Documenting Your Collection
By: Greg Alvey
Along with the fun of collecting bottles, there can be a special enjoyment and intrigue researching and documenting your collection. Gathering facts and information about the maker, age, and other pertinent information and history about the model and the bottle itself is hard and tedious work but can add tremendously to the value of your collection while helping to preserve its history, which can so easily be lost. Among the information you may find beneficial, particularly if you intend to resell at a later point, is who you bought the bottle from, where, when purchased, and what it cost. You should try to do this as soon as possible, since this information can become quickly lost or forgotten.
But the real work is finding and documenting information about the bottled art, such as the name of the artist, when the bottle was crafted, the history or background about what is in the bottle or who it was made for, and so much more. Some bottles are clearly marked with the name and date of the craftsman and often the name of the city or state where it was made, so a thorough examination of the bottle can be the first step. But more often, some or none of the information is there and with little to go on, like a detective, you must look for clues and bits and pieces of facts and details that help start to unravel some of the mystery. Maybe, you only have a year for the bottle itself, or just initials of the maker or a date penciled in the bottle. Perhaps the bottle was made for someone named in the bottle, or is of a scene or representation of some event in history and that might become your starting point.
Many artists have crafted enough bottles, or have such a unique style that we know who made the bottle art by just by looking at it and noting a few details. Often you can ask the person you are buying the bottle from where they got it, when, and what they might have been told. It can be an arduous and daunting task sometimes, but also a rewarding one when facts and details begin to surface and the mystery begins to unravel. The followiing bottles are some examples. In the first bottle, a ship, there are the letter "TC" painted on a buoy in the water. After further investigation, we learn that "TC" stands for Theodor Carstensen, an artist and book authur on the subejct of ships in bottles. This was a typical way he signed his bottles. Another example is George Fulfit who always included seagulls and little sailors in his wonderful creations.
This website was started in part with the idea of accumulating history and information about the artists and their bottles. It is also intended to be a resource so that we can help each other learn more by sharing our inforamtion, pictures and descriptions. I encourage you to submit your pictures, descriptions, and provide another small piece of the puzzle so that we don’t lose any of the history about the men and women who made this wonderful and whimsical art.