Illinois State Archaeological Survey - Illinois Archaeology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Bottle Book Cover

"Bottled in Illinois: Embossed Bottles and Bottled Products
of Early Illinois Merchants from Chicago to Cairo, 1840-1880"

Kenneth B. Farnsworth and John A. Walthall

Now Available!
Includes over 3,000 figures/illustrations

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The first excavations at EuroAmerican historic archaeological sites dating to the Domestic French Colonial and Transitional Control periods (1730-78), the American Frontier Development and Frontier Expansion periods (1778-1840), and the American Industrial Development period (1840-70) in Illinois were conducted by university and museum-based historical researchers, and as part of government-sponsored historical reconstruction projects, during the early and mid-20th century. More recently, the scale of historical archaeology research has been greatly expanded – especially at residential sites dating to the American Industrial Development period – by legally mandated site survey, documentation, and excavation studies conducted in advance of publicly funded building projects (particularly those related to highway construction).

Bottle exampleSuch studies have produced an ever-increasing Illinois historical archaeology database during the past several decades. Unfortunately, age identification and functional documentation of many of the historical artifact classes recovered by such excavations has lagged woefully behind the pace of artifact recovery and site-interpretation needs. The present study addresses two such poorly documented artifact classes of the American Industrial Development period: the embossed glass bottles and stamped stoneware bottles used by nineteenth-century Illinois Merchants from 1840 to 1880. The many embossed-glass bottles, jars, vials, and flasks from this early period reflect a rich Illinois heritage of pioneer, Civil War-era, and early industrial commerce by capitalists and con men alike.

Bottle 2This book describes and illustrates nearly 1100 different Illinois embossed-bottle varieties produced before, during, and after the Civil War (from 1840 to 1880) for close to 500 Illinois merchants operating in over 100 small towns and cities across the state, with populations ranging from just a few hundred souls to more than 100,000 people. Several small towns are represented by only a single embossed-bottle style used by one enterprising merchant (see, e.g., Henry Burger’s Frogtown IL soda listing). At the opposite end of the spectrum, Chicago bottler John A. Lomax created the “Largest Bottling House in the U. S.” during the 1860s and 1870s, using over 60 different embossed-bottle styles, in a rich variety of colors, to help sell his beverages.

Bottled in Illinois was undertaken in an effort to create a baseline historical archaeology reference volume to help date and functionally interpret one commonly recovered artifact class: 1840—1880 embossed glass containers made for and used by Illinois bottling houses.

[posted March 21, 2011]



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