Imperfections – will they be missed?

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.

-Roman Chichian

Hunyadi Janos, Fights Ottomans and Constipation!

The hunt for more information about this green, 2-piece-cup bottom bottle started with the word “Bitterquelle”. I thought the embossed letters on the base was another word for “bitters”, as in a cocktail mix, but it turns out that bitterquelle is actually a mineral or spring water.


                                        The mineral water bottle company belonged to Andreas Saxlehner of Budapest, Hungary. His brand “Hunyadi Janos” features a Hungarian military hero on the label. Hunyadi Janos, or John Hunyadi, was a military and political leader for the Hungarian military during the 15th century. Outnumbered 2 to 1 in a battle against the Ottomans, Hunyadi escaped from the battlefield to be captured, imprisoned, and eventually set free. He became governor in 1446 and continued to finance wars against the Ottomans.

The marketing campaign for the mineral water took the form of a dietary and health-conscious laxative. The claim was that the mineral water was for fighting “the evil consequences of indiscretion in diet,” and was a primary elixir for relieving hemorrhoids. Perhaps this campaign is a play on words for “diet of Hungary” which was a Hungarian legislative institution that met once every 3 years. Saxlehner’s marketing is so funny. A man known for fighting Ottomans is also on your side to fight constipation and IBS.

These mineral water bottles were a popular import and were commonly found in the United States between 1870 and 1920. The bottle that I examined in the lab was in pretty good condition. Even some of the paper label glue was still intact. This hunt for more information made me interested in 1900’s marketing campaigns and how we use romanticized images of the past to sell just about anything.

What can glass tell us?

Swift’s Pharmacy bottle – courtesy the Burke Museum

One of the things I love about archaeology is how a single artifact can open a window into time. This unassuming, small Blake style medicine bottle with a prescription lip belongs to the Burke Museum and is approximately 100 years old. There is still residue of some kind within, but it is difficult to tell what kind of medicine it may have once contained. However, with a little bit of research into historical records, it is possible to find some information.

The narrow mouth and neck means that it was likely not for tablet medication, and instead once held a liquid. Though difficult to see in the photograph, this bottle’s inscription provided a wealth of knowledge and allowed for the possibility of a more precise date. The embossed face of the bottle reads: “Swift’s Pharmacy 2nd Ave. & Pike St. Seattle Wash.” Swift’s Pharmacy was not as widespread as Seattle’s famous Bartell’s throughout the city, but it did have multiple locations through at least the 1940’s.

Seattle Star April 1907 –  courtesy University of Washington libraries

This advertisement from the Seattle Star in April 1907 indicates the recent move to the corner of 2nd and Pike, allowing us to infer that the bottle was not manufactured before Swift’s Pharmacy completed this relocation. Furthermore, the markings on the bottom of the bottle W.T Co. C U.S.A. means that the bottle was manufactured by the Whitall Tatum & Co. of New Jersey. The particular mark was in use until 1924. In addition, George Bartell eventually bought this location from Swift’s Pharmacy owner Louis Swift. A photo from the MoHAI’s digital collection dated 1926 shows Swift’s Pharmacy gone from the northwest corner of 2nd and Pike, and a Bartell Drugs in its place.

So what can this bottle tell us? It can show that sometime between 1907 and 1924, a customer may have walked into Swift’s Pharmacy in the Eitel building on the northwest corner of Pike Street and 2nd Avenue in Seattle. Perhaps the pharmacist who prepared the medication was Ed W. Smith, who was Swift’s head prescription clerk in 1911. Whatever the scenario may have been, it provides an example as to how a single artifact can produce an image of time, place, and behavior.


Lordly Liquor

The bottle that I thought was most interesting from my selection was a squat liquor bottle. The shape has a lot of character, as it has a uniquely bloated neck. It doesn’t have any seams, but the valve mark and striations seem to suggest a turn paste mould.

The wax or paper label still present on the bottle’s finish gives the most insight into its origin. It reads “House of Lords SCOTCH WHISKEY.” Evidently, the House of Lords was a line of whiskey marketed by the UK based Edradour liquor company through at least the 1970s. Below is a comparison of a bottle of this line from the 1970s and this one, likely from between the 1870s and approximately 1916.

The bottle was manufactured by the Edradour liquor company based in the United Kingdom, which still sells fine liquor today. However, all of the modern liquor bottles are clear or lightly tinted, unlike the dark coloration of this bottle, which may suggest it contained liquor meant for domestic sale.

This liquor in these bottles was probably consumed in the United Kingdom in public settings, such as pubs, or in the private parlors. These days, a bottle of Edradour liquor is between 15 and 400 euros, with the majority of the bottles costing between 40 and 70 euros.

Here are the two bottles of similar shape and function from perhaps 100 years apart. On the right there is a 1970s House of Lords scotch whiskey bottle and below is the c1900 House of Lords scotch whiskey. As you can see, the 1970s one still has the bulbous neck, but is clear and has a paper label on the body (still). It’s shorter and has more square shoulders, yet the similarities are still quite visible.

Snider’s Catsup – The Flavor of The Past

When looking at the historic bottles from a dump site used in the 19th and early 20th century, I identified one bottle specifically as a Catsup bottle. This bottle has many characteristics that identify it as a Catsup bottle. First
off, the finish, or mouth part, is what is referred to as a screw thread finish, which indicates the kind of cap that screws on and off, which is what a sauce bottle would have.

Another hint is the size and shape. The long neck, sloping shoulders, and carrying capacity looks very similar to a current ketchup bottle. The manufacture method, which can be determined by looking at the two vertical seams on the bottle, is indicative of a mouth-blown, two-part post mould. One can determine that is mouth blown because the seams don’t continue through to the finish.


And if all of this information isn’t convincing that this is a Catsup bottle, the maker’s mark on the bottom doesn’t hurt.

Snider’s Catsup. Advertisement. VintageAdBrowser. 2012. Accessed Feb 13, 2017.

When researching Snider’s Catsup bottles, I found an advertisement that shed light on how this product was marketed and used. The ad says hotels, clubs, restaurants, hotels, and even homes choose Snider’s Catsup. This shows a targeting towards mostly non-residential businesses. The advertisement also provides two recipes, which is something most people would now consider slightly odd for a sauce bottle. It also mentions Cincinnati, U.S.A, which is either indicative of where the bottles were made, or where the ad was marketed (I was not able to discern).

Overall, catsup/ketchup was, and still is, an important accessory to the American diet, as shown by it’s abundance in the historical and archaeological record.

Poppin’ Bottles: Ν.Καλλικούνη

When Team No Sleep began splitting up the glassware collection assigned to us to see who would date what portion I was secretly hoping I would get the aqua-colored, vertically embossed bottle. Although it was just the body, the foreign language written on it caught my attention.

Glasswares from the Atlantic/Central Bus Base Expansion. Broke aqua-colored bottle on right is the focus of this post.

Using a Greek alphabet to search for the brand, I learned that the company has been passed down for five generations since 1850. The name of the company is Callicounis and they sell a variety of liquors. They have a video that shows their process of distillation and have scenes of pouring them into the manufactured bottles. Callicounis seems to pride itself in its drink, and boast that its Cognac N.Kallikouni won gold medals at the 1900 Paris International Exhibition. Adding in the fact it was imported, I assume it may have been a little pricey to get a hold of. There may have been a well established bar near by, or a household that was well off that disposed of the bottle in the dump.

One of the stores in Greece for Ν.Καλλικούνη

From the page, I got the impression it is local only to Greece, meaning the bottle was manufactured in Europe. I had no luck finding a European glass bottle dating catalog, so I unfortunately had to depend on the Society for Historical Archaeology Bottle Index, which is based in the US. According to the site and only have the body of the bottle, it must have been manufactured between 1890 to 1915, which aligns with its time of popularity.


This embossed glass food bottle (45KI765/M-42) was made between 1888-1946, although given the time that the site was filled was 1929, it most likely was manufactured between 1888 and 1929. I was unable to find which exact Heinz product it contained, although it most likely was a condiment, given the company. Despite the fact that the bottle bares resemblance e to one manufactured from 1876-1888, it does not have a “F&J” embossed on the side of it leading me to believe that it was manufactured after John, Heinz’ brother sold his shares of the company in 1888. Heinz then renamed the business the H.J. Heinz Co. which is the embossed lettering on the side of the bottle. This bottle was most likely used in a household or a restaurant, and considering that the other bottles in the dump indicate a household rather than a business, this leads me to believe that the bottle most likely was used in a household.

Heinz’s Long Lost Competitor

Curtice Brothers Preservers, Rochester, NY

Pictured here is an early twentieth century ketchup bottle produced by the Curtice Brothers Company, which was founded in 1868 in Rochester, New York. Although you have probably never heard of Curtice Brothers, their ketchup once rivaled the more well-known Heinz in the early twentieth century. The story of their descent into the recesses of popular memory is bound up with early government food safety regulations, but I’ll get to that in a moment…

The bottle itself was mouth blown and made in a two piece mold with a cup bottom, likely manufactured by the Berney-Bond Glass Company based in Pennsylvania.1 The finish (the lip of the bottle) is externally threaded so that a cap could have been screwed on it and was made using the “improved tooled finishing” method, meaning that most of the finish was created in the mold itself with just minor tooled touches to ensure that the cap would fit.2 This is evident in the seam on the finish, which nearly reaches the mouth, but you can see where the tool turned the seam.

Evidence of “improved tooled” finish

Also visible on the bottle is the maker’s seal on the shoulder reading “Curtice Brothers / Preservers / Rochester, N.Y.” within a circle. Vertical ridges line the sides of the body with an open space for the label, which would have marketed the company’s Blue Label Ketchup. An example of one of Curtice Brothers’ ads from around 1910 is shown below.

Circa 1910 ad for Blue Label Ketchup (Source: MSU Campus Archaeology Program)

The Curtice Brothers’ Blue Label Ketchup was a casualty of one of the first federal consumer protection regulations, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, a precursor to the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration. This Act sought to inform and protect consumers from drugs and additives that were perceived as dangerous. One of those dangerous additives was benzoate of soda, then a common preservative in many condiments, including Curtice Brothers’ ketchup. Unfortunately for the company in the long run, Curtice Brothers refused to change their ketchup recipe as they believed benzoate of soda was necessary and posed no threat. On the other side of the argument was Heinz Company, which began producing ketchup using a different recipe that omitted benzoate of soda but sold at a higher price. Despite initial successful legal pushback (note the language of the above ad referencing the endorsement of the US government), ultimately public opinion and government regulation against the additive won out and Curtice Brothers “Blue Label Ketchup” lost its market share to Heinz.3

  1. Society for Historical Archaeology, “Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes.”
  2. Soceity for Historical Archaeology, “Bottle Finishes & Closures.”
  3. Smith, Adam F., 1996. Pure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment, with Recipes. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Glass Capitalism

Looking at broken, antique glass bottles a lot can be learned by flipping them upside down and peering into the details of the bottom. In the case of a historic bottle I analyzed for class, a company, but not just any company, a company intent on merging other companies into their own.

This aqua coloured, 16cm tall broken at the neck beer bottle had and AB logo on it with the inscription: Y12. When I first looked upon this bottle I assumed it was made in 1912 due to the number but also that, once I had researched was made by the company:The Adolphus Busch Glass Mfg. Co. But when further researching this company I found that it had been picked up by The American Bottle Company in 1905. Located in Newark, Ohio, this company had a tendency to take over other glass companies including the Adolphus Busch but also companies like The Massillon Bottle and Glass Company. Bellow is a photo of men that would have been apart of the larger American Bottle Company from one of the smaller companies.

American Bottle Co. yardmen. Provided by the Massillon Museum

The bottle itself would have been made either in Ohio or at the original site of the Adolphus Busch company in Missouri. It would have contained some type of beer and was most likely consumed within a home or at the bar in a local pub in Seattle (where it was found). Beyond the basics of what the bottle contained and where it was from, a lot can be learned about the history of its creation by looking deeper into the glass itself to uncover the company that created it. In this case the American Bottle Company.

Historic Bottles: Ozomulsion

This is an amber medical bottle which contained Ozomulsion. Ozomulsion was “considered” to have been the cure for consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) during the time it was manufactured. In researching the glass container, I discovered the bottle was first introduced in the 1880’s. It was manufactured in London, and New York. Dr. M. Donald Blaufox states that ads for Ozomulsion appeared as late as 1948. The amber bottle has large letters embossed on the front which spell “OZOMULSION”. Since the bottle is rather large, I would presume one would need to pour the contents into a separate container prior to using it.

Here’s an ad I found when researching Ozomulsion:

I would certainly expect Ozomulsion to have been in this bottle in the time it was discovered. Considering it was assumed to have been the cure for “consumption”, I would also suspect parents purchased the product for their children. It’s likely that anyone who believed this was the cure for consumption would have purchased this product if they were able.

– Stephanie H.


Blaufox, M. Donald M.D., PH. D. (Unknown). Museum of Historical Artifacts: 19th Century Medicine. Creative Commons Attribution. Retrieved 12 Feb. 2017