This edited article about bottles originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 675 published on 21 December 1974.
Can you imagine a world without bottles? It’s hard to visualise a way of life without any bottles at all; and it would have been very hard for our ancestors to have done so at any time in the last 350 years or so.
For the bottle is one of the oldest forms of container. Egypt and Mesopotamia had glass bottles about 2,000 years ago, but even if we ignore them and think of Europe, English glassmaking dates back to Tudor times. Medicine bottles were being made then by glassmakers in the well-wooded Sussex Weald. There they could obtain the wood which was the necessary fuel for their ovens.
Tudor bottles were of irregular shape – no two were exactly alike – because they were not blown in moulds. It was only when the craftsmen began to blow the soft molten glass in moulds that it became possible to turn out quantities of bottles of identical size and shape. Even then, for many years, only the bodies of bottles were “mould blown”; the necks were made separately and stuck on by hand.
In England, the seventeenth century saw glass bottles replacing stoneware and traditional leather bottles, especially for wine. Wine bottles were often marked with a prunt or seal – a misleading term because this did not seal the bottle in the ordinary sense, but was a glass circle applied to the shoulder of the bottle, with the owner’s initials or badge moulded in it.
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