Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Today I have been looking at the pieces of broken glass from Margate main sands that I have picked up this year and from last year. Throughout this summer and like the previous summer, for some unexplained reason the tide uncovered an abundance of old glass on certain areas of the wet sand. The glass even though it looked unsightly and threatening was totally inert and blunted. Most of the glass in general was this worn smooth green aqua glass often found on most old beaches along with worn broken bases of wine and ale bottles. Amongst the glass there were many bottle necks with many hand finishing styles from different time periods. After a thorough examination I discarded most of the glass at the local bottle bank keeping only the hand finished bottlenecks for dating.

Dating bottles is always a tricky subject as styles did not change overnight and many bottle makers often kept to the techniques they were apprenticed to. In manufacturing glass bottles there were three great leap forwards in manufacturing from the 1600’s to the dawn of the 20th century. There was the production method of changing from wood fires to coal fires allowing the use of a greater furnace temperature allowing the use of thicker glass, there was the use of mould and the innovation that came with it and finally mechanisation. Also in each case this led to many design changes.

I started researching bottle neck finishing styles from around the 1730’s period onwards as 1735 is the date considered to be when Margate started as a seaside resort. It seem as a bit of a coincidence but 1735 is also the year when it was considered that English wine and ale bottles finally became cylindrical as a opposed to the previously free blown onion shape. However, the “string rim” remained, with the more flattened string rim being the older which is shown quite clearly in the photograph of some onion bottles I took at the Hastings shipwreck heritage museum. The broader and thicker glass string rim “V” is dated 1790’s to 1820’s. From the 1820’s to 1890’s a more broader and clean cut string rim then appeared on most corked bottles.

Of the finds I have at present from the upper layers of the main sands at Margate. I have unidentified 2 bottle necks from the 1730’s, 1 bottle neck from 1790’s to 1820’s and five from 1870’s to 1890’s all are wines or spirits. In my other collection I have 2 from the Marine Palace site dating around 1790’s to 1820’s found in the 1990’s. It may not be the greatest discovery of all time but it is something that is authentic seaside Margate and with the forth coming sea defence works due old bottles is one area that needs researching with the windfall of finds due.

1 comment:

Tony2 said...

During the summer whilst on activities with the children doing our strand line detectives there was a mass of glass and we had to abandon the activity for safety reasons. We filled a sack with broken glass. I reported this incident and suggested that glass should be banned from the beach. I appreciate the interest in old bottles but glass presents a serious hazard to bathers.