The past couple of weeks our class has been working on identifying glass bottles found at archaeological sites by examining an assemblage recovered from the former tidelands off of the former 6th Ave South viaduct in Seattle. Most of the bottles are exactly what you’d expect: beer bottles, medicine, condiments, that kind of thing. But a couple of the bottles present more of a mystery.
One such bottle is the one I’ve just been calling the “owl bottle.” For the most part it’s not a very exciting bottle, it’s tall, clear, and cylindrical with a wide opening and some light patination, but on the base of the bottle is an owl perched on a crescent moon and the word “trademark” is embossed within the moon. When I first saw this mark I got excited, partly because it’s pretty, but mostly because I figured it would make the bottle really easy to identify. I was very wrong.
The closest I came to identifying this mark was a reference to the logo for Gillet’s High Grade Extract, a company that does indeed use an owl on a crescent moon for its logo. Unfortunately the owl is slightly different, the word trademark is not present within the moon (at least not on any pictures I could find), and the owl is shown on the side of the Gillet bottles rather than the base. I thought maybe that it was a one-off that they had manufactured beforing changing their minds about which direction to go with the logo but there are so many differences that there’s just no way for me to be sure. One thing I do know is I’m going to be looking oddly closely at any bottles with owls I see in the future and maybe someday I’ll know the answer!