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Catalog Number 1999.048.023
Description Beer Bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c. 1870-1920. The black glass beer bottle was produced in three pieces of rim, neck, and body. The rim is .5 inches high with a .125 inches band below it. The slightly bulbous 2.5 inches long neck flares out 1.25 inches to a 3.75 inches cylindrical body.The bottle is showing the dip-mold line at the shoulder. The bottle has a concave base.
Object Name Bottle, Drinking
Collection 3D - Containers
Title Beer Bottle recovered from City Centre Plaza, c. 1870-1920
Date c. 1870-1920
Creator Unknown
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text none
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 During the first half of the 19th century, heavier ales were increasingly bottled and distributed in the eastern half of the U.S. though primarily within the immediate geographical region of the typically small breweries. Problems with spoilage confounded the long term storage and quality retention of beer making it a product that needed consumption fairly quickly after fermentation was complete. Prior to the Civil War most of the beer produced in the U.S. was of the Old World ale styles, including porter and stout. These beer types were relatively high in alcohol and more highly hopped than the later - though enormously popular - lager beer styles. The combination of alcohol and the natural antibacterial properties of hop oil allowed these beers to keep for some months without spoiling, though quality retention was still an issue as the flavor of beer deteriorates relatively rapidly as compared to wine and spirits (Wilson & Wilson 1968; Anderson 1973). It is likely that much of the early production of bottled beer was for a heavy, high alcohol, non-carbonated product, i.e., it was "still" or "non-sparkling." This made the product easier to transport and less likely to lose carbonation due to inadequate sealing - a common occurrence since corks were unreliable for pressurized products - since there was no carbonation to lose (Plavchan 1969).
The black glass bottle above is a dip molded ale (or possibly liquor) bottle with a glass-tipped pontil scar that most likely dates from the 1850s as it was excavated from the Gold Rush country of California. This is a very commonly encountered style bottle on historic sites dating from the 1820s to about 1870. These early black glass ale and porter bottles were referred to as "junk bottles" from at least the late 18th century through mid 19th century (McKearin & Wilson 1978).
The shape of beer bottle have been recorded with labels for that heavy, dark style of beer (Wilson 1981).
Anderson, Will. 1973. The Beer Book: An Illustrated Guide to American Breweriana. Pyne Press, Princeton, N.J.
Wilson, Bill and Betty. 1968. Spirits Bottles of the Old West. Henington Publishing Co, Wolfe City, TX.
Wilson, Rex L. 1981. Bottles on the Western Frontier. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ. Another excellent - and scholarly - book largely based on the excavations of bottles made at several 19th century military forts in the West.
Plavchan, Ronald J. 1969. A History of Anheuser-Busch, 1852-1933. Doctoral dissertation, St. Louis University.
Dimensions H-8 W-2.75 D-2.75 inches
Search Terms Alcohol
City Center Plaza
Redwood City
Subjects Alcoholic beverages
Bottle industry