ANOTHER "GREAT FEATURE ARTICLE" FROM THE PAGES OF
ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ANTIQUE BOTTLE COLLECTING HOBBY
whiskeyAmerican APPLIED GLASS SEAL Bottles bottle
ebay By Dale Murschell nasa
....There are several ways of applying an identification to the outside of a glass bottle. These include paper labels, etching, embossing (when the bottle is blown in some type of mold) and many methods of paint. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the most common type of embossing was to imprint directly in the side of the bottle. This was accomplished by an engraved mold, or a mold with a replaceable engraved slug plate, which produced the embossing while the bottle was being blown in the multi-piece mold.
Seal bottles of varying shapes.
There is an additional method of embossed labeling which was used in the 17th century and continued into the 19th century. That method involves the use of a slug or glob of molten glass added to the outside of the bottle. After the bottle is formed, but still hot, a hot glass slug is placed on the side of the bottle, usually on the shoulder or high on the side, and then formed flat against the bottle with a tool, that is inscribed with letters or a symbol. This produces a round or oval glass form, attached to the bottle, with the desired words or symbol permanently visible. These embossed slugs are referred to as seals or applied seals. The application of the seal is permanent to the bottle and cannot be removed without damaging the bottle.
Much has been written about European seals and English wine bottles with applied glass seals. Sometimes the embossing was a symbol, name or initials, and often it included a date. The first examples of European seals date back to the mid 1600's. These first glass seals on bottles were a sign of ownership, proprietary identification, or stature of the well-to-do.
The use of a seal pre-dates any use of a written language. The first seals date to about 6500 BC and were used by the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia, in present day Iraq. These earliest seals were called amulet-seals (amulet being a charm often inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to protect the wearer against evil like disease or witchcraft). The amulet-seals had a religious motif along with crude markings which represented the owner's signature. These amulet-seals were carried on the owner's wrist or neck. It was believed that the amulets had power against the evils of the world and provided a source of confidence. These early amulet-seals were each unique, being different from another while maintaining the common religious theme. The mark of the owner's seal could be pressed into moist clay pots to define ownership. This mark from the seal represented the owner and was respected.
In the late 1600's., English law prohibited the sale of wine in glass containers. This required that the wine be consumed at the vendors pub or the customers had to supply their own containers to be filed with wine to take home. The aristocratic owner would have his bottles filled when needed, knowing he was going to get his own bottles back because they were marked with an embossed seal. It was a sign of affluence to serve wine in a bottle containing a seal.
A bottle with an applied seal is determined to be an American Seal if it has an American's name on the seal and was sold or used in America. This means the bottle with contents was owned or sold in America even though it may not have been made in America.
The Black Glass period of American seals is generally the 18th century with a little extension into the 19th century, possibly as late as 1830-1835 During this time, the underlying use of seals changed from being a personal identification to that of a commercial identity. Some of the latter Black Glass seals were for wine merchants i.e. I.L.M. Smith and Robert Cochran.
|18th Century Black Glass Seals.||19th Century American Made Seals.||The standard 19th Century sealed whiskey.|
Initial examples of American seals from Jamestown and Williamsburg were probably made in England for some of the wealthy new settlers. In the early 1700's, the bottles of early Philadelphia and New York settlers were also a sign of ownership and stature and were possibly made at the Wistarburg Glass Manufactory on Alloway N.J. The bottles of the later period of the 1700's were a large style mallet used as a supply container for serving wine instead of a small personal size bottle.
In the early 1800's, the applied glass began to be used for commercial purposes and started to take on the meaning of quality. This meaning of quality, or portrayal of higher class and value, was derived from the previous aristocratic ambience of the use of seals in England and Europe. There was minimal use of the applied glass seal from the 1820's to about 1850.
By the mid 1800's, may American whiskey merchants were using bottles with applied seals to tout the superior quality of their whiskey. This was especially true in Philadelphia and New York where 70% of the recorded whiskey seals were used. Typical of this quality issue was Monongahela Whiskey mentioned on many seals of Philadelphia or Kentucky bottles. The Monongahela Whiskey was evidently a good quality whiskey, made in the Pittsburgh area and probably bulked, by barge or wagon, to Philadelphia or Kentucky for bottling and distribution. These bottles were mostly squatty type cylinders of a light to dark amber. The embossing on the seal usually included the proprietor's name, the city , and a date which is probably the date which is probably the date the establishment was created. Sometimes the glob of glass was too small for the embossing and part of the name was lost. Additionally, some seals were embossed upside down. Some whiskey bottles had only initials on the seal with a paper label on the opposite side. Many of the pre-1850 whiskey containers were odd shapes, like a jug with a handle.
Some wine merchants from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and California were also using seal bottles. These bottles were generally a tall and cylindrical style, and made of aqua or dark green glass. There was a large wine industry in California in the late 1800's and most of the producers had bottles with seals. Of the recorded seal wine, 50% were from California.
During this same time period, olive oil was quite popular, and the grocery merchants began using sealed bottles for olive oil. This was especially true in Philadelphia where 38 seals have surfaced, 75% of the total recorded examples of olive oil seals. Even if the olive oil was bottles in Europe, the embossed seal would contain the American merchant's name and usually the city name. These bottles were generally cylindrical and the color ranged from very dark olive green to aqua or clear. The size could be from a 1/2 pint to a quart.
These merchants of whiskey, wine, and olive oil in the late 1800's, who were using the seal bottles for their products were trying to convey a sense of superior quality (purity, character, premium value, or excellence) as a reason for patrons to buy their brand instead of some other brand. What better way could there be to show this quality than to have an embossed glass seal on the side of the bottle? Having the seal applied was not difficult when the bottles were hand blown. Additionally, this seal portrayed quality much better than just embossing the side of the bottle. There is no indication that these seal bottles were re-used to any great extent. They do not have the familiar This bottle not to be sold phrase on the back as many other bottles of the time contained. The embossed applied glass seal eventually evolved to a flat unembossed seal for a paper disk label.
Sealed olive oil bottles.
Seal bottles were used to some extent until the automatic bottle machines corralled the molten glass in the entire bottle industry around 1910. The automatic machines would produce bottles at too fast a rate to have a hand applied seal placed on the shoulder. From there the machine-made bottles had a molded seal seat, on the shoulder of the bottle, for a paper disk label. Finally, the concept of a seal died for many years until recently when there have been some efforts to use a wax or plastic seal as Grand Marnier has on their liqueur bottles.
There have been a couple of reproductions of whiskey type squat cylinder bottles with applied glass seals. In the early 1960's, Wheaton Industries made the ROBERT BROS. 1863, which is very similar to the authentic NATHANS BROS. 1863. This squat cylinder style bottle was also produced by Wheaton in the late 1960's with a fully molded seal of ROGERS BROS. 1850. There is one authentic effort in recent years of using a glass seal by OVERHOLT 1810, which had an applied glass seal on a machine-made bottle from about 1960. This bottle still has the paper labels which are somewhat convincing that the bottle is authentic and not a repro like the above mentioned ROBERTS BROS. bottle.
There was some limited use of seals on apothecaries, bitters bottles, cordials, beer and case gin bottles. Robert Gray of Philadelphia used a seal bottle for his beer about 1830 with GRAY'S BRN / PHILA / STOUT on the seal. All of these 19th Century uses of bottles with applied glass seals were an effort to portray higher quality of the ingredients inside the bottle...
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