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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Pattern-Molded Flasks And Pictorial Bottles

Pattern-molded pocket flasks, such as those made in Manheim and later in the Midwestern houses, are of particular interest because of their charm and comparative rarity. The colors (amethysts, blues, ambers, and greens), the texture of material, and the workmanship of these early flasks have rarely been excelled in other types of bottles. The so-called Pitkin flask was a swirled or ribbed flask made by the pattern-molded method, but with two gathers of glass. A few bottles were produced in Blown Three-mold designs.

By the 1820s the new pictorial bottles eclipsed all others in popularity. These were blown in full-size hinged molds so as to retain the picture which the mold impressed in low relief on the glass. Bottle glass in shades of amber and green was most frequently used with aquamarine, the favorite. As with articles of pressed pattern glass, bottles and flasks made in the first two or three decades show better design than those made later, when the glass industry was becoming more and more mechanized. They also depict more of the historical events.

Favorite figures were the presidents-George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. Other celebrities also were chosen, among them, Benjamin Franklin, DeWitt Clinton, Henry Clay, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Only the American eagle appears more often than Washington, and on some bottles both are seen, each on a side. Bottles representing later presidents show them in connection with their political struggles, or with election slogans and scenes. Many bottles also have on one side a picture of the glasshouse where they were made.

Manufacturers took advantage of the passing scene. The enterprising Doctor Dyott depicted Lafayette while the General was touring this country. P. T. Barnum, having paid a tremendous price to bring the Swedish Nightingale to America, got her name and picture on everything from bonnets and pianos to bottles. A dozen or so glasshouses produced special Jenny Lind bottles.

Other bottles have unidentified portraits, symbols of America, historical scenes, and conventional designs. Masonic flasks were made in profusion and there were "slogan" flasks like those marked "Corn for the World." After 1850 designs became stereotyped. The Civil War brought a large number of "Union" bottles, the gold rush had its memorials, and other decorations continued to appear along with events of interest.

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