Florida Keys Bottles Shelf
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These pages are  by Jerry Wilkinson

- prologue -

      This presentation is not presented to encourage bottle collecting, but to encourage recognition of how our present and past lives influence industry and vice versa.

     The origins of man-made glass seems lost in the mists of time.  In 1500 BC the orgin of glass  was securely dated by an Egyptian  mosaic rod now located in the Berlin Museum. The Syrians (250 - 100 BC) are credited with the invention of glass blowing. The Roman historian, Pliny, wrote in 77 AD that Phoenician sailors accidentally melted silica sand into glass while cooking a meal. In North America Dutch and Polish glass blowers made the first attempt at glass production in 1621. Caspar Wistar successfully ran "South Jersey Glass" from 1730 to 1780, including the production of bottles.  Henry Stiegel followed and in 1827 the Sandwich Glass Co. produced large quantities of glass products. 

     The following bottles were found in the Florida Keys. The Keys have a natural sieve or net - the webbing of mangrove roots which collect bottles and other debris.  To my knowledge, no bottles were ever made in the Keys except for a short time at Big Pine Key by the "Big Pine Key Glass Works." However, the 1911 - 1912 Key West City Directory lists "Consumers Bottling Company." As with most bottling companies, the bottles were made by a bottle manufacturer.

Glass Colors of Bottles
(Note: single click on all images to enlarge, then BACK to return.)

Many impurities can be added to the molten glass to produce different appearances. Cobalt is generally used to produce brilliant blues.

Some form of carbon is generally used to produce the common brown. Chromium, sulfur and silver produces yellow. Combinations can produce ambers. Many ambers are due to the supply of the clarifier maganese being cut off from Germany from about 1914 to 1930.

The environment, especially sunlight and moisture, will "weather" the impurities in once clear glass to various colors. Various iridescence, cloudy, milky, etc. opaqueness also occurs primarily because of the reaction of the soda content with moisture and sunlight (or the absence thereof).  Copper impurities will create an emerald green.

Also called "sun glass" or "desert glass", the amethyst to purple coloring is caused by the effect of ultra-violet rays on the maganese content. Large amounts of manganese was used as a clarifier (decolorizer)  between about 1880 to 1915.

Red is unusual for bottles as its impurity is gold oxide.
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