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Bar Decanter

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Artifact Description

An individual bar decanter pressed in the "Ashburton" pattern was recovered from the SS Republic wreck site, perhaps the remains of a larger quantity of matching glassware either shipped as cargo or possibly intended for shipboard use. The heavy rim of the bottle was called a "bar lip." Such bar lip decanters were never fitted with glass stoppers. They often had metal slide stops, most of which had glass or clay marbles to cover the opening. However, this particular decanter appears to have originally been sealed with a cork stopper, the remains of which was found nestled inside the bottle when first discovered on the ocean bottom. 

In the 1820s, the success of a hand-operated pressing machine which pressed molten glass into metal molds, allowed factories to produce better quality glass at a lower cost and in a single step. With subsequent improvements in the pressing machine, American glass companies profited as never before as pressed glass became popular and threatened to take over the market from the more expensive cut and engraved wares. Many of the pressed glass designs imitated English and Irish cut glass patterns, but were more easily made and required less skilled labor. Efficiency in production produced cheaper wares that by mid-century were more readily available to the modest American consumer. 

First made ca. 1840s, the "Ashburton" pattern is said to have been named after Alexander Baring (Lord Ashburton) of Great Britain, whom together with America’s Secretary of State Daniel Webster, in 1842 resolved the long-standing Northeast Boundary Dispute between the United States and Great Britain concerning the Maine–New Brunswick border.

The popular "Ashburton" pattern was produced in a large number of matching table ware forms including bowls, stemmed wine glasses, egg cups, creamers, and tumblers, the latter of which were also recovered from the wreck site in a limited quantity. This particular decanter could have been manufactured in any number of American glass factories producing bar and table wares during the mid-19th century. Yet, an especially likely candidate is one of the New England glass factories, quite possibly the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company of Massachusetts or the New England Glass Company, also a Massachusetts firm whose products were being marketed extensively through New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.



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