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English Bottle Base

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Artifact Description

Two sherds and three bases from free blown, thick-walled green and black glass wine bottles with large disk or glass tipped pontil scars were recovered from the southeastern end of site 35F. The three bases find identical shapes within the corpus of bottles manufactured in John Baker’s glasshouse at Vauxhall, the first of London’s 17th-century glasshouses to be excavated. The glasshouse opened sometime between 1663 and 1681, and had closed by 1704.

Round-base English wine bottles such as the site 35F example featured here emerged onto the mass market between 1630 and 1650. In 1696, John Houghton’s Letters for the Improvement of Commerce and Trade described the existence of 88 glasshouses in England manufacturing flint, green and ordinary glass, 24 of which were in and about London and Southwark. Nine of the latter produced bottles.

Bottle typologies are typically based exclusively on rim, neck and body shape profiles, diagnostic features that are missing from the 35F assemblage. Within the several comparable typological schemes proposed by well-dated contexts, the 35F example, with its strongly rounded base and relatively steep kick-up, dates to 1640-1660/1680. This form is common on 17th-century shipwrecks, including the Dartmouth, lost off Mull, Scotland, in 1690, from which a spectrum analysis of one base revealed traces of the lees of a Bordeaux type red wine.


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