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:

CLARENCE MATTHEWS, R.I.P. July 21, 2018 at age 89

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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63 Responses to “Welcome”

  1. 1
    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

  2. 2
    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.

  3. 3
    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.

  4. 4
    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?

  5. 5
    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

  6. 6
    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

  7. 7
    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?

  8. 8
    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!!!

  9. 9
    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,

  10. 10
    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.

  11. 11
    Mike Says:

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

  12. 12
    Harry Says:

    CLARENCE MATTHEWS, R.I.P. July 21, 2018 at age 89

  13. 13
    Harry Says:

    It is with sadness that I am writing about the passing of my brother, Clarence "Red" Matthews on July 21, 2018 at 10:15PM at age 89. This was not unexpected as he had been in the hospital and then hospice prior to this point with an attack of infections including fungal, Sepsis and MRSA. These took a severe toll on his body over time, advancing to this point. Fortunately, we had a few good days in both the hospital and hospice to visit and communicate. Some endings are quick, some are slow and some are agonizingly slow. This took about two weeks and it takes energy from the living as well as the one who is passing. It is over now and he has moved on to a more restful place.

    Clarence was a drafted veteran of the Korean War era, although with his graduation from mechanical and metal sciences at R.I.T. in Rochester, NY, he was selected to be an Army trainer at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Prior to that, he was in boot camp at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and advanced to Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. He was married to Agnes there and then moved on to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.

    After his Army time, he and his wife relocated to Rochester, NY where he worked at the Gleason Machine Works. Then he moved on to Watkins Glen, NY and the Bendix Factory in Elmira, working in development and testing on the Bendix Carburetors of that era. Then he took a job at the machine shop of Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company and served as an Applications Engineer and asst. supervisor. He worked there for fifteen years and evaluated many aspects of bottle making and problems relating to mold life and mold durability in glass production.

    His ultimate work took him to California to negotiate a sales and development position with Dameron Alloy Foundries. He was then selling metal products to the Glass Industry in many parts of the world. He put on seminars and sales presentations to many of the glass mold people in the world. At one time he had over 3,000 names in his computer, all were Production and Engineering people, as well as Mold manufacturers and Mold repair supervisors. He 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.

    After his retiring, travel continued to the Western States to visit other relatives, friends and the National Parks and scenery of our country. My family and I joined them for a number of western trips and the pathways, scenery and stops along the way were very enjoyable. This produced fond memories that caused my own family to return to that northwestern area many times over the years.

    Clarence, Rest in Peace. — Harry Matthews

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