Each of the pictured bottles has a relatively short description and explanation including estimated dates or date ranges for that type bottle and links to other view pictures of the bottle. Additional links to images of similar bottles are also frequently included. The array of references used to support the conclusions and estimates found here - including the listed dating ranges - are noted. Additional information and estimates are based on the empirical observations of the author over 50 years of experience; this is often but not always noted.
Various terminology is used in the descriptions that may be unfamiliar if you have not studied other pages on this site. If a term is unfamiliar, first check the Bottle Glossary page for an explanation or definition.
As an alternative, one can do a search of this website. Figured Flasks Figured flasks is a generic name for the large class of liquor flasks primarily produced between and Due to their esthetic and decorative nature, these flasks were infrequently discarded unless broken so many survived to the present day.
Figured flasks also include c alabash bottles example below , which are covered separately here because of their distinctive shape, and some flasks that fit the form description but are just embossed with lettering, i.
Unlike most other types of liquor bottles which are generally more common without embossing, figured flasks are by definition embossed since the embossed motifs and molded designs are what defines them as figured flasks, though many shapes are also unique to this group e. Unembossed flasks with shapes similar to some of the later s primarily figured flasks are considered generically in the "Flask not considered figured " category.
The figured flasks described here represent a small cross-section of the hundreds of different types made during their heyday. These type items are occasionally found on historic archaeological sites though usually as fragments since they were not usually discarded until broken. This book is the source of information on figured flasks and contains by far the most comprehensive listing with illustrations and is the accepted classification system for figured flasks.
Here the authors divide figured flasks into 9 distinct "Form Groups" and includes dating ranges for when that form group was first produced. The book also covers most other types of 18th and 19th century American bottles and is an almost mandatory reference for serious students of American made bottles of the 18th and 19th century. Because of the beauty - and possibly the intrinsic value - of figured flasks, many have been reproduced at various times during the 20th century.
Some of these reproductions are very hard to discern from originals to the inexperienced eye. The bottles pictured in this section are all early to midth century originals. Decorative flasks The decorative group of flasks is a category of "pictorial" flasks made up of four primary types: The figured flask pictured to the left and the colorful group of five to the upper right is commonly referred to by collectors as a scroll flask, though in the early days of collecting and probably even now they were referred to as "violin" flasks.
What 19th century glass makers called these is lost to history. This style of flask was introduced around and were extremely popular through the s and s. Popularity apparently waned by the beginning of the Civil War early s and it appears that very few if any were made after that time.
Most scroll flasks were likely made by Midwestern glassmakers, though most do not have makers marks to allow for precise attribution. Scroll flasks were primarily made in half-pint, pint most common size by far , and quart sizes, though smaller and larger examples are known, including a gallon size. Scroll flasks almost always have some type of pontil scar, i. The range of colors possible in these flasks is almost unlimited, though they were by most commonly made in shades of aquamarine - like the example above.
Finishes found on these flasks included primarily the following: The aqua scroll flask pictured above is very typical in design and likely dates from the late s or s. Click on the following links for more images of this pint scroll flask from different views: To the right is pictured a very similar pint scroll flask GIX in an unusual yellow green color with a cracked-off and non-refired finish; click thumbnail image to enlarge.
Click quart scroll flask to view a picture of a quart sized scroll flask with a double-ring finish. This quart scroll also has an iron pontil scar, is classified as GIX-1 or 2, and likely dates from the mid to late s. A colorful grouping of five scroll flasks dating from the late s to late s is also shown at the top of this section above.
Another very popular style of early figured flask is referred to as the "sunburst" flask, which encompasses various types based on the molded design on the body. Sunburst flasks are among some of the oldest of the figured flasks dating as early as to and as late as the s for a few. Most are believed to have been primarily made by various New England glass works.
Sunburst flasks were made in only pint and half-pint sizes. They all have pontil scars - either glass-tipped or blowpipe types - indicating early manufacture. Colors can vary somewhat widely, though the large majority are in shades of olive green and olive amber, various other true greens, shades of amber, and aqua. Finishes are typically straight sheared or cracked-off or subtle variations like the rolled, flare, or globular flare typically with with obvious re-firing; and occasionally with hard to classify variations of the double ring, mineral, or others.
For more information on sunburst flasks check out the following external link: Click on the following links for more pictures of this flask: As an example of how a given type of bottle can be used or re-used for a non-type typical product, click on the following links: This shows an example of this same type sunburst flask that was used or more likely re-used for "SPTS. Spirits of camphor was historically used internally an expectorant and still is used externally muscle aches and pains though is now considered to be a more or less hazardous substance if ingested.
It is definitely not a liquor though it has "spirits" in the name. The pint, clear green sunburst flask pictured to the right is an earlier product of same Keene, NH. These flasks are often called "two pounders" by collectors as they are almost decanter-like with heavy glass weighing between 2 and 3 pounds.
Click the following links to view more pictures of this flask: Some of these flasks have an eagle design instead of the urn on the reverse, but are otherwise very similar. The symbols of the cornucopia and urn were easily recognized during the time as symbolic of the young country's U. Cornucopia flasks were made in only the pint and half-pint sizes.
These flasks seem to all have pontil scars - typically either a glass-tipped or blowpipe pontil - reflecting their early manufacturing dates; iron pontils are unusual.
Colors are once again variable but dominated by olive green, olive amber, other shades of amber and green, and aqua. Finishes are almost always a of the straight sheared or cracked-off varieties or subtle variations like the rolled, flare, or globular flare typically with with obvious re-firing. The pictured flask both sides shown - cornucopia side to above left; urn to right is a product of Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, CT.
These flasks are very rare, very early s or early s , unusual, and unlikely to be encountered. Thus they are not covered. Users can also find some information on these type flasks, including pictures, at the following link: These could also be considered as "historical" flasks by some Munsey Most Masonic flasks have some type of design on the reverse that features an American eagle.
These types of flasks are some of the earlier of the figured flasks dating primarily between and the s though a few date as late as the Civil War. One of the later type Masonic flasks is covered in the calabash section. These earlier Masonic flasks were only made in pint and less frequently, half-pint sizes.
Like most figured flasks, the Masonic flasks can be found in a wide range of colors though most were produced in different shades of aqua, amber, and green olive green, blue-green, olive amber. All of these earlier Masonic flasks are pontil scarred, usually of the glass-tipped or blowpipe type. Iron pontils are rare or possibly unknown empirical observations. Finishes are usually straight sheared , cracked-off, or rolled with occasional double ring or other simple applied finishes.
The above pictured blue-green Masonic flask has a stylized eagle embossed on the reverse and dates between and about It was made in a two-piece hinge mold, has vertically ribbed sides, and a glass-tipped pontil scar on the base.
Click on the following links for various view images of this flask: It was also made at the same Keene glassworks as the previous flask, though a decade or more later.
Click Masonic-eagle reverse to see the other side of this flask. Another shape type variation of Masonic-eagle flask - and a common flask shape during the s, s and s - is pictured to the right. Historical Flasks This grouping of flasks is quite varied as to embossing, design, and shape. The unifying theme of these flasks - and what differentiates these flasks from other groups - is their historical connection be it emblematic, symbolic, or human.
The most popular image on figured flasks is not surprisingly the American eagle - often embossed on both sides of the flask. The diversity of different types of eagles is amazing, ranging from the bold and artistic eagles like shown to the right to stiff and simplistic eagles like shown at this link - Pike's Peak-eagle flask reverse view.
In general, the more detailed and artistically pleasing eagles are on the earlier flasks s to s and the more simplistic ones on the later flasks s and s though there are exceptions of course Munsey Eagles or other symbols of the U. Because of this shapes, sizes, finishes, mold types, and manufacturing processes vary as widely as the period allows with no particular diagnostic features unique to the group like some of the other figured flask types.
The flask pictured above is a "beaded edge" Washington-Eagle flask GI-2 that dates from the s or s and was likely made by an early Pennsylvania glass company. Click on the following links to view more images of this flask: The reverse of this flask features a bust of George Washington and is pictured below.
Another variation of the American eagle were the quite artistic versions found on the flasks produced by several Connecticut glass factories. It classifies as GII, has a smooth cup-bottom mold conformation a very unusual mold type for the era , and a crudely applied double ring finish. These flasks were produced using both pontil rods pontil scarred as well as a snap-case tools smooth base. Yet another variation of the American eagle is found on an assortment of highly ornate flasks that may have been made by one of the Louisville, KY.
This pint flask similar examples also were produced in quart and half gallon sizes has a blowpipe pontil scar, was blown in a two-piece key mold, and is classified as GII The likeness of many people are emblazoned on the sides of figured flasks. However, none were as popular as George Washington with at least 72 flasks bearing his likeness.
Flasks in this category are a mixed lot with little physical commonality except that they are flasks and made during the figured flask period of to or so. Colors, shapes, sizes, finishes, and other manufacturing methods vary as widely as the period allows. There are even a few late 19th century flasks that were produced for Presidential elections Grover Cleveland, William Jennings Bryan, William McKinley that are cataloged within this group.
The flask pictured to the right is a Washington-Eagle flask GI-2 that was discussed above with links to more pictures of the item. Some of the most common flasks in this category are the Washington-Taylor series of flasks, which contains at least 37 different examples.