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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.