Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, spring 2018

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94 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 of a bottle to make a seal. The use of stoppers as closures for bottles dates back to antiquity. Some glass stoppers were designed for disposable bottles, which had the shank of the stopper sheathed in cork. Other stoppers were intended for re-useable or decorative containers like the glass decanter. Pricey liqueur and perfume bottles can be recognized by their ground stoppers, where evidence of grinding has been polished away. Regardless of the shape of the stopper, they were all meant to perform the same function: to insert securely in the neck of a bottle and seal the contents from evaporation, contamination or spillage. A favorite among collectors is the interesting characteristic of "purpled" glass, originally colorless, which contains manganese dioxide. When exposed to the rays of the sun, this changes the compound into a form that causes the glass to turn purple, placing their production to circa 1850-1900. The most commonly found embossed stopper is from the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce bottles, which began impor tation into the U.S. in 1849. The flat top of the stopper often has embossing, identifying the product brand. Another relatively common glass and cork combination was the peg stopper. The shank of the stopper was frequently molded with threads in order for the cork to firmly attach to the shank. They appear to have been most frequently used in toiletry, perfume, and cologne bottles dur- ing the late 1800s to the early 20th century. Local bottle shows are a great source for collecting stoppers, as most dealers are dump diggers in search of the more coveted antique bottles. As they comb through the dig, the stoppers are often found separated from their vessels, and end up on the sale tables at the shows. They can be priced from $5-10 or less. However, on sites such as eBay and Etsy, sim- ilar stoppers can be found listed for $40 or more. While the marquee attraction has always been the rare bottles discov- ered in old digs, it now shares the spotlight with bottle stoppers which have their own special rhythm and following. These jewels of the sea and earth, while being tossed in the ocean emerging as beach bling, or discov- ered in old digs, fading now to a subtle exquisite beauty from the minerals in the soil, are definitely compelling and worth their weight as a collection of their own. And while they are not permitted to take center stage in the home, they can look alluring arranged on an antique silver platter, or piled into a clear glass footed jar, breathing light and life into an interior, as they reflect the memories of a day when they sat atop a bottle as mascots of their time. Marjorie Snow is a published writer and photographer with a vast knowl- edge of antiques and their history. Snow was the owner of Terra Cotta in Las Vegas, an exclusive architectural vintage gallery, which has been featured in numerous West Coast magazines. (Top left) Embossed Lea & Perrins and Maggi sauce bottle stoppers, circa 1869. (Bottom Left) Scarce green "corn cob" stopper. (Right) Seafoam- colored stoppers used in pharmaceutical bottles.

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