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Bottles

Multiple bottles were recovered from the “Blue China” wreck site in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Their cork stoppers no longer intact, all of the bottles are now empty, having once contained a number of different products available to the American consumer in mid-19th century America: Mineral water, liquor/spirits, colognes, patent medicines, sauces and condiments.

Unlike the British ceramics recovered from the site, the bottle assemblage is entirely of American production which by the early-mid 1800s had evolved into one of the largest and most important industries in the country. Innovations in bottle manufacturing had increased productivity; the adoption of full-size piece molds around 1810 was one of the early developments that facilitated uniformity and speed in production. The subsequent growth in bottle manufacturing was naturally accompanied by a decrease in bottle prices.

The bottles recovered from the "Blue China" wreck site are all indicative of the two decades between the 1840s and 1860 at the latest, based on shape, form and color, which is consistent with evidence from other artifacts recovered from the site as well as the ship’s construction. Many of the bottles appear to be pontiled, an attribute that supports this timeframe: pontil scars became uncommon as the 1860s progressed and largely disappeared by the late 1860s or early 1870s as various ‘snap case’ tools dominated the task of grasping hot bottles for finishing lips. One bottle type in particular bears the distinctive company embossment of a well known American firm peddling its wares in mid-19th century America.