Antique Bottle mysteries

Ink Bottle
Medicine Bottle
Fire Grenade
Ink Well


Welcome to Bottle Mysteries: information about rare and collectible glass bottles from a member of the glass bottle mold manufacturing industry:

I have had a thing for glass since I was a kid at the age of seven. My parents had gone to a farm near us to visit with two people they liked and I was allowed to play and walk around in their yard. While there I came upon the lady’s rock garden. Her husband worked at the Corning Glass Works and he had brought home pieces of glass for her rock garden. The glass cast a spell on me and they gave me three pieces of glass to bring home. On a subsequent visit, I was given three more pieces and I still have them.

I got my first collected bottle by visiting a glass factory when I was about nine years old. My Grandfather took me to Elmira, New York and the Thatcher Glass Factory, where they made milk bottles. I brought home a little half-pint cream bottle, which I still have. These two things showed my early pack rat tendencies and I have collected bottles for many years.

My third development of glass interest became a reality doing one of my youth chores. Often I would walk the railroad, in back of our little farm and often this would go about three miles to Burdett and my Grandmother’s home – that promised good cookies. In the fall this trip ended up with me carrying a metal bucket to pick up pieces of soft coal dropped by the engine tenders, onto the tracks. These pieces were added to the wood fire in my Mom’s wood burning cook stove, to get a hotter fire when she needed one for cooking. While doing this, I developed an appreciation for the glass telephone insulators the workmen would throw away. Glass insulators started following me home, as a collectible.

In the spring the bucket was used to collect wild asparagus spears. This plant grew well and thrived on the cinders that fell from the steam train’s smoke. I carried a piece of old bed sheet or cloth with me and I would tie strips of it to the bushes or fence near the asparagus plants, to mark to their location for future harvesting. Wild asparagus is like wild strawberries – the flavor is beyond fantastic. It was an annual family mealtime vegetable.

I didn’t realize it until I got older, that my Dad was very mechanical and I learned a lot from him about “How things were made”. When I was about nine years old, my Dad went to work at the Morris Chain Works in Ithaca, NY. He would often bring home little pieces of metal scrap products and he delighted in how I thought they were made. He got big belly laughs out of the bizarre descriptions that I came up with. After that he would explain how they were made. Years later, I took Mechanical Engineering in college and minored in Metallurgy.

Red Matthews

Later on, I went to work for the above mentioned Thatcher Glass Plant, as an Applications Engineer and asst. supervisor. I worked there for fifteen years and evaluated many aspects of bottle making and problems relating to mold life and mold durability in glass production.

From there I left the company and got a contract for selling metal products to the Glass Industry in many parts of the world. I have put on seminars and sales presentations to many of the glass mold people in the world. At one time I had over 3,000 names in my computer, all were Production and Engineering people, as well as Mold manufacturers and Mold repair supervisors. I spent thirty years plus doing this work and it was all centered on development of mold component materials and methods used on the ABM Automatic Bottle Machines.

All of this background is still with me in my glass studies and since retirement, I have been studying the methods of bottle making from (1500 to 1900). I have joined a couple bottle clubs and became interested in the methods of those earlier years of bottle making. I keep collecting printed information and books on the subject and I have assembled studies on various glass products and how they were made.

I have collected items from Early Black Glass to Case Gins, Civil War Glass, to Fly traps and minnow traps. I have also collected big store advertising bottles, that never held anything. Saratoga Mineral Water bottles, etc.. There are so many products one could not even comprehend the extent of glass applied to the human life cycle.

I have also been helping diggers evaluate their finds, eBay sellers with their descriptions and glass explanations – just for the fun of it and to be of help. When I pick up an old bottle, I let the marks on it tell me how it was made. If I find a mark I don’t know about it becomes a “bottle mystery”, thus the name for my home page. I expect to have a section of bottle mysteries, that I need solutions for; and with the hope that when someone recognizes them they will write to me.

— Red Matthews
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61 Responses to “Welcome”

  1. 1
    Dave Baron Says:


    So this is what you have been doing in retirement.
    Impressive. I will revisit and read everything that is posted.
    Dave Baron

  2. 2
    Daniel Says:

    I read similar article also named | Antique Bottle Mysteries, and it was completely different. Personally, I agree with you more, because this article makes a little bit more sense for me

  3. 3
    Red Matthews Says:

    To Daniel – in reply to his comment. Hey I want it to make sense – if it doesn’t I want the chance to clear it up. Thanks! RED Matthews

  4. 4
    Curt Ewing Says:

    Red, nice site. I need to pass on the mold repair “half moon” impression you gave me info on for Todd Van Mechow. He and I were discussing that defect in York ’08, and he did not have an answer for it. You might want to discuss some acedemic glass blowing issues with Bill )discpontil, who is compiling information for a book on pontiling.
    Best, Curt

  5. 5
    Mike Russell Says:

    Red, you have accomplished so much! Keep up the good work; it’s a wonderful site with so much great information for bottle collectors and glass product manufacturers. I grew up with glass all around me. My father had delivered newspapers to Alexandria and Old Dominion Glass Works was on his delivery route. It’s a shame that so little is known about their products. There was a much earlier glass producer at the same site, but there is nothing we can find out about them. Let’s hope that someday the information will be coming.


  6. 6
    Red Matthews Says:

    Hi When I get back to Florida I think I will be able to look up who operated Dominion Glass before them. RED M.

  7. 7
    gary rookus Says:

    very interesting site ,glad to have a chance to review ir have learned much.keep up the good work it is greatly appreciated. looking forward to more great information. thank you gary

  8. 8
    Rick Says:

    Hi Red…
    I love your site,you packed a lot of information into it.
    Its good to see that your love of old glass never faded.It gives me hope for the future. : -) Rick

  9. 9
    Rick Says:

    Oh I forgot to add,nice collection of links and books you got there red. Rick

  10. 10
    Warren Friedrich Says:


    Just read the contents page on your website. I’m really looking forward to reading your segments on the upcoming subjects, especially on the glass makers tool marks.


  11. 11
    hugh blunden Says:

    im trying to do small production runs of cast art glass using a 1000lb crucible
    im now tackling the problems of cast iron molds gob sizes press and blow molds etc
    im hoping to contact red as a source to help shorten my learning curve in all of those details any help would be appreciated thanks so much hugh blunden los angeles ca

  12. 12
    Jane Furko Says:

    Hi Red,
    Great site! I’ve enjoyed reading your helpful info on the Antique Bottle Forum and look forward to learning even more from your website.

  13. 13
    tom collins Says:

    Did you ever hear of Try-Me Beverage Co,

  14. 14


  15. 15
    Red Matthews Says:

    Jamie: Wow! what a thing to say. I know it isn’t so though, because one of our Forum members: Bill Lindsey has more knowledge and experience than I can even comprehend. His collected works are the most complete information source there is. His link is on my links page, I am sure you have checked him out. If not – do it. Enjoy.

  16. 16

    Hi Red, I just happened to run across your web site here this evening, been busy ever since just reading your material. Keep up the good work, as you know there are many antique bottle mysteries in the bottles and glassware we North Americans collect with information very difficult to obtain. I will be looking and reading through your site here quite often, very interesting and as I said helpful people like you are hard to find. thanks again…..Bruce

  17. 17
    Michelle Hudson Says:

    Hello red.
    I have an unusual bottle that I would like to know what it is,and what it is worth.I was wondering if I could send you a picture and get your help.Thanks…Michelle

  18. 18
    Aaron Says:

    The new site is coming along well Red. Thanks again for the help.

  19. 19
    corey altenburger Says:

    Red, Thanks for the information and direction with my missisquoi mineral water bottle. Its a rare thing to find honest and direct help online as evidenced by the numerous 3-400 dollar offers I have received ( when the bottle is worth far more!)Thanks Again

  20. 20
    Margaret Says:

    I just found a bottle in the river, at low time, and it is a bottle I have never seen before. It is “Try-Me”. Looks kinda like the Tower of Pizza, or however you spell it. Has little arch window impressions around it in a couple of places. Must be a very old bottle because my father had a grocery store in a warehouse out over the water in the 30’s. People would buy drinks and when they were finished, toss them into the water. That was acceptable back then and no big deal. I have found many bottles, and three nice ones that particular day; all different.

  21. 21
    veroncia smith Says:


    I am currently doing reserach on bottles for my in-laws. They are both financially struggling and they both had inherited many antiques but amazingly I cam across a box full of antique bottles. You name it…medicinal, ball jars, bitters but I came across the most beautiful one of all. It is a amber fish bottle. I don’t see any hallmarks or letters to research name. Do you know much about these type of bottles. It is intersting. It has fins cut out in it and is simply unique. Could you tell me anything about these type of bottles.
    Dimensions are 13″long by 8″wide. The mouth of the fish is open of course.

    Thank you for you assistance.

    Veronica Smith

  22. 22
    Bob Stahr Says:

    Here is the Sweeney chilled mold patent and patent re-issue:,M1

    Bob Stahr
    Hemingray Glass Company Historian

  23. 23
    Jeff Says:

    I have 6 still full of chemical and the original hangers. Shur-stop from International Fire Equipment Co. Staten Island NY. Wanting to sell.


  24. 24
    Juanita Says:

    After looking several times on different websites, my son and I think we found a winner!! My 13 year old son started working today for TreeTrust digging and building with his teen crew members. He discovered this beautiful square shaped bottle which VERY closely resembles the one you have pictured on your welcome page. We believe this to be an old ink bottle but we are not sure. There are numbers and a letter on the bottom of the bottle (C or G 134). We are interested in finding out more about his discovery. What ever you are willing to share, we would love to hear about it.


  25. 25


  26. 26
    Marie Says:

    I recently found an interesting bottle while digging in my backyard. It is a green color and looks like it would contain soda. The only markings on it said: JOHN MORGAN 343 W 39TH STREET NY. I was just wondering if there was a soda company by that name. I couldn’t find any information on the internet about this.

  27. 27
    pasttreasures57 Says:

    Hi Red,
    I made it here. What do I do now. There are some nice bottles on auction. Joyce. I don’t know how to add pics or post anything though. HELP…. Joyce

  28. 28
    Antique Glass Bottles Says:

    Very nice site. Keep on posting new content, I’m looking forward to coming back to your site. I’ve recently really got into antique glass bottles collecting, so I’m doing a lot of research in this area at the moment.

  29. 29
    Chip Says:

    Hi Red,
    Very informative site – Thank you. Have you also experimated with using a cast iron chill in nickel aluminum bronze finish bottle molds and if so do you think it has any affect vs. casting over a sand core? I would really appreciate your thoughts.

    Best regards,

    Chip Shamburg

  30. 30
    Elaine Says:

    I found a bottle similar to Marie (above) found with John Morgan, 343 W. 39th St., on it. Does anyone know what was once in it??

  31. 31
    teresa Says:

    yes sir i found a beautiful bottle that is 1/2 pint i believe with a small sticker on the front with a man tipping a glass the bottle looks like carnival glass. it has very beautiful cuts throughout it do you know anything about this bottle

  32. 32
    Jim Morris Says:

    Re: items 26 & 31 above:
    John Morgan came to Manhattan from Ireland in the 1850's.
    He started a soda-water business here which eventually became "Morgan Brothers Soda Water" which was bought out by White Rock in 1948. However, a Morgan family descendant actually ended up buying out White Rock in 1952.

  33. 33
    Tim Says:

    Hi Red,I really like the site,very interesting.I`ve been here several times but thought I`d stop and say I`m very impressed with your collections as well as your knowledge and interests.It`s always fun to see what you are unraveling next.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! :) -Tim(Antiquenut)

  34. 34
    Michael Watson Says:

    I have an aqua colored bottle about the size of a soda pop bottle. At the neck there is an impression on both sides. A glass marble sits on this lip. The neck is too small to remove the marble. It says Massey Leek molded in the bottle. I can not find any information on this bottle…it is a mystery to me. Have any ideas of what it is or where I could look for answers?

  35. 35
    jim Sinsley Says:

    Hey Red:

    Just made it to the site and will definitely be back when I have more time. Looks good and right down my alley. THANX

    Jim Sinsley

  36. 36
    Lynn Says:

    3/1/10 Stumbled on here quite by accident today while trying to figure out what the difference is between a "carboy" and a "Demi John"…I have one very large bottle similiar to the one you show with the odd neck that I have been trying to research (& still am) and also two others that I believe are called carboys, 6-1/2 gal. One is quite old & seam line only goes up to the shoulder, its light green. The other is etched on the fancy crackle type base as 1974 and letters ICC-ID. Do you have any idea what that means? Being a VERY senior citizen I plan to sell them as I'm far beyond the collecting stage. You have a wonderful site & I envy you enjoying "life on the farm".
    Best wishes from Maine Lynn Miner

  37. 37
    Nida Lewis Says:

    Hello, I am a bottle digger/metal detector who is looking for someone who is willing to share their wisdom of West Elmira and the Chemung River. I work for the State of New York so I am a honest person. Am discovering that the Grove Street boat ramp is sitting atop an old dump. Have been finding Shards,artifacts, old foundations near the river, and where Roricks Glen was. Are there any treasure hunting clubs in this area, and how do I acqiure a prob?(a long metal rod used for finding privys and old dumps)Thank you @ hope to hear from an honest soul soon.

  38. 38
    Keri Tveidt Says:

    I found a 1 gallon 7up glass bottle with the label and still full.The bottom has the number 20 and some weird symbol. On the label it has G093 on it. Can you tell me anything about it? How old?

  39. 39
    Jessica Bohl Says:

    Hello I have a big bottle it is glass it has the letters AYELENSE 16-LXX around the top it is a cork bottle and looks to be a 5 gallon bottle not sure has no other markings on the bottle just wondering how old it is and if it might be worth anything.

  40. 40
    Red Matthews Says:

    > Hello, Jessica Bohl, The bottle you have sounds like a carboy that was made for a special fluid. I don't recognize the name and have no idea of its'age or time of manufacture. All I can sugest is that you send me a picture of the bottle and I will check it out from that. Chances are it is not that old, but if there is any lettering or information on the bottom that might be helpful also. C RED Matthews

  41. 41
    GARY AKA diggermeister Says:

    Hello, Just wanted to say I really enjoy your site! It's always great to hear from the seasoned bottle people. I would love to add a link to your site on mine I build and sell Quality Spring Steel Privy Probes. Let me know if your interested and keep up the good work…GARY

  42. 42
    Sue Cochet Says:

    I found a bottle in 1965. Clear glass, side seams up the spout (no lip) It is 7 3/4 inch tall and 2 5/8 diameter round. It is a detailed cylinder of a lighthouse with the bricks, windows and door in detail.On the bottom it reads DESIGN 85 PATENT 2 PENDING. Any ideas what it may be??? Thankyou!!!!!

  43. 43
    Tim Says:

    Hi Red,
    I wrote up a reply on the Antique Bottle Forum but your PM box was full.You already know me somewhat from there.I am the old Antiquenut.I had a problem,(long story),and had Woody delete my account.
    Do you know anything about barrel making?If you do or know of a website or person with knowledge of it,I would be greatly interested because I am thinking of trying to make them.My ancestors made them and I think it would be cool to try my hand at it.
    P.S. Wangan is a Maine invented word.I love my wilderness State and thought it would be fitting to use it for an Antique Bottle Forum name.Take it easy and have a great day!

  44. 44
    James Says:

    Hello, thanks for the reply on the J. Russak bottle I found. Sure wish I could narrow the search for this thing. I think it may be a really rare find. Some suggest it is from melbourne aus. Or Germany or even Russia… Just all over the place with this mystery. Help, Help, Help…Thanks for the replies and I hope some further replies will nail this one down. Jim

  45. 45
    Kasey Says:

    Hello Red,
    Please help…I have a mystery bottle. It's dark brown, blank blob seal, lady leg style neck, cylinder body applied lip, pontil base, raised embossed letters CHALVIN'S (one side) & QUINA PASTUEUR (opposite side). It may be priceless or worthless, but I would like to know either way. I appreciate your time. Thanks…Kasey

  46. 46

    i have a glass bottle molded by your company
    the picture on the bottle is franklin rosevelt it says first

  47. 47
    Tom Haunton Says:

    Hi Red, We haven't chatted in a few years. Was your comment about Steve/Sewell about his knowledge of the Booz bottle? Email me privately please. All the best,

    Tom Haunton

  48. 48
    brandie Says:

    If I send you an image, might you be able to identify?

  49. 49

    Red ~

    I just stopped by to say hello. Plus, by leaving this message is proof of my visit. I will come back later for a closer look. Keep up the good work. I for one appreciate every word of it.

    Take care,


  50. 50
    Renato Avenia Says:


    The information here was absolutely helpful other then I still dont know what I needed to know about this full unopened medicine bottle I have here from 1897. I found it in the wall of an old house along with stamps, coins of the time and this and thats. Can I send you a photo ?

  51. 51
    Mike Draper Says:

    Hello Red- I am taking down a 1900 farmhouse down with a old lightening rod cable and some other stuff. Do you know much about these.
    Regards, Mike

  52. 52
    Matt Says:

    Have you ever heard of Archer and White Bottling of Cold Spring Long Island? Can't find a thing on them for a green bottle with bubbles in it. THanks.

  53. 53
    Florence hall Says:

    We are renovating our old house (1920 ish) and we found an old bottle of wine, empty, behind the walls. Was there some kind of tradition back then when building houses? Other people in my village have had the same discoveries in their houses.

  54. 54
    Tony McMasters Says:

    I have an old Try Me Beverage bottle i found about 15 yrs. ago. it has on the bottom Patented April 24 1924 Sanford FLA. I have done some research on this bottle but haven't found any other from Sanford FLA. Could you give me anymore information on it and maybe it's worth?

  55. 55
    Dana Says:

    Hello…good site, thank you.

    My dad has an antique or vintage (not sure of exact age, but he's had it at least 40 plus years) wooden bottle–it's the size and shape of an old 'coke' bottle, but it made of wood.

    Is this a mold for a cola bottle ? I don't see any marks, but maybe I'm not looking in the right place.

    I find it interesting, and would love to know more. Thank you for your help and consideration.


    Dana Wyckoff

  56. 56
    Karen Martinelli Says:

    I have several old (pre & post prohibition era)bottles from an estate that was a working dairy farm in southern CT in the 1800 to the turn of the century. Among the bottles that are a mystery to me (I am learning about these slowly!) is a 1 G V AYELENSE in raised lettering surrounding the top segment of the bottle where the cork would have gone in, and just a C on the bottom – also embossed. It is medium green color glass with a seam on each side that goes to the top band where the writing is. It has numerous bubbles in the glass and the bottom is uneven inside. It is an off jug type shape with no handle, and the bottom is slightly smaller than the mid section and then it narrows immediately to the neck. I also have a 1/2 pint ( possible pint) clear glass flask with raised embellishment decoration on both sides, the cent4er of one side has an oval with a man's face in it – wearing glasses – and the bottom in script it says Harry (Henry?) cannot read the last name – both Jr. & Sr – the face has an embossed log cabin on one side and another decoration o the other – clearly a whiskey or bourbon (I think bottle) but not positive. I have many others, but I thought I'd begin with these 2.
    Many thanks for your time

  57. 57
    ken Says:

    i have a small bottle found in vermont,its about a 4 oz medicine type bottle it has embossed on the front (use whitine for white white kid albion mfg. co. new york) i have asked a few local collectors no one has heard of it. unfortunataly the neck is broken. trying to figure out what whitine is and or used for maybe someone out there can help solve the mystery?

  58. 58
    lizzie Says:

    my mother passed away about 5 years ago and left me her collection of about 500 bottles ..All shapes and sizes. She dug them herself…mainly around old churches and Indian mounds in the delta of Mississippi….If anyone could tell me a person I can contact that would observe my collection that would be wonderful!!!

  59. 59
    Jen Thomas Says:

    I have an old glass Arrowhead water bottle that has a slant on one side so that it can lay on its side in the fridge. It is a very light green in color. I know it is at least 50+ years old. I cannot find any information on the bottle at all.On the front is a raised arrowhead.On the bottom , is a diamond pattern all around the border. Also,it has "ARROWHEAD & PURITAS WATERS", I (with a circle around it), Duraglass, L0S ANGELES, CA, PAT.APP. FOR,REG. IN CALIF. It is a 1/2 gallon size
    I even contacted Arrowhead Water themselves, but due to the economy, they don't have an archivist anymore.Can you help me out to the value of this bottle?
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you,

  60. 60
    Bob Kneeland Says:

    Hi Red, Excellent site I added it to my favorites and will be visiting it. I love the auction link showing current exceptional bottle auctions.I will be sending along a few glass items of mine you may find interesting…via email.It was a pleasure to meet you.

  61. 61
    Mike Says:

    Red, do you know where I can come across a wine bottle mold that is able to be hand blown?

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