Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vile Vials

Today I rejoined Anne in her efforts to catalog the 1970's Port Tobacco Artifacts. While much of our time was spent deciphering fragments of information regarding where these artifacts were found, we also did some research regarding two nearly intact glass vials. This is quite exciting as we generally encounter glass vessels in hundreds of tiny pieces.

The first vial, on the left in the image, is roughly 4 inches tall. Its defining features include a side mold seam running from the bottom and up the lip and a cup bottom mold seam. These seams are created by the molds used to form glass vessels. The only mark on the bottom is a "3-1." The presence of those two mold seams suggests that this is a machine-made vial and likely dates to the mid-20th century. The unique shape of the vial resembles that of an inkwell, but the small mouth and size suggests that it more likely held perfume.

The second vial is little more than 3 inches tall. This vial also has a side seam and was made in a cup-based mold. However, the side seam does not extend to the lip of the vessel. This lead us to believe that it was either mouth-blown or handmade rather than machine-made. Also, right above where the mold seam ends there are faint horizontal lines which indicate that the vial was hand-wiped near the lip for a more precise shape, which is called a tooled finish. The vial also has no air-venting marks. Air venting marks occur when the mold in which the bottle is blown has venting holes. Also, the vial was sealed using a cork. How do all of these small bits of information assist us? Well, they help to place the vial's date within the late 1800s. It was probably used for either pharmaceutical purposes or household products, such as shoe polish.

So, while neither of these artifacts may be very old, it was certainly interesting to have the chance to work on dating methods for glass vials. If you are interested in glass bottles or vials in general, this website aided us greatly in our research:

Kelley and Anne

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