Most medicines had alcohol back then because that was the primary preservative, but it was also thought to have medicinal qualities – a belief somewhat supported by research today.
A lot of bottle collecting trends came down to who wrote the books and some of the earlier bottle books back in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s were on bitters bottles and the “figured” or “historical” flasks. Those types of flasks were being collected as early as 1900, and by the 1920s and ‘30s a lot of people were collecting them and writing books on them.
Machine-made bottles on average are worth much less and are much less interesting to collectors than are the earlier mouth-blown ones.
Mouth-blown is probably a more correct term than hand blown, though they’re synonymous.
Pennsylvania has almost 2,000 different Hutchinson soda bottles alone!
Embossing accounts for a lot of a bottle’s popularity. And color and age also help determine value or collector interest.
: I break them into eight different big categories on my Historic Bottle Website.
Most all of the glass producers in the West in the 19th century were in the San Francisco Bay Area, there wasn’t any up here in the northwest until the early 1900s.
And almost everything good that was made in the West for Western businesses – the liquor companies, the druggists, whatever – they used bottles made in the San Francisco Area although a lot of them were brought in by train from the East Coast, too.
I have 150 or 175 different ones and I know of over 400 that exist, ones embossed with the word tonic.
So-and-so’s wiregrass tonic, lung and liver tonic or whatever.
With mouth-blown bottles, it’s the rarity and visual aesthetics. It has beautiful color, bold heavy embossing, and a neat name like the Radaem’s Microbe Killer.