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    

1850s Gaffer Mistake X 2 Iron Pontil Blue Union Glass Works Blob Top Soda Bottle Pontiled Umbrella Ink Bottle Topaz Amber ColorGi-85 Lafayette Pt Olive Amber Historical Flask Bottle Coventry Pontil Cn ConnCharleston Sc. Eagle Soda Bottle Rare Antique Soda Bottle 1850's W/ Iron Pontil **rarest Variant** Large Dr. Fitch's, New York - Open PontilGii-72 Eagle Cornucopia Olive Green Pt Historical Flask Keene Nh PontilRare Iron Pontil Paneled Fred Goosmann & Co Mineral Water Cincinnati G & Co OhioCobalt Blue Iron Pontil B. Bick Cincinnati Soda Or Mineral Water Scarce Ohio3 Piece Mold Blown Shot Glass 1800s With PontilCrude & Bubbly E. Roome Troy Ny Pontil SnuffClassic 1840's Style Mineral Water - Iron Pontil -- Privy Dug, Many Years Ago.Medium Green Open Pontil T & M ---taylor & MooreScarce 200+ Year Old Colored Pontiled Medicine, BlackglassSuperb Amethystine Open Pontil Dr Jas M'clintock's Family Medicines Pontil Era Deep Aqua Or Light Blue Green Smsized Cathedral Pickle/unusual MoldRare 200+ Year Old Light Green Colored Pontiled MedicineDyottville Full Iron Pontil Olive Amber Excellent Condition Whiskey GlassworksCurtis & Perkins Wi;d Cherry Bitters, Open Pontil, Great Condition!Smedley & Brandt Pontil Bottle Philadelphia Pa Soda Dark Green Pontil Iron **pristine Perfect** Dr. Feller's Eclectic Liniment - Open PontilIron Pontil Scared Udulpho Wolfes1840s "liquid / Opodeldoc / Lee & Butler" Open Pontil8 Sided Umbrella Ink Pontil Awesome ColorRare T. Siegfried Mauch Chunk Pa Iron Pontil Squat Dr. Skinner’s Sherry Wine Bitters Reading Ma 1850’s Pontil Gardner CollectionC 1830-40 Gii-72 Cornucopia Urn Historical Flask Bottle Keene Coventry Pontil NhPontil Headman's Excelsior Mineral Water . Pontil Mineral Water BottleBrant's Indian Balsam (open Pontil & Crude Whittled Glass )Rare Iron Pontil Cincinnati Soda: W.b.t Cin O. Tapered Top William B Tarr EarlyC 1800 Pig Nose Case Gin Bottle Open PontilFresh Estate Sale Find/deeper Blue Aqua 1/2 Pt Scroll Flask/heavy Iron Pontil!!!Fine Pontiled European Hunting Flask, Deep Cobalt Blue!Free Blown Green Utility, Pontil MarkAntique Blown G.w. Brandt Carlisle Dyottville Glass Works Bottle W/ Iron PontilBeautiful 1820's Olive Green Cornucopia & Urn Historical Pint Flask Rough PontilSt.louis,mo.1840/50's Pre Civil War G. Mclean Tapered Blob Soda Bottle Pontiled.Double Eagle Amber Flask Open Pontil 6" Tall StoddardF. Solyer Galveston Texas Squat Soda Bottle 1860's Not Pontilled Antique Miniature Iron Pontil Whiskey Bottle "stoddard Glass Works" NhV. Rare Flask Pontil * Primitive Execution Bottle * Army Or Hunting * C. 18 ThDoct Marshalls Snuff (open Pontil )H. G. Farrell's Arabian Liniment Open PontilDeep Aquamarine Pontil Era Variant Halls Balsam For The LungsVintage Jenny Lind Calabash Historical Flask Fislerville Glass Works Open PontilString Rimmed Liquor Wine Bottle Pontil Dip Mold Late 1700s ? Extensive WearString Rimmed Liquor Wine Bottle Pontil Dip Mold Late 1700s ? Blue Bottom HmmmHuge 18th /19th C.freeblown Sea Green Colored Utility Jar With Large Disc Pontil~killer Pontiled~black Glass~small Size~ladie's Leg 1760-80 Dutch PorterDutch Onion Pontil Free Blown Medium Olive Green Liquor Wine Bottle Late 1700s ?Very Early Dug Green Black Glass Deep Pontil Bottle Old Style Applied Top Rare Variant Open Pontil Dr D Jayne's Alterative Philada**rare** Big Francher's Grecian Fancheronian Drops - Open PontilOpen Pontil Dr D Jayne's Tonic Vermifuge 84 Chest St Phila**rare** Bragg's Arctic Liniment - Open PontilAqua Pontiled Medicine Bottle- Troup&fickardts Black Liniment-ohioNice Open Pontil Dr. Jayne's ExpectorantBeautiful Trask's Magnetic Ointment With Backward Ns And An Open Pontil!Late 1700s Stout Or Ale Dip Mold Amber Olive Dark - Pontil - Whittle Marks NiceSt.louis,mo. Civil War Era J.cairns, Frl Hutchinson/blob Soda Bottle Pontil?Keene Nh Antique Snuff Bottle W Pontil Amber Olive - Surface Ware