Dating 18th century
Utilitarian items include canning/fruit jars and figured flasks since they were intended to be reused by the purchaser and have been observed to follow well the dating guidelines, though there are some manufacturing timeframe differences with canning jars.(Click canning jar to view the typology page section devoted to that category.) The beer bottle pictured to the above left is a classic example of a utilitarian bottle from the late 19th century that was typically reused.The information on this website will, however, usually produce a reliable manufacturing date range for a majority of American utilitarian bottles manufactured from the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.Using physical, manufacturing related diagnostic features, most utilitarian bottles can usually only be accurately placed within a date range of 10-15 years (i.e., 1870-1880 or 1885) . Like many industries making the leap from manual craftsman production to industrialization and automation, technological advances in bottle manufacturing were not immediately accepted by glass manufacturers or their workers.Produced during the era where all bottles were an relatively rare and cherished commodity to be discarded only when broken (i.e., the first third of the 19th century back many centuries prior) and does not otherwise fit the above two categories.
To misquote an old saying as rephrased by the BLM supervisor that facilitated the initiation of this website project: "The universe (of bottles) isn't just more complicated than you think, it's more complicated than you CAN think." True to a large degree, though much information can be teased out of most bottles with a systematic approach to the matter. This Bottle Dating page (and website in general) is designed to address what the website author refers to as "utilitarian" bottles & jars (click for more information).This bottle dating "key" is a relatively simple "first cut" on the dating of a bottle.While running a bottle through the key questions, the user is frequently directed to move to other website pages to explain diagnostic features and concepts as well as to add depth and/or precision to the initial dating estimate.Please be aware that in order to gain the maximum information about any particular bottle (e.g., dating, typing) the user must usually must review a number of pages within this website.
Unfortunately, the complexities of precisely dating bottles is beyond the scope of any simple key.
Other diagnostic tools must be used to date these items.