DYOTTVILLE PORTER BOTTLES
ALAS ONLY ONE COLOR
by Tod Von Mechow
Recent articles in Antique Bottle & Glass Collector magazine have focused on the wide variety of colors in Washington and Taylor historical flasks, particularly those manufactured at the Dyottville Glass Works in Philadelphia. There is another set of marked Dyottville bottles that span the same time period and are many in number, but unfortunately come in only one basic color. These are the Dyottville marked porter bottles with the bottler or brewer's name in a plate on the front.
Picture 1: Dyottville porter bottles ca. 1846 and ca. 1880.
These bottles are a favorite with collectors due to their linkage with the Dyottville glassworks and its association with one of the more colorful manufacturers of glassware in the United States namely, Thomas W. Dyott. Benners, Campbell and Smith (1846-1852), H. & J. Benners (1852-1856) and Benners & Co. (1857-1860+) who were proprietors of the Dyottville Glass Works after Dyott, produced these bottles between about 1850 and 1860. An ad (illustration 1) shows that "Porter and Mineral Water" bottles were a specialty. There are non-plate molded porter bottles that were produced at Dyottville as early as about 1846 and as late as about 1880 (picture 1), but these are not embossed with the names of the bottler.
Dyottville marked porter bottles were used to bottle ales, porters, ciders, brown stouts, and other beers by bottlers and brewers throughout the United States. It is interesting that most of these bottles are from the Philadelphia area with only a few from New England and the Southern states. One of Dyottville's major competitors of the time was Union Glass Works, also from Philadelphia. Union's distribution of bottles was just the opposite, with most of their bottles being sold to bottlers outside of the Philadelphia area.
Picture 2: Slag glass found near the Dyottville Factories showing the Dyottville green color.
The most interesting thing about plate-molded Dyottville bottles is the relative uniformity of color, called Dyottville Green by collectors (picture 2). There are slight variations in this color, but nothing major. There are no blues, aquas, bluish greens, olive greens, or other color variations that are common with bottles manufactured at that time by Philadelphia-based and other glass manufacturers. It is astonishing that these bottles could have such uniformity over such a long time period. It should be noted that the non-plate molded bottles do have color variations mainly in various shades of green and aqua and that Dyottville soda bottles do come in blues as well as greens.
It may surprise less experienced beer bottle collectors or those who do not focus on soda and beer bottles that there are 10 different molds that were used to produce these beer bottles, and that some bottlers and brewers had bottles produced in more than one mold using the same plate. Serious (my wife would say obsessive) collectors try to get each mold variation, but others try for one example from each bottler. A friend of mine calls the obsession with getting every mold for a given bottler "collecting dots and dashes," due to the various ways that the abbreviation of Philadelphia is embossed on the bottles. Since each mold seems to have been only used for a few years, the molds are an important dating tool for these early bottles. The dates for each mold were derived from researching the years that a bottler was in business and cross-referencing the molds that the same bottlers used. One interesting observation is that three of the Dyottville porter molds were cut down, as were other beer bottles in Philadelphia. Bottles from the same bottler using the same plate can be assembled in both large and small sizes (Picture 3).
|Picture 3: Two Edward Duffy & Son Dyottville porters illustrating the same plate is a mold that was cut down.||Picture 4: Deep improved pontil kick-up on a Dyottville porter.|
Most of the Dyottville porter bottles bear improved pontils on their base (Picture 4). Only a few bottles that were made in the newer molds are smooth based. At least two bottles were made with open pontils. These were not production wares, but were most likely made when an improved pontil rod or a punty boy was not available and the blower used the blowpipe as a pontil to hold the bottle while he finished the lip.
|Picture 5: The bottle on the left has a plate that is a part of the front leaf. The bottle on the right has a plate that inserts into the front leaf. Note the position of the mold lines.||Picture 6: A glass hat made in a Dyottville porter mold. O'Kane is clearly visible at the front and Dyottville Glass Works is on the reverse. ca. 1854-1855.|
The last three mold variations differ from the earlier ones in the construction of the molds that were used to blow the bottles. The earlier bottles had plates that inserted into the front leaf of the mold. These can be distinguished by looking at the mold lines around the plate itself, as these never touch the seams on the side of the bottle. In the later molds, the plate itself is an integral part of the mold and it becomes the middle section of the plate. These can be distinguished by observing the top and bottom lines of the plate intersecting the seams on the sides of the bottles (picture 5).
Dyottville glass blowers, like those of other glass manufacturers, engaged in producing whimsical pieces known as end-of-day glass. Some unknown blower produced a glass hat from a Dyottville porter mold with the plate of Dennis O'Kane, a prolific user of Dyottville bottles. It was the same Col. Dennis O'Kane, a member of the 69th Pennsylvania Volunteers, who held his ground and lost his life at the impact point of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. An old-time Philadelphia well digger found a hat (Photo 6) near the Dyottville Factories in Kensington.....
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