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However, there are definitive trends in shapes that mark a bottle as very likely to have been used primarily or originally as a container for high alcohol spirits intended for internal consumption, "medicinal" or otherwise.
Alcohol was of course an important ingredient in many other products also, ranging from wine, champagne, beer, and porter to most patent and proprietary medicines, bitters, and tonics to even preserved fruits.
To be fair, ethyl alcohol was (and is) one of the better preservatives for products intended for internal consumption or external use.
These examples help point out the vague line that existed between liquor/spirits and medicinal products during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Prohibition makes a very convenient dating transition point for liquor bottles which is not available for other types of bottles.
However, there were some machine-made liquor bottles and flasks that most definitely pre-date Prohibition.
The Historic Bottle Website (HBW) has no internal search mechanism so be aware that when running a search one will also get non-HBW response links to other portions of the SHA site.There were, of course, various exceptions allowed under the law for "medicinal" products containing alcohol as well as sacramental wines (Okrent 2010).Although certain elements of the Volstead Act were loosed up (e.g., 3.2% beer was legal to sell again) beginning in April of 1933, repeal of the 18th Amendment came in December of 1933.(It should be noted that implementation of this requirement began in late 1934, so some bottles made that year will have the noted embossing.) This regulation was repealed in 1964 giving an effective dating tool of 1935 to the mid 1960s for this diagnostic feature (Munsey 1970).
Be aware however that for some years after 1964 liquor could still be found in bottles with this embossing since not all liquor producers switched immediately to new bottles due to the expense of new molds or to deplete an existing supply of bottles (Ferraro 1966).
With repeal, liquor was required to be sold only in bottles; bulk sales in casks was prohibited in an attempt to exert tighter controls and prevent a resurgence of anything resembling the old time saloon.