Liquor Bottle Base

Earlier this week, Josh Eads and I concluded our work on Feature 1 and began working on the third level of our unit, which required us to remove 10 centimeters of soil from the floor of the unit. While shovel skimming along our western wall, I struck a hard object. Thinking I had come across another one of the annoyingly plentiful tree roots or large rocks in our unit, I forced my shovel forward in an attempt to slice through the object. Unfortunately, I succeeded and ended up knocking a few sherds of glass off a hidden object. After collecting all of the glass sherds, some of which were no larger than the tip of my thumb nail, I began pawing around in the soil to find the object I had struck. After a few seconds, I pulled a mostly complete bottle base out of the ground.

Pint Full Measure bottle from Unit A.

Pint Full Measure bottle from Unit A. Base with two serif B and letter 7.

As can be seen from the two images, the base itself is relatively complete, except for a piece I accidentally managed to break off when I unknowingly struck it with my shovel. Additionally, unlike the Diamond Ink Co. bottle I found a couple of weeks ago, this bottle still had a portion of the body attached. The words “Pint Full Measure” stamped into the body indicate this bottle used to contain liquor. After a fair amount of research on the serif-B maker’s mark on the bottom of the base, I have been able to determine that this bottle was produced by the Charles Boldt Glass Co.

Charles Boldt Bottle Base. Image Source.

Charles Boldt Bottle Base. Image Source.

The Charles Boldt Glass Co. was born in 1900 when the Muncie Glass Co., headed by Charles Boldt, purchased the Nelson Glass Co. Boldt’s new namesake company remained in operation until 1919. During its peak, the company had factories at four different locations: Muncie, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Huntington, West Virginia. Not much is known about the factories in Louisville or Huntington, but the factory in Muncie mostly produced Mason fruit jars, milk bottles, and other food package ware, while the factory in Cincinnati mostly produced liquor bottles and flasks. In 1910, Boldt obtained a license to manufacture his liquor bottles using automatic machines from the Owens Bottle Co., another large Ohio-based glass company. The bottle I found was most likely produced by one of these machines. Even though we are missing the portion of the bottle body that normally exhibits the tell-tale clamp scar of an Owens machine, the general shape of the base, as well as the circular seam pattern present, coincide with complete Boldt bottles that are known to have been made with these machines. After obtaining his license from Owens, Boldt dramatically increased his manufacture of liquor bottles, and the Cincinnati plant became Boldt’s most productive factory until the onset of Prohibition in 1919. Over the next few years, Owens Bottle Co. purchased most of the stock in Boldt’s company, and by 1926, had completely purchased the organization. Today, the company is known as the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, and is based in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Whereas I am ecstatic about unearthing a more complete bottle, this discovery has served as an important lesson for me: If I strike an object while shovel skimming, I better check to see what it is before I make an attempt at forcing my shovel forward. I’m just thankful that this was not a complete bottle to begin with, and that the damage done was not too severe. From now on, I plan to be extra careful while I shovel skim.

 

References:

Lockhart, Bill. “Owens-Illinios Glass Company.” Society for Historical Archaeology, https://sha.org/resources/newsletter-articles/owens-illinois-glass-company/. Accessed 17 June 2017.

Lockhart, Bill, Pete Schulz, Carol Serr, and Bill Lindsay. “The Dating Game: The Distinctive Marks of the Charles Boldt Glass Co.” Bottles and Extras, Mar. – April 2007, pp. 2-6, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/BoldtGlassCo_BLockhart.pdf. Accessed 16 June 2017.

Schulz, Pete, Bill Lockhart, Carol Serr, Bill Lindsay, Beau Schreiver, and David Whitten. “Charles Boldt Glass Co.” Society for Historical Archaeology, 3 May 2014, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/CharlesBoldt.pdf. Accessed 16 June 2017.

Poor’s Manual of Industries. Vol. 7, New York, Poor’s Manual Company, 1916. Accessed 16 June 2017.

 

Feature 1

After two weeks into the field school, my “squad mate,” Josh Eads, and I finished the second level of our unit. After the floor was leveled, and all the loose dirt was cleared away, we noticed something peculiar about this level: there is a large black rectangle that starts at the northern wall of our unit and extends 108 centimeters southward into the middle of the unit. This unusual area has been designated as Feature 1, or FEA 1. Unlike an artifact, which is considered to be portable, a feature is a non-portable object or area – such a as a wall, a pit, or our interesting black rectangle – that represents a past human activity.

Unit A Base of Level 2 - feature is the dark rectangle in the top part of unit.

Unit A Base of Level 2 – feature is the dark rectangle in the top part of unit.

On Friday (6/9/17), Josh and I began excavating the eastern half of the feature and finished clearing it out on Monday (6/12/17). Our goal here was to find the boundaries of the feature — to determine how deep it was and how far east it stretched. We left the western half of the feature undisturbed so we could examine any stratigraphy (changes in soil type, color, or texture) that may be present, and perhaps use a different technique to further analyze the feature. Excavating this half of the feature proved to be exceedingly time-consuming. It goes without saying that since we wanted to determine the exact shape of the feature, we had to be extremely careful while looking for the diagnostic change in soil color that told us where the feature ended. Finding the eastern boundary of the feature was rather simple, but determining its depth was much more difficult. After nearly four hours of fighting tree roots, clumps of an unknown burnt substance, and large chunks of coal, I finally started to reach the bottom of the northern half of the rectangle. Rather than a simple flat floor, the floor of this area gradually slopes inward from the eastern wall of the feature. After some interesting attempts at finding the best place to sit while excavating this awkward slope, I was finally able to reach the lowest point of this fascinating feature, which turned out to be at a depth of 34 centimeters. Josh also had to fight tree roots and coal while excavating the southern half of the feature. He was able to determine that the floor in this area was relatively flat and had a depth of about 30 centimeters.

Base of FEA 1A - the eastern half of feature 1.

Base of FEA 1A – the eastern half of feature 1.

Even though excavating the entire eastern half of this feature took up the bulk of our day, Josh and I also carefully screened the soil we removed from the pit. We found quite a few rusty nails, some of which were bent at a near right angle, some large pieces of glass, a couple of paper clips, and a sizeable amount of an unknown burnt substance — possibly clay or plaster. But the most substantial amount of material found was burnt coal. It was not burned to the point where it had become charcoal; it was more like lightweight, brittle chunks of carbon. While shovel skimming both the first and second layers of our unit, we found a large amount of coal, both burnt and not burnt. However, FEA 1 is primarily composed of the substance — it is essentially a deposit of used coal. Needless to say, our hands had a nice black hue to them by the end of the day.

The significant amount of used coal in the feature led Josh and I to hypothesize about what this feature was. We believe it may have been the location of a furnace or chimney. Another classmate, Cooper Duda, suggested that the feature could even represent the location of an old fireplace. All of these theories could also explain why we recovered so many nails — old pieces of wood containing the nails might have possibly been disposed of by being placed in an incinerator located in this area. However, we need to investigate the feature a little further before we can draw any definitive conclusions about it.

Although excavating this feature is taking such a long time, I am enjoying the task since it is giving us the chance to explore something a little more specific about Station Terrace.

Diamond Ink Co. Bottle Base

After a week into the field school, the units have been set up and we began removing our first layer of soil. During this process, we mostly found small shards of broken glass and countless rusty nails. However, Friday’s dig (6-2-17) revealed a unique piece of glass in my unit — what appears to be part of the base of an old ink bottle. The piece, as can be seen in Image 1, cannot be more than 7 cm long and is by no means complete. However, the name “Diamond Ink Co.” and the number 25 can easily be read.

Diamond Ink Co. Bottle recovered from Unit A.

Diamond Ink Co. Bottle recovered from Unit A.

The Diamond Ink Company was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1875. In 1886, a German-American by the name of August Nicholas Ritz became the new owner of Diamond Ink. Ritz remained the owner and manager of the company until it was purchased by one of the largest paint and glass distributors in Milwaukee, T.C. Esser Paint Co., in 1930. During the mid-1980s, T.C. Esser was purchased by Paul Phelps to create Oakbrook-Esser Studios, a company that continues to manufacture stained glass windows today.

Since Diamond Ink went out of business so long ago, it is rather difficult to find information about the company’s history. However, it is known that the company was once one of the most prosperous ink companies in Milwaukee. Additionally, the company was especially well-known for putting the first square-shaped ink bottle on the market. Despite their revolutionary new bottle shape, the company continued to make round bottles in a variety of sizes.

Diamond Ink Co. advertisement. Image source.

This specific artifact appears to be part of a round bottle rather than a square one, which suggests two possibilities. First, this bottle could have been one of Diamond Ink’s many different sized round bottles. Or, the fragment could be from the base of one of Ritz’s patented paste jars. These jars actually consisted of two containers fused together. One container, a large jar, would hold the paste while an attached slender tube or bottle-like container would hold the brush that was used to apply the paste. As can be seen in Image 2, the paste jar itself was a rather large container and most likely not the source of this artifact. However, it might be possible that the artifact was once the base of the attached brush tube. Unfortunately, not enough of the artifact was recovered in order to definitively state from which type and size of bottle this piece came from.

Additionally, the significance of the number 25 stamped into the glass is unknown. It could possibly indicate that this specific glass bottle was made from Diamond Ink’s 25th mold shape or style. However, since there are very few Diamond Ink Co. records left in existence, it is rather difficult to determine what this number is supposed to signify.

Overall, I find this bottle base to be an intriguing artifact — it is a remnant of a revolutionizing ink company that has since become lost due to the passage of time.

References:

Bruce, William G. History of Milwaukee, City and County. Vol. 3, Milwaukee, WI, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1922, pp. 540-43. Accessed 2 June 2017.

The Canadian Patent Office Record, Volume 30. Issue 7-12., Ottawa, The Office, 1902, pp. 1344-45. The Ohio State University. Accessed 3 June 2017.

Ritz, A. N. (10-29-1901). Canadian Patent No. 73612. Canada. Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Walker, Laurel. “Gospel of ‘St. John’.” Oakbrook Esser Studios, Jan. 2004. Accessed 3 June 2017.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, “T. C. Esser Paint Co / Diamond Ink Co. / Milw. Worste”, “Milwaukee”, “Milwaukee”, “Wisconsin”, “117283”.

Image 1 taken from Campus Archaeology Twitter account

Image 2 taken from: “Diamond Ink Company.” bottlebooks.com. Accessed 2 June 2017.