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Peterson has a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern New Mexico University and a Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska, both in anthropology, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in history from Columbia College.
This page and associated sub-pages allows a user to run an American produced utilitarian bottle or a significantly sized bottle fragment through a series of questions based primarily on diagnostic physical, manufacturing related characteristics or features to determine the approximate manufacturing age range of the item.
This was almost universal with many beverage bottle types (e.g., soda, beer, milk) but was variably common with just about any type bottle - especially prior to 1920.
Of course, soda & beer were reused up until quite recently.
By the mid-19th century, embossed lettering and marking on bottle bodies and bases, denoting manufacturers and products, made more precise dating possible. Is the bottle highly symmetrical, but lacking mold seams?
In addition to technology, products and manufacturers, certain types of glass colors will also aid in dating. This type of bottle was probably dip-molded and dates after circa 1820.
Some technological changes were expensive and not adopted by glass makers until it became an "adapt or perish" issue and many glass factories just perished.
The shift to the fully automated bottle machine from mouth-blown and some semi-automatic methods in the early 20th century is the classic example (Toulouse 1967, 1969a). The same bottle could have been recycled and reused many times for many years before finally being discarded - entire or broken (Busch 1987).
A substantial amount of bottle type specific information must be reviewed by a user to increase the probability of dating accuracy.
Using physical, manufacturing related diagnostic features, most utilitarian bottles can usually only be accurately placed within a date range of 10-15 years (i.e., 1870-1880 or 1885) . Like many industries making the leap from manual craftsman production to industrialization and automation, technological advances in bottle manufacturing were not immediately accepted by glass manufacturers or their workers.
Acceptance often occurred over a period of many years or decades in some cases.
Check for lack of bubbles and uniform glass thickness.
This is another indication of a machine-made bottle. Most bottles with embossed lettering date from the late 19th century and later. Keep in mind that older technology often persisted and some bottles date later than you might think.