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See the Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes page for more information on the subject..And last, but definitely not least, is the fact that the art and science of glassmaking had a lot of glassmaker/glassblower induced uniqueness in the form of variations, errors, experimentations, and retrogressions.Pontiled base fragments could also be from later produced "specialty" bottles which are described below.5.Some bottle shapes are indicative of a particular manufacturing era, though many bottle styles/shapes were used for so many years - like the cylinder whiskey "fifth" or square snuff bottle - that the shape itself is not indicative of age.This page and associated sub-pages allows a user to run an American produced utilitarian bottle or a significantly sized bottle fragment through a series of questions based primarily on diagnostic physical, manufacturing related characteristics or features to determine the approximate manufacturing age range of the item.As Berge (1980) noted in referring to bottles, the "..of manufacture of glass containers provides observable attributes which seem to be very useful in a classification of these artifacts." Thus, this page.
This technology lag makes some diagnostic characteristics better than others for dating. As a corollary to #1, consider the following quote: "Treat terminal dates with care.
Other diagnostic tools must be used to date these items.
Shape is more indicative of function - i.e., what the bottle was used for or contained - but even that has a myriad of exceptions.
All this adds to the fascination with bottle making, but makes systematic dating similar to solving Rubik's cube - ostensibly simple on the surface but complex in practice.
To misquote an old saying as rephrased by the BLM supervisor that facilitated the initiation of this website project: "The universe (of bottles) isn't just more complicated than you think, it's more complicated than you CAN think." True to a large degree, though much information can be teased out of most bottles with a systematic approach to the matter. This Bottle Dating page (and website in general) is designed to address what the website author refers to as "utilitarian" bottles & jars (click for more information).
Utilitarian items makes up the bulk of the bottles produced during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Bottles intended to be used once to dispense the contained product without much hope of return, though as noted in #4 above, many types of bottles were commonly reused during the 19th and early 20th centuries; or 2.