Can You Identify This Bottle?

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A Small Brown Treasure

Pam and I get all excited whenever we turn up an antique bottle on our homesite acreage in southern Arizona. Though we’ve only lived here for two years at this point in time (April of 2011), we’ve found any number of treasures left behind by earlier travelers and perhaps a few short term residents. However, being able to identify a new find–that’s sometimes another matter entirely.

Enter a small brown treasure that showed up just two days ago. It was lying right on top of the ground. I didn’t pay it much attention at first. After all, we had toilet buckets to dump and trash to burn in the new burn barrel and preparations to make for Pam’s upcoming visit to her doctor.

But the bottle intrigued us. Tinier than tiny, the thing couldn’t have held more than an ounce of liquid–yet no expense had been spared in its design. The shape was just downright unusual, too, as you’ll see in the photos below. Beyond that, there were markings on the bottom: On the left side, the number 40 over a bar; on the right, the number 3.

I decided to ask our readers for their opinions; maybe one (or more) could identify this little chunk of crafted glass at a glance.

The neck Is fairly tall; the multiple "shoulder steps" are of an unusual design.

The neck Is fairly tall; the multiple “shoulder steps” are of an unusual design.

Tinier than tiny, it couldn't possibly hold more than an ounce of liquid.

Tinier than tiny, it couldn’t possibly hold more than an ounce of liquid.

B3

On the left, the number 40 over a bar; on the right, the number 3.

On the left, the number 40 over a bar; on the right, the number 3.

Another view.

Another view.

Back side--at least, it feels that way.  Could be the front; who knows?

Back side–at least, it feels that way. Could be the front; who knows?

Our enthusiasm for old bottles has always been there, but the “collecting bug” really kicked in after I scoped out the Denver Flea Market one morning in early October of 2007. Among my purchases were three tall, incredibly graceful bottles of the most intense cobalt blue the eye can process. We were absolutely captivated.

It took a bit of online searching, but eventually two of the three were identifed to our satisfaction as nothing particularly special. Nice, attractive, but hardly thrilling economically. In other words, each was worth the three bucks I’d paid for it . If I auctioned them on eBay I might break even, ho hum. So we kept them for our collection.

The third…yeah. That one was our little mother lode. It seemed to be a poison bottle, but we couldn’t quite pin it down.

That is, we couldn’t pin it down until I stumbled onto an Oregon specialist in antique bottles who asked me to email some photos and a description of the item, which of course I did immediately.

It took him about ten days to respond, but the wait was worth it. This time we’d snagged something worth buying. True, it was only a copy of an earlier bottle from 1868, but it had still been manufactured around 1910 and was worth $50, give or take. Pretty good.

Not that there wasn’t a bite in his report: They didn’t make a blue version in 1868, but if ours had genuinely shown itself to be from that year–and was the only blue one–it could have been sold for (give or take) $50,000.

Dream on!

News flash! I know about the little brown bottle! Matter of fact, I knew before I started writing.

Another online writer, Will Starr, gets the blame–or credit, depending on your mood. See, he complimented my ability to make two readable articles out of one ordinary old school burn barrel…so I just had to see if I could come up with a third burn barrel related piece, just for the fun of it.

Will is also the master of the “story with a twist”, a surprise ending, so…

Anyway: The bottle in the photos is no antique at all. Rather, it’s a Flonase bottle from one of Pam’s prescriptions, a few years old at the most. We burned trash in our new burn barrel this past weekend. When I began separating burned tin cans and such from the ashes after the burn, yep, this little bottle did indeed end up on the ground sure enough.

Oh, that slightly out-of-oval neck opening? Simple: It had started to melt a bit in the burn barrel.

How’d I do, Will?

Flonase bottle with white "whiff-i-lator" plastic applicator. The plastic burned away in the burn barrel.

Flonase bottle with white “whiff-i-lator” plastic applicator. The plastic burned away in the burn barrel.

Flonase bottle fresh out of the box with its "giant green protective cap" still in place.

Flonase bottle fresh out of the box with its “giant green protective cap” still in place.

2 thoughts on “Can You Identify This Bottle?

  1. lol; good one and I like that sense of humor. My guess right off the bat was a medicine bottle of sorts.

    I did a diving project in the USVI and the project was to install a pipe underwater but through an old garbage dump well over 200 years old. I was bringing up more junk than laying pipe. The water was black with oil and even sewage from the adjacent sewer plant so it was by feel only. YES; an active sewer plant and my pipe was the new sewer pipe. a nasty job to say the least. But I did find all sorts of bottles and a silver spoon. Most had decayed I am sure. This dump was at one time in the ocean and it had been filled in and the land extended out for an airport built during the war years. Since the land was 20% void there was an actual tidal effect in the trench. the adjacent sewer pipe was leaking; ummmm flowing in my ditch until I could make the tap and connect the new with the old. NASTY JOB!

  2. Whoa! Remind me to never play “Can you top this?” with you! I’ve had a few jobs over the years that leave the “average Joe’s” eyes bugging when he hears about them, but nothing like that. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

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