Monday, July 14, 2008

Message in a Bottle

I come to this Monday's Show and Tell by a circuitous route. My best friend Peggy ~ or BFF ~(on left),
who has battled both Hodgkins and breast cancer in the last decade, was given the green light last year, but now the tumor markers have tripled and some strange physical things are happening. But, she is waiting for new tests...which got me thinking about modern medicine and how far we have come in the last decade even...and I then I bought a stash of pharmaceutical bottles at auction...
And that brought me to today's show and tell...bottles...told you it was a roundabout!

Once again history plays into the lesson. Ancient Egyptian craftsmen developed a method for producing glass pots by dipping a core mould of compacted sand into molten glass and then turning the mold so that molten glass adhered to it. While still soft, it could be rolled on a slab of stone in order to smooth or decorate it. The earliest examples of Egyptian glassware are three vases bearing the name of the Pharaoh Thoutmosis III (1504-1450 BC), who brought glassmakers to Egypt as prisoners following a successful military campaign in Asia. Ancient Romans preferred blown glass containers for their pills and potions.

According to the ancient historian Pliny (AD 23-79), Phoenician merchants transporting stone actually discovered glass (or rather became aware of its existence accidentally) in the region of Syria around 5000 BC. Pliny tells how the merchants, after landing, rested cooking pots on blocks of nitrate placed by their fire. With the intense heat of the fire, the blocks eventually melted and mixed with the sand of the beach to form an opaque liquid.

In the 17th century, King George imposed a tax on liquor to curtail alchohol abuse so herbs were added to the liquid and "bitters" was introduced.
The tax came to the colonies and gin was taxed in America, so once again herbs became useful in creatng a medicinal drink. Popular brands were bottled in amber, brown, and aqua glass.

Perfume bottles were prolific and beautifully decorated, but they deserve their own topic. For now, I will simply mention that Lalique designed some beauties in the 19th century for Coty.

Soda and beer bottles are collectible as well as dairy bottles. The little cream bottles make sweet breakfast creamers and even old milk bottles look cute on the breakfast table filled with milk or use for flowers.

Bottles are dated by production techniques. Before 1845, when a bottle was blown,a pontel rod was attached to the bottom and a glob of molten glass acted as glue so the glassblower could manipulate the bottle. From 1845-1860, the rod was heated to a high temp to afix it to the bottom, and it was snapped off leaving a metallic residue and sometimes a rough edge if it did not get sanded well.
As the machines took over, a seam that reaches from the base to the lip indicates a bottle machine made after 1883 or so.

The crown bottle cap was patented in 1892.
But even the caps have their own well as jars! But...another time!

For now...don't keep things bottled up...make sure you tell someone you love them...
besides, if you keep things bottled up too long, you might need some of what used to come in this blue bottle!!!


Cottage Flair said...

Very interesting history. Best wishes to your friend. You always have a wonderful collection of things to show.

Carolyn Kocman said... can take the professor out of the community college...but you can't take the cc out of the professor.

love the blue fav.

Shabby in Pink Boutique said...

Oh Lallaalal, I love those vintage bottles. Nice to meet your good friend Peggy! Tell her Hello!
Happy Monday!

Miniature Patisserie Chef said...

Thanks for sharing the history of bottles. I learn something each week from your blog!

Pei Li

Anonymous said...


I always look forward to your interesting posts. I often wonder about certain items and their history and you have answered many questions.


Lilli Blue said...

Love to you teach! Great story!

Inka Smith said...

Susan, I always feel like I have an increased IQ after your posts. Thanks for all the new info. I loved the bottle education.

Unknown said...

Hi Susan!

First, I looove that picture of you and your friend. I will keep her in my prayers so that her test are good news. I lost my sister to cancer so I understand the fear too well. I truly enjoyed reading about the bottles. What a neat idea to display them. It's fun to visit you every week! I learn something new and enjoy it!
Janet's Creative Pillows

gail said...

Hi Susan, I love old glass bottle, thanks for the lesson. They are doing some really pretty things with them in the craft market these days. My thoughts and prayers are with your dear friend. I wish her all the best and good health...(())gail

Silena said...

Susan, First of all....lots of prayers are sent your way for your friends recovery. It is always difficult to see your dear ones suffer. Lived the history lesson on glass. I had the good fortune of visiting Venice a few years back and was enthralled with the presentation of the glass blowers who practiced their art in the old tradition....a memory I will always hold dear!!

Marie said...

Thanks Susan,
I really enjoy reading your blog. Your love of research is evident and a joy to read.

Carol at Clutter Bug Studio said...

Carolyn, you always have the most interesting posts. I would have to stay up for seven nights running to find all this info!

Sweet Necessi-Teas said...

Susan, Another interesting history lesson! I love it. And, I like the blue bottle best (though wouldn't want to take its contents...) (( ))

Noelle Garrett Designs said...


I love your lesson today. I have vintage bottles all over the house. I just can't get enough of them. They are my favorite. Best wishes to your friend.

Susie said...

Susan, Thank you for another wonderful lesson for show and tell. I love the stories old bottles can tell about history, and when you said not to keep things bottled up! How true!
Susie ~ The Polka Dot Rose

cathy said...

How interesting about glass! I really find those old medicine bottles fascinating. I hope your friend receives good news!

Unknown said...

I love Lalique, and I sure wish I could afford some, lol. I love, love, love your little lessons. It takes me back to the thrill of my shop, and doin' the research. I love doin' the research....
Theresa @ Cottage Violets

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Hey Susan,
Thanks for this weeks lesson. Best wishes and happy thoughts to your friend.

Eileen & Karen said...

Susan, What a great find! Your bottles are very interesting. Are you going to sell them as is, or do some altered art with them?
Forget Me Not Dreams