During the early years of married life, when our house was overrun with babies, children and teenagers, my wife and I rarely opened a bottle of wine. Now, as children have flown, to make their own nests and tranquility has come to our happy home, we find ourselves with time to enjoy the occasional bottle.
We never discuss the bottle though, just the contents. Bottles are, however, a very interesting topic for discussion.
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.