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Some technological changes were expensive and not adopted by glass makers until it became an "adapt or perish" issue and many glass factories just perished.
The shift to the fully automated bottle machine from mouth-blown and some semi-automatic methods in the early 20th century is the classic example (Toulouse 1967, 1969a). The same bottle could have been recycled and reused many times for many years before finally being discarded - entire or broken (Busch 1987).
To misquote an old saying as rephrased by the BLM supervisor that facilitated the initiation of this website project: "The universe (of bottles) isn't just more complicated than you think, it's more complicated than you CAN think." True to a large degree, though much information can be teased out of most bottles with a systematic approach to the matter. This Bottle Dating page (and website in general) is designed to address what the website author refers to as "utilitarian" bottles & jars (click for more information).
Utilitarian items makes up the bulk of the bottles produced during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Bottles intended to be used once to dispense the contained product without much hope of return, though as noted in #4 above, many types of bottles were commonly reused during the 19th and early 20th centuries; or 2.
Shape is more indicative of function - i.e., what the bottle was used for or contained - but even that has a myriad of exceptions.
See the Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes page for more information on the subject..
But any technique, once developed, can be used right up to the present - as many collectors know who have been so unfortunate as to rely too heavily on a popular termination date as sure evidence of true antiquity..." (Toulouse 1969b).
In short, there was (and is) nothing to stop a glassmaker from using an obsolete method in the production of a bottle.3.
A substantial amount of bottle type specific information must be reviewed by a user to increase the probability of dating accuracy.
Additional reference materials outside of this website must often be consulted to narrow down the date of any item as far as is possible and to really get a "feel" for the history of the bottle in question.
The information on this website will, however, usually produce a reliable manufacturing date range for a majority of American utilitarian bottles manufactured from the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.
It is unlikely that this bottle was made during the same era, but instead was reused for a lengthy period or otherwise retained until broken or discarded.
Pontiled base fragments could also be from later produced "specialty" bottles which are described below.5.