July 4, 2024

The Glossary of Bottle Terms

A narrow-necked container made of an impermeable material in many shapes and sizes that stores and transports liquids. Its mouth may be sealed with an internal stopper, an external bottle cap, a closure or induction sealing. Bottles can be glass, plastic, or any other workable material.

This glossary defines specialized terminology used throughout this website and some other sites related to historic bottles. Some of it is collector based, some is technical glassmaking jargon, and some is a mixture of both. The definitions are intended to help fully understand historic bottles and to assist in identification.

Glass maker/bottle/glass historian terminology

A glob (gob) of molten glass collected on the end of a blowpipe and expanded to form a free-blown bottle. The act of collecting and expanding the glob of molten glass was called “gathering” and the person who often did this was known as the gatherer (Bridgeton Evening News 1889).

Laid-on ring – A slag bead trailed around and/or slightly below the opening or bore of a bottle and fused to it. Often added to strengthen the bore or neck of the bottle and to prevent cooling breakage. See the laid-on ring discussion on the Bottle Finishes & Closures page.

Hinge mold – a separate mold section that resulted in either a cup-bottom or post base conformation on the finished bottle. Also referred to as the base plate. A keyed mold variant of the hinge mold is often referred to as the ‘key’ mold. This is discussed more in depth on the Bottle Bases page.

Maker’s mark – Bottle embossing or other types of marks that identify what glass company actually produced the bottle. The classic text on this subject is Dr Julian Toulouse’s book ‘Bottle Makers & Their Markings’ (1971). Bottle & Glass Markings is covered in greater detail on this web site under the Glass Makers & their Marks page.

Plastic bottle – A modern man-made plastic that is formed by molding and is not subject to the thermal cycles of expansion and contraction like glass. There are many different kinds of plastics and they vary in stiffness, transparency, color, chemical resistance and other properties. Common kinds of plastics used to make bottles include Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or vinyl), and Polypropylene (PP). Some manufacturers have begun using an alternative type of plastic called ‘Biodegradable PET’ that is a ‘greener’ alternative to traditional plastics. This kind of plastic breaks down in a short period of time after being discarded or melted down for recycling. The process for recycling biodegradable PET is currently being tested on a large scale. Hopefully, in the near future all plastics will be made from this more sustainable material. The use of these newer greener plastics can greatly reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. In addition, the production of these plastics uses significantly less petroleum and other fossil fuels than the manufacture of glass bottles. This is a very important factor in the overall reduction of carbon emissions.