All this adds to the fascination with bottle making, but makes systematic dating similar to solving Rubik's cube - ostensibly simple on the surface but complex in practice.
To misquote an old saying as rephrased by the BLM supervisor that facilitated the initiation of this website project: "The universe (of bottles) isn't just more complicated than you think, it's more complicated than you CAN think." True to a large degree, though much information can be teased out of most bottles with a systematic approach to the matter. This Bottle Dating page (and website in general) is designed to address what the website author refers to as "utilitarian" bottles & jars (click for more information).
Please be aware that in order to gain the maximum information about any particular bottle (e.g., dating, typing) the user must usually must review a number of pages within this website.
Unfortunately, the complexities of precisely dating bottles is beyond the scope of any simple key.
We can always have some indication of a starting date for a technique if we can find who first put the idea into practice.
But any technique, once developed, can be used right up to the present - as many collectors know who have been so unfortunate as to rely too heavily on a popular termination date as sure evidence of true antiquity..." (Toulouse 1969b).
Produced during the era where all bottles were an relatively rare and cherished commodity to be discarded only when broken (i.e., the first third of the 19th century back many centuries prior) and does not otherwise fit the above two categories.
Utilitarian bottles include the majority of the bottles in the following bottle categories or types: soda, mineral water, beer, milk, proprietary medicine, druggist (excluding shop furniture), chemical, foods & sauces, household (including ink, shoe polish, cleaners, personal hygiene related items), common wine containers (excluding decanters), champagne, and most non-decanter spirits/liquor bottles.
When a likely or known "older" item is found in a known "newer" site it is referred to as deposition lag.Acceptance often occurred over a period of many years or decades in some cases.This technology lag makes some diagnostic characteristics better than others for dating. As a corollary to #1, consider the following quote: "Treat terminal dates with care.Of course, soda & beer were reused up until quite recently.The bottle pictured to the right has a Wait's Liver and Kidney Bitters label pasted over the embossing of a Star Kidney and Liver Bitters bottle!