Kuttrolf Evolution

Digger Odell Publications

I got an appraisal request recently for an interesting bottle which looked like a pinch bottle. Pinch bottles were blown mostly in Europe in The Netherlands, Northern Germany and in Scandinavia, Norway and Denmark. These odd looking bottles have a pinched waist or pinched sides that makes them look highly unusual. They appear to have been made as decorative decanters. Early examples were made in the late 1700s through the beginning of the 18th century.

The German name for these bottles is "Kuttrolf" a kind of bottle in which the neck consists of 5 or 6 twisted "pipes" which make the content of the bottle slowly pouring or dripping out with a clucking sound. The style has its roots in Roman times but was picked up by German glassblowers in the middle ages. It morphed from a twisted neck into the twisted body we see in pinch bottles of the early 19th century.

A few pinch bottles were even blown in this country, probably because glassworkers in American were brought over from Europe. The lady who sought the appraisal had stumbled upon one of these rare American examples.

Some turn of the century examples have shown up in European collections but in this country, the bottle morphed into a familiar shape, a triangular pinched sided decanter. These were very popular in the late 1880-1915 time period when they were decorated with white or colored enamel. These pinch bottles were merely flattened on the sides and did not have the “pipes”.

The form stayed very nearly the same as we enter the 20th century and find the three sided scotch bottle in which the pinch had turned into a dimple. It is interesting to reflect on the forms of bottles we see in modern times and discover the history behind them.