ANOTHER "GREAT FEATURE ARTICLE" FROM THE PAGES OF
ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ANTIQUE BOTTLE COLLECTING HOBBY
black EARLY AMERICAN BOTTLE SEALS glass
ebay by Richmond Morcom nasa
Having read Dale Murschell's fine January 1998 bottle seal article and having enjoyed both the article and the excellent pictures which accompanied it, I would like to add some bottle seal lore of my own.
Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of Mass. at time of Boston Tea Party.
My definition of an American seal is different from Murschell's. If the bottle was made in England, it is English no matter where it is used or whose name is on it. In fact, even if the seal was made in Massachusetts or Pennsylvania and had George Washington's name on it, or Ben Franklin's, or someone name Brian Conant, it would still be English if made before July 4, 1776 when these Englishmen declared themselves to be American.
So, let's talk about seals made in America whether they are colonial or made in the United States. Having dug at 15 American glass factories, I have found wondrous things, including bottles seals. Kenneth Wilson, author of New England Glass and Glassmaking, said that one of my seals (J. Mascarene) probably represents a piece of cullet. By that he means the seal was brought in from an outside source to be melted in the Germantown factory retort. But I have evidence otherwise and, so I refer to Kenneth as Mr. Culletganmen because of his propensity to label something cullet because the date may be two year before the factory came into existence. John Mascarene was a Boston wine merchant and son of a very famous man, John Paul Mascarene, who, as a general fought many of America's early colonial battles. The Mascarene seal is dated 1748, but the factory is thought to have been started in 1750. It is the age of the wine that takes the year, not the age of the bottle. Further evidence that the two Mascarene seals in may possession were made at Germantown Glassworks in Quincy, Massachusetts, formerly Braintree, is that one is of very poor quality. It appears that not enough glass was gathered to make a round seal, so the glass blower took a blade and tried to push the hot glass into a better shape. In doing so, he elongated the M and erased the letters ascr. This seal was most certainly a factory reject because an Englishman would never, never put such a frightful mess on a bottle to be sent to an important Boston wine merchant. The British always set high standards in their exports and would be especially cautions in dealing with the son of one their heroes.
|Thomas Hutchinson Esq. 1755 seal.||Seal on 1780-90 bottle - found in Hopkinton, NH 1963. Possibly first bottle blown at Temple, N.H. Glassworks.||Otar Dupuis Cognac seal from New Granite Glass Works Mill Village Circa 1860, Stoddard, N.H.|
During my Germantown excavation in 1955, another seal came to the surface. This one bore the initials I.Q. (I, in those days meant J. Don't ask me why.) This seal most probably belonged to the famous Col. John Quincy who rented the land upon which Joseph Palmer founded his Germantown Colony. (Joseph Palmer ran with a rascally group made up of John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Adams, and John Paine, a bunch of dreamers and schemers.) The seal has a rather unsightly depression and, so was probably a reject. The initials had been carved onto a wooden rod, dipped in water, and placed against the very hot matrix so that steam caught inside the Q forced a cavity to form. So, luckily for us, another reject was created. Also found was another seal (two fragments) of mossy green color. It has three initials: IHW and to probable date 1750 (the five is missing). This is a very poorly made example, the lettering being thin and wavy and, so, here, no doubt, is a throwaway. Once again we have a Germantown product. This seal belonged to Isaac Winslow, one of the proprietors of the Germantown Glassworks.
|Germantown Glass Works, Quincy, Mass. Reject Seal John Mascarene 1748. (Circa 1750)||Seal found in Philadelphia, PA. Possibly Wistarburg||Rejected Seal, John Mascarene, Circa 1750. Probably the most significant piece of glass in American history. Made at Germantown, Mass Circa 1750. Such a misshapen seal would never have been sent to an American wine merchant by an English man. The date is the age of the wine.|
Perhaps the most historically significant seal found was made for a young lawyer who would rise to the top political position in Massachusetts. The seal, a beautiful thing of light green glass with an almost metallic sheen, bears the words Thomas Hutchinson Esq. 1755. Here, once more, the circular form of the seal is imperfect with indistinct lettering. Hutchinson, from Milton, Massachusetts, would become governor just in time for the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party and, no doubt under great pressure, needed a personalized bottle to hold his rum. After all, 1755 was a year in which the first whisperings of revolution were in the air. Hutchinson was admired by both the colonists and the throne and might have prevented the revolution had he not sailed back to the motherland when Ben Franklin (who else?) exposed some of Hutchinson's private letters which were critical of the freedom-seeking colonists.
Mascarene Seals excavated 1955, Germantown Glassworks, Quincy, Mass.
Could the Hutchinson seal have been made in England? Hardly. It would take some doing to date it 1755, get it across the Atlantic (a six week sail), get the bottle to Hutchinson, have him use it, discard it, and have a junk man rush it to the Germantown glass house in time for the spectacular May 28, 1755 fire which destroyed everything.
In May of 1963, I visited the site of the short-lived New England Glass Works (1780-81) in Temple, NH. Upon arriving, I knelt down beside an ice cream cone-sized hole and picked up what appeared to be a dirt encrusted stone fit for scaling on a mill pond. Holding it to the light, I saw that it was glass and, so, slipped it into my pocket without realizing that, within a few seconds of arriving at the site, I had made an astounding discovery. C. Malcolm Watkins of the Smithsonian Museum would call it the most significant piece of glass in United States history because it is the earliest dated glass known to have been made on our shores since we became a nation.
Helen McKearin, in American Bottles and Flasks, called it a most exciting and fortuitous find. Here, again, the seal appears to be a castaway because the 17 in the date is exceedingly faint. The glassmakers evidently made a better seal, for they also discarded two slugs matching the Hewes seal in size and color, but never printed. Hewes was the glassworks owner.
A Mr. John Gayton had previously found a seal fragment with the letters ple which were probably part of the word Temple rather than something like Constantinople. Common sense would opt for Temple until proven otherwise.
First U.S.A glass factory.
Two other seals discovered by the author were found in quicksand ten feet below Front Street in Philadelphia during the construction of I-95. The seals say S. Lewis, Haverford, Pennsylvania Haverford is just west of Philadelphia and only 35 miles northwest of Alloway, New Jersey where the Wistarburg Glass Works was located. The seals, along with bottles found at the time, are the type that would have been made at Wistarburg. Maybe time will tell.
Summing up, it is my belief that the J. Mascarene 1748 is the earliest dated piece of glass known to have been made in Colonial America. The Hewes seal, as C. Malcolm Watkins said, is the oldest dated piece of glass known to have been made in the United States. I can live with that.
Seal belonging to Col. John Quincy who rented land to Josseph Palmer, the Germantown founder.
Lady Luck must have been standing by while I was digging at New Granite Glass Works (1861-71), Mill Village, Stoddard New Hampshire for, once again, I would find that great rarity, bottle seals known to have been made at that particular glassworks. One seal had been discarded because it had been bent in the making. A seal fragment showed that it had never been applied to a bottle. The seals have circular beading, inside of which, in a circle, are the words Otard Dupuy and Co. Cognac. After a search of some 30 years, a Dupuy Cognac bottle came into my hands in an antique shop in Boscawen, New Hampshire for $30.00. The bottle is extremely rare and may be unique.
There is one more bottle with a seal which I would like to identify. The letters on the seal are AIR N.1. It was made in the 1780 era and was purchased in Hopkinton, New Hampshire for $20.00 in 1963. The bottle had been broken and glued together as though it was some great, prized object. Could this possibly be the first bottle made at the Temple Glass Works and, if so, who was AIR that he deserved such a terribly important object of United States glass history? Research continues.
Robert Hewes seal New England Glass Works, Temple, N.H. earliest dated glass in U.S.A 1781.
A digger must process about 2,000 pounds of glass waste to find one pound of manufactured glass. Since bottle seals more or less died out with the end of the 18th century, they are an extremely rare find at an American glass factory. Many bottles with seals bearing French, Italian, German and other foreign language words were actually made in America; it allowed foreign vintners and traders to ship their wine and other liquids in large barrels whose contents were then bottled by American dealers. Many bottles made at the Gloucester Glass Works in Clementon, New Jersey bore the words By the Kings Pat. Dyottville Glassworks in Philadelphia made thousands of bottles with olive oil, cognac, claret, Medoc, dolive, and clarified seals written in a foreign language.
About the author
Mr. Morcom was born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1921, was on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania for 35 years, was a member of two Olympic teams, and served as a paratrooper during World War II and the Korean War.
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