Copyright © 2002 Digger Odell Publications
Beside Wheaton and Clevenger bottles one can find numerous other reproductions. Some are made in Asia in China or in Taiwan, others have been made in Italy and even Mexico. Some of these items are clearly marked as to who produced them and others have no markings and their origins are not widely known.
Most reproductions are easily spotted by collectors. Even beginning collectors immediately key in on the odd colors as not being typical of antique bottle colors and easily recognize them for what the reproductions they are. Both color and method of manufacture give away the majority of these modern bottles. It becomes more difficult when the modern bottles have characteristics of antique bottles such as pontil marks or applied necks (shown on several example below). Sometimes a pebbly surface, made as part of the mold to simulate 'whittle marks', is found on reproductions. This surface often fools beginners into believing the bottle was crudely made.
Pontils are another area of confusion for beginners. The easiest modern pontils to identify are the pontils faked by making a mark molded into the base of the bottle. The mark simulates a pontil in shape and location, but lacks any roughness or sharpness found on true pontils. The presence of a pontil is by no means a sure fire way to identify an antique bottle from a modern one. Most of the modern pontils are not tubular pontils found on many early American bottles. But not all early American bottles had such tubular pontils. Modern pontils tend to be smaller than older ones and similar to what is known as a solid rod pontil. These pontils are often found on Mexican glass and on some modern artistic reproductions. In other cases where the pontil is more like a rough area on the base, it can be difficult to separate old from new on this characteristic alone. Only through experience will collectors be able to make judgments about pontil marks. Early bottles usually have wear marks on the base accumulated over time. These too can be faked and may fool the casual observer. Fortunately very few case of this have been seen this author over the years.
Most of these bottles were never intended to fool anyone. They were in many cases made to sell a product or intended as a gift store item. Several of the cobalt Washington bottles shown and the Calvert bottle were put up by whiskey companies to sell their product. The Lestoil bottles were commemorative pieces from the 1976 Bicentennial. However, over the years some unscrupulous people have made reproductions with the intent to fool. This has happened with fruit jars. Once these become known, the price guides include identifying marks which can help. Sometimes with such pieces it can be very difficult to determine if the item is authentic. Novices can get fooled by even poorly made pieces and sometimes pay dearly for the lack of knowledge. Below are a fraction of "newer" bottles.
Of all of those shown below, only the older Clevenger's seem to have collector appeal that translates into any monetary value. The average bottle below sells for between $5-15. Many of the bottles below can be found in large quantities both such as the Taiwan baby faced milks and Liberty Milk (not pictured). Some come in small quantities and are quite scarce like the Sturbridge or Metro Museum of Art bottles and may increase in value..
The national Park Service has produced several bottles which have fooled less experienced collectors and even some experienced ones. One of them is the U.S. Navy Mustard bottles made in light green with a convincing pontil mark. These bottles are modeled after ones brought to the surface when the iron clad battleships from the Civil War were found and raised. A second bottle is a large green octagonal bottle with an applied seal medallion on the front that says "Jno. Greenhow Wms.burg 1770." These bottles were reproduced based on shards found in the colonial wells in historical Williamsburg. They are fairly convincing in color and form but no such bottle exists in a whole state.
US Navy Mustard Reproduction. The bottle has a convincing pontil but the lip is all wrong for a rolled or even sheared lip- much to thick.
So can you tell the difference between a real bottle and an old bottle? Here is a little test. Decide if each of the bottles below is old or new.
Apple green clasped hands - Union historical Flask. Value if old would be $500-$800. Value if new, $10-20. Click on the picture to decide. Then click below to find out
Amber Eagle Cornucopia if original since it is slightly different than the listed variants, it could be worth $5,000-$10,000. If a reproduction then $20-30. The lip lacks any indication of being machine made. Click on the picture to decide. Then click below to find out.
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DIGGER ODELL'S ANTIQUE BOTTLE AND GLASS COLLECTOR PRICE GUIDE VOLUME 3 HISTORICAL FLASKS