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Case Gin Bottle

The few square case gin bottles recovered from the SS Republic feature the distinctive slanted sides that taper from top to bottom, forming a base that is narrower than the bottle's shoulder. Such bottles, originally produced with straight sides, were often filled with liquor, and at the end of the 17th century were being shipped to the American colonies from England. The square design permitted the convenient fitting of 4 to 12 bottles into a wooden packing crate. By the 18th century, the term "case bottle" was being used. During this period, such bottles often holding Dutch gin, are said to have been employed as trade goods, sometimes utilized to mediate the exchanges in the translatlantic slave trade.

By the 19th century, these bottles were frequently referred to as a "gin bottle" or "case gin," although they also held other intoxicants such as schnapps and bitters, all of which were drunk extensively, sometimes even for their purported medicinal value.

The most popular color for case gins is olive green, such as this example, although they are also found in clear, amber, and cobalt blue. Similar bottles often bore seals bearing the name of the importer or distributor. Yet, all of the SS Republic samples are without any indentifying embossment, leaving their attribution a mystery.

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