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Object Record

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Catalog Number 1999.048.350
Description Shoe polish bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c. 1875-1895. This bottle is square shaped in cross section and it has narrowed slightly from shoulder to base. Bottles marked with “FRANK / MILLER’S / CROWN [Graphic representation of a king’s crown] / DRESSING / NEW YORK / U.S.A.” A .875 inch short and narrow neck flares out .875 inch shoulder to a 3.5 inch body. The base is shaped like square with a concave circle in the middle of base. The bottle is aqua glass.
Object Name Bottle
Collection 3D - Containers
Title Shoe polish bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c. 1875-1895.
Date c.1875-1895
Creator Frank Miller & Company
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text “FRANK / MILLER’S / CROWN / DRESSING / NEW YORK / U.S.A.” (on front side of the bottle)
Provenance 20 boxes of archaeological material excavated from the City Centre Plaza site at 950 Main at Middlefield in Redwood City. Excavation for development, done by Basin Research Associates.
Notes "Frank Miller & Company began operation in Warsaw, New York in 1838. Some years later, Miller had moved to New York City. By the year 1867, according to an ad in the Hudson Evening Register, the company was located at 19 & 20 Cedar Street, in New York.

By the 1880s, the company name had been changed slightly to “Frank Miller & Sons”. Miller & Sons manufactured a wide line of shoe dressings (shoe polish) , blackings, leather/harness/saddle dressings, and similar products.
The most popular product they manufactured and sold was their “Frank Miller’s Crown Dressing” which was specifically advertised as “For Ladies’ and Childrens’ Boots and Shoes”. This product was widely advertised in newspapers and magazines of the late Victorian era, and many colorful trade cards were also printed and distributed to promote the products.
Frank Miller’s Crown Dressing
Bottles marked with “FRANK / MILLER’S / CROWN [Graphic representation of a king’s crown] / DRESSING / NEW YORK / U.S.A.” are found rather frequently and most of them appear to date from the 1875 to 1895 period. Many different molds were made to produce these bottles, and a close comparison of different examples show the lettering and crown graphic design, from mold to mold, is never exactly the same, but slight details in the engraving can easily be noted. The embossing on the bottles results from the painstakingly hand-chiseled engraving done to the inside of the bottle mold, and so it was virtually impossible to make each engraved design absolutely identical.

Most of the bottles have a mold identifying number on the base, which served to identify different iron or steel molds from which they were made.

Sometime before 1885 the business offices had moved to 349 & 351 West 26th Street in New York City, as mentioned in the accompanying article in “New York’s Great Industries”. Miller’s products were widely distributed throughout the United States, as well as other countries including Great Britain and Australia.

The Crown Dressing bottles are square in shape, handblown with a tooled lip, usually in light to medium aqua glass. There were many competing brands of shoe polish (shoe dressing), harness and boot blacking and similar products that were packaged in bottles of that same size and shape throughout that time period. For instance, another brand which is found occasionally is the “SARATOGA DRESSING” bottle. In general, these bottles measure about 5 inches in height, and 1 and 5/8? in diameter at the base."
[ 7/8/2016]
Dimensions H-5 W-1.75 D-1.75 inches
Search Terms Bottles
City Center Plaza
Redwood City
Subjects Archaeology
Shoe shiners
Shoe shining