Sunday, January 31, 2010


The term seems to be pretty popular these days. Crossover SUV, political crossover, crossover music; why this term seems to have about as many uses as shrimp did in the movie Forrest Gump. So how about crossover bottles? You know, the same exact mold used to manufacture both glop tops and tool tops?

Numerous bottles come to mind; Phoenix Sole Agent & bulge neck, Hotaling OPS, OK Cutter, Cutter / Bottled By, Hildebrandt Posner, Jesse Moore Sole Agents, Gilt Edge, Gold Dust, Chevaliers Ginger Brandy & Castle Whiskey, Cartan McCarthy, Peppers; heck even Fred Raschen. And then there's the slug plates like Wolters Bros., MacFarlane & Co., Van Schuyver, Standard Old Bourbon, etc. etc. etc. Now that I think of it, the list seems almost never-ending. And the darned tool tops are often even cruder than their glop top counterparts, which came out of the same mold.

When did this anomaly first start to occur? At this time, we've got no hard evidence in the form of glasshouse notes since all records were reduced to ashes back in 1906. However, we can make a pretty good argument based on the years that some of these outfits were in busness or were using a particular mold. Many of the brands were registered with either the state or the US patent office, making dating easier. The firm of Hencken & Schroeder dates ca. 1884 - 1900, although Thomas narrows the gap down by dating the slug plates final use to 1888. He stated that the Tea Kettle brand was used by SB & Co. from 1881 - 1887 (when McKee exited the firm), and that the McKennas brand dates ca. 1874 - 1878. The full face Hilderbrandt Posner is attributed to the 1884 - 1890 era, with Hotalings OPS brand being bottled in the old mold from 1879 - 1885 and Pride of Kentucky being produced by Livingston from 1874 - 1879 (it was actually registered in 1873). That being said, it would appear that tooling of the tops began somewhere around 1878, although old school glassworks employees continued to apply tops at the S.F. factories for a number of years after.

OK, let's look at a few examples, comparing molds, dimensions and other common factors. Glop tops will be on the left - toolies on the right, identified according to Barnett WWB 4th edition / Thomas 2002.

#1) Phoenix full face -
      Barnett (B)#578 / Thomas (T) #120

#2) Davy Crocket - B #243 / T #73

#3) Spruance Stanley & Co. - B #750 / T #145
#4) Thos Taylor / P. Vollmers
      - B #788 / T #152
#5) Livingston / Gaines
      - B #507 /T #110

#6) Livingston / Pride of Ky
      - B #506 / T #108
#8) Tea Kettle - B # 729 / T #136

#9) McKenna - B #848 / T #168
#10) J. Moore - B #570 / T #93
So what gives? "Waste not want not" is a phrase that comes to mind. Odds are, molds for many of the above products were still in very good shape when the new glass manufacturing techniques that ushered in the toolies began to be employed. So why toss them if they were still serviceable? But a question comes to mind. I've measured both early tooled and their slightly older globby counterparts, which were blown in the same mold. I've compared font placement, and spacing using a micrometer to insure that they indeed came from the same mold. I've also measured circumference, diameter and height, and compared them with the above data, again insuring accuracy. Now here's the kicker... how can the height of toolies and globbys be the same, if the glop tops had the top above the single ring added to the top of the neck - where it was sheared from the blowpipe?
Here we go again with conjecture but~ I've got two theories. One is that the glop top necks were trimmed lower once the bottle was sheared from the blow pipe. The other is that the neck portion of the mold was modified (extended) for the tool tops to allow the required amount of additional glass to be tooled out. Shearing the neck down for a globby is kinda like putting the cart before the horse though, since there would have been no logical reason to do so. The extra step would have added time and therefore reduced income, since the employees were paid on a piece work basis and not by the hour. And tool tops blown in the old molds, on the other hand, show no evidence of mold modification to the neck. So what the heck went on and how?

OK, so let's hear it gang. Ideas, wild guesses... ??????????????


rtsiri said...

I have seen glop tops that have bubbles extending from the neck below the top into the top by as much as 3/8". This would indacate that the necks were not cut off at the base of the applied top.

Mike Dolcini said...

I concur with what Rich said. I have seen no evidence which would indicate shortening of the neck to apply the top. I have a Rick-Rack that has such a long neck that it won't fit in a box with other fifths.

Back in the 1970s, I dug two Prides out a pit in Eureka. One was totally globular and other a toolie. The tooled bottle was far and away the prettier and cruder of the two. I sold the plain amber globby one for $550, but the "better" one brought only $125. Applied tops ruled the market back then; I guess they still do.

paleoman said...

Perhaps it was the demand for uniformity is size that required glass blowers to perfect the height of their wares. Shipment of off-size bottles must have been a problem for distributors, so they would naturally demand that any bottles they bought would have uniform heights. If a glassblower was paid by the bottle, he would make the adjustment, even if it took more time, to achieve this. It could also explain why some of the really tall or short bottles were utilized anyway---they were bought by others who slapped on a paper label for a completely different product. Just an idea.

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