Jeff and Holly Noordsy

Dealers Specializing in the Sale of Early American Bottles, Glass and Period Decorative Arts

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As Presented by Jeff and Holly Noordsy at the Eastfield Village Glass Symposium in August 2005




FThe second, and equally important advancement of the era I have termed "Becoming American," is the emergence of blown-three-mold glass. Created around 1820 as a cheaper but equally attractive alternative to the cut glass English and European objects that flooded the American market in the pre-tariff 1816-1824 era, blown-three-mold bottles and tableware played an integral role in the creation of a distinctly "American" Bottle and Glass Industry. Cleverly mimicking the appearance of more expensive imported "high-style" flint and "crystal" tableware, blown-three-mold afforded Americans of limited means the opportunity to decorate their tables with fancy bottles and glass. Blown primarily of clear, leaded glass in Sandwich and South Boston, blown-three mold decanters were also made of colored bottle glass in Keene, Mount Vernon and in the Midwest at the Glass House in Kent, Ohio. Also made from bottle glass were a multitude of blown-three-mold inkwells, which were regular production items of the Glass Houses in Keene, Coventry and Mount Vernon. As with the figured flasks of the period, blown-three-mold objects were more uniform in size and shape than the freeblown and pattern molded vessels that had preceded them, yet they still retained individuality and ample evidence of hand-craftsmanship. This handiwork was evident not only in the manner in which the bottles and inkwells were finished, but also in the obvious skills of the men employed to cut the highly-detailed molds.

In spite of the emergence of bottles and flasks blown in full-sized molds, most of the so-called "common bottles" of the period continued to be fashioned with the aid of a dip mold and finished by freeblowing. With limited demand for privately molded bottles or those of exact size and capacity, no significant advantage was gained through use of two-piece molds, as the simple cylindrical beverage bottles of the day were just as easily formed through use of a dip mold. As a result, Glass Houses and merchants alike were content in the production and continued use of ales, cider bottles, spirits bottles, snuffs, blacking bottles, and jars that were not remarkably different in appearance from bottles of the previous period. As with every blanket statement however, there are of course notable exceptions, including three-piece mold porter bottles blown at Mount Vernon and the base embossed three piece mold cider and ale bottles blown at the New England Glass Bottle Company in or around 1827. Utilizing similar technology as that which Henry Ricketts of Bristol, England successfully patented in 1821 (though in use from roughly 1815), these three-piece mold beverage bottles were more uniform in size and capacity than their dip-molded counterparts. With that said, the MAJORITY of common bottles blown in this time frame did not utilize the newly patented technology, though as we will see, use of two and three-piece molds became the most popular manner in which American bottles all types were blown by mid-century.

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