Historical information

This bottle is sometimes referred to as a black glass 'Gallon' bottle. It is used for storing and transporting liquor such as port or madeira.

Glass bottles and glass jars are in many households around the world. The first glass bottles were produced in south-east Asia around 100 B.C. and the Roman Empire around 1 AD. America's glass bottle and glass jar industry were born in the early 1600s when settlers in Jamestown built the first glass-melting furnace. The invention of the automatic glass bottle blowing machine in 1880 industrialized the process of making bottles. In 2019, plans were made to re-introduce milk glass bottle deliveries to Auckland in early 2020.
The earliest bottles or vessels were made by ancient man. Ingredients were melted to make glass and then clay forms were dipped into the molten liquid. When the glass cooled off, the clay was chipped out of the inside leaving just the hollow glass vessel. This glass was very thin as the fire was not as hot as modern-day furnaces.

The blowpipe was invented around 1 B.C. This allowed molten glass to be gathered at the end of the blowpipe and blown into the other end to create a hollow vessel. Eventually, the use of moulding was introduced, followed by the invention of the semi-automatic machine called the Press and Blow. In 1904 Michael Owens invented the automatic bottle machine. Before this time most glass bottles in England were hand blown.


This is one of four bottles in Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum collection that were recovered by a local diver from the quarantine area just inside the Port Phillip Heads. Ships were required to pull into this area to check for diseases and other medical issues before they could head up to Melbourne. Quite often they would drink and throw the bottles overboard.

Handmade glass bottle, manufactured in the 1850s. The bottle gives a snapshot into history and a social life that occurred during the early days of Melbourne's development and the sea trade that visited the port in those days.

Physical description

Bottle, glass, solid dark purple (black), round, matt surface. Glass ring below mouth, neck is slightly bulbous, body tapers slightly inward from shoulder to base. Base is concave with pontil mark. Bottle has no inscription. Generally used for storing port.