Antique Bottle Tops
the purpose of this text we will be looking at Blown in Mold and
Machine Made bottles. The associated charts and corresponding time
line were not designed to include Black Glass and some Free blown
The earliest tops or lips were sheared off. Sheared tops can be
rolled in or out. Next applied lips were developed. A hot piece of
glass was applied to the neck and then hand tooled to the proper
shape. The lips of bottles made before 1870 were often crudely
applied and careful examination shows these irregularities.
Sometime around 1880 it became common practice to tool the lips
with a lipping tool, an object which fit one piece into the
opening of the neck while two other pieces clamped on the outside
of the applied band of glass. Then with a twisting motion, the top
was uniformly shaped. Many bottles produced from 1880 to 1910ís
will show evidence of this twisting motion which left faint
concentric rings around the neck. At the same time this motion
usually erased a portion of the bottle necks mold seam mark.
Earlier bottles, those made before 1880, will not show these rings
and the lip may be more crudely applied with drippy areas under
the applied band. Just remember that any time the mold seam stops
before the top of the bottle then the bottle is called hand
Review the common top styles detailed in this book. Take special
note as to which category they fall into, non applied, applied or
machine made. Basically non applied lips have no additional glass
added to lip. Applied lips, as the name implies, use additional
glass to finish the top. Machine made tops can often resemble
their older counterparts but can be easily distinguished because
the mold seam will run through the top.
Above: This non
applied Flarred Top was found by my son while digging clams.
Non Applied Lips
Officially called hand-tooled lips the bottle neck was sheared off
then smoothed or rolled inward or outward. No additional glass was
added to the lip. This style top is often seen on early ink wells.
In this same category are sheared lips with attached rings. These
are common on Free Blown and Black Glass bottles. Although these
rings are technically applied glass they do not change the upper
most surface of the lip.
Applied Tops includes all lips that were applied after the bottle
was removed from blow pipe or mold. I have listed below samples of
many of the most common Applied Tops. These bottles will have mold
seams that do not run through the top. They also can often have a
very rough drippy edge on the bottom of the lip. In general the
cruder the applied top the older the bottle. This category also
includes hand finished tops, which were finished with a lipping
tool and are more uniform in shape.
After 1903 Automatic machine made (ABM) bottles often mimicked
older applied tops. In all cases machine made bottles will have a
mold seam that runs through the top. ABM bottles can have a
variety of cork style tops, crown tops or screw tops.