A few decades ago my girlfriend and I were avid ‘antiquers’. We collected a myriad of stuff that most people would pass by (or throw out). Antique shops on this fair Isle have become quite savvy over the years attaching prices that one would consider ‘over the top’ on items that seem to be popular with the collector crowd. Old bottles being one of those.
I didn’t intentionally set out to collect bottles…it just happened. I love amber glass and had some pieces already in my possession. My best friend decided that I should add to this collection with the purchase of my first amber bottle. A gift from her, it sat in its place of honor for quite some time. One year at Christmas I decided to jam a set of mini lites into the cavity and voila, I had the most beautiful amber glow in the corner of my study. Since then the collection has grown. My favorite so far is a bottle with an old man with a huge fish thrown over his back embossed right into the glass. Maybe originally cod liver oil? It too was a gift from a sweet lady out here in the country.
Moving out to the country a neighbor who was installing boat docks came across a hoard of old bottles buried in the banks of the shoreline. Most probably dumped there years ago instead of being taken to the ‘official dump’, their resting place was discovered quite by mistake. The finder was of course delighted. Intending to cart them back to his home in Newfoundland, he never expected to be giving them away later. Long story short, when he glimpsed my collection on the top shelf of my built-in bookcase, he declared that since I actually lived here, it was only right that I should own them. I did not argue. I did protest just a little bit though, but was secretly delighted and thankful for his gesture.
The bottle collection thing has taken on a new life. I add newer amber to the ‘old’ if I like the shape or size of the container. Most can’t tell the difference. I had a ‘clear’ bottle collection to fill the gap in a window in the guest bathroom. The room did not have a window so after some careful consideration, I asked the builder to install a transom window to let in some natural light. Because of its unusual height and width, it was the perfect place to display the small bottles and some ‘seaside’ finds like the amber sea glass collected in an apothecary jar. Not all these bottles are old. Can you spot the fakes?
A new found friend in the community is now questing for me as well. She has the most beautiful collection of blue cobalt glass and a lot of it is ancient. She knows where all the old ‘dumps’ are in the countryside and is not a bit shy about digging around in them to find these treasures. She remembers to ‘pick’ amber, clear and just recently green glass bottles for my collection. I like to think of her as my ‘PEI Picker’!
I love the richness of the green glass. I started this collection in a guest room and added a Superstore candle holder of the same color. It sits on a green ‘depression glass’ plate that had been from my homestead. When the candle is lit – it casts the most beautiful design on the tabletop (definitely the ‘jewel ‘in this collection)! An old milk bottle found in my family barn holds sand from my favorite beach. The fish bottle is new (Rossignol winery) and I bought it because I liked the bottle. The midsize bottles (a gift from my new found friend) are old and contained prune juice. The smaller bottles are new but just plain cute. They held Glenfiddich scotch, one of my hubbies’ favorites.
So it pays to be brave. Combining the new with the antique lends a timeless quality to a collection. After all, some day they will all be ‘old’ right?