This is my antique bottle website. I am interested in antique bottle and glass collecting and the history associated with the manufacture of blowing and pressing glass by traditional methods. South Jersey is noted for its many nineteenth century glass houses and works. America's first successful glass works was founded by Caspar Wistar in 1739 on Alloway's Creek in Salem County. This works operated successfully for a period of 40 years. I consider American glass as an art form that is produced by skilled craftsmen. Some of these craftsmen still blow glass today and I am committed to preserving this vanishing art form.

I was born February 11, 1958 in New Brunswick, NJ, am a lifelong resident of South River, New Jersey and started collecting antique bottles in 1972. My antique bottle collecting hobby started on a walk through the woods along the South River in 1972. While approaching a river overlook upon some high ground, two friends and I walked through one of three small brick foundations. These foundations were the remains of unidentified small buildings that once stood on the high ground overlooking the South River. There was no wood, nor any other features, remaining other than the bricks and mortar from which the building’s foundations were originally made. There was a metal rod protruding from the ground in the center of one of these foundations and as I walked along I gave the metal rod a tug and it dislodged from the earth. To my surprise a small clear bottle emerged along with the displaced soil. I examined the find and noticed that it had lettering embossed on the glass. This was unusual since the bottles I was used to seeing were smooth and had either paper labels or painted pyro glazed labels, few had lettering cast into the glass. I carefully wiped away the dirt and read out the name of “The R & R Drug Company, South River, NJ”. I interpreted this ‘message on a bottle’ as a communication from a distant past. Having no digging tools, that day, we poked about the foundation with the metal rod we had extracted. To our surprise we quickly found another round aqua blob top bottle that was from beer bottler F. C. Bissett of South River, NJ.

We were amazed enough to return a few days later with tools and dug out the entire foundation. We found several other bottles and instantly became hopelessly hooked as bottle diggers. We methodically excavated the remaining foundations and found a few more mold blown bottles. To our surprise we were already out of places to dig! My friend’s brother was a few years older than us, owned a car and had a driver’s license. He had heard of a bottle dump in Hightstown, NJ where people actually went to dig for old bottles. We were surprised that others had a similar interest. We quickly went to the location on Wyckoff’s Mill Road, in Hightstown, and found the dump with very little effort. We peeked into the woods and saw piles of broken bottles in and around dug out holes. It was a surreal scene, I never saw so much broken glass and so many broken old bottles in one place. By the time we arrived there, in 1972, the dump was mostly dug out since it was a shallow surface dump and was very easy to dig. By trial and error I determined that probing with a 3 tined hay fork on the outskirts of the dump could produce interesting finds. I thought I had found the Holy Grail when I pulled a quart Millville Atmospheric fruit jar out from under some tree roots. It was missing its glass lid and iron clamp and at the time I didn’t even know it!

I was on my way to a journey that has not yet ended. I finished up in Hightstown and went on to Helmetta to dig the Helme’s Railroad Snuff Mill dump, and then scattered dumps in Spotswood and Jamesburg. In the cities I quickly learned how to locate privies and cisterns with a probe. Once I got my driver’s license in 1975 I dug as many privies as I could find in New Brunswick and then Newark, then moving on to Philadelphia, Trenton, Burlington, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Port and Jersey City.

I started a collection of Middlesex County blob top beers, Hutchinson stopper soda bottles, local medicine and pharmacy bottles and stoneware. I only kept what I dug or traded for up to about 1990. I had a wonderful collection of dug items and only bought a rare local example every so often, not spending much more than thirty dollars for something I could not find digging. I always tried to keep the older pontil items, but traded them for the local items when the need arose.

1991 my collecting habits began to change. I began to acquire good colored pontil medicine bottles, sided and mug-based blue iron pontil soda bottles to add to my bottle collection. I started selling off the dug items to fuel the purchase of better quality mint condition colored pontil bottles. I always stuck with sodas and medicines because these were familiar to me. I often found them broken and occasionally whole when digging. Soon I began to purchase or trade for examples I only had dreamed of owning.

In 1997 I began selling off a collection of about 50 New Jersey script grocery jugs in order to continue purchasing colored pontil medicine bottles. This is my favorite category as it has been for the duration of my bottle collecting hobby. Pontil blue soda bottles weigh in a close second. Historical flasks, South Jersey and Philadelphia fruit jars and cologne bottles are also a few of my favorite categories.

I presently metal detect and continue to excavate antique bottles mostly in the large urban areas around New York and Philadelphia. Occasionally a trip is planned to excavate Civil War relics in Virginia. These trips, like any bottle excursion, must be done on private property with the owner’s permission.

Collecting antique bottles for the past forty seven years has introduced me to a great number of collectors and I have made many friends within the hobby. Antique bottle collectors are genuine and fun to be around.


Photos from Past Antique Bottle Shows & Meetings

A Bit About Bottle Basics


From the Corning Museum of Glass - This is a great introductory video on glass chemistry and how glass is made.

Dictionary of Glass and Glassmaking Terms, also from the Corning Museum of Glass.

From another perspective - here is an article from the Journal of Glass Studies on historical glass formulas: A Glass Recipe Book of the New England Glass Company (PDF) By Millard Rogers, Jr.

If your not sure what category your bottle fall into then take a look at: http://www.sha.org/bottle/typing.htm

Other Articles on Bottles and Glass


A New England Glass Company Masterpiece (PDF) - an article on an exquisite cut and engraved presentation vase by Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen

English Glass Imports In New York 1770-1790 by Arlene Palmer

Underwater Archeology - Discovery of Ancient Glass on the Corning Museum of Glass web site.

The Demise of the Big Beer Bottle in New Jersey (PDF) by Joe Butewicz


Interviews with Bottle Collectors from 2005

Norm Heckler (PDF) along with a Powerpoint file of photos, converted to PDF (PDF)

Dick Watson (PDF)

Tom McCandless (PDF)

Mark Vuono - by Joe Butewicz

Mark Vuono - by Bob Strickhart


A Few New Jersey Bottles

New Jersey bottles