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Other diagnostic tools must be used to date these items.Shape is more indicative of function - i.e., what the bottle was used for or contained - but even that has a myriad of exceptions.The shift to the fully automated bottle machine from mouth-blown and some semi-automatic methods in the early 20th century is the classic example (Toulouse 1967, 1969a). The same bottle could have been recycled and reused many times for many years before finally being discarded - entire or broken (Busch 1987).This was almost universal with many beverage bottle types (e.g., soda, beer, milk) but was variably common with just about any type bottle - especially prior to 1920.The information on this website will, however, usually produce a reliable manufacturing date range for a majority of American utilitarian bottles manufactured from the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.Using physical, manufacturing related diagnostic features, most utilitarian bottles can usually only be accurately placed within a date range of 10-15 years (i.e., 1870-1880 or 1885) . Like many industries making the leap from manual craftsman production to industrialization and automation, technological advances in bottle manufacturing were not immediately accepted by glass manufacturers or their workers.Please be aware that in order to gain the maximum information about any particular bottle (e.g., dating, typing) the user must usually must review a number of pages within this website.
This technology lag makes some diagnostic characteristics better than others for dating. As a corollary to #1, consider the following quote: "Treat terminal dates with care.
Of course, soda & beer were reused up until quite recently.
The bottle pictured to the right has a Wait's Liver and Kidney Bitters label pasted over the embossing of a Star Kidney and Liver Bitters bottle!
Produced during the era where all bottles were an relatively rare and cherished commodity to be discarded only when broken (i.e., the first third of the 19th century back many centuries prior) and does not otherwise fit the above two categories.
Utilitarian bottles include the majority of the bottles in the following bottle categories or types: soda, mineral water, beer, milk, proprietary medicine, druggist (excluding shop furniture), chemical, foods & sauces, household (including ink, shoe polish, cleaners, personal hygiene related items), common wine containers (excluding decanters), champagne, and most non-decanter spirits/liquor bottles.
All this adds to the fascination with bottle making, but makes systematic dating similar to solving Rubik's cube - ostensibly simple on the surface but complex in practice.