Historic Bottle Website - Homepage (2023)

Historic Bottle Website - Homepage (1)Historic Bottle Website - Homepage (2)Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website

Main Subject Pages
Makers Marks
Fragment ID
About this site
Website Map

Welcome to the BLM/SHA
Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website!

Historic Bottle Website - Homepage (4)Historic Bottle Website - Homepage (5)The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers and manages over 248 million surface acres of America's public lands, located primarily in 11 Western States and Alaska. Part of the mission of the BLM is the management and preservation of the cultural and heritage resources found on America's public lands - prehistoric and historic.

The author createdthis website as a BLMemployee and continues to update and enhance the site in retirement as a volunteer. This website now has a permanent home courtesy of the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA).

(Video) How to find Bottle Digging site UK - Historic Landfill and Old Maps - locating Dumps / Tips

WebsiteGoals: To enable the user to answer two primary questions about most utilitarian bottles and jars* produced in the United States (and Canada**) between the late 1700s and 1950s, as follows:

1. What is the age of the bottle?
(i.e., likely date range of manufacturing)
2. What type of bottle is it?
(i.e., likely use or function - typing/typology)

The above two questions also address what was succinctly articulated in the Intermountain Antiquities Computer System (IMACS) and the nominal purpose of this website, which is …to provide archaeologists with a manual for a standard approach to arriving at historical artifact function and chronology (University of Utah 1992). This entire website is essentially a "key" - albeit a complex one - to the dating and typing (typology) of historic bottles. In addition, this site also assists the user with these questions:

3. What technology, techniques, or processes were used to manufacture the bottle?
4. Where was the bottle made and/or used?
5. Where can I go for more information on historic bottles?

Blow-pipe pontil scar.
Bottle ca. 1850-1855

This website will explain why this sharp glass mark on the base of a bottle is a key mid-19th century (and earlier) diagnostic characteristic.

Since there were hundreds of thousands of uniquely different bottles produced in the United States (and Canada**) between the late 18th century and the 1950s (Fike 1987), it is beyond the scope or even possibility of this site (or any website or book) to provide specific details about more than just a fraction of a percent of that variety. Even then, the bottles discussed in depth are so primarily to illustrate the presented information and concepts.

This site instead attempts to help the user determine some key facts - approximate age & function - about any given utilitarian* bottle/jar based on observable physical characteristics. Many hundreds of specific historic bottles are used as examples within the pages of this website to illustrate the concepts discussed; with luck you may find the specific bottle you have an interest in discussed though typically you will not.

This website is intended for...

▪ Field archaeologists trying to identify and date bottles or bottle fragments which are found during cultural surveys and archaeological excavations in the United States;
▪ Educators dealing with the subject of historical archaeology; and
▪ Collectors and the general public trying to date a bottle, determine what it was likely used for, and/or begin their search for information dealing with the fascinating world of historic bottles.
(Video) Antique Bottle Basics


Some of the embossed markings on the bottle base above are a great information source for 20th century bottle identification; some are meaningless. This bottle is an Owens-Illinois Glass Company produced beer bottle made in 1941 by the Oakland, CA. plant.

This website will help you determine what to look for when identifying and dating historic bottles.

If you are attempting to estimate the approximate manufacturing date - or age - of a particular bottle (or significant sized fragment) the first page to visit would be the Bottle Dating page and its related sub-pages. These pages lead a user through a series of questions about the physical/morphological characteristics of historic bottles which help to narrow down the age of an item. This complex of pages is a major hub of the rest of this website and the best place to start a search. Also linked to the Dating page is a sub-page called Examples of Dating Historic Bottles which tracks a few different bottles through a dating and general information quest to illustrate how the dating process and this website work.

If you are interested in identifying what a bottle was likely used for - i.e., what "type" of bottle it is (aka "typology") - the Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes page and the extensive array of related sub-pages should be visited. This very large complex of pages includes bottle type specific sub-pages with extensive style based dating information, including complete scans of 5 different early 20th century (1906 to 1933) bottle makers catalogs spanning the mouth-blown to machine-made bottle manufacturing era! The "Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes" complex of pages is in essence an on-line "type collection" of major bottles styles and types made from the late 18th through mid-20th centuries. Please note that the main "Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes" page - and many of the subordinate pages - are very large with hundreds of imbedded images ; they may take a bit of time to load even with a moderate to high speed internet connection.

Be aware that none of the pages are all inclusive since related information exists on one or many other website pages. For example, there is information pertinent to dating a bottle on virtually every website page. The title of any given page gives the predominant theme of that page and would be the first place to start when pursuing information on that particular subject. However, the process of bottle identification and dating is quite complex with many exceptions; thus, the need for many web pages covering an extensive amount of descriptive information. A listing or "map" of all the main subject pages and connected sub-pages found within this website is found at the following link - Website Map. Use that page to get a feel for the structure of this website and to access any of the other web pages.

It is suggested that if you only bookmark one page of this website for future reference, that it be the Website Map. That page also includes a summary of significant recent changes and additions to this website.

(Video) How to clean antique bottles! The hard part of digging bottles!

When possible, the information on this website is given general reliability rating estimates (e.g., high, moderate, low or "usually", "occasionally", "almost always", "almost never") to allow a user some "feel" for the probable accuracy of their conclusion or determination. In addition, there are hundreds of dating and/or typing determination examples scattered throughout virtually every site page to give the user a feel for the processes involved in dating and/or typing a bottle.

To do a word/phrase or image search of this website one must use the following Google search link:
Search the SHA/BLM Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website
(Note: Search results for this website will be just below the final top-of-the-page Google paid ads.)

It is recommended that a new user first view a short listing of User Tips about how this site "works." Click on User Tips (pop-up page) to view this information.

If you simply want to learn something about historic bottles and/or view pictures of a lot of different type historic bottles, just "surf" the site!

Historic Bottle Website Authors Note 5/21/2022: With the completion of the basic versions of the complex of Typology/Typing pages in 2019 this website is considered complete. Corrections to and elaboration of the existing information as well as additional historic bottle examples, pertinent manufacturing and other related information will be added/expanded on the various typology pages as well as the other subject pages. Also ongoing in the future will be revisions of the completed Makers Markings articles - revisions which began in 2021 by the primary author of that section of this site (Bill Lockhart).

*Note on the scope of this website: This website is designed to provide information on the dating of typical "utilitarian" bottles and jars made in the United States from the late 18th through mid-20th centuries. It does not attempt to fully address the dating of "specialty" or imported bottles made during that time, though much of the information found on this website is pertinent to these items to varying degrees.


What is a utilitarian bottle or jar? What are specialty bottles? Both are hard questions to answer and the answer is somewhat arbitrary in the end. For this website the distinction between the two categories is related to the varying time frames that different glass making techniques were used for the two classes of bottles. Click on utilitarian bottles or specialty bottles to view the portion of the Glossary Page that covers these subjects. The author has tried to define the distinction between these two classes of bottles from the perspective of the intent of and information found on this website.

**Note on Canadian bottles: This website was prepared based primarily on information about bottle manufacturing technologies, processes, and styles specific to the United States. Empirical observations indicate that Canadian-made bottles very often followed similar glassmaking technique and process chronologies making much of the information applicable to Canadian made bottles. However, some Canadian-made bottles mirrored English manufacturing techniques/timeframes and many English stylistic trends (particularly for liquor, soda, and beer bottles) which differed somewhat from typical U. S. items - though many Canadian bottles also mirrored U. S. styles. If using this site for the dating or typing of a known or likely Canadian-made bottle, keep this in mind as the reliability of the information may be reduced.

The subject of Canadian-made and imported (primarily European) bottles is addressed by the following question on the FAQ's page:
Why are only bottles produced in the United States covered by this website?

The opinions expressed are those of the website author and not necessarily those of The Society for Historical Archaeology nor the Bureau of Land Management.

This website created and managed by:
Bill Lindsey
Bureau of Land Management (retired) -
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Questions? SeeFAQ #21.

Copyright © 2023 Bill Lindsey. All rights reserved. Viewers are encouraged, for personal or classroom use, to download limited copies of posted material. No material may be copied for commercial purposes. Author reserves the right to update this information as appropriate.



How do I identify old bottle markings? ›

Embossed Markings

Typical embossed marks include a maker's mark or letters on the bottle's side or base. You may also see mold lines or machine marks. Missing letters, uneven spacing, or other embossing errors provide clues to a bottle's age.

How do I find out what year my bottle was made? ›

Most bottle manufacturers molded the year into the glass at the bottom of the bottle in 2-digit format. You'll often find it in the lower right portion when looking at the bottom (some dates are much easier to distinguish than others).

What are the markings on the bottom of antique bottles? ›

Pontil Marks or Scars

The bases of early (first half of the 19th century) mouth-blown bottles usually have some type of pontil mark or scar. The presence (or absence) of pontil marks or scars and the specific type of mark, can be very useful in the dating of 19th century bottles.

What is the history of old bottles? ›

The first glass bottles were produced in Mesopotamia around 1500 B.C., and in the Roman Empire around 1 AD. America's glass bottle and glass jar industry was born in the early 1600s, when settlers in Jamestown built the first glass-melting furnace.

How can you tell if old glassware is valuable? ›

Markings on glassware can help affect their value! Typically, glassware with pontil marks is considered more valuable because they are older and handmade. Scarcity is another factor that will affect the value of your antique glass. Bottles that are rare are going to yield a higher profit due to their low availability.

What is a pontil mark on a bottle? ›

A pontil mark is a variable size and type of scar or roughage left on the base of a bottle by a pontil rod. A typical pontil rod (aka ponty, punty or punte) was a long (4-6 feet) rod which was securely attached to the base of the just blown hot bottle (Trowbridge 1870).

Can you tell a year by a serial number? ›

To Determine Manufacture Date Based on Serial Number: The 1st three numbers of your serial number will always provide your manufacture date. The 1st number is the YEAR of manufacture; the 2nd & 3rd numbers indicate the MONTH of manufacture.

How do you date antique milk bottles? ›

The shape of a milk bottle can tell you about the time period when the bottle was made. For instance, round bottomed bottles with tall sides were made prior to 1930 and most square bottomed bottles with short sides were made after 1940.

When did bottles get screw tops? ›

First introduced in the 1950s, they were developed to combat the quality-related struggles of the traditional cork. In using aluminum with a polyethylene or tin coating, the screw cap is able to create an extremely tight seal, which prevents unwanted oxidization.

How do I know if my bottles are valuable? ›

Some of the items that can make a bottle more valuable include original labels, wrappings, boxes or even the original contents of the bottle. Once you have assessed your bottle based on its color, age and accessories, you must consider its condition.

What kind of old bottles are worth money? ›

Some categories are more valuable than others, but there are highly collectible bottles in each category.
  • Bitters.
  • Medicine.
  • Flask.
  • Label under glass.
  • Beverages, including whiskey and liquor.
  • Cosmetics.
  • Druggists.
  • Fruit jars.

What does the 2 mean on the bottom of a plastic bottle? ›

2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Widely recyclable.

Why do antique bottles turn purple? ›

Solarization of Glass

It is a photochemical phenomenon that is not yet perfectly understood. It is generally accepted that the ultra-violet light initiates an electron exchange between the manganese and iron ions. This changes the manganese compound into a form that causes the glass to turn purple.

Where is the best place to find old bottles? ›

Most bottles are found in places that are associated with finding old glass. This includes former trash dumps, old privies (or outhouses), construction sites, and waterfront areas. Any area that served as a dump site for a long period of time is a bottle digger's paradise.

What is the oldest bottle? ›

But a century is nothing to the Speyer wine bottle, also known as the Römerwein aus Speyer. Its murky contents have sat undisturbed inside clear glass for 1,693 years. The 1.5 liter bottle has handles shaped like dolphins and was buried in the tomb of a Roman nobleman and noblewoman near today's city of Speyer.

What is the most sought after vintage glassware? ›

Some of the most collectible types & styles of antique and vintage glassware include Depression Glass, Carnival Glass, Milk Glass, Moonstone, Hobnail Glass, and Jadeite. One of the most popular styles of antique glass was a Hen on Nest, also known as Animal Dishes because of the variety of animals they come in.

What antiques are in high demand? ›

Here, you'll find a list of the most popular vintage items that are currently in demand.
  • Records. Records are a popular collectible item among various age groups. ...
  • Vintage Advertising Signage. ...
  • Vintage Books. ...
  • Automobilia/Petroliana. ...
  • Vintage Toys. ...
  • Jewelry. ...
  • Mid-Century Modern. ...
  • Art Deco.
Mar 1, 2022

What color glass is worth money? ›

Look for pink, blue and green glassware

Pink tends to be the most valuable because it is more rare. Yellow and amber colored depression glass is more common and therefore less valuable.

What does a Hutchinson bottle look like? ›

Hutchinson soda bottles are a unique type of antique bottle that had a wire stopper inside the neck and blob of the bottle. We collectors often refer to them simply as "Hutches". The wire piece that makes up the stopper on the bottle is slightly hourglass shaped.

How do I identify my glassware markings? ›

How to Know Whether Glass Is Antique
  1. Pontil marks - Blown glass, as opposed to molded glass, usually has a pontil mark on the bottom. ...
  2. Bubbles and irregularities - Many antique glass pieces have tiny bubbles or other imperfections in the glass. ...
  3. Patina - Older glass usually has a patina of time and use.

What do the dots on the bottom of glass bottles mean? ›

What are the small dots on the bottom of a bottle for? The sequence of space and dots represents a mold code number and allow electronic control of the production process and of that particular mold.

Is there a website to check serial numbers? ›

Have it Back incorporates nearly all freely available serial numbers. Utilizing this database, you can verify before or after purchasing an item if said object has been marked as missing or stolen.

What serial numbers are collectible? ›

Generally, the more unique the serial number on your dollar bill, the more likely it is to be worth more than face value. Some examples of uniqueness include repeating numbers, numbers with a star after them and sequences (such as 12345678).

What kind of serial numbers are worth money? ›

Notes that have serial numbers with digits that ascend or descend are also pretty prized. Called "ladder bills," the most sought-after examples are bills that feature the so-called "perfect" ladder serial numbers: 12345678 and 87654321.

Do old milk bottles have any value? ›

Before you buy or sell a milk bottle, it helps to know how much it's worth. These bottles can range from about $10 to $200 or more, depending on a number of factors.

Why do old bottles have a round bottom? ›

As you can see, the bases are round, and that's not a manufacturing limitation, but a design decision. These bottles were purposely designed to not be able to stand. The reason is because at the time, bottles were all sealed with corks.

Are old Coke bottles worth anything? ›

The straight-sided bottles can vary in value from $25 up to around $400, depending on the condition and the uniqueness. Amber-colored bottles, sold widely in the South and Midwest, tend to be more valuable than the clear or light green or flint straight-sided bottles that were more common in other parts of the country.

How old is the blob top bottle? ›

Dating Summary/Notes: The blob-top style soda/mineral water bottles appear to have originated in the early 1840s and were quite popular by 1850 (Markota 1994).

When did they stop using corks in bottles? ›

It was the industry standard until 1955, when it was replaced by the plastic stopper. In 1956, 20 bottles of vintage 1789 wine were found with corks in them, most notably the corks were in fine condition and the wine well-preserved.

What are the most expensive old bottles? ›

A 150-year-old blue Cassin's Grape Brandy Bitters bottle, so rare that for years many doubted its existence, has sold for a staggering $155,000.

What does the 10 cents mean on bottles? ›

That symbol means the container is eligible to be recycled for cash. What you get: 5¢ for most glass bottles, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans less than 24 ounces. 10¢ for equal to 24 ounces and larger.

Should you clean antique bottles? ›

Rinse the bottle with room temperature water. Use a bottle brush to clean the inside. For many old bottles this will remove the dirt and grime that has built up over the years.

What is a methusalem bottle? ›

Methuselahs are 6 Litres of Champagne and are equal to 8 Standard Champagne Bottles. Large bottles of Champagne are named after Biblical figures and the Methuselah is named after the celebrated biblical patriarch said to have lived to the age of 969 (Genesis 5.27).

What is a Methuselah bottle? ›

Methuselah: 6 Liters (8 bottles)

Similar to Imperials, Methuselah also contains 6 liters or 8 equivalent bottles of wine. The difference between the two is the liquid they contain. The Methuselah is usually reserved for champagne or sparkling wine and comes in a sloped shoulder bottle.

Is an Aunt Jemima syrup bottle worth anything? ›

The answer is no.

What does number 7 mean on bottom of bottle? ›

#7 – Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN)

Number 7 plastics are used to make baby bottles, sippy cups, water cooler bottles and car parts. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food containers often marked on the bottom with the letters “PC” by the recycling label #7.

What does A and B mean on a bottle? ›

Most of the bottles with the “AB-connected” or “conjoined AB” mark embossed on the bottom are handmade (mouth-blown) and were made to contain beer. They date from the circa 1905-1917 time period, and (possibly) primarily from an earlier stretch within those years: c.

What does 7 in a triangle mean? ›

Miscellaneous Plastics

Any plastic that does not fall under one of those six types has a 7 inside the triangle. These plastics include nylon and polycarbonate and are found in certain food containers, signs and displays, computers and electronic devices, DVDs, sunglasses, and bulletproof materials.

What is vintage purple glass called? ›

NOTE: Glass containing enough manganese may NATURALLY turn some shade of very light to medium purple after several years of exposure to the rays of the sun. This was frequently termed “SCA” (sun colored amethyst) or “desert glass” by bottle collectors especially in the 1960s and 1970s.

What is the best way to clean antique bottles? ›

All you need to do is pour a generous amount of salt into your bottle and then add a bit of warm water until it creates a good consistency. Next, cover the opening of the bottle and shake it well! The salt acts as an abrasive to help scrape off dirt and debris!

Why do you keep hydrogen peroxide in dark brown bottles? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is highly reactive that can react with light or heat to produce water. To prevent it's reaction with light and heat to make water it is stored in coloured bottles so that light doesn't pass through it.

Is it illegal to bottle dig? ›

ANTIQUE bottle digging is something of a tricky issue to deal with because it is, well, kind of illegal. A secretive community of bottle diggers can create huge trenches to recover an array of glass bottles as well as other household items dating back to the Victorian period.

Who collects antique bottles? ›

The Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors (FOHBC) is a nonprofit organization that supports people who collect antique bottles and items related to them, such as flasks and jars. The Antique Bottle Depot buys and sells antique bottles.

Can you drink a 100 year old wine? ›

The best wines can be stored for more than 100 years, but most great wines will reach their peak before they turn 50 years old.

Does wine go bad? ›

But the clock is ticking: in as little as two days, oxidation can spoil a wine and, soon enough, this process will turn it to vinegar. First, the fruity aromas disappear, then its flavors turn dull and flat, with a sharp or bitter edge, and the color changes.

Does wine ever expire? ›

How Long Does Wine Typically Last? When stored properly and kept unopened, white wines can often outlive their recommended drinking window by 1-2 years, red wines by 2-3 years, and cooking wines by 3-5 years. Fine wine — as you may have guessed — can typically be consumed for decades.

How do you date a vintage milk bottle? ›

The shape of a milk bottle can tell you about the time period when the bottle was made. For instance, round bottomed bottles with tall sides were made prior to 1930 and most square bottomed bottles with short sides were made after 1940.

When you see a vintage year listed on a wine label what does that indicate? ›

Look out for the year the wine was produced on the wine label – this is called the 'vintage'. If it's not immediately clear on the front label, take a look on the neck of the bottle or on the reverse side. This year indicates the year in which the grapes were harvested. Vintages vary from year to year.

What year did bottles have screw tops? ›

First introduced in the 1950s, they were developed to combat the quality-related struggles of the traditional cork. In using aluminum with a polyethylene or tin coating, the screw cap is able to create an extremely tight seal, which prevents unwanted oxidization.

What do the numbers on the bottom of liquor bottles mean? ›

In this format, the first number is the glassmaker's permit to make liquor bottles, and the second number is the year the bottle was made.

What is the 75 85 95 wine rule? ›

The 75-85-95% Rule for Wine Labels

To place a particular varietal (ex: Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay) on a label, 75% of the grapes must be that varietal. To place a particular AVA (American Viticultural Area) on the label (ex: Coombsville or Russian River Valley), 85% of the grapes must be grown in that region.

What does NV mean on a wine label? ›

It is as it says, a 'non-vintage' so not made from a singular year (vintage champagne) but instead is a blend several years of reserve wines (either in tank or barrel, some use a Solera system) to create a consistency that the consumer can identify with a certain style of the house.

What is the world's oldest wine label? ›

The world's oldest wine label belongs to Cyprus. Commandaria, also known as Commanderia and Coumadarka, is a sweet tasting wine usually served with desserts. It is made in the Commandaria region of Cyprus close to Trodos mountains. The ingredients of Commandaria is the varieties of Xynisteri and Mavro grapes.

Why did old bottles have round bottoms? ›

As you can see, the bases are round, and that's not a manufacturing limitation, but a design decision. These bottles were purposely designed to not be able to stand. The reason is because at the time, bottles were all sealed with corks.

Why do old bottles have a concave bottom? ›

- The dimple allows the bottle to stand upright. Glassblowers used to create dimples to push the seam of a bottle up, allowing the bottle to stand upright while preventing glass at the bottom of the bottle from sticking out and cutting people.

What does 1 in a triangle mean on a bottle? ›

The "1" inside a triangle indicates PETE or PET, which is Polyethylene Terephthalate. This material is commonly used in soft drinks, beer, and water bottles. It's also found in ovenable food trays, salad dressing and vegetable oil containers, and mouthwash bottles.

What does 1 mean on the bottom of a bottle? ›

1: PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate)

There's a good chance you've held something made of this plastic type today. PET or PETE is what's used to make bottles for soda, water and other drinks. It's also used to make cooking oil containers, plastic peanut butter jars and containers for other popular food items.


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