Sunday, January 15, 2012

Glass Wine Bottles at the Jamestown Settlement, 1680

Jamestown Settlement Glass Wine BottlesFrom "New Discoveries at Jamestown, Site of the First Successful English Settlement in America", 1957, US Department of Interior

Old wine and gin bottles comprise a large and important part of the Jamestown collection. Literally thousands of glass fragments from these bottles have been unearthed, and by diligent and patient work a few complete wine and gin bottles have been pieced together.

The glass wine bottles were made in England. The oldest excavated, made between 1640 and 1660, have spherical bodies and tall necks. Those made between 1660 and 1680 have cup-shaped bodies with short necks. Of the period between 1680 and 1700 the neck is very short and the body is wide and squat. Insofar as is known, no glass wine bottles were used at Jamestown before 1640.

The illustration shows some glass wine bottles unearthed at Jamestown ranging in date from 1640 to 1690. Thousands of fragments of these bottles have been recovered.

About 1650 the practice of affixing glass seals or buttons on the shoulders of English wine bottles was begun. The seal was inscribed with a name, or initials, or a date; sometimes a coat of arms or a crest, or other device or ornament. Many of these glass bottle seals have been found at Jamestown. As a rule, only the wealthy and influential planters had seals stamped on their wine bottles.

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