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    

Rare Crude - Dr. Kiersted's Julep For Diarrhea - Open Pontil - New YorkMasonic/eagle Pint Flask Open Pontil Beautiful TealA Pontiled Large Font Dr. Townsend's Somewhere Between Forest & Moss Green/as Is1/2 Pint - Success To The Railroad - Rare Color - PontilSuperb Example Amber/topaz Unembossed Bitters Barrel Open PontilAntique Pontiled California Gold Rush Soda Bottle~ Henry Winkle Sac City XxBeautiful Chestnut Globular Freeblown Flask Open Pontil Antique Greenish Free Blown Early American New England Flask Bottle With Pontil Listed Separately~one Of Two~open Pontil~matching "bookend" Colognes~no Damage!Excellent Stoddard Pint Cornucopia - PontilMiddle Size Coventry Geometric Ink - PontilGxiii-43 Historical Flask - Varient - Open Pontil - Sheaf Of Wheat / Star - LookBeautiful Antique Hand Painted Milk Glass Witch Hazel Barber Bottle W/pontil+topNice Labeled -dr. Ordway's Celebrated Pain Destroyer - Open PontilAntique Cathedral Pepper Sauce / Oil Bottle. Open PontilJ. T. Tweddle Jr's Celebrated Soda Mineral Waters Eastern Blob Top Bottle PontilSeparately Listed~#2 Of Two~ornate Open Pontilled ~"bookend" Matching ColognesJ. Harley West Chester Pennsylvania Civil War Pontiled Soda Bottle Light TealRare Aqua Blue Antique Flask - Scroll Design Bottle With Polished PontilGreen Iron Pontil California Gold Rush Bottle Western BottleLarge Iron Pontilled Cathedral Pickle Jar/bottle Nice FormVintage R.r.r./radway & Co /new York And R.r.r./radway & Co/new Yok Open PontilR.s.co Bitters Lt Olive Amber Ex Condition Pontil Era Applied TopAntique 19th Century Bennett's Embrocation Glass Bottle Pontil Scar Aqua Blue*brilliant Bluish Teal* Pontiled~tawse's Pharmacy~mansfield Leland Hotel,ohio Union A.r.s. Bottle With Open Pontil OuchJ Pablo Dove Elysian Fields New Orleans La Louisiana Pontil? Blob Top Bottle #4Amber / New England / 1840's Pontilled Ink Dug In New Orleans Pdf Cincinnati Squat Soda Bottle -- Iron Pontil++wow++ Early 6 – Sided / Hexagonal Medicine Vial With Pontil C1840Wonderful Antique Early 1800 Thick Glass 9" Open Pontil Liquor Bottle -exc PlusVery Nice Antique Hand Painted Amethyst Barber Shop Bottle W/pontil Mark & CapWatts Wild Cherry Tonic The Great Tonic Excellent Pontil Era Peach TonesPablo & Co Blob Top Bottle New Orleans Louisiana La 334 & 336 Royal St Pontil #2Antique Umbrella Ink Bottle, 8 Sided, Aqua Glass, Pontil Mark, Rolled Lip, NiceMinty Pontilled Anderson's DermadorAntique Vintage Hand Blown Glass Jar Jug Pontil Pickle Pickles Counter DisplayPontiled Wine Taster Bottle Early 1800's To 1700'sAntique Open Pontil Paneled Perfume Scent Bottle Rolled Lip ~mid-late 1800's~******* Rare American 1820's Yellow Blown Bowl Pontil Rolled Flared Lip ******* ******* Blown 1800's Teal Amethyst Striated Decanter Bottle Pontil ***