Antique Bottles

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Remember how I stalked down the truckload of Herman Miller chairs? Well, after about the third time of visiting Mr. Collector’s acres of junk (and buying quite a bit), he gave me a plastic milk crate of bottles. He said he had dug them out of the Minneapolis dump by downtown as a kid (and he’s probably 70). I was intrigued…

I finally got them soaked and scrubbed and could appreciate their age and beauty. We had some of them in the store with succulents. I love this funky look:

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But there were a couple I kept at home, unsure of their history. Every once in awhile we come across an item that we need to make sure is not an Antique Roadshow treasure worth thousands. Just today I heard someone who purchased a Lady Diana beanie baby at a garage sale that is worth $90,000?? Yep, those are the kind of stories that make me hesitant to sell these bottles for $15!

So, I did a little digging. Thank goodness for the internet (yep, you heard that from this tech-challenged girl)! As a kid, I hated going to the library and digging through books for research papers (remember microfiche?), but clicking some keys and getting info? I’m all about it!

Turns out, my bottles originally had three very different contents: ink, gin, and soda pop.

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Mr. Collector had mentioned that he thought these clay bottles were used for ink in school classrooms. That was my first clue to the bottle mystery and led me down my first viral footpath.

The markings on this vitreous stone bottle said “J. Bourne & Son”, “Denby Pottery, Near Derby”, “P. & J. Arnold, London, England”. My search started at the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution site. P.J. Arnold ink was commonly imported in Bourne’s bottles to the U.S. in the mid 19th century. The salt glazed vitreous stoneware made from clay was perfect for liquids because it was dense and non-porous. The bottle dates from 1850-1861 when J. Bourne & Son was making these types of bottles. The company is still in existence in the U.K., and is now named Denby Pottery Co. Ebay prices range from $30-$50.

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The other clay bottle is marked “Wynand Fockink, Amsterdam”. Not to be confused with an ink bottle, my search led me to the oldest liquor distillery in Amsterdam, still in operation today. The Wynand Fockink company began as a liquor tasting house and shop in 1679. Three centuries later, it is still in existence. My bottle was probably made before 1879, was hand turned and contained Dutch Gin. The Ebay “buy it now” price carries a $40 price tag. I think some of the other olive green antique bottles in the picture above were also made by this company.

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Last is a beautifully striated, light aqua bottle with the markings of  “Registered”,”Z.Z. Bottling Co., Minneapolis, MN”. Historic glass bottles are highly collectible. The U.S. Department of Interior, Land Management has a website solely devoted to identifying historic glass bottles. Their site’s content is exhaustive with the details of how to identify the history of an old bottle, from embossing, to bubbles, to colors, to mouth details. I was eventually led to believe that this bottle was originally used for soda pop. Hutchbook.com explained that from 1879-WWI, “Hutchinson’s Patent Spring Stopper”, revolutionized the soda bottling industry. Based in Chicago, Illinois, The Hutchinson Era gave the industrial revolution a way to bottle soda pops and mineral waters to a whole new audience of consumers. I couldn’t find any more information on the Z.Z. Bottling Co. in Minneapolis, so the bottle’s value is still a mystery. It seemed like tracking the history of soda bottlers is quite a daunting task. If anyone has any more info…let me know!

I kind of feel like I did a research paper today! For now, I’m keeping my true “antiques”, because I’ve never come across any before, and I love their texure and shape. To me, that’s what antiques are for…to be enjoyed because of their character and beauty, not just for their value. I love history, and knowing a little more of it is always good.

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9 thoughts on “Antique Bottles

  1. I’m coming from Diana’s blog. I agree, the internet is the bomb for finding information. How nice that your friend gave you bottles he had dug himself as a boy. Knowing that, I can understand why you want to keep them. I did not know about the government site, I will have to check it out….see what you started? Thanks for the tips and isn’t it wonderful how we can all chime in with what we know?

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  2. the aqua bottle is called a “blob top” because of the blobby top! Look under completed & sold items in ebay under BLOB TOP MINNEAPOLIS BOTTLING BOTTLE. These are usually quite early and I have sold them for between $50-$125. good luck.

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  3. I’m an old bottle digger from way back, Lora, and I even brought home a few crockery bottles with me from when we lived in England. Enjoyed your post and the wonderful photos. Kathleen is featuring you tomorrow at Vintage Charm–congrats!

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