Dating bottles by their tops and bases

One approach to helping beginner identify their old bottles involves show them the bases of old bottles.

The picture below at the left shows an iron pontil on the base jof a historical flask circa 1865.

To do this, we’re going to use the example of a site on Gloucester Street that came to be associated with the first synagogue in Christchurch.

In the case of this site, we initially focused our efforts on old maps and deeds, followed by more extensive research in local newspapers of the time.

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If a user needs to refresh themselves on the terminology used to describe the various parts of the bottle, click on Bottle Morphology to view a pop-up page of physical bottle feature definitions.

The author created this website as a BLM employee and continues to update and enhance the site in retirement as a volunteer.

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This week, we’re going to look at how artefacts, documentary evidence and archaeological context can be used to date a site.The middle picture shows an open pontil on the base of a cylindrical medicine bottle.The third picture shows the base of a milk bottle from just after the trun of the century.Beginning collectors often confuse an Owen's ring with a pontil mark and it is easy to see why this happens.The pictures below are from two early machine made medicine bottles.The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U. Department of the Interior, administers 261 million surface acres of America's public lands, located primarily in 12 Western States (including Alaska).Part of the mission of the BLM is the management and preservation of the cultural and heritage resources found on America's public lands - prehistoric and historic.Unfortunately – and this is how documentary research can be as frustrating as artefact dating – we couldn’t find much information about Ann Leslie in the newspapers or any other resources. However, thanks to Papers Past, we were able to find out that Zachariah was a rabbi by the name of Isaac Zachariah, who moved with his family from their Hereford Street home to the Gloucester Street site in 1885, staying there until his death in 1906 (Clements n.d., Press 4/11/1881:3). This site instead attempts to help the user determine some key facts - approximate age & function - about any given utilitarian* bottle/jar based on observable physical characteristics.Hundreds of specific historic bottles are used as examples within the pages of this website to illustrate the concepts discussed; with luck you may find the specific bottle you have an interest in discussed though typically you will not.

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