What Is a Bottle?

A bottle is a narrow-necked container in various shapes and sizes which stores and transports liquids. It is sealed with either an internal stopper, a bottle cap, a closure or induction sealing. Bottles are a natural resource which can be recycled indefinitely, unlike plastic bottles which will eventually break down. Bottle laws are being passed in many states requiring that they be reused or recycled.

Glass bottles are made of an impermeable material in a wide range of sizes and shapes which store and transport liquids. They can be sealed with a bottle cap, a bottle closure, or induction sealing (see the Bottles & Closures page for more information). Bottles are constructed of two or more pieces and joined together by a glass seam. Bottles are usually manufactured using a parison mold, although some are made by forming a pre-bottle in a glass pot and then blowing it to the desired shape in a hot glass chamber.

Bottles are constructed from a wide range of materials which include clear, green, amber, and colored glass in addition to glass lined with lead for medical or laboratory use. Many bottles are molded into a particular shape or size, and some are decorated with color or a label. Decorative and labeling methods for glass bottles include silk screening, applied lettering, and baked enamel labeling.

Some bottles are embossed with a volume capacity or a manufacturer’s name. Others are merely marked with the contents. A bottle which does not have embossed lettering is referred to as a “label only” bottle. This was a common practice for many period bottle makers who did not want to spend money on the extra expense of embossing a large number of bottles which might be thrown away after only a short time of use.

Applied finish (or lip)

A bottle feature which has been hand ground to enhance sealing and/or closure fit. This was commonly done on hand-made bottles with outside screw threads (such as glass canning jars) and may be seen on some sheared finishes also. It is not to be confused with a tooled finish which was machine-formed on the severed neck end of the bottle – see Tooled Finishes below.

Click a picture or the link to view more information about the particular bottle feature described above. Some general physical characteristics of bottles (or bottle morphology) are illustrated on the General Bottle Morphology page. Other pictures and links are available throughout this website if more detailed information is needed – click the green hyperlinks in the table of contents to the left.