottles were rotated when still attached and held firmly to the blowpipe.)  Base embossed, turn-molded mouth-blown bottles still remain a bit of a mystery to this author.

The tall, relatively narrow amber bottle pictured to the...  Click base view to view...   Click close-up of the upper body, neck and finish to...

A great website for information on and images of Chinese artifacts excavated in Montana is available at the following link:  This website - sponsored by the University of Montana - is based on the German Gulch (a defunct mining camp near Butte, MT.) collection of artifacts being analyzed by Bill Norman at the U. of Montana.  The site primarily covers various ceramic and metal artifacts, though does include some glass items.

Dating summary/notes:  The dating of these type bottles based on manufacturing related diagnostic features...  It is certainly that mouth-blown bottles were still being made in China (and other Asian countries) long after


European bottles

A wide array of bottle types originating and largely produced in Europe made their way to North America in vast quantities.  This section will explore just a few of the more commonly encountered European bottle types.  (This section may be expanded in the future as time allows.)

Late 19th century English codd bottle; click to enlarge.Codd Soda/Mineral Water bottles The Codd's ball stopper soda water (rarely beer) bottle style was by far the most successful of an assortment of internal ball type stoppers for soda bottles devised during the second half of the 19th century.  It was first patented in 1870 in England with patents for the most commonly seen types granted in 1872 and 1873; it was first patented in the United States in 1873 (Munsey 1970; Goodacre 1995).  Most of its success was in England or the Commonwealth nations like Canada, India, and Australia.  Similar to the round bottom sodas, this closure & bottle style was infrequently used by American soda bottlers (primarily due to the fierce competition from the Hutchinson and later crown closures) and was known to have been produced in only one U. S. glass factory - the Whitney Glass Co. (Glassboro, NJ) beginning in 1886 (Toulouse 1971; Goodacre 1995).  There were, however, a few seldom seen non-Codd ball types which were made in the U.S. (Riley 1958; Graci 2003).   Part of the reason for its lack of success in the U.S. reportedly was because American kids had a tendency to break the bottles to get at the internal marble for their youthful games, though that must have occurred in other countries also (Lief 1965).

The bottles were produced by a method that required the use of an applied finish until well into the 20th century which is long after virtually all other bottle types were being mouth-blown with tooled finishes.  According to one author the mouth-blown bottles were produced as follows:  After being mold blown the bottles were sheared at the neck and allowed to cool.  Then a glass marble, made from glass of a hardness twice that of the bottle was dropped into it.  The bottle was then re-heated and the neck welded on (finish applied), so containing the marble (Goodacre 1995).  Eventually fully automatic bottle machines were adapted to produce Codd bottles (example pictured below right).

This type of internal ball closure was self-sealing via a rubber gasket mounted inside the bore of the bottle against which the marble was firmly held in place by the carbonated contents.  The contained beverage was accessed by pushing down on the marble to release the pressure after which the marble dropped to the constriction ridges in the lower part of the neck.  Click Codd opener for a picture of a tool used to push down the marble.  The illustration below left shows the upper portion of a Codd bottle with the marble in the sealing position inside the bore.  The photo to the right below shows a late 20th century, machine-made Codd bottle from India with the gasket in place in the middle of the finish and the marble in the unsealed "resting" position low down in the neck on the internal constriction ridges.  This side view of a Codd bottle also shows why these bottles are sometimes called an "elephant" or "pig" bottle (Elliott & Gould 1988).   Some resemblance, I guess?  The "eyes" are actually diagonal indentations in the neck that held back the marble when pouring the contents out after opening, keeping it from impeding the flow (Fowler 1986).  During the 1920s and 1930s most of the English machinery to produce Codd bottles was shipped to India where the bottle may still be produced (Goodacre 1995).

Codd bottle made in late 20th century India; click to enlarge.Besides size, there are a few variations to the typical bottle as pictured here.  What variations there are, are primarily in the body as these bottles shoulder/neck (hard to differentiate the two separately) and finish had to be largely as shown in the pictures for this closure system to work properly.  One interesting variation is that there were some round bottom and torpedo sodas bottles that have Codd ball stoppers - some of which were made in England for U. S. soda water manufacturers (Elliot & Gould 1988).  This makes for a very unusual looking bottle to say the least and given the purpose of a round bottom - to ensure that the bottle is laid on its side to keep the cork wet - somewhat pointless, since there was no cork.

The English Codd bottle pictured to the above left is embossed NORTH LINDSEY / MINERAL WATER CO. / SCUNTHORPE.  It is also embossed on the reverse REDFEARN BROS / BOTTLE MAKERS / BARNSLEY indicating that the bottle was made by this glass company - business dates unknown.  The towns of Barnsley and Scunthorpe are located in central England so of course this bottle is English made, most likely during the late 19th century, i.e., 1880-1900.  It has a crudely applied long tapered (outwards towards base) "oil" type finish (for want of a better finish fit) with a groove on the inside of the bore for the gasket which the marble sealed against; a ubiquitous finish on a Codd bottle.  Some residual gasket is remaining as shown in the picture.  The bottle has no apparent evidence of air venting and was blown in a post-bottom mold.  These features would date the bottle - if U. S. made - from the 1870s to mid-1880s.  However, as noted on other portions of this website, European manufacturers were "behind" the U. S. in adopting new bottle production techniques so it is possible that this Codd bottle could date as late as 1900-1915 as Codd bottles from that era are known with these diagnostic traits.  It could also date from the 1880s also and would need local research on the company (or glassmaker) history to pin down the date more.  Click on the following links for more views of this bottle: base view; close-up of the neck and finish.  Though English made, it is essentially identical to the bottles that were used infrequently by soda companies in the U.S.; bottles that were almost certainly made by English glass companies like Redfearn Bros.

Period illustration of a codd neck and finish with marble in sealing position.Dating Summary/Notes: As noted, the Codd bottle/closure was a minor element in the American soda bottle/closure market.  Hutchinson closures followed by the crown closure (both covered below) were far and away the most popular sealing methods for soda and mineral water in the U.S.  One researcher, however, has tallied 25 or so different Codd bottles that are identifiable as used by American companies spanning the country (Graci 2003).  In Hawaii, the state where soda companies used the Codd bottle the most, there were at least 14 different Codd or Codd type bottles used by 4 different companies between 1884 and 1898 (Elliott & Gould 1988).  It is not known how many American soda concerns used unembossed Codd bottles with proprietary labels attached, though it was likely just a fraction of one percent and miniscule compared to the Hutchinson and crown closure bottles; Codd bottles are rarely found on historic sites in the U.S. (empirical observations).

The general date range for the mainland American use of the Codd closure is probably similar to the date range noted for Hawaii, though it is known that some Codd bottles were used into the early 1900s by some companies.  For example, one Western embossed Codd bottle with a true applied finish (BIGGAM BROS. / YAKIMA, WA) is known to date from between 1911 and 1913.  These bottles were marked as having been manufactured by NUTTALL & CO. - a glass works in St. Helens, Lancashire County, England which was merged out of existence in 1913 (Fowler 1986, Whitten 2005).  A good cut-off date for the limited use of Codd closures in the U.S. is the mid 1910s (Newman 1970). 

Worldwide, Codd bottles were used for an immense range of time from invention in the early 1870s to the late 20th century, as indicated by the bottle pictured to the above right which is machine-made and has as base sticker noting it was Made in India.  Mouth-blown Codd bottles can date as late as the 1920s with applied finishes which were required by the process needed to produce these bottles noted earlier.  Eventually fully automatic bottle machines were adapted to produce these bottles.  (One wonders how the automatic machine worked in order to get the marble in place?)  During the 1920s and 1930s most of the English machinery to produce Codd bottles was shipped to India where the bottle may still be produced (Goodacre 1995).  The machine-made Indian example pictured above right was purchased new from an import store around 1990!

For more information on Codd bottles take a look at these two articles posted on this website courtesy of a pair of well known authors in the bottle world:


A van Hoboken gin; click to enlarge.Dutch "Case" Gin bottles:  The large (well over a quart) case gin bottle pictured to the right was produced in the late 19th century (i.e., probably between 1880 and 1900), although virtually identical bottles were also produced earlier and later than that date range.  A wide variety of similar "case gin" bottles like the commonly encountered example pictured were imported into North America from producers in Europe.  This example is embossed A VAN HOBOKEN & CO. / ROTTERDAM on opposite sides and is - as the embossing indicates - of foreign origin (Wilson & Wilson 1968).  (The pictured example was found by the authors brother in Malaysia.)  However, Hoboken bottles are frequently found on historic sites in the U. S.  This particular bottle is of typical shape and proportions for a case gin, was produced in a two-piece cup-bottom mold, has a crudely applied "blob" finish, no evidence of air venting, and has a blob seal on the shoulder.  This bottle is an example of how American manufacturing based dating ranges can not be reliably used for foreign made bottles.  If American made, a bottle with these diagnostic features (except maybe for the cup-bottom mold feature) would likely date from between the mid-1860s and mid-1880s.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view; side view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, finish, and blob seal.  One-part blob or oil finishes on mouth-blown case gin bottles are typical of items made from the 1880s to about National Prohibition in the late 1910s.

 Benedictine bottle; click to enlarge.Benedictine bottles:  Benedictine was (and is) a liqueur made with a wide assortment of herbs and spices.  Reported to have originally been made by monks during the Renaissance, it was first commercially produced in France during the 1870s.  Judging from the relative commonness of these distinctive bottles in the U.S., Benedictine was quite popular here during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The product is still produced and bottled today in a similarly shaped bottles (see discussion below) though of course they are made via more modern manufacturing methods.  (Information from the Benedictine website found at the following link:

Benedictine bottles are very distinctive in shape with a long sloping neck and flaring shoulder which abruptly ends at the top of the body which then tapers inwards gradually towards the base; see the picture to the left.  The base is usually variably pushed-up and domed, sometimes deeply.  Sizes are most commonly the pictured "quart" size and a smaller "pint" size which has the same conformation, just proportionally smaller.  Most mouth-blown versions are three-piece mold, though two-piece molds have also been noted (empirical observations).  The finish on Benedictine bottles are somewhat unique and could be basically described as a two-part finish with an outwardly tapering (top to bottom) upper part with a flaring rounded ring lower part.  The collars usually (but not always) have distinct indentations or grooves on both sides to facilitate the wiring down of the cork closure.  The glass is typically very heavy and virtually always in some shade of olive green or - in older versions (pre-1890s) - olive amber.  Benedictine bottles often have the word BENEDICTINE embossed on one shoulder by itself or with small crosses (like the pictured example), though they are very often not embossed.  The majority do have a distinctive crescent embossed on one shoulder, opposite the embossing if the bottle is embossed.

Mid to late 20th century benedictine bottle; click to enlarge.The example pictured above is a quart size dating from from around 1895 to 1910.  It is a medium olive green in color with very heavy glass, a kick-up domed base, produced in a three-piece mold with a separate base plate, and has a true applied finish.  Click on the following links for more view photos of this bottle: reverse view showing the embossed crescent; base view showing the deeply domed configuration; close-up of the finish showing the grooves in the ring collar; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.  These bottles were often (usually?) foreign produced but are covered here because of their commonness in the U.S. and the fact that they may have been produced in the U.S. also.  Click on the following link to view the Benedictine bottles offered by the Illinois Glass Company in 1906: Illinois Glass Co. 1906 catalog page 138 (listed on the left page in pint, quart, and a 2 oz. sample size).  Whether the listed bottles were a domestic product made by IGCo. or an offering by them of a foreign produced product is unknown, though it is likely these were imported as the listing notes the offering available in an "Imported Color" (Jones 1961-1968).

The amber, 8" tall, Benedictine type bottle pictured to the right is much more recent, mid to late 20th century, machine-made example which shows well the continuation of form features that define the style, including the vertically grooved finish (apparently the modern manifestation of the indents of old), embossed crescent on the shoulder, deep kick-up/push-up base, and overall conformation and proportions.  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  finish view showing the vertical grooves in the finish (looking down from above); base view showing the relatively high kick-up the height of which also shows in the image to the right; reverse view showing the embossing BENEDICTINE on the shoulder and B & B which indicates this bottle contained B&B which is a blend of Benedictine and brandy.  (Photos courtesy of Deb Bankes.)  This bottle is very similar - if not identical - to the bottles the product comes in today; click on the following commercial Benedictine liqueur website link for more information:

Dating summary/notes: Benedictine style bottles can date from the 1870s to the present.  Since they were apparently usually made overseas and exported, the manufacturing based diagnostic features do not necessarily follow those noted on this website for U.S. produced bottles.  Most notably, these bottles were made with true applied finishes into the early 20th century and mouth-blown Benedictine bottles appear to have been made up until at least 1920 (empirical observations).  Mouth-blown bottles seem to date from the 1920s or before, with machine-made items dating from that time or after.  This general shape was (and is) also used generically for various other liqueurs in the 20th century (Lucas Co. Bottle Co. 1940s; empirical observations).

More in the future?...



Other foreign bottles

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

Persian Saddle Flasks":   These bottles are commonly seen at bottle shows, antique stores, and online...and the author of this site gets frequent questions about them.

Excellent article by Phil Culhane covering Persian bottles in B&E May-June 2015, Vol. 26:3, #219, pages 48-55.  He also has a website at  Click base view to see the blowpipe type pontil scar.   

More in the future?... 








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This section on reproductions...

WARNER'S SAFE KIDNEY & LIVER CURE - (Left image.)  This bottle is embossed WARNER'S / SAFE / KIDNEY & LIVER / CURE (large embossed safe) / ROCHESTER, N.Y.  This large distinctive bottle is oval in cross-section and 9.4"/24 cm tall.  This is another bottle style that is strongly associated with the genre of medicine bottles.  It is also closely (but not totally - there were imitators) associated with the products of the H. H. Warner Co. who was a prolific advertiser and producer of different patent medicines, most of which are shaped like the pictured bottle (Ojea & Stecher 1998).  NOTE:  These bottles were accurately reproduced by the Crownford China Co. during the 1970s (possibly a bit earlier and/or later) and sold with reproductions of the original label.  However, they exhibit machine-made characteristics and distinctive base embossing.  Click on the following images to view pictures of one of these reproductions which are quite well done:  view of the embossing; view of the label; side view; view of the base showing the telltale embossing CROWNFORD / (C in a circle) / CHINA CO. INC.


McKearin & Wilson also have a section on this subject.



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Other miscellaneous bottles

Other miscellaneous types includes, of course, bottles not covered elsewhere on this page or any of the other typology pages largely because these "types" are of minor importance.  This is the "miscellaneous miscellaneous" section.


Figural bottles (not fitting another category within the typology pages)





A commonly encountered mid-19th century figural bottle is in the shape of a pineapple.  This is the earlier example made from the same mold that was used for either the W & Co / N.Y.  or the J. C. & Co examples (or both?) except with the embossing "slugged out" or more accurately stated, with no engraved plate inserted in place of the blank mold plate.  (The oval plate covering the engraving is clearly evident in real life on the bottle but only vaguely visible in the enlarged image to the left.)  This example is a light to medium amber.  The base has a large (1.5" in diameter) and quite distinct pontil scar - a circular "disk" pontil scar which is an unusual pontil style for these bottles...and unusual on American manufactured bottles for that matter.  Click base view to view this light but distinct pontil scar.  (For more information on the disk pontil, see my the pontil scars page at this link: Pontil )  The bottle is almost 9" tall, bubbles here and there in the glass, has a crudely applied double ring type finish (the finish found on the earlier bottles - click upper neck view to see such), and is ca. 1850s.










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For additional images of various labeled miscellaneous 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 (Miscellaneous & Foreign Bottles) is very large and diverse.  Like all of the bottle "typing" (typology) pages connected to the main Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes page, this page just scratched the surface as to the total diversity of these bottle types.  It does, however, cover 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 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.


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