Museum Homepage

The San Mateo County Historical Association
Online Collections Database

The mission of the San Mateo County Historical Association is to inspire wonder and discovery
of the cultural and natural history of San Mateo County.

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 2017.012.028
Description Tombstone Whiskey Bottle, c. 1890-1902. Amber bottle with two curves on each side making it shaped like a tombstone. The bottle has an embossed lip beneath the tapered lip. The bottom of the bottle is shaped like a hexagon that has a white square label on the bottom, written in blue ink that says "20 -" The bottle appears to be empty except for a few air bubbles in the middle of the bottle.
Object Name Bottle, Spirits
Collection 3D - Food Service Tools & Equipment
Title Tombstone Whiskey Bottle, c. 1890-1902
Date c. 1890-1902
Creator Unknown
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text none
Provenance Part of donation that included 6 cases of beer and whiskey bottles dating from 1850 through the 1890s. These are the type of bottles that would have been present in San Mateo County during that time period.
Notes "The 19th century produced few whiskey bottles compared to the 20th century. For most of the century Bourbon and Rye whiskeys were sold by the distiller in the barrel. A few retailers offered bottled whiskey to customers but the majority of the consumers furnished their own bottle, flask or jug and had it filled from the barrel. It is not until the 1880s that machine blown glass bottles were developed, making it profitable for distillers to bottle their own product. These first machine blown bottles used two piece molds similar to those used to make decorative flasks. These bottles had a seam that ran up the neck of the bottle. Unfortunately, this made the neck a weak point in the glass and the bottles with long necks tended to break easily. In the 1890s a three piece mold was developed with the neck being the third piece. The seam in the glass runs up to the shoulder of the bottle and disappears... Hand blown bottles will have be less uniform than machine blown bottles, unless they were blown into a mold. The mold seams are clues as to when machine mold bottles were made. The bottle itself will tend to have air bubbles in the glass. There is also a wide variation on the glass color from clear to amber, to violet to smoky grey, to olive green..." [ 5/24/2017]
Dimensions H-12 W-3 D-0.125 inches
Search Terms Alcohol
Subjects Alcoholic beverages