What is this?
A wine bottle with the seal of William Bainbridge
When is it from?
1822 to 1833
Why is it Important?
This black glass wine bottle bears the seal of William Bainbridge, captain of Constitution during the War of 1812. Henry Ricketts and Company manufactured it 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 the Bainbridge example. While the bottle could date to the War of 1812 period, the presence of the word PATENT on the shoulder suggests that this example dates to after 1822.
Bottles like this would have graced the tables of many American gentlemen in the early nineteenth century. Drinking was a socially acceptable activity, and indeed men tended to consume what to modern eyes seems like a shockingly vast quantity of wine, beer, and spirits. In the period, most merchants sold wine by the cask. Purchasers frequently bottled the wine themselves, and many acquired customized bottles for their wine cellars. Such monogrammed bottles were not disposable, but were kept and refilled over and over. Gentlemen enjoyed wine more than “ardent spirits,” the 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.
The bottle stands 10 3/8 inches tall and is 4 inches wide at the shoulder. An applied blob seal reads “W Bainbridge” in raised letters. The shoulder bears the inscription “PATENT” while the base is faintly marked “H. RICKETTS & CO-GLASSWORKS- BRISTOL.” The base features a large sand pontil. The finish is a double long tapered collar.