the common - "how much is it worth" e-mails, our next most
common enquiry revolves around someone trying to identify a particular
bottle they have. Again, in many cases I am not able to help but it
is possible to make good use of the WORLDWIDE ANTIQUE BOTTLE WEB FORUM
above by clicking on the chat link. I especially like the approach of
a recent correspondent. He had a large number of old bottles he knew
nothing about, so he took some digital photographs, placed them on a
web server, then placed his message on our web forum providing links
back to his website. So anyone reading his message could click and then
view all of his bottles - GREAT IDEA!! One I would ask you to think
about if you want others to help you. They say a picture is worth a
thousand word and in the world of Bottles & Bygones this is especially
true. Now for some general hints, especially if you want to know if
you have an old bottle or not.
1 - How do I know if I have an OLD bottle ?
old bottles - these are usually made of blackglass - which is actually
really dark brown or green. Most of these were freeblown and are amazingly
crude. Look out for shapes like onions and mallets and also cylinders,
the latter like the wine bottle shape of today.( Dates 1640's to 1800)
MOLDED bottles - these are what we call 3-piece mold as they were
made in a mold composed of three pieces. Look for tell-tale mold or
seam marks up both the sides AND around the shoulders (Dates - Early
CLEARGLASS AND AQUA glass bottles. Feel the base for a very rough
glass scar but be careful, some are sharp enough to cut ! The scar was
created when the bottle was broken off the PONTIL rod during manufacture.
Many of these are medicine bottles (Dates 1770 - 1870)
OR BIMAL bottles. These have no pontil scar
and were usually made in a two piece mould. A skilled glassblower would
blow a small blob of molten glass into a metal mold and then blow hard
to create an internal air cavity inside the bottle. The mold was then
opened to release the bottle which could also be embossed thanks to
the metal wall of the mold. That still left the lip which had to be
hand applied by the skilled glass workers. Hence BIMAL which stands
for Blown In Mold Applied Lip. Look for the seam or mold mark on both
sides of the bottle which STOPS at the bottle lip. (Dates 1870- 1900)
MADE bottles. These were entirely manufactured inside a mold, usually
in an automated process. This means that these bottles totally lack
the character of the bottles above and few bottle collectors like them.
They all have a uniform appearance and their walls are usually made
of thinner glass. Look carefully at the bottle's lip. If the seam mark
runs up and through the lip you have a fairly modern bottle. (Dates
- from 1900).
is a general statement but usually the older the bottle, the more valuable
and certainly the rarer it is !