Spirits Bottle

The excavation of the SS Republic produced a handful of amber shaded cylindrical bottles typically associated with storing some variety of liquor or spirits, including bourbon, rye, gin, scotch whisky, or brandy. This popular bottle type, commonly referred to as a “patent style cylindrical fifth” (one fifth of a gallon), was manufactured by numerous eastern American glass houses from 1844 up until about 1880, with most appearing to date between the 1850s and 1870s. 

Cylinder liquor bottles were typically made in a 3-piece mold often referred to as a Rickett's mold, one of the earliest mold types used in the United States. This mold utilized one large body piece from base to shoulder, and two shoulder portions that folded out to allow the bottle to be removed after blowing. It also permitted the molding of the name of the glassworks or company and the address on the outer rim of the bottle base. First used in England in about 1814, the mold was later patented in 1821 or 1822 by Henry Ricketts of Bristol, England, and then adopted by many U.S. glass works by the 1830s—making its appearance in an archaeological context an excellent time marker.

Most of the Republic examples bear no embossed text yet a few of the cylindrical fifths feature the distinctive stamp of the Ellenville Glass Company, New York. This company was organized in 1836 by a group of glass makers from Coventry and Willington, Connecticut. In October 1837, they began to make bottles, carboys and demijohns, using for fuel as much as ten thousand cords of hard wood a year from nearby forest land which they had purchased. A company store was built on Canal Street. Ellenville bottles were in common use throughout the country and business flourished until the Civil War. In 1866 a new company was organized and incorporated, the Ellenville Glass Works, which took over the lands and factories of the old establishment. In 1869 the company was said to be the largest of its kind in the United States, giving employment to about 540 persons, including many women and children.
 

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