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William Bainbridge’s Wine Bottle

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This green glass wine bottle bears the seal of Commodore William Bainbridge, who commanded USS Constitution from September 15, 1812 to July 18, 1813.

Monogrammed bottles like this, which were kept and refilled over and over, graced the tables of many American gentlemen in the early 19th century. In this period, most merchants sold wine by the cask. Purchasers frequently bottled the wine themselves, and many acquired customized bottles for their wine cellars. Gentlemen generally drank wine more than ardent spirits, the higher price of the former tending to elevate its status in the minds of the gentry. Port enjoyed the highest reputation, closely followed by madeira and claret.

Henry Ricketts & Co. manufactured this bottle in Bristol, England. In 1822, the company secured a patent for a three-piece bottle mold that in many ways revolutionized the glass-blowing industry. Using the new technique, the base was blown into a cylindrical dip mold, and the shoulders formed in a two-piece hinged mold. Ricketts began using this technique as early as 1814, and the earliest bottles have hand-blown necks like this example. While this bottle could date to the War of 1812 period, the presence of the word PATENT on the shoulder suggests that it dates to after 1822.

Henry Ricketts & Co.

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[H]10 3/4 in. [W]3 3/4 in.

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Credit Line
USS Constitution Museum Collection. Dr. Somers H. Sturgis Gift.

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