Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, spring 2018

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Civil War. Medicines are very common, as well as ink bottles, liquor and beer bottles. The glass has been preserved for more than 100 years, often forming an iridescence from minerals in the ground leeching onto its surface. The outhouses say a lot about who used them. By the bottles and products found, one can follow the family history, their health and their addictions. The kinds of bones dug up reveal what animals the families raised and ate, while seeds indicate the plants that grew nearby. The med- icine bottles the people bought and discarded show the diseases they caught and tried to cure. Glass inkwells were a sign their owners could read and write. A large number of liquor bottles strongly suggests they drank to excess, while a cache of Laudanum bottles hint that their owners developed a dependence on opiates. Collectors love antique bottles because they were hand-made, mouth- blown and crafted in beautiful shapes and colors. They're also fascinating artifacts from an era when snake-oil salesmen traveled the country, selling fraudulent concoctions they claimed would cure the maladies of the day, including rheumatism, alcoholism or consumption. The peddlers were successful for a time because people who con- sumed them swore they felt better, largely because they were high from the stuff, as they were often loaded with heroin and opiates. While bottle collectors are a rare breed, there is also an off-shoot of this group who are drawn to collecting the stoppers that fly solo without their vessels. There is great variation in the styles of glass bottle stoppers. Generally speaking, a stopper is any closure which fits inside the neck C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 93 Highly sought after purpled bottle stoppers get their lavender hues from sun exposure due to their manganese dioxide compound. A frosted glass figural fish stopper with peg shank, most likely from a fragrance bottle.

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