News / Arts & Entertainment

Bottle Museum Showcases Centuries-Old Handmade Glass Bottles

Bottle Museum Showcases Centuries-Old Handmade Glass Bottlesi
X
January 15, 2014 11:12 PM
Until the beginning of the 20th century, glass bottles - for pharmacies, breweries, and dairy farms - were all produced by hand. Demand in the 1800's was so tremendous that bottle making was the first mass production industry in the United States. The National Bottle Museum in Saratoga County, New York preserves that history. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to interesting and centuries-old handmade bottles in the museum.
June Soh
Until the beginning of the 20th century, glass bottles - for pharmacies, breweries, and dairy farms - were all produced by hand.  Demand in the 1800s was so tremendous that bottle making was the first mass production industry in the United States.  The National Bottle Museum in Saratoga County, New York preserves that history,  displaying Interesting and centuries-old handmade bottles

The liquor bottles, called Dutch Onions because of their origin and shape, are the oldest in the National Bottle Museum's collection.  They were made by hand in the early 1700s.  The milk bottles are the most recent additions, produced by modern techniques a few years ago.

Most of the more than 2,000 bottles, in various colors, shapes and sizes, were crafted with hand tools in the 1800s.  Bottle No. 32 was made in the early 1890s. 

“That is your first Coca Cola soft drink bottle," said Gary Moeller, the museum’s director. "The first company that bottled the soft drink was Biedenharn Candy Company of Vicksburg, Mississippi."

Some bottles bear the owners' names, giving a hint about the early value of recycling.  
“Because having the bottles made cost a lot of money.  So they wanted them back so that they could use them over and over again," said Moeller.

Some bottles here have never held anything.  They are collectibles and often feature famous politicians or entertainers.

“These bottles are commemoration of the 1972 presidential campaign.  The elephant one has Richard Nixon on one side, Spiro T. Agnew, who was the vice president, on the other side.  The two donkey-shape ones are for the Democratic Party," explained Moeller.

The three-story historic building that houses the museum is situated in what was a flourishing resort community in the 1800s, with many popular mineral water springs.  Now, there are only two left.

“Actually in the 1800s, across the street from the museum stood what in its day was one of the largest resort hotels in the United States: Sans Souci Hotel.  My understanding is Sans Souci had four running springs in the hotel," said Moeller.

Moeller says during the peak of its popularity, millions of bottles for the spring water were produced each year in Saratoga County alone and sent throughout the world.  The bottles were made exclusively with hand tools and human lung power until the automatic bottle machine was invented in 1903.

Peter Nash, who came to visit with his son, has been collecting bottles for years.

“I have a recreated old time bar in Boston. Most of the bottles I have are whiskies and rums from back in 1910 and 1920 era. I try to collect ones that were used in the bar back then," he said.

This was his son William's first visit.

“I was surprised to see all these bottles and some of the big ones and the little ones.  I like a lot of the little ones, and it is kind of a big, giant, fat one over there," William said.

Visitors also can view the hand tools and blow pipes, the molds used to shape bottles, and some whimsical glass sculptures the workers created at the end of their shifts.

“On a regular basis people will wander into the museum knowing absolutely nothing about what the museum is here for, what we are showing," Moeller said. "Some of those people end up staying for a long time and when they leave, they will tell us what a cool museum this is."

And, Moeller says, they leave with a new appreciation for these important, but often overlooked, historical artifacts.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."