On the Origins of Ordinary

When you think of a beer bottle, this is what comes to mind. It’s amber, cylindrical, long necked… Nothing about it should strike you as bizarre. It’s just a normal bottle. But that in and of itself is interesting, isn’t it? Why is this bottle the bottle? This particular example is from a time when this type of bottle was becoming the commonplace style. It is one of the first fully automatic machine made glass bottles. Based on the embossed mark on the bottom of this bottle, it was made my the F. E. Reed glass company, headquartered in Rochester NY, between 1924 and 1929. This is not to say that the bottle was manufactured in Western NY, though that would be a fun coincidence,

The bottom of the bottle reveals an Owen’s Scar- a telltale mark left by the machine that made it

as the F. E. Reed company had manufacturing plants throughout the United States, supplying breweries nationwide with bottles for their beers. The advent of the fully automatic Owen’s Machine likely helped perpetuate this style of bottle as the dominant beer bottle design, as the same exact bottle could be mass produced at each plant throughout the country. Just like beer bottles of today, the only difference between bottles around the country would be the label that was glued upon them, as time has torn away the label that was once affixed to this particular bottle, there is no way of knowing its true origin, but the magic of this bottle is not in its uniqueness but in its ubiquity.

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