Antiques Column: Wine bottles in very poor condition still produce good results

Last weekend my sister in law and her partner came to stay. As my sister in law is related to my wife it goes without saying that she is lovely, generous and absolutely faultless.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 2:15 pm

What though of her partner, Tim. Well he is kindness personified and loves painting houses or any parts there of.

My wife just happened to mention that our new kitchen had left the walls not covered with cupboards or appliances in a half plastered, half original state and Tim was on his white charger, with painting tools spilling from the saddle bags.

Two days later, we are painted. Tim is an interesting character and knowledgeable on many topics. He has one of the best collections of Shrewsbury stone bottles in the country and his knowledge on the subject could spawn a television series.

An early wine bottle.

During the weekend we discussed many things and I found his love of the wine bottle (more, in-fact, than the contents) fascinating.

Early wine bottles were made from darkly coloured glass, which had a hint of brown when held up to the light. This glass is known as ‘Black Glass’ and was used in wine bottles between 1650 and 1800.

These early bottles are very collectable as they represent the earliest stages of consumerism in Britain. Due to their age there is usually surface deterioration, ranging from severe pitting to simple dullness.

However, unlike many collectables, damage is acceptable in these old black glass wine bottles, so rare examples in very poor condition still produce good results in the saleroom.

Although not mass produced until the early 1800s, the production of glass was increasing throughout this early period with many glass houses opening up and different manufacturers gaining recognition for certain styles and shapes of bottle.

The commonest shapes in these early wine bottles are the ‘globe and shaft’, the ‘onion’ and the ‘mallet’, with rarer shapes, such as the octagonal being more collectable. More collectable still than the rare shape is the sealed bottle. These are bottles applied with a seal during manufacture which bears a family crest, a date or initials.