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So I received an email regarding an old ship in bottle that some one had.  They wanted more information and possible value.  Some how that email disappeared before I could respond to it so I thought I'd post something real quick.  If you emailed through the contact us email please email again I'd like to answer your questions.  

 

As far as valuation goes it starts with authenticating the bottle.  Looking at the bottle and finding clues on how it was made which can help determine when it was made.  If a bottle was made using a method from the 1950's it can be determined that the ship in bottle is no older than the 1950's.  If the bottle was made using methods from the late 1800's then it could have been built anytime after that.  So the bottle is a great way to start.

Materials and objects in the bottle can also help.  I have found that most ships in bottles prior to around 1920ish don't have sails on them.  This is not a hard fast rule but as I have delved into older ships in bottles it seems more and more had sails the later they were built.  This is possibly the way that ship in bottle methods were passed on.  I don't know for sure.  All I can say is theres enough evidence to say if the bottle a ship is in was built between 1900 and 1930 and it doesn't have sails there is a strong possibility that the ship was put in before 1920.  It's still a guess but an educated one.

As far as valuation goes ships in bottles are unfortunately not work a whole lot.  As far as antique markets are concerned they are trinkets and folk art.  At most a 100 year old ship in bottle is probably worth $300.  If it has a great story that could be authenticated it might be pushed to $400....maybe.  It's a big maybe.  Most I've seen sell for $100 to $250. 

If any one has old ships in bottles that they'd like more info on please post pictures and share it.  Our membership loves digging into the details and often small seemingly insignificant parts can tell a big story.  For instance the ship in bottle in the header of this website portrays Devin England and has a windmill.  That windmill blew down in 1919.  So I can reasonably say the ship in bottle was likely built before then because the builder knew the windmill was there.  It also points to the builder's knowledge of Devon England.  The lack of sails also points to being built earlier in the 1900's.  These little details can tell a lot about a ship and the builder.  So post your old ships in bottles.  We'd love to tell you about them.              

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  • 3 weeks later...

To add some items to Daniel's post...

1) Early to  Mid-20th Century European Style:   Most of these are dioramas with village and seaside scenes.  There are very detailed.  Also, some European artists painted the inside of the bottle with sky and clouds.  Often these were painted with an egg-base medium which will flake over time & UV exposure.

2) Prisoner of War bottles:   Axis power prisoners camped in England, Canada, and the US often made bottled art for luxury items exchange.  These pieces were often done in the European style mentioned above.   The  bottles used were mainly corked so no screw top threading.  Often the artist would inscribe them...where they were, and who they were.  If it is documented, the POW bottles are very valuable...have seen a few ranging from $600 - $1000.

3) String work and rope work:  This enhances the piece/value.  The header bottle is a great example of a macramé weave graced with a turk's knot.   Some string work, like the coach whip handle weave, is very  time consuming ( personal testimony),  though the chevron pattern looks great on the neck.  The cord can also be used to date the piece.  Polyester came into main use during the mid 1940's.  

4) Right handed verses left-handed artists:   ( "He has a sinister hand"...Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet ).   Right-handed artist will have the vessel sailing to the bottle neck to the right.  For left-handed artists, it is to the left.  I have encounter a few pieces that were made by a left-handed artists.  It is open to debate it the value of a left-handed artist is more/equal to a right-handed person.  Though in appraising a bottle,  it should be noted.

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My generalization of cork-type bottles is perhaps erroneous, though based on the POW samples that I have viewed.  Certainly any bottle available would had been used.  Thanks for supplying the beautiful example of a mid-20th century European-style bottle.  Like the high luster glaze on the mountain.  The bottle looks like a medicine or extract bottle.  Unlike the POW's of the Napoleonic Wars who made bone ship models in French prison sweatshops, the WWI & WWII POW sibs were made by individuals.  

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Yeah it is one of those rules like I have for dating ships based on sails.  Most I've seen Prior to 1915ish don't have sails.  It doesn't mean they wouldn't but it makes good general rule.  

SIBs like the Giovani Biondo models are a good example of an exception to my sail observation.  Those sibs are an exception in and of themselves though. 

I need to look more into the bone models.  Other than being made by POWs I don't know their history.  I've seen some exquisite examples and it made me wonder how pows would have had access to the tools required.   

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With Napoleonic POW bone ship models...essentially one prisoner started making a model ship.  A French guard saw the piece, then told his officer.   The officer informed someone higher up, then formed sweat shops to produce models for the elites ( that were not suppose to exist with the Equality, Fraternity,  & Liberty movement ).   Very detailed pieces many of the models are.  Most made by seamen.    In some, one could see the furniture and guns through the aft cabin windows.  Most hulls were about 18"  (+/-) long.    Most of the rigging was originally done with horse hair.    Have thought that nice subplot in a Napoleonic War era novel  would have a POW model ship used to deliver messages and battle plans.

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I was given this ship in a bottle by a friend. The bowsprit was broken and needed repairing and the bottle was very dirty inside and needed a clean up.There was no cork in the end of the bottle,only a colourful knitted cover so I imagine over the decades dirt had been building up inside. Age wise ;not really sure because those type of bottles have been around a long time in Finland but I'm guessing early 1940's to maybe late 50's. I am particularly impressed by the landscape behind the ship. I think that it is a very pleasing model. PS.I just placed it on a spare stand I had laying about.

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  • 1 year later...

Can anyone tell me anything about this SAB?  We believe it to be late 1800’s to early 1900’s? No sails, cork screw bottle.  It’s a wealthy family air loom from either England or the Eastern US. that we inherited.  If you need additional info or pics let me know. No took the pics with my iPhone , so quality is most likely not good enough for you, but just trying to get a conversation started.   The pics make it look like there’s condensation, but there is NO CONDENSATION.  Please advise.  Thanks !

 

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Edited by Rende
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Definitely well built.  Who ever built is had a really good knowledge of sailing ships. The rigging is very accurate.  The carving is also very clean.  They were very skilled.  Can I get a closer picture of the flag.  At a glance it appease to be American.  Can I also get a picture looking almost parallel to the surface of the glass looking down the bottle?  What I think I'm seeing is the first to photo's is horizontal rings in the bottle.  This suggests it was made in a turn mold. From my research this puts the bottle between 1880 and 1915.  https://sha.org/bottle/body.htm#Turn molds  The lack of sails suggests pre 1915  as well but that's more of a guess based on other models I've seen than a general rule.  The style having a town in the back ground suggests early 1900's to me as well.  Can I get more pictures of the town?  It's possible it depicts an actual location. If we can identify the lighthouse that can tell us more. 

It's a beautiful work of art.  The stopper is especially unique.  It's very rare to see stoppers like that.  As I said before who ever built this was very skilled. 

 

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Looked up lighthouses with red tops.  This could be any number of places which also means it could be a generic lighthouse and doesn't resemble any actual place.  Below are the closest matches.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Island_Lighthouse

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_du_Couedic_Lighthouse

This one is most probable.  It was built before the time frame of the bottle and looks the closest. It is in the Netherlands.

https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q2215732

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I was able to find some very similar bottles.  It appears this is an apothecary bottle used for holding medicine.  These bottles appear to come from the 1880-1890s.  That matches what I found on the bottle dating site.  This is a very old ship in bottle.  

  https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-us/auction-catalogues/east-bristol-auctions/catalogue-id-sreas10183/lot-91fbd61f-48f7-4996-bd36-a6d000c607a9 

 

I wonder if the condensation you wrote about isn't actually chemical staining from what ever used to be in this bottle.  I have seen chemical staining in bottles before that looked a lot like frost.  Always thought of putting a winter scene or northern ship in that type of bottle.  The bottle may have been selected for it's stormy look.   

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There's an article on Mystery stopper in  Popular Mechanics. volume 120. 1963. That would be a part of the full illusion in the article.

I've put 2 ships in 50 yr old bottles. 

Suppose the bottle is older than the ship. The braces look very tan, the rigging looks tight. The light house looks machined. 

I've  been wrong before (disclaimer), suppose the ship is mid 20thcentury and the bottle is turn of the century.

I need to find the article again. The inventor it refers to is a ship in a bottle maker.

Edited by Jeff B
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When do you suppose that tug boats were common place in bring in or out square rigged ships? That is for sure some clue to it's age potential. I know steam ships were becoming prevalent in the mid 1800"s but I'm not so knowledgeable about when tug boats showed up as a viable commercial enterprise for managing harbor traffic. Just curious?

Regards Bruce.

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The earliest tugboat was built in Scotland around 1802 and used for river traffic.  They advanced since that time.  During conflict periods, such as the Civil War of 1861-65, many tugs were armed with a bow & stern gun.  Often many small schooners were converted to a tug. The design we associate with a tugboat, typified by Tugboat Annie film, has been around since the 1840's. 

Edited by Jim Goodwin
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Thanks Jim:

That clarifies a lot for me as I'm not so knowledgeable about that period. The thing is, in this diorama, it is obvious to me that the tug is working the ship out into the harbor so it can set sail? Otherwise why would it be so potentially trapped port side with a full head of steam? That tells me that there was a practice of this going on in those days. My question is ,when was this practice commonplace? In any case, it is apparent that the  tug is an important part of this depiction of a tall ships reality at the time the builder made it. So much so that he had to include it as part of what regularly transpired in the course of tall ship management harbor side.

I may be way off base here but I think it is worth noting more carefully what the scene is speaking to us about, as Daniel mentioned? As far as dating it's creation, it could be really old. I also think that looking into the stopper could be telling in it's self as well. This is one of those instances that we can only speculate about without any hard core data that places us to a particular sailor and his experiences and practices.

Sure would be nice to know this stuff but as I've come to find out in my little bit of this stuff, It's basically a hard nut to crack.

It certainly is an enigma all by its self and we may never know the true origin of its creation; bottle, stopper included.

Fascinating study Daniel.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Rende! Great find!!

Regards Bruce.

 

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Jeff I think you bring up a good point.  This could be a bottle from the 1880's but bottled much later.  I'm not familiar with the history of that style of stopper but none of the very old sibs I've seen have had that style stopper. I may have to look through Greg Alvey's site again and look at the dates of various bottles with that stopper.  With the article published in 1963 we know it could be at least that old. It does open the possibility that the art in the bottle was created in the mid 20th century. 

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Here's an example of that style stopper from around 1900, though not as fancy as the one above. 

https://www.folkartinbottles.com/component/joodb/article/2-gallery/1050-hans-van-erkel-ship-in-a-bottle-diorama

Here's another one from 1891.  

https://www.folkartinbottles.com/component/joodb/article/2-gallery/1073-jesus-on-the-cross-in-a-bottle

Another from the 1880s

https://www.folkartinbottles.com/component/joodb/article/2-gallery/998-paul-boyton-dedication-in-a-bottle

 

So it's possible it could be as old as the bottle but it is hard to say.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 months later...
On 2/1/2020 at 8:48 AM, Jeff B said:

There's an article on Mystery stopper in  Popular Mechanics. volume 120. 1963. That would be a part of the full illusion in the article.

I've put 2 ships in 50 yr old bottles. 

Suppose the bottle is older than the ship. The braces look very tan, the rigging looks tight. The light house looks machined. 

I've  been wrong before (disclaimer), suppose the ship is mid 20thcentury and the bottle is turn of the century.

I need to find the article again. The inventor it refers to is a ship in a bottle maker.

Did you figure out what month.. I've glanced through all issues of volumne 120 (July 1963-Dec 1963) and could not find the article you were referring to. Do you maybe also have a page #?

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Today; An online search led me to an article in Collectors Weekly on Whimsey bottles.

Said locking stoppers were popular in the 19th century and  really took off when Popular Mechanics ran an article mid-century. 
An hour later,  I found an article with a photo in PM archives online. 

Jan 1938. vol.69. no1. Page 81

Hope it helps. 
 

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