The next activity that I have been a part of at Strawbery Banke is helping with the organization and cleaning a collection of historic glass bottles. The Collections Department is currently in the process of setting up a brothel room interpretive display in this season’s new exhibit, “Vice.” The glass bottles are from the late 19th century time-period. Brothels historically had beauty products and medicinal products for the girls that worked at them. So, it makes sense that there would be quite a few different products within each room. I have cataloged bottle types that range from hand lotion to multi-purpose cough medicine. It has been my job to put the information about the bottles we could use in the exhibit into a spreadsheet. The information I’ve recorded includes the bottle text/description, the location of text, color, size, height (cm), width (cm), date, if there is a stopper or label, bottle origin and the bottle’s original purpose. Finding this information has been very helpful in deciding if each bottle should be in the exhibit or not.
I have really enjoyed doing this because the bottles are all different styles. There have been a few intricate perfume bottles that I have cleaned that will be going in the exhibit. The intricate bottles are my favorite because they are showing the artistic talent that existed with very little advanced technology. My second favorite bottles to work with were the ones that had a brand name or product name in the glass. I was able to search the company or product and find out what the bottle used to contain and what it was used for. I really enjoyed this part of the process because I was able to hold a bottle that used to be a daily product, just as today when ChapStick is a daily product. I am excited to find more interesting bottles through this process and to assist in creating a historically accurate exhibit with objects that could have been used at the time.