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Bottles

Sturdy and functional in form, the early English wine bottle was typically thick-walled for strength and dark in color to protect the wine from loss of color. Such bottles were also used for various spirits and other beverages. The earliest wine bottle, in vogue sometime between 1630 and 1650 to 1665, had a globular body that was sometimes slightly spherical in shape, and a small base and slight kick-up. The bottle’s neck was relatively tall and wide, and tapered to a slightly everted lip. Toward the latter part of the 17th century, the bottle’s neck became shorter and its body became bowl- or cuplike and taller, while the kickup remained shallow. Bottles of this period did no conform to an exact and uniform measure but rather, were produced in three general sizes: quart, half-bottle and quarter-bottle. When precisely western Europeans first fashioned cork into a bottle stopper is not known, however research suggests that corks were being made for glass bottles at least by the early 16th century, and by the 17th century had become the typical stopper for both pottery and glass bottles.

The lack of variety of early bottle shapes in general was probably a function of limited manufacturing techniques to make different designs, limited market or demand for different shapes, and the labor intensity of making bottles since the earliest bottles were hand-blown by a glassblower with a blowpipe. Glass bottles were a generally expensive commodity and relatively scarce. Bottles were typically reused, often for different products, and were rarely discarded unless broken and no longer usable.