As a beer drinker I go through many many bottles, probably too many… but I recycle, I promise! What I’m trying to say is I encounter bottles on a daily bases, many breweries these days design their own bottles that differ quite a bit from the narrow-mouth brown/green bottles we are all used to. New designs include embossing the brewery names or logos on the bottles, adding embossed designs, bands and patterns and etching information about the beer and brewery right into the glass! While these are all very neat, after working with some historic glass, I realized they lack a bit of ingenuity and uniqueness.
Most bottles we encountered in our historic glasswares lab included debri on the inside, breaks and cracks, imperfections, wear and tear, etc. All of these faults gave each bottle its own unique look and feel, and also it’s own story. How did each bottle get these imperfections during manufacture? How did each bottle get all these cracks? What can this debri tell us, is it just the remnants of an unfinished product or was it used multiple times?
One bottle that certainly has a story to tell is 45KI765/M-10. This is most likely an ale bottle that is green with a crown finish. While it has mold seams all the way through the finish; signifying a machine finish, the exterior has many imperfections as well an orange peel texture. The imperfections, like waves moving over the body of the bottle, seem to be almost intentional; creating this wave pattern design – it is very very unique! Being a bottle with a machine finish with many imperfections I would date it to the very early 20th century. The makers mark reads; “JL & Co LTD 684”, however online searches didn’t yield any results outside of finding that most JL & Co bottles were made pre-WWI. I would assume this bottle held a common beverage; soda or beer. However I am curious to the life story of the bottle. Despite being a common beverage bottle, whoever drank it must have seen that the imperfections made a delightful pattern that might have been rare in bottles of that time. I am curious if that person considered saving it, if they noticed it’s uniqueness or if this is only a trait that we start noticing once all our bottles are manufactured flawlessly.