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Condiment or Spice Bottle

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Artifact Description

The excavation of the Jacksonville “Blue China” wreck produced a number of aquamarine glass bottles in two different sizes (4 larger examples and 5 smaller) that represent the dominant bottle type used for various spices and condiments during the mid to latter half of the 19th century. 

This unusual eight-sided bottle appears to have originated in the 1850s, or possibly the late 1840s. The original shape and design which others copied, is believed to have been produced by the Boston, Massachusetts druggist J.W. Hunnewell Co. The larger examples feature wide, concave front and back panels with flat narrow side panels bound together by relatively wide, concavely beveled corners. Its moderately wide mouth or bore allowed for easier access to the bottle for packing in crates and for extractive use by the consumer.

All of the bottles are missing their original paper labels, making identification of the former contents particularly difficult—especially so given the diversity of spices and condiments packaged in this particular style. However, well preserved examples of this distinctive bottle type with ground black pepper still intact, have been recovered from other contemporary archaeological sites including the April 1865 wreck of the steamboat Bertrand as well the October 1865 wreck of the SS Republic. This evidence suggests that the “Blue China” examples may also have once contained this popular spice, although other spices such as cinnamon, white pepper and mace were common as well.


Other Details

Dimensions:
H. 16.5cm; 11.8cm