Antique Bottle mysteries

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23 May

An Old Demijohn Container with bottle mysteries!

I have gotten another old wooden molded demijohn in my collection. As an OLD bottle it is a carrier of many bottle mysteries. They include the following points and if anyone has any clues that will help describe the functions and characteristics that caused these markings, I will appreciate hearing from you. If nothing else it shows good reason to remove the old shipping wicker covering from an old bottle, sometimes.

One main mystery, is the pinch of glass on the neck at the top of the shoulder. It is obvious that it was done after the bottle parison was blown in the mold. So it must have been done to straighten the neck to a more vertical stance. The pinch tool that the glassmakers in Germany used for pinched alcohol bottles, could have been used to create this web of glass.

Demijohn Neck

Demijohn Neck

As you can see the straight tapered applied finish was sloppy, but the neck was still a bit crooked.

The next thing to point out that this pinch of glass is about ¼” thick and a good three inches long. It is not in line with the seams of the two part mold segments, so it was not glass pinched in the closure of the mold segments.

This picture is looking down toward the finish of the bottle. Note the top view of the pinch is at about 7: o’clock.

Demijohn Top View

Demijohn Top View

To continue with the mysteries: it is quite obvious to me that it was formed in wooden molds, made evident by the brushed out charred wooden surfaces on each side of the shoulder molded seams, with one side being higher than the other and the burn off of the match edges at the mold seams.

Demijohn Side Demijohn Side

Proceeding down the bottle there are two distinct areas of brushed out charred wood. One is near the bottom on the left in this picture. You can see how much was removed by looking at the bottom contour on the right side of the base of the demijohn.

Demijohn Side Wall

Demijohn Side Wall

The next mystery is that there are two pieces of tramp glass adhered to the side walls of the bottle. One is about ¼” wide and two inches long and the other is a little wider and two and ¼” long. One of these is shown horizontally in the picture above this.

The second one is near the bottom of the other side in this picture. These seem to be tramped glass in the glass wall of the demijohn. Where they even came from is a mystery.

Demijohn Base

Demijohn Base

The last and strangest mystery of all is the fact that the area where one would expect to find a pontil mark is actually a Y shaped marking about 5 and ¼” long. A really very strange marking and I have no clue of the tool used to make this type of mark, or for that mater if it was indeed an empontilling holding device for holding the glass formation for the work on the neck.

The glass is all bubbly and hints of inclusions exist through-out the glass formation. This is visible in some of the above pictures, as well as this one.


Base Inclusions

It is very evident to me that this bottle, was not made by an expert bottle maker; but it obviously was used to carry a liquid product. I have seen other similar bottom marks. I have seen demijohns similar to this with the mold seam going all the way across the bottom and up the sides to the neck. Any bits and pieces of comment will be appreciated.

contact empontilled

contact empontilled

This is a picture sent to me by an friend in the Netherlands that shows a demijohn with a long contact empontilled device being off from the mold parting line on the bottom.  He has no clue to the age but feels it is a very early formed bottle.  This is added to just show another example of this type of bottle mystery. Thanks to Willem van Traa.

— Red Matthews

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11 Responses to “An Old Demijohn Container with bottle mysteries!”

  1. 1
    Kit Paulson Says:

    Hello, I am a glassblower in the Chicago area and I’ve just recently stumbled across the bottle collecting community in an attempt to find out more about old liquor flasks (see my Etsy page if you’re curious). I have an idea about the origin of the Y shaped marking and what you call “tramped” glass on the inside of the side wall of the demijohn.
    Sometimes before a piece is blown into a mold, if it is too hot and/or of uneven thickness, it will fold inward in parts of the wall which are particularly thin. If these folds are allowed to touch back on themselves as they fall inward, it looks as though the piece has been pinched from the inside. If air is added afterward, the fold will remain in the glass but will appear as a small thick spot. If the fold is occurring as the piece is being blown in the mold, the surface touching the mold will cool more rapidly and leave a small scar on the out side of the piece. I think this accounts for the Y shaped mark on the bottom and also the “tramped” spots.

    I’m not sure that glassblowers have a consistent name for this, but I’ve heard the condition described as a fold or touch-back.

    The marking on the neck is puzzling because it looks exactly as though an assistant closed the mold too soon and squashed a bit of the neck but it does not seem to be on the parting line of the mold. It is clear that it was done when the glass was still very hot which suggests that it happened either very early in the process (before or as the bubble was blown into the mold) or after the piece had been puntied and was being reheated to finish the lip. I’m going to argue for early on, because I think if the entire neck would have collapsed if it had been reheated that much after puntying. My guess is that an assistant closed the mold too early or the bubble was placed crookedly in the mold, but then the mistake was realized, the mold was opened, the bubble was turned slightly and placed back in the mold and then blown into it’s final shape. This might well be an overly complicated explanation, but I’ve seen things like that happen before.

    Apologies if I’ve used glassblowing terms instead of bottle collecting terms, but I’m more familiar with glassblower lingo.

    Good luck with mysteries,


  2. 2
    Antique Glass Bottles Guru Says:

    Wow, it seems that you’ve been really lucky. These glass bottles are really beautiful.

  3. 3
    Dave Baron Says:


    You continue to amaze me with what you come up with in your search for interesting bottle stuff. This one is no exception. Very interesting container. I love seeing this stuff.

  4. 4
    gordon myers Says:

    red ,i'm no expert,but is it possible that the tramp glass came from the demijon being rolled on a table with a few pcs. of glass left over from a previous roll, the hot glass would pick up these slag pcs.??? just a guess.

  5. 5
    Doyal Edwards Says:

    I am looking for information on a large glass bottle, or demijohn. It is a teardrop shape, approx. 27-30 in. tall. Is is a very light green color, almost clear. I am at a loss to discribe it as I have no knowledge of bottle terminology. I can send a picture if given an e mail address. I picked it up several years back in a junk/antique store in Oklahoma. Tonight, I saw one similiar to it on the TV show, "pawn stars" on the history network. It got me started wondering what I had. It is similiar, but larger and rounder, to the one pictured at the beginning of the article above, and the top is similiar, though very straight. I hope to hear from someone who can help me. Thanks.

  6. 6
    dolly rossetter Says:

    I have a bottle that I bought in Kinshasa, Zaire, Africa. It is a porcelain bottle with a dull bluish-grey tint to its glaze. It has a crude floral decoration in blue glaze around a logo "AHV". it stands 17" high, and is 31" round. It has a short 2" crooked neck, making the whole bottle look crooked. It has a small handle at the top beginning at the neck. Does anyone know anything about this bottle. I don't know the first thing about bottles, but I bought this because I liked the way it looked. dolly 😀

  7. 7
    vic rollon Says:

    i have very big demijohn glass bottle . the base is embosed with number 12 below it is 1928 and below it is letter G. its beautiful emerald green in color. heres the DIMENSION, Approximately:

    HEIGHT – 25 & 1/2 inches
    BODY CIRCUMFERENCE – 46 inches
    BASE DIAMETER – 14 inches
    WEIGHT – 11 & 1/2 kilos
    will somebody help me enlighten on the mystery of this bottle. i plan to sell it. thanks everyone. im from the philippines – vic

  8. 8
    Red Says:

    It sounds like a nice old demijohn. I can tell that it was obviously out of mold # 12, and was made in 1928 but I have no identity of the glass house that used the plain G for their glass house identity. I don't know what your plans are for finding a seller but you will need pictures to show the finish, the mold seams location and pattern, and a picture of the bottom. My interest would also want to know something about the marks of making in the glass, and it would be almost prohibitive to ship something like that, very far. Sorry I can't be of more help. RED Matthews

  9. 9
    vic rollon Says:

    thank you Red for your answer to my question. however, i want you to see picture of this bottle. pls go to . In location pls type NCR. i had it painted in 2004. i put it up for sale online here in the philippines just like ebay. im selling it as im not using it anyway. i hope you get to view it i want your comment. i will appreciate any words from you. thank you RED!

  10. 10
    MIke Forester Says:

    vic, I have the exact same bottle. My grandfather was using it for wine brewing/making. I have no idea of the origins of this bottle, but we live in Millville, New Jersey, USA.

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