Most bottles made in the United States before the 1850s, when the snap case tool virtually replaced the pontil rod (also called the punte or punty), have a pontil mark on their bases. The mark is formed when a bottle is transferred from the blowpipe to the pontil rod, which, unlike the blowpipe, is solid. Known as empontilling, this transfer allows the glassblower to form and finish the bottle’s mouth or bore. Though no longer used in glass manufacturing, this technique is still used in art glass today.

The hand off from pipe to rod can be tricky. If the pontil rod is not attached firmly enough to the base, the bottle will crash to the floor when it is separated from the blowpipe. If the connection to the pontil rod is too strong, the base of the bottle can shatter when the glassblower attempts to crack off the finished bottle from the rod.

Different empontilling techniques produce different types of pontil marks and scars on the bases of bottles. For example, when the end of a pontil rod is covered in molten glass, which is used as the glue between the rod and the bottle, a scar may be produced when small flakes of the bottle’s base break off and remain on the pontil rod, causing a slight depression in the base. In other cases, jagged fragments of glass at the end of the pontil rod sometimes stay attached to the base. If these imperfections are small, the bottle may be left as is, but if the defects could cause a customer to cut a finger, the base might be sanded before being shipped.

Another technique practiced in the middle of the 19th century involved heating the pontil rod until it was hot enough to fuse to the bottle’s base. The primary advantage of this bare-iron technique was that it saved time and labor, eliminating the need to gather and form the piece of glass at the end of the pontil rod. Indications that a bare-iron pontil rod was used include a rusty residue on the base of the bottle. Sometimes this mark is disc shaped, other times it shows up as a ring.

For glassblowers who were working without assistants, the blowpipe was often pressed into service as a pontil rod. This technique required a great deal of skill because the glassbower would have to work very quickly to set the bottle down so it laid flat, crack off the blowpipe, quickly gather more molten glass at its end, and then re-attach the blowpipe to the base of the bottle. If the glassblower took too long to accomplish these steps, the bottle could cool too much, which could cause it to crack. For this reason, some glassblowers probably just had assistants bring them a nearby blowpipe that was used instead of a pontil rod.

One interesting variation on the glass-tipped pontil was the sand pontil, in which the molten glass at the end of the pontil rod was rolled in sand just before being attached to the bottle’s base. This allowed the pontil glass to adhere to the base, while the sand acted as a kind of perforation, making it easier to remove the bottle from the pontil rod. Scars left by sand pontils are generally wider than those left by glass-tipped or bare-iron ones.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Bill Lindsey's fantastic bottle identification and information site. Loaded with detailed descriptions and diagrams… [read review or visit site]

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

There's a ton of information here, but as with bottles, you have to dig to find the best stuff. Start with the famo… [read review or visit site]

Bottle Cap Index

Bottle Cap Index

Assembled by Gunther Rademacher with the help of several other contributors, this collection of over half a million… [read review or visit site]

Plopsite.de

Plopsite.de

Norbert Lamping's collection of 600+ ceramic bottle stoppers, Hutter stoppers, swingtops, swivel stoppers, and ligh… [read review or visit site]

Old Spice Collectibles

Old Spice Collectibles

Lather up with Creighton Fricek's complete chronology of collectible Old Spice shaving products. Start with the bot… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Beautiful Olive Green Charles Clark Charleston S.c. Full Iron Pontil Soda BottleAmazing Early Yellow Crude Connecticut Utility Bottle Pontil Perfect!Attic Quality M'farland Iron Pontil Philadelphia Soda Bottle - Best Possible!!!!T. Cecil Superior Mineral Water Iron Pontil Philadelphia Soda Type BottleNice Olive Green Free Blown Onion Bottle Open Pontil Sheared Lip Kentucky Barn E. Roussel Pontil Medicine Druggist Bottle - Very Unusual Form!Spectacular Louden's Cherokee Liniment Open Pontil Philadelphia Indian MedicineScarce Large 9 1/4" Size A.m. Bininger Pontil Barrel Whiskey Bottle Circa 1860 Antique Umbrella Dark Aqua Pontil Based Ink BottleSmall 8" A.m. Bininger Pontil Barrel Whiskey Bottle Circa 1860 Aqua Open Pontil Half Pint Double Cornucopia Flask.Pontiled 1850s "sand's / Sarsaparilla / New York' A Beautiful Medicine Bottle!Squat Iron Pontil T. Cecil Dyottville Iron Pontil Soda Ale Porter Beer - Super!Gorgeous Early Open Pontil Utility Bottle Deep Lockport Green G W Merchant Lockport Ny In Pontil Era CylinderW.b.h. Nth Watter St. Iron Pontil Philadelphia Soda Beer Ale BottleEarly Iron Pontil Squat Soda Deep Forest Green Dyottville Glassworks Phila-iron Pontil BottleExcellent Scarce Variant A.r.cox Norristown Pa. Iron Pontil Soda / Beer BottleRare "+" Variant G W Merchant Lockport Ny In Pontil Era Tombstone ShapeBlack Glass Bottle With Pontil Cir 1780sEarly Medicine Dr.s.s.fitch 707 B.way N.y. Flared Lip Open PontilPontil Era E. Duffy & Son Philadelphia Squat Soda Beer Ale Porter BottlePontilled Philadelphia Xxx Porter + Ale SodaSuper Sparkler Pontiled PeppersauceOpen Pontil Flint Glass J Hauel Philadelphia Medicine Cologne Cosmetic BottleC. Shields, St. Louis Missouri...early Crude, ..deep Aqua, Pontil Base SodaIron Pontil Philadelphia Glass Works Burgin & Sons Soda BottleDr. Hoofland's German Bitters -- Crude, Whittled, Pontiled10 Pin Shaped Pontil Soda Bottle Deep Green Repaired Lip With Early Metal Stand~a Lot Of10~ Excellent~embossed~pontiled~ribbed~swirled~mostly PoisonsUnique Old Antique Folk Art Bark Bottle Deep Push Up Pontil Mallet Onion IronEarly Stiegel Manheim Enamel Decorated Cordial - Ground Pontil W/glass Stop'r1850's Pontiled "f.k ( Kidder") Ink-bottle! Blown Of Clear "flint-glass" "attic"*magnificent Seafoam Blue* Pontiled 6 Side Cathedral PeppersaucePre Pro Beer Soda Bottle Aqua Blob Pontiled Squat Francis Mckinney PhiladelphiaBlack Glass Pig Snout Top Case Gin Bottle No PontilDark Green Antique Barber Shop Bottle Handblown Open Pontil Lady Leg Painted VtgPontil Era John C. Hurst Philadelphia Druggist Bottle - Whittled!!!!Antique E. M. Parmelee Dansville Ny Pontil Applied Lip Cork Medicine Bottle FullIron Pontil Teal SodaPontil Teal Blue Pony Soda Bottle Wm Weiss Mineral Waters DamagedAntique "gin" White Enameled Glass Saloon Back Bar Bottle With Polished PontilEarly Medicine -- Pontiled, 8-sided, Excellent ConditionCrude Aqua Demijohn -- Graphite Pontil, WhittledDeep Red Iron Pontil..mineral Water, Hassinger & O'brien, St. Louis MissouriJ. Petterson, Mineral Water..st. Louis Missouri..hard To Find..pontil Base SodaAntique Civil War Era Red-amber Applied Handle Refired Pontil Chestnut FlaskGreat Colored John J Smith Louisville Ky Pontil Era SmoothbaseCrude~ Whittly~ "stephen Sweet's Liniment" Pontil-era Medicine Bottle! No Damage8 Sided Open Pontil Ink C1850 Clean Early Rolled Lip Antique AquaAntique Dr. Mcmunn's Elixir Of Opium Medicine Cure Bottle Thin Lip Pontil Bottom Pontiled Dr. D Jaynes Hair TonicSix Rare (four Unlisted) Open Pontil Philadelphia Medicines, But Damaged Crude Little Pontiled Medicine -- WhittledDeep Aqua Pt Scroll Flask Replica Maybe Clevenger Bros Open PontilFigured Wickered Demijohn Cologne Pale Green- Open PontilNice Attic Quality Free Blown Flint Glass Pontiled Medicine Perfect Flared Lip.Antique Medicine Bottles Aqua Pontil Lot Of 4~magnificent Apple Green~ground Pontil~twichell Champlin & Co. Neuralgic Anodyne