If you’re an avid beach comber or collector of treasures from the ocean then you likely have a bucket list of items that you’re hoping and dreaming of finding one day. I’ve been blessed to have found most of my bucket list items with the exception of a rolling-pin Japanese glass float, Davenport sea glass, and a bottle stopper.
The Davenport sea glass requires a trip to California, the rolling-pin shaped Japanese glass fishing float is just being at the right place at the right time, and the bottle stopper. Fuhget about it!!! I’d never have been so lucky. I was content and living vicariously through my Instagram community at their finds of beautifully smooth and pitted, perfectly worn down bottle stoppers in gorgeous pastel colors like lavender, aqua, and mint green.
On one of mine and the Misters beach combing date days a few days ago, things were looking bleak. We were under a severe wind advisory. The pain of my abscess tooth was flaring with highs and lows like a rollercoaster. The sun was nowhere to be seen in the thick gray overcast sky. The winds were whipping at 45-50 mph gusts on the beach. We were finding little nuggets, a few shells, and even those were a labor of love to find.
Beach combing date days always require a visit to at least 3 of our favorite beaches. It was on the last stop that I walked a shoreline of rock and coral rubble when something translucent and odd-shaped stuck out from the rubble catching my eye. If the sun had been shining I’m sure that I would have seen it glistening before me. My first thought on picking up this piece was that it was a bottle stop. Then I thought, nah… surely not. It was square and all of my beach combing buddies have round ones. I showed it to my husband and he instantly said with excitement “Nice job, baby! A bottle stop!”. Yet still I didn’t believe it. I thought it was likely a drawer pull because of it’s beveled cut and square shape. I stared at it for the ride home and put it in my “I don’t know what it is, but it’s really cool and I love it” box in my recently upcycled antique pie safe that holds all of my ocean and beach goodies.
Today was Day 25 of the #beachphotochallenge on Instagram hosted by @juniperaveryseaglass and the challenge was “Stoppers”. Knowing that I didn’t have one in my collection I knew I would have to skip today’s challenge so I “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed at my IG friends and their pieces. I came across a post of one of my favorite collectors who has a badass collection of treasures, and noticed she had several stoppers but one was very similar to mine.
After spending the better half of the morning entering searches for “bottle stoppers”, “antique bottle stoppers”, “purple bottle stoppers”, “square bottle stoppers”, and so on…you get the idea. I finally saw one that looks like mine. Holy sh*t! I had a bottle stopper! I wanted to scream “Hey! I found a bottle stoppper!”across the street to my neighbors while they were unloading groceries from the car, but just as quickly thought better of that idea!
The end of it is broken, undoubtably from our bone-breaking Hawaiian surf. The same day I found this, my husband found a sea marble that was beautifully pitted but had been split cleanly in half. The power of our waves is not to be underestimated!
The color is a light and transparent amethyst. It’s likely that it was originally clear glass. Clear glass once contained an additive called manganese during the manufacturing process but was eventually replaced with selenium during and after World War I. Once the glass is exposed to sunlight for many years the glass made with manganese will eventually turn amethyst. The post-World War I glass made with the selenium will turn a shade of straw color after years of exposure to sunlight.
This color identification aides in the identification of the age of the piece of glass. I now that the glass is tinted amethyst from the addition of manganese during production and that was up to World War I. This tells me that this little bottle stopper was made prior to 1914-1915, maybe even up to 1920 when most glass making companies stopped using manganese completely, making it over 100 years old, if not close to it if it was made towards 1920.
Being that it’s a small bottle stopper, I’m guessing it might have been from a medicine bottle, maybe perfume, or even from an inkwell.
Within in a few hours, I went from wishing I would one day find a bottle stopper to realizing that I had found one only a few days ago and didn’t realize it! And with a little bit of research on the computer and a few cups of coffee later, the mystery of what it was used for and how old it is was solved!
One bucket list item checked off, and only two more remain! There is hope!