Interpreting Historic Glasswares

This week I was faced with the challenge of interpreting historic glasswares for my Historical Archaeology course. At first I thought this project would be quick, simple and easy. But I quickly discovered this task was in fact challenging and required close observation. Who knew there were so many different manufacture methods and container shapes? The finish, which includes the bore and lip of a bottle, quickly became my greatest challenge. Thankfully the Society for Historical Archaeology has a bottle identification website that is very helpful when you are stumped.

For example, I was examining a bottle that was aqua in color and cylindrical in shape. The base was shallow and concave with a pontil mark. A pontil mark is a type of scar that is left when the iron rod is removed from the bottle. The seam along the base indicates a 2-piece cup bottom manufacture method. Which involves a mold with a separate base plate. Based on my observations I concluded the bottle was used for soda or mineral water. But the finish threw me for a loop because it was a crown shape. Which is typically seen on beer or ale bottles. Thanks to the Society for Historical Archaeology website I was able to confirm the bottle was used for soda. Next I researched the makers mark to confirm the period of use. The bottle was marked with “Fox Trademark J.G. Fox & Co. Seattle, WA”. J.G. Fox & Co. was a beer and soda bottler in Seattle, WA from 1850-1910. I was unable to find any information about marketing and their demographic. But it is clear they were popular for the area where this assemblage was collected. There were several similar bottles in this collection with the same color, shape, and makers mark. Perhaps the site where they were collected was a dump for retailers. Or maybe it was the drink of choice for the nearby population. This will require further research that goes beyond my glassware knowledge and interpretations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *