One of the most frequently asked questions about old bottles is,  'How old is this bottle?'  Often beginners have a difficult time distinguishing between old and new bottles especially when is comes to modern reproductions.  One can find quite a bit of information on my web site and across the Internet about dating bottles based on whether the mold seam goes up and over the lip or if the bottle has a 'pontil' on the base.  Even given these descriptions beginning often mistake a machine made Owen ring on the base of a bottle with a pontil. (Specifics on what a pontil looks like or how to tell the age based on the mold seam can be found in Bottle Basics.) While these two characteristics are often a strong clue to age, readers will be further helped by developing an understanding how the various categories of bottles changed over time.  To aid beginning collectors and those interested in bottles  I have developed a number of bottle time lines.  These diagrams should help clarify age differences based on both form and function.  With each chart the reader will find accompanying pictures to further aid in bottle identification and age. 

Chart 1 The Basics of Dating Bottles

This chart compares various bottle catagories over time.

Readers first need to develop the vocabulary necessary to distinguish early and late forms of bottles. The following charts and pictures on the dating bottles pages listed below should help.

Screw Tops and the Owens Ring

Dating  Alcohol Related Bottles  

Dating Bitters

Dating Medicine Bottles  

Dating Soda Bottles

Dating Ink Bottles 

Dating  Food Bottles

Dating Cologne Bottles

Dating Miscellaneous Bottles