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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."