Old Glass Bottles, or YAMO (Yet Another Magnificant Obsession)
October 7, 2006 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Historic Glass Bottles. Bill Lindsey of the BLM created a tremendous resource to assist you in identifying and dating most utilitarian glass bottles and jars produced in the United States and Canada between the early 1800s and 1950s. Check out information on glassmaking, bottle dating, and bottle types. Of particular interest to me are the pages on liquor, wine, and beer bottles.
posted by monju_bosatsu (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, thanks for the cool links.
posted by Staggering Jack at 4:15 PM on October 7, 2006

Your tax dollars at work.
posted by parmanparman at 4:44 PM on October 7, 2006

Interesting. But I found this a bit quirky:

GOAL OF THIS WEBSITE: To enable the user to answer two primary questions about most utilitarian bottles and jars* produced in the United States (and Canada**) between the early 1800s and 1950s,

This website is intended for...- Field archaeologists trying to identify and date bottles or bottle fragments which are found during cultural surveys and excavations in the United States;

I guess I never really considered the study of objects less than a hundred years old as an archaeological pursuit. It seems to more of historian kind of endeavor.

Nevertheless, that's for the collection of links.
posted by quin at 4:45 PM on October 7, 2006

Where "that's" == "thanks".
posted by quin at 4:45 PM on October 7, 2006

Very cool obsession. Thanks!
posted by owhydididoit at 4:47 PM on October 7, 2006

Whoa, this takes me back. For a while I was totally obsessed with identifying the pontil marks on handmade marbles. I loved marbles so much. Had I been an uncircumcised boy, I probably would have spent a lot of time stuffing large quantities of them into my foreskin like some other people.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2006

I think this is an excellent use of tax dollars. Let's hear it for the Department of the Interior!

posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:08 PM on October 7, 2006

Great site, horrendous fontage.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:09 PM on October 7, 2006

Comic sans is the mark of any truly magnificent obsession.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:10 PM on October 7, 2006

Wow. This takes me back. When I was about ten, I spent a whole summer digging for old glass bottles in my backyard. We lived in an early-1900's farm house, and their chosen method of trash disposal was to take it out back and throw it over the side of the hill. Over time, the hillside eroded and years of leaves rotted, burying the trash under a few inches of topsoil. So 100 years later, I was able to reconstruct something about my great grandparents lives from their durable garbage. I think it was a great lesson in amature archeology too. I would section off little parts of the hill and probe them with a soup spoon until I was satisfied I found everything in that sector. My best find ever was a Lydia Pinkham's Bottle.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:33 PM on October 7, 2006

Signed by AW Scott, founder of Scott's Pharmacy, Ft. Collins, Co.
posted by taosbat at 9:34 PM on October 7, 2006

And like any obsession, bottle collecting is not without risks:posted by cenoxo at 8:26 AM on October 8, 2006

That's a very cool and useful site. I love bottles, they were always my favorite when I was shovelbumming around cultural resource management projects in the southeast, specializing in historical archaeology (colonial through early 1900:s) .

Unfortunately, unscrupulous bottle hunters are the scourge and bane of anyone doing serious excavations on historic sites. We were in the middle of a huge Phase III data recovery project (i.e. what most people would recognize as an archaeological dig) in Mobile, Alabama, when bottle hunters hit our site.

Weeks of careful, painstaking unearthing of artifact-rich features (remnants of things like privys and trash pits, etc.) throughout the site were wiped out in one fell swoop overnight by indiscriminate digging in search of bottles. Every single one of the 20 or so large features, and many of the small ones, were dug out, the ceramics, bone, metal, and other items scattered and the bottles taken.

Once it's dug up like that, the information hidden in those features is gone forever. The soil strata that can give you a reverse timeline, the location of ceramics inside the feature that can tell you how to put them back together, the location of the rusted metal pieces that can maybe tell you what type of item it actually is, the interplay between different types of artifacts within the feature, ALL of it gone forever with no going back.

The security company that was paid to be guarding the site - but who didn't think it could possibly be important so they didn't do it - got in serious trouble. But it still set the project back several weeks and thousands of dollars, as we had to clean up and try to get as much of the dug out features recorded as possible, while uncovering a second part of the lot for the actual project. Not to mention the data that was lost...

There are decent bottle collectors out there, who wouldn't dream of doing something like that, but just keep that in mind when buying old bottles, for example. I imagine that the bottles featured on the BLM site come from curated collections (i.e. post-exavation, post-labwork, long-term storage), as some of the photos have visible the telltale "numbers on white background" markings.

(And for quin, the 1950's stuff can be hard to distinguish from the early 1900:s stuff, and can be mixed in with older things, so that's why it's useful to have later items too. Also, anything can have archaeological value since archeology is just the study of the past through material artifacts. Most people would consider 50+ years to be the cutoff, though.)
posted by gemmy at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2006

Thanks for another excellent post monju_bosatsu. My parents have quite a few bottles that probably fit into that timeframe. Next time I'm there, maybe I can look them up.
posted by turbodog at 7:04 PM on October 8, 2006

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