A Look Into Our Collection: Bottles

Frontier Homestead recently acquired a large collection of glass bottles and canning jars from local Cedar City resident, Lois Bulloch. Over the next two weeks, we are excited to give you a look into the stories these bottles and jars tell. First, some history. Glass bottle production began with hand blown free form bottles, a labor intensive process, with most of the workers being young boys.  In 1904 the automatic bottle making machine, patented by Michael Joseph Owens, allowed for faster, less costly, and more consistent bottle production. Machine made bottles have very refined vertical seams, identification marks on the bottom, and usually a small circle where the molten glass was automatically cut in the bottle machine.  Modern glass is thin walled and very clear. Antique glass is thicker and may contain bubbles of entrapped air.  Occasionally, older glass is tinted green or blue due to iron impurities, a lack of manganese, or because the tint was thought to be desirable.  Shades of purple and blue glass can be attributed to exposure to sunlight over  time, causing a chemical reaction in the composition of the glass. The following are only a few of the bottles in the collection:

 

Wine Bottle

Wine Bottle

Lois Bulloch Collection

Circa 1865-1920

This wine bottle was mouth blown in a dip mold. A dip mold forms the body of the bottle and produces bottles with slightly narrower bases which expand to larger shoulders, making it easier to get the bottle out of the mold.  The top was free-blown hence the slightly asymmetrical appearance.   Because dip molds are one piece units, there are no vertical mold seams, but there may be seams horizontally around the shoulder where the glass separates from the mold.  Generally no embossing is seen on dip molds.

 

Chamberlain Medicine Bottle

Chamberlain Medicine Bottle

Lois Bulloch Collection

Circa 1900-1930

This bottle was hand blown into a bottle mold based on the rectangular shape with lots of embossing and the hand finished mouth.  The shape of the mouth this bottle indicates that it was probably fitted with a cork stopper.  The embossing says: “CHAMBERLAINS PAIN BALM, Chamberlain Medicine Co., Des Moines, IA, U.S.A."  The company also made cough medicine, liniment and colic, cholera and diarrhea medicine.   The company has been in business for well over 100 years continues to make medicines today.

 

Whiskey Bottle - Post Prohibition

Whiskey Bottle - Post Prohibition

Lois Bulloch Collection

Circa 1932-1964

This bottle is tied to the post prohibition era, after 1932, as indicated by the embossing: “FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR RE-USE OF THIS BOTTLE".  The federal government wanted the revenues of the liquor trade after the repeal of prohibition in 1933 when the 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment (1920).    Along with a requirement to destroy used bottles, marking bottles this way was supposed to keep bootleggers from using bottles that had already been taxed and thus avoiding taxes themselves.  Bootleg alcohol cost half as much as the fully taxed and legal variety so the profits made it worth the risk for these lawbreakers.  Other embossing on this bottle says: “MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN” and on the bottom is the bottle manufacturers mark, year and government registration number.

We have many more bottles for you to see in the museum. Our intrepid museum volunteer, Pete Wilkins has created an informative exhibit highlighting this collection.

Next Time: Jars