A bottle is a round or non-round glass container, usually for liquids. This type of glass container is a popular choice for many collectors and is often used to preserve food and other important objects. It is an essential component of any collection, enabling safe transportation of liquids as well as protecting stored food from contamination.
Typically a bottle is formed by blowing and/or hand forming, but sometimes it can also be machine blown (i.e., a bottle that was formed in a machine or press-and-blow process). The term “bottle” comes from the 19th Century use of the word “bottle” as slang for courage or nerve.
Early bottles were often produced by “double-dipped” processes, meaning that the initial gather was inflated and slightly dipped into a pot of glass to form a second layer of glass. This second layer did not completely cover the first – but it was applied, and is indicated by a thickened ridge on the finished bottle’s neck. This method is sometimes referred to as the “German half-post” in collector jargon but the process is far from ancient.
Bottle mold – This is the portion of a mold which is used to shape and form the body, shoulder, neck, finish, and most if not all of the base of a bottle; this portion is generally considered a full sized mold (Munsey 1970). Other types of bottle molds are dip molds or pattern molds.
Blowpipe – A long, flexible, and often curved pipe used in mouth-blown glass making to force air pressure through a glass “gap” or parison mold into a bottle. The nozzle was often made of metal to reduce the risk of breaking the resulting glass. The nozzle could be either flat or round, and was usually attached to a handle.
Clapper – A tool in glassmaking that is used to shape bottles and other glass items; a flattened version of the clapper was often made from wood and was known as a battledore (Hunter 1950). Other tools were also used, such as the “jack” (see below), pontil rods, or even a small furnace called a glory hole which is commonly associated with reheating a glass bottle for facilitating neck and finish forming or re-firing it to remove imperfections in the glass (Wilson 1994).
Glory hole – A small furnace introduced about 1850 and most commonly seen on a press-and-blow machine for reheating the neck of a bottle to facilitating neck and finish forming, smoothing out smudges and other surface defects, and pre-heating blowpipes and other specialized tools prior to use (Bridgeton Evening News 1889; Whitehouse 1993).
Jack – A highly versatile steel, or sometimes wooden, tong-like tool used almost like “fingers” to manipulate hot glass by the gaffer or other glassworkers. The jack was often attached to a handle and was used for neck and finish forming as well as holding or guiding any other tool that was hot.
Mamelon – A slightly protrusive line or embossed dot in the middle of the indented base of the bottle (see image to left). This characteristic is uncommonly encountered on free-blown and dip-molded bottles; however, it is sometimes found on pressed & molded bottles as well.