Bottles are found almost anywhere-they are durable, plentiful, and come in a huge variety of sizes and shapes. So...where do I even begin? There are a kazillion TYPES (perfume,whiskey,food,beer,etc) of bottles, but the ones I'm most interested in are whiskey and beer bottles. If it is old, and has a label-oooh, now you've got my attention!
Well, let's start with some basics on how to date your bottle. These aren't hard and fast rules, so take em' with a grain of salt (and tequila, if desired)
1) Check the seams on the side:
»None: bottle may be free blown, in which case it has a very uneven shape and dates before 1860. Or the bottle may have a nice even shape, but was spun in the mold to smooth out the seams; a practice common around 1900-1920.
»Blown in mold: side seams run from base and end below the top of lip, which is the result of Blowing In Mold (BIM). Can usually tell that lip is crude and was applied by hand.
»3 piece mold: Bottom half (from base to shoulder) has no seams, then there is a seam near the shoulder that runs completely around the circumference of the bottle. From this shoulder seam are two side seams that run up the neck and end below the top of the lip. 3PM was primarily in use from 1840-70. Can usually tell that lip is crude and was applied by hand.
»Automatic bottle maker: if the side seams run thru the top of the lip, then the bottle is ABM (made by an Automatic Bottle Machine). The first ABM bottles started appearing in 1905, and by 1920 most bottles were being made by this method.
»Open pontilled: (which is a depression in the base) usually date before 1860.
»Iron pontilled: usually date 1845-1870.
»Smooth: usually date 1870 or later. If there are LETTERS there, it can't be pontilled!
2) Top Type
»Matthews gravitating stopper: date after 1864.
»Codd stopper: date after 1873 when Hiram Codd invented this bottle.
»Hutchinson blob top: date after 1879.
»Lightning stopper: date after 1880.
»Crown Top: date after 1892 (when crown top was invented).
»Screw Top: usually date after 1920.
»Applied lip: date before 1900.
»Tooled lip: date after about 1890.
»Other: If your bottle is embossed "Federal Law Prohibits ...", then your bottle dates between 1933 (end of Prohibition) and 1970.