Bottle Attributes - Colors

The color of glass is determined by impurities or coloring agents present when the glass is made. Iron is the most common agent as it naturally occurs in much of the sand used to manufacture bottles. The amount of iron will produce varying shades of green. Very little iron will produce a light aqua shade and a lot of iron will produce an almost black color in the glass. Other additives will produce different colors. For example, tin produces a white or milk glass. Some additives act as decolorizing agent. These additives produce a clear glass, however, this glass is often not as strong as some of the colored glasses.

The color of a bottle has something to say about a bottle's age. Colors used on certain types of bottles have periods of use that are not reflective of the colors used in general. For example, there are many clear pontiled bottles but try and find a true clear pontiled soda bottle.

Some colors, such as canary yellow, are not known in soda and beer bottles. Many colors were considered too costly to be used in the manufacture of utilitarian bottles.

The colors of glass used for bottles also has a lot riding on tradition and regional preferences. For example, the following table shows how many different deep blue soda and beer bottles were produced for Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley bottlers in five year increments:

1845-1849 45 bottles 1 bottle
1850-1854 21 bottles 2 bottles
1855-1859 5 bottles 5 bottles
1860-1864 1 bottle 4 bottles
1865-1869 0 bottles 3 bottles
1870-1874 1 bottle 5 bottles
1875-1879 0 bottles 2 bottles

As you can see this blue color was basically phased out in Philadelphia by 1859 and at the same time was just becoming popular in the Lehigh Valley. These two areas are a scant sixty miles apart and were well connected by railroads and canals. The bottles were even manufactured by the same glass works. Tradition and regional preferences dictated how various bottles were colored.

The following bottle colors are documented on this site:

  1. Beer Bottle Colors
  2. Soda & Mineral Water Bottle Colors

Click on the links above to get more information on an attribute or to identify a bottle that you are researching.