When visiting an legacy sale, shoppers are often intrigued by antique bottles. Dedicated bottle collectors, additionally known as party diggers, can not get sufficient of standard glassware’s attractive shapes and also vintage colors. There’s no denying it; old bottles have actually quirks and also charms friend don’t check out with modern-day glassware. But determining a bottle’s period can it is in a challenge. The best place to start is with expertise of production techniques and strategic markings. We’ll teach you how to phone call the age of a glass bottle, therefore you deserve to browse through your following estate sale v confidence.

You are watching: How to tell how old a bottle is

Antique Glass party Production

When identify the approximate age of antique bottles, the first thing to know is how the glass bottle was produced. Native the mid-19th century through the early on 20th century, most glass party took shape under a glassblower’s watchful eye. However, in the mid-20th century, automation took end the glass bottle industry.

Blown Glass Bottles

In the 1800s, glass blowing was a necessary profession. The experienced glassblower carefully blew molten glass into a timber or stole mold. As soon as the warm compound cooled, the artisan applied the finishing touches, including crafting the party lip. Bottle-making to be a labor-intensive handmade in the 1800s. Recognize a glass-blown collectible from the era is a party digger’s dream.

Machine Automation

In 1892, the bottle-making game totally changed v the creation of the semi-automatic party machine. Generally referred to as the automatically bottle maker (or ABM), this maker molded the bottle lip in addition to the bottle’s body. Thus, there was no longer a must hand-finish the bottles.

Although the machine-made bottles are an ext uniform in appearance, collectors find them much less exciting than previously hand-blown glass bottles. ~ above average, the machine-made bottles room worth substantially less than their hand-blown counterparts.

Types of neck Bottles

The neck glass bottle universe includes bottles of numerous shapes, sizes, and also colors. Smooth-based, embossed, personal mold, and also other party effects administer insights that might be advantageous in identify an old glass bottle’s age.

Embossed Glass Bottles

A glass bottle’s embossing results often aid to carry out positive proof of the bottle’s age. The embossing might be situated on any component of the bottle. Multiple types of embossing effects may appear on a single bottle.

You can often determine a bottle’s intended use by the town hall its embossing effects. In addition, if a company embossed its surname on bottles for plenty of decades, you deserve to determine the time period during i m sorry the agency produced that form of bottle. You must run the party through several manufacturing-related inquiries to accurately identify the bottle’s age.

Colored Glass Bottles

Antique bottles often display a lover palette of muted colors that you don’t regularly see in the modern era. Although color is vital descriptor of the bottle’s appearance, there space three reasons why shade isn’t always useful in determining the bottle’s type or age.

First, glass shade isn’t directly related come a specific form of glass. Color additionally has no relation to the glass bottle’s manufacturing method. Finally, color is just marginally regarded a glass object’s function.

However, neck bottle color can give hints to the approximate period of the bottle. The following are noteworthy glass colors and the ages in which they were many popular:

Amber Glass: mainly in use from the late 18th century through the mid-20th centuryAqua Glass: mostly in use between the 1850s come 1880sBlack Glass: early 17th century europe use and also use from the 1840s to 1880s“True” Blue Glass: largely in use from the 1840s through the 1930s (various bottle types)Clear (or colorless) Glass: Originally appeared around the 1870sGreens (non-olive) and Blue-greens Glass: mostly made in the 19th or early on 20th centuryOlive Greens/Ambers Glass: mainly in usage in the 19th century and earlierOpaque White or Milk Glass: mainly in usage from the 1870s through the mid-20th centuryPurple/Amethyst/Red Glass: mainly in usage from the 1840s to the at an early stage 1880s

Clear Glass Bottles

Colorless (or clear) glass bottles had restricted circulation prior to the 1870s. The bottles slowly became more prevalent throughout the last three years of the 19th century. The introduction of automatic bottle equipments in the early 20th century caused clear glass bottles’ enhanced popularity.

Glass party Shapes

A particular bottle’s shape normally indicates the bottle’s usage or type of contents. Most antique bottle styles and also shapes to be tied come a certain kind of product. Because that example, beer bottles, soda bottles, and mineral water party were associated with particular bottle shapes. V rare exceptions, bottles of those forms weren’t used for other products.

Glass bottles from exclusive Molds

During the mid-19th century, personal bottle molds came into vogue. Medicine bottle manufacturers and household goods suppliers bespeak specially molded glass bottles. Soda and mineral water companies also jumped top top the personal mold bandwagon.Whether the manufacturer want a unique designed party or wanted embossing embellishments, every glass company was happy to oblige. In fact, that was roughly this time that embossed party became an extremely popular.


Antique party Bases

The bottle base provides ideas to what the bottle was used for and the bottle’s age. Different species of party were provided for various items and made in various eras. Note that medicine, bitters, liquor, and spirit bottles varied in their base styles. By studying the bottle’s base, you can acquire some much-needed info for your bottle dating.

Push-up Base

Wine party often function this usual bottle basic style. Revolve the bottle over, and also you’ll see that the facility of the party is driven upward right into the bottle base. This permits undesirable alcohol sediment to collection in a ridge around the party base.

The push-up base originated in England in the 1820s, once a push-up base mold component became component of the bottle-making process.

Dark eco-friendly glass alcohol bottles to be the very first to combine the push-up base. Bottle machines in plenty of countries eventually adopted the push-up basic for use with most bottle types.

Open Pontil party Base

Before 1855, most bottles presented an open “pontil mark” on the base of the bottle. Glassblowers provided an stole punty stick to host the bottle. They would certainly secure the punty rod come the bottom the the bottle. Once they finished developing the bottle, they would certainly snap the punty rod off of the bottle, producing the pontil mark. The rough-looking open pontil mark, or pontil scar, looks choose an irregular, colorless hole in the bottle’s base.

Iron Pontil bottle Base

The iron pontil bottle also has an open up pontil scar. However, instead of the note being colorless, the stole pontil bottle display screens a reddish or brownish residue at the break-off point. The shade is likely because of the color of the stole punty rod.

Most steel pontil party were created from 1845 v the mid-1860s. However, there is proof that this bottles may day from the 1830s until around 1870.

Key Mold party Base

From 1850 come 1870, vital mold bottle bases became reasonably common. Bottle bases with vital molds function a semi-circle crafted right into the bottom the the bottle. Some vital mold bottles screen smooth bases, if those made before 1855 display screen a pontil scar.

Owens Ring party Base

The very first machine-produced bottles shown the Owens ring. This attribute was called after the Owens Glass Company, creator that the automatic party machine. The Owens ring to be symmetrical and also did not leave a jagged mark like the earlier punty rod.

Bottles v Owens rings very first appeared around 1904. Through 1917, the Owens automatically bottle maker figured in manufacturing of half of the U.S.-made glass containers.

Machine-Made bottle Base

The hand-blown bottle era ended during the mid-1920s once machinery took over all bottle production. Keep in mind that every machine-produced bottles have actually their mold seams go totally upward end the bottle’s lip.

If the bottle was created on the Owens Automatic bottle Machine, it additionally exhibits a suction scar top top its base. The scar regularly has a feathering result that results from a dull mold blade or a poorly installation or worn mold. It is the telltale sign of an Owens machine-produced bottle.

For reference,, the Owens rings bottles were an initial produced around 1904. The Owens bottles through suction scars (and feathering effects) go not show up until 1905, and also were greatly seen after ~ 1910.

Glass bottle Markings

Though the bottle’s shape may tell you about its to plan use, and the bottle’s color can help with an almost right age, nothing will assist you an ext in your party dating than the bottle’s markings. Study older bottles for any type of evidence of the glass manufacturer.

Search for the agency initials, a single letter, emblem, or trademark. In some cases, neck bottles only contain a numeric sequence. If girlfriend can’t find anything except the numbers, it will certainly be very complicated to recognize the bottle’s manufacturer and also complete the old bottle identification.

Base the the party Markings

Bottles that display letters and also numbers on their bases were likely made anywhere from the so late 19th century to the contemporary era. In most cases, one- or two-digit numbers are actually mold number that suggest the details bottle mold or section in an automatic party machine. If many molds to be identical, each one obtained its own number.Base numbers also indicate bottle styles or shapes, production dates, or manufacturing facility location codes.

Soda party from the Owens-Illinois Glass agency display G-numbers on their bases. These numbers to be codes for a certain bottle design, regardless of the bottle color or soda brand. For reference, the Owens-Illinois Glass firm name resulted from the 1929 merger between the Owens Bottle company (of Owens automatically Bottle device fame) and Illinois Glass Company.

Bottles for whiskey and also other spirits often present liquor bottle permit number on your bases to comply with federal law. The bases also display the glass maker’s trademark and also the date code. Liquor bottles regularly have “D-numbers” on their bases, signifying distillery to know codes.

Maker’s Mark

Brand names, trademarks, and other identifying marks provide useful data in determining an old bottle’s age. As soon as the mark’s owner is established and clearer dates can be suitable to the bottle’s use, the note can assist to positively day the piece. A well-defined maker’s note can help you develop an old bottle’s age. Some glass containers, such as canning jars, have actually a prominent maker’s mark. Other antique bottles absence this telltale identifier.

Embossed Markings

Typical embossed marks include a maker’s mark or letter on the bottle’s next or base. Girlfriend may likewise see mold present or an equipment marks.

Missing letters, uneven spacing, or other embossing errors carry out clues to a bottle’s age. Specifics collectible Coca Cola bottles and milk bottles often incorporate letters or point out that suggest the bottle’s source. These marks might be valuable in learning just how old the party is.

Mold Seams

During mold-sourced party production, the bottle’s removal from the mold resulted in a hard-to-see seam in the glass. Much of the time, the mold seam elevation indicates just how old the bottle is. Machine-produced bottles from 1905 v the 1920s shown higher, thicker mold seams compared to later on machine-made bottles. As technology progressed, the seams grew thinner until they got to a hair’s thickness.

If the bottle seam goes come the lip’s top, the bottle is likely a machine-produced party from 1910 to the contemporary era. If the seam goes to the neck’s top but stops prior to the lip, the party was likely created from 1880 to 1910.

However, whole bottle great stand together exceptions come this rule. Because that example, mid- come late-19th century fruit jars and sheared top bottles have actually their very own mold seam designs.


Bottle Lips

You deserve to determine the approximate age of an old bottle just based upon its lip. ~ the glassblower gotten rid of the party from the mold, the affixed a hot glass lip come the bottle’s neck. Next, he crafted the used lip right into the exactly shape. Pre-1870 bottle lips have actually a crude finish, if those made after 1880 have more uniformity, as result of the production of a lipping tool. This development set the stage for mass bottle production.

The following are the species of used lips offered in the 19th and also early 20th centuries. Use this lip guide to aid you recognize the approximate period of any old party you find.

1830-1850: Flared lip1830-1850: Sheared lip1840-1870: used round band1840-1870: applied square band1840-1870: used taper1840-1870: used blob1840-1870: Applied twin collar1840-1860: In-rolled lip1870-1910: Tooled with used ring1860-1910: at an early stage screw cap v ground lip

Bottle Closures

Old party manufacturers finished your bottles with 3 general species of tops or closures. A party closure protected the bottle’s contents from spilling, dust, and evaporation. Usually speaking, the bottle’s basic finish and closure will certainly be comparable in type and function. Viewing bottle tops might be useful in your bottle dating work.

Cork Top

A cork top, in use because the 18th century, operated as a stopper. The pliable cork might be compelled into the bottle’s top, sealing it regardless of the bottle’s shape. As soon as bottling carbonated beverages, the operator had actually to for sure the cork so the carbonation indigenous the beverage wouldn’t ease it. Failure to perform that regularly resulted in carbonation leaking and even popping the cork before beverage consumption. To protect against this issue, the operator wrapped solid cord or wiring about the bottle’s top neck and also cork.

When consumers eliminate cork tops, the tops have a propensity to break and crumble, do it challenging to eliminate the cork in one piece. This proceeds to be an worry with the sheared optimal wine party in usage today. To remedy this issue, inventors have occurred non-destructive cork-removing implements.

Crown Top

These Victorian-inspired tops come onto the industry in the at an early stage 1890s. Through 1915, most bottle manufacturers had embraced this style top.

Looking downward at the bottle, the crown top is circular through jagged edges and must be opened with a bottle opener. Beer bottles and also soda bottles typically contain a crown top.

Crown-topped bottles enjoyed vast distribution during the machine-made bottle era. Your popularity lasted v the 1960s once screw tops come onto the market.

Screw Top

Invented in the early 19th century, screw tops weren’t developed with any kind of uniform standards. As a result, they no widely provided until machine-produced bottles ended up being commonplace in the 1900s.

Modern bottling production approaches dictate the use of screw top on soda and beer bottles. These 20th-century screw-topped bottles have very little value.

To distinguish an early screw-topped bottle, look for a around ground lip. In addition, the earlier bottle walk not display screen a mold seam running through the lip.

Antique bottles vs Copycat Bottles

In the beforehand 20th century, glass bottle manufacturers began using clear glass instead of aqua glass. Embossing likewise diminished in importance. Food manufacturers demanded much more uniform containers, gradually leading to the loss of production deviations.

Copycat Glass Bottles

Since around 1930, manufacturers have flooded the market with reproductions the mimic neck glass bottles. The bottle’s shape and also texture might be similar to those of a hand-blown glass bottle. This appealing characteristics give it an neck feel and also encourage the reuse the this bottle.

When identify if you have an antique bottle or a copycat, look at at all of the determiners outlined in this article. Beware that copycat party that feature molded pontil marks. Part newly produced bottles display jagged marks the look authentic. Because that visual examples, do a Google search or see bottles for auction top top eBay.

If a bottle display screens a pre-1850 date or very bold glass colors, it’s most likely a reproduction. If you see a huge number of glass impurities or the glass itself is hefty with a distorted shape, it’s a reproduction. An neck bottle device would have gone to considerable lengths to minimize these issues.

Other Resources

For antique party identification, the finest antique party database appears on the culture for historic Archaeology (SHA) website.

Included on the website is the Encyclopedia the Manufacturers’ point out on Glass Containers.

View this expansive perform of neck glass bottle manufacturers, sourced native the Bottle research Group’s released articles. These works cover many of the larger bottle producers in the joined States. The directory additionally includes part Mexican, Canadian, and

United Kingdom bottle makers. Have a look in ~ the SHA encyclopedia for more information on details bottle noting details.

See more: How To Make Phone Calls With No Service In Your Home, How To Make Calls Without A Mobile Signal

Antique party Dating deserve to Be Difficult

It have the right to be tough to determine exactly how old a bottle is. But, through a small detective work, you’ll be able to identify the approximate period of any type of antique bottle. Take her newly acquired bottle identification understanding to your following estate sale. Opportunities are, you’ll watch at antique bottles v an entirely various eye.