Sealed Bottles Wine Bottles And Snuff
Bottle collecting is, of course, a hobby and sphere of endeavour in its own right (labeorphily is confined to beer bottles, I am advised), but there is a degree of crossover with our own items of interest, and we do have antique wine bottles for sale. Old glass bottles sit alongside our other lines, they were obviously intended to contain something which would be best served in some form of antique stemware to ‘close the loop’ from point of sale to consumption.
Bottle glass is generally a rather derogatory term for unrefined, green tinted material used to make utilitarian wares, not just antique glass bottles. Sealed wine bottles, that bear the stamp of the family, organisation or establishment which may have commissioned the supply of (invariably) wine which they once contained give a fascinating historical insight in to contemporary history, and the research required to determine to whom they may once have belonged can be a rewarding process regardless of the nature or value of the bottle.
Sealed bottles, with their original contents intact, obviously have that additional x-factor, and the deliciously teasing decision as to whether or not they should be opened; our one experience dictates that this, sadly, is generally a waste of time, and you end up with a less-valuable bottle - and some 200 year old vinegar…
Identifiable bottle styles which can be attributed to different locations may be used to trace the way in which common usage extended along established trade routes; onion bottles which come from the upper Rhineland, the Dutch republic and eastern England illustrate the shared commerce across the North Sea, for instance, either through the spread of the bottles themselves or the commonality of the design, shared and used in different manufacturing centres – another aspect of social history.
One unusual and often overlooked facet of antique bottle collecting is that of snuff containers. Almost always regarded as being dispensed solely from the ubiquitous ‘snuff boxes’ of silver, horn, pewter and the like, the Bohemians of the early 19th century in particular made some striking little glass bottles to complement their habit. There are some colourful – gaudy almost – examples, in dark amber, bright orange and lime green, with gilt metal stoppers which feature attached ‘tweezers’ to extract the snuff from within.
There are also exquisite examples from China, made from carved agate, rock crystal, porcelain and cut glass, some very fine Victorian English pieces made from cased lead crystal; Venetian examples which exhibit all the decorative talent that you would expect from the environs of the lagoon, equally ornate Bavarian pieces – and even some made in good old Bristol blue glass, complete with the obligatory gilt decoration.