How to tell the age of antique bottles

Updated February 21, 2017

Antique collecting has become a popular way to invest money and a fun way to enhance the beauty of your home. Antique bottles can come in many different size and types, from medicine bottles to wine bottles, and they can come in a wide array of colours. The value of your bottle can vary, depending on the age and rarity of the bottle. Here is how to date your antique bottles.

Look for printing on the bottom of the bottle. If there are any identifying marks on the bottom of the bottle, this can be a great way to know where the bottle was manufactured, what the date might be, or what the bottle was used for. If you can find out easily where the bottle was made, you can then research the company's history or location and figure out what year the company made the bottles like yours. If you see a pointel mark on the base of the bottle, or the mark left behind when the glassblower removed the bottle from the tube, this indicates a very old bottle that dates before the 1820s.

Inspect the bottle's appearance. The length of the bottle neck, the width of the base, and any interior idiosyncrasies can be clues. Characteristics such as a flared lip, a mound in the base, and a steeply tapered neck can all indicate specific bottle companies. Hand-blown black glass is usually a good indicator of a bottle that dates before the 1850s.

Consult an expert in print. Many books specialise in dating antique bottles, and you can find them in libraries, book stores and on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites. Prominent titles include, "Antique Trader Bottles Identification & Price Guide" and "Warman's Bottles Field Guide: Values and Identification," both by Michael Polak, and "Kovels' Bottles Price List" by Terry Kovel.

Check for embossing. Embossing is seen when the bottle has a picture pressed or stamped onto the sides. This is seen most commonly on medicinal bottles. If your medicinal bottle have embossing on the sides, they might not be as old as a medicinal bottle without embossing.

Ask for an appraisal online, especially if you are new to antique bottle collecting and want hands-on expert guidance. Among the websites that offer appraisals are and (see Resources for links).

Things You'll Need

  • antique bottles
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author