Collecting Bottles Illustrated on Ephemera

by Glenn Mason

Or, Digging through paper instead of dirt

Like many folks my age, I began collecting ephemera back in the 1960s as a result of being a bottle collector looking for advertising “go-withs”.  I was in college, married, and casting about for a career when the “bottle bug” struck.  As a result of researching and then hunting for 19th-century logging camps, crawling under old houses, and digging outhouses and backyard trash pits, I ended up majoring in History of the American West and went on for an advanced degree in Archival Librarianship.   As a result?  Over 40 years in the history profession!  

While my collecting of bottle-related paper advertising was put on hold during most of my professional career (so as to not present any public perception of conflict of interest), I kept much of my old collection and began to add to it since my retirement.  I decided to narrow down my interest in bottle-related ephemera to pieces that actually showed what the labeled or embossed bottle looked like.  In most cases, these were product-specific trade cards, billheads, letterheads, covers, circulars, almanacs, advertising postcards, and other printed material from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Or, in the time-period jargon of bottle collectors, “Pre-Prohibition”.

So, in answer to the clarion call for ESA members to share portions of their collection (or collections), I offer the following as examples of ephemera illustrating bottles.