Numbers on the bottoms of glass bottles and jars

Numbers (numerals) embossed on the bottoms of glass bottles and jars.

I frequently receive inquiries about what these markings mean.  Unfortunately, there is no “one answer fits all” to this question!!

(NOTE: the article on this page is pertaining to GLASS containers, and does not apply to the subject of modern / recent PLASTIC containers, which is an entirely separate field of study, and is discussed on many other websites.  The number (within a triangle with rounded corners) found on the bottom of plastic bottles is a code indicating the type of plastic the bottle is made of,  and pertains to the subject of recycling) .

Always look very closely over the entire glass bottle or other container to make sure there is not some type of logo (emblem, trademark, initials, or just a letter) that might indicate the actual glass manufacturer.     In many cases there is NO such mark, with only a number or numbers to be seen.   In these cases, the general style, shape, glass color and other characteristics can at least help narrow down the possible age range of a particular specimen.

A large percentage of bottles are marked with only a number (or numbers) on the base (or the heel), and the truth is that (in most cases)  it is very difficult, or impossible, to assign a specific glass manufacturer to a bottle if there is no other information embossed in the glass.

Probably in the majority of cases,  single digit numbers are mold numbers, merely serving to identify a particular mold, (or section/mold cavity in an automatic bottle manufacturing machine)  that was used to form the bottle or other glass item.   If a number of identical bottle molds are being used simultaneously,  each mold would be assigned a number.    (If problems occur with the finished product, it can be easily ascertained which mold or mold section is at fault.)

Numbers also serve other purposes, depending on the exact container and/or company being discussed.  Some numbers are year/date codes.     Some numbers (for instance, 3- or 4-digit numbers on the base of many British bottles) are catalog, inventory, style or design numbers assigned to a particular bottle shape.   Those numbers would serve to identify a particular bottle style, such as  in communications/orders between the glass manufacturer and their customers …….that is, the companies who ordered the bottles to package their products.

Many Owens-Illinois Glass Company soda bottles, for a period of time, used “G-numbers” on the bottom (numerals before or after a G), which were codes for a specific bottle shape (design), irrespective of the soda brand name or glass color.

Many whiskey bottles are seen with “D-numbers” on the bottom which  (correct me if this is wrong)  have to do with distillery information.

Date codes are often seen, especially  on soda bottles from the 1930s to date, and many of these codes are embossed on the base of  the bottle, placed to the right of the glassmaker’s logo. This is true on the products of some manufacturers, but not all.

Most modern glass bottles carry date codes, which are often on the heel of the bottle.  These date codes are not always obvious, or easy to distinguish from bottle mold numbers.   It also depends on exactly which glass company produced the container, as all firms do not use the same system of markings.

DOTS or BUMPS around the lower heel of bottles.

In many cases (especially within just the last few years, writing this as of 2013), mold data information is now preserved through the use of small embossed “dots”, “bumps” or raised periods arranged horizontally around the lower heel of the container.  More information on this invention (which is rather involved!)  and how it works can be found by doing an internet search (Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search engine), using the keyword search terms “EP 0256804 B1 ” , “code reader”, and “Emhart”.

Please click here to return to the Glass Bottle Marks pages. (This link points to page three). 

34 Responses to Numbers on the bottoms of glass bottles and jars

  1. christine says:

    hi i was wondering if someone could help me i live in a small remote community and iv found a brown bottle that has matilday bay australia on it and at the bottom it reads( a not to refilled) underneth the bottle the number are15530 what kind of beer is this and how old could it be?

  2. Dana Schulz says:

    hello david ,,,i have a old rawleigh’s bottle it is rectangle it says trademark under rawleighs and bottle made in the usa and on the bottom is a circle with a P and a 2 underlined ,,,the bottle is greenish tint and has quite a few air bubbles in the glass there is also three rings around the neck of the bottle what are you thoughts ?

    • David says:

      Hello Dana,
      I’m sorry but the only “solid” info I can provide is that the bottle was actually made by Pierce Glass Company (the ‘P in a circle’ was their makers’ mark). Most of the bottles with the “P in a circle” on the bottom seem to date from the 1920s-1950s (in general) but I’m afraid I can’t be more specific than that very general range of years.
      David

  3. Rachel says:

    I found a old small bottle that is brown and says W. T. CO D USA on the bottom. It is sealed with a cork, and it has a very fine white powder in it. Any ideas what it could be or how old it is?

    • David says:

      Hi Rachel, it’s probably a medicine, druggist or chemical bottle. (Don’t know what the white powder could be, any of a number of different substances. DON’T TASTE IT! :-) The bottle was made by Whitall Tatum Company (see my webpage on that company) and dates to sometime between 1901 up to the early 1930s. Whitall Tatum made gobs of different style of bottles……that type could have been used to hold any of many different products. There would have originally been a contents label pasted on the side which is now gone.
      ~David

  4. Eric Morey says:

    Hi David, recently in the eastern goldfields of western australia I found a small jar embossed with the trade mark – Vaseline – chesebrough – new york and on the bottom was the number 38. This old minesite operated from 1896 to 1910. Eric.

    • David says:

      Hi Eric,
      Please check out my webpage on the Vaseline jars. There are a few pics there showing various types. They are very plentiful, and were made for many years, with many slightly different lettering variations found. The “38″ on your jar would be a mold identifier number.
      Best regards,
      David

  5. Corrine says:

    I have an old glass bottle with DuBouchett Many Blanc written on it. At the bottom of the front it says federal law forbids sale of re-use of this bottle. Underneath the bottle the numbers read R-798. Do you have any idea or information you can provide me. Thanks

  6. Elizabeth Ehmke says:

    I have a glass bottle that has a serial number etched in it just above the dots at bottom of glass, this glass bottle has a cobblestone body and what looks like a seem , it also has the number 43 in center as well as other numbers around base of bottle. I can’t seem to find anything on serialized bottles, can anyone help ?

  7. Dennis says:

    Go to sha.org. They have a lot of good information on glass.

  8. Mary says:

    Hello, we have 2 one-gallon glass jugs. One says Duraglas and has what looks like E-1841 on the heel. The other only has the numbers 120 and 30 on the bottom. Any thoughts on the years of these?
    Thanks.

    • David says:

      Hello Mary,
      Well, we can be sure the jug marked “DURAGLAS” was made after 1940, the year of introduction of that brand name by Owens-Illinois. However, I really can’t offer info on a specific year it was made. The “E-1841″ would probably be a catalog number or style number assigned by Owens-Illinois Glass Company to that particular type jug. I don’t have information on when that was used. It is theoretically possible, if you could find an older Owens-Illinois catalog, to estimate the date range IF this style container was listed in a catalog of, perhaps, the 1940s, ’50s or ’60s, but I don’t know if any are available. Concerning the other jug with just “120″ and “30″ on the base, I’m afraid I really have no info to pass along. In general, I think both of your jugs probably date from sometime in the 1940-1970 period, (and, sorry, I realize that is a wide year date range), but pinning down an exact year may be close to impossible.
      Best regards, David

  9. Eva says:

    I found a beer bottle with 3 sets of numbers. The first set is on the bottom around the outside which is 01 95 ws-4. The next is near that and is simply 22. The last number is on the underside of the bottle and is an underlined 71. They beer is still inside with a rusted cap so I don’t know what it is.

    • David says:

      Hello Eva,
      This bottle was made in 1995. The “95″ (along the lower heel of the bottle) is a date code. I believe this may be a product of Owens-Illinois, Inc.
      Best regards,
      David

  10. Dennis says:

    Thank you very much. They are very nice but I’m getting the notion they may be foreign made.

  11. Dennis says:

    I have some Cobalt Blue bowls that have only numbers on the bottom. One is 34, another 23, etc..; there is a different number on each bowl. These numbers are about 1/8 of an inch tall. I was wondering if a manufacturer could be located with these numbers?

    • David says:

      Hello Dennis, I am sorry but they are merely mold numbers. The mold numbers CANNOT help identify the name of the company that produced the glass. Most glass companies have used mold numbers at some time or other on their products.
      Best regards,
      David

      • Justin says:

        I can think of one instance where the mold number can identify the glass manufacturer. On the mason’s patent 1858 fruit jars the ones produced by hemingray have a very distinctive mold number style.

        • David says:

          Hi Justin,
          Yes, you are absolutely right. As with any general rule, there is usually an exception here or there. In an attempt to be concise, and not “muddy the waters” more than necessary, I didn’t mention that exception in my article.
          So, to expound a bit on that here: on early handmade ground-lip “MASON’S PATENT NOV 30th 1858″ fruit jars with a mold number on the center of the base, if the number is VERY, VERY LARGE, BOLD and “Ornate”, the jar can generally be attributed to Hemingray Glass Company. Most were probably made at their earlier Covington, KY factory, and perhaps some were made at Muncie also– presumably dating in the 1870s-1880s.
          Thanks Justin,
          ~David

  12. Tam says:

    I’m sorry yes the are on the bottom of the bottle.

  13. Tam says:

    I have a tonic bitters medicinal wine bottle that has a star with a 2 in the middle..what does that mean?

    • David says:

      Tam, I suppose you mean the markings are on the bottom, or is this on the front / side? The 2 is probably a mold number. The star could be a trademark used by the wine company, or a decorative design motif / emblem with no specific meaning.

      ~David

  14. Jeb Harrison says:

    Hi David,

    We moved into a house in Stinson Beach last year that is on a double parcel and is built over the footprint of a cabin that was torn down in the late seventies. As far as we can tell the occupants of the cabin (the last of whom were notorious partiers including Janis Joplin) would toss their bottles from the house into the bushes in the lower parcel – there is about a 30 sq ft. patch that is literally coughing up glass. Today I found the 2″ wide oval base of a bottle inscribed with the Owens-Illinois logo, and the Duraglas logo. To the left of the Owens circle/diamond/i logo is the number 23, to the right is the numeral 4. Below the Duraglas logo is the num/alpha 536-B, and to the left of everything is inscribed 4 A. I assume it was made in LA, but am not sure what date the numeral 4 refers to or the other numbers. Thanks!

    • David says:

      Hello Jeb,
      As you realized, the “23″ on the left of the logo indicates the bottle was made at Owens-Illinois’ Los Angeles glass plant. The “4″ on the right is a year date code (last digit of a year) and stands for 1954 (since their Duraglas trademark was issued c. 1940, the year 1934 can safely be excluded as a possibility, and the Los Angeles plant (#23) was started circa 1948, eliminating 1944 as a possibility). “536-B” is almost certainly a code number for that style of bottle (i.e. a catalog, inventory or design number assigned to that shape). “4 A” is a mold identifier. Since the bottle is machine-made, (Automatic Bottle Machine or “ABM”) and there would have been several molds (or “mold cavities”) arranged in a circular configuration on the assembly, with many identical bottles being produced each minute. Each individual mold was numbered (engraved), and “4 A” is the designation for the particular mold that specific bottle was made from.
      I hope this makes sense. Thanks for writing!
      David

  15. James says:

    I have 3 bottles, one is a clear cylinder threaded on top, circle on bottom with A inside, a line under the circle and a 3 under that. Second is I believe a Heinz ketchup bottle but would like to date it if possible- has anH-257 with a B in a circle under that. The 3rd has numerous markings,maybe a soda bottle. Looks like lattice on the bottom 2/3 of the bottle, with a capital I on the bottom along with 250z above it, an S to the left and 48 to the right.also has symbol below that looks like T with a 4 on left side and odd shaped c on the right. Anyone have anything?

  16. Valerie says:

    My boyfriend found varies types of bottle bottoms with writing or numbers. First is cobalt blue with a 5 and m with a 3/4 circle around the m. Second is brown with S G . Third is brown with 75 with 3 slashes on bottom. Fourth is brown has 649 NW. Fifth is white with symbol of an arrow with flat bottom and J L on each side. Sixth is white with 4869. Seventh is brown with TIREG. I guess you already know this is authentic beach glass. I understand your statement on tumbling but as a beginner I can already tell the difference,especially when you have seen some aging on pieces or another.

    • David says:

      Hi Valerie,
      Yes, I totally understand. Btw, the only piece I can positively identify as to glassmaker source is your cobalt blue piece, which has the “M in a circle” used by Maryland Glass Corporation.

      Thanks for writing and have a great weekend!
      David

      • Valerie says:

        Thanks David for your prompt response. My boyfriend has been combing the beach in Moss Landing for a few years, taking the dog for a walk. I think he has over 10,000 pieces from white, blue, amber, aquamarine, pink, purple, green. I can go on but is this profitable? We have so much glass (not including rocks and shells) but I did see some sites that have festival’s. What is your opinion?

  17. Meagan says:

    I have a tall, rectangular bottle (possibly a decanter) with a square stopper. On one side, there are 4 embossed, vertical circles, each with a different picture. The top one appears to be a crest or shield of some sort; the second one is a man and a woman; the third is a silhouette of a woman’s face (like on a coin); and the fourth is a man. On the other side, there’s a large circle with nothing in it. The bottom of the bottle reads (clockwise): D-9, 65, 8, 67. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Meagan

    • David says:

      Hi Meagan,
      I can’t tell you much in particular about your specific bottle, but it is typical of tons of decorative glass decanters made from the 1930s into the 1970s and even later. They were made as containers for whiskies and other alcoholic beverages, and were made in many, many different artistic, attractive designs to help sell the product. They were often saved and re-used as decanters, vases, etc, so lots of them are still around. In your particular case, I am assuming that the date code is either “65″ or “67″ (made in 1965 or 1967). Sorry, not sure which year would be correct. Although I am not an appraiser, people often do ask about their value. In general these types of decanters are, at the present time, not high in value….perhaps a typical one will sell for anywhere from 50 cents to 5 dollars, depending on exact style. They often show up at yard sales and thrift stores. A good percentage of the were made by Owens-Illinois Glass Company. They are ususally in ordinary clear glass (shows off the golden/amber color of whiskey), which does limit their appeal to collectors of colored glass bottles. I’m sure there are collectors out there that specialize in studying and collecting these decanters. Perhaps as time goes on, they will gain in value and interest to a wider group of glass collectors. Hope this helps a bit.
      David

  18. Sue says:

    I have a 2oz bottle with numbers where there should be a makers mark. The number 3 is in the center with X721 above. Any comments?

    • David says:

      Hi Sue,
      The “3″ is a mold number, and the “X721″ is probably a bottle style number or inventory/catalog number assigned to that particular bottle type by the glass manufacturer. Other than that, there isn’t really much else I can pass along. If there is no maker’s mark, it is difficult or impossible to know who made the bottle.
      ~David

  19. Jörg Donandt says:

    Hm, I followed the advice given. However, I could not fiind out, HOW to decipher these “dot codes”. E.g. what “form” does a code *****__*_*_** refer to? (The stars are the dots and the underlines are the empty spaces on the bottle)?

    • David says:

      Hello Jörg! Ok, you got me. I honestly don’t know. Unless this is something “top secret” (not accessible by mere mortals who don’t have the proper “glass-industry security clearances” ;-o) perhaps someone can chime in and reveal exactly how these dot codes are interpreted.
      Readers?

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