“FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR REUSE OF THIS BOTTLE”
The “Federal Law Forbids Sale or Reuse of this Bottle” marking was required on all liquor bottles sold within the United States that were made between 1935 and 1964. However, I believe some bottles that date up to the early 1970s have also been seen with this warning embossed on them.
Since hundreds or thousands of bottle molds would have been in active use circa 1964 when the phrase requirement was phased out, it would have been highly expensive, time-consuming and basically pointless to re-tool all the molds to “erase” the warning, thus it is certain that some bottles continued to carry the phrase for some time after 1964.
Nevertheless, it is still a fairly safe bet that most bottles with this marking do indeed date from that 29-year period. Huge numbers of all types and shapes of “spirits” flasks & cylinder-shaped (fifth) bottles (bourbon & scotch whiskey, gin, vermouth, vodka, etc, etc) were marked with this phrase.
This was done in an effort to discourage the re-use of empty bottles for bottling and selling homemade (that is, unregulated) distilled liquor (“moonshine”), the sale of which had became very common and widespread during the Prohibition era.
Many of these are ordinary “generic” glass bottles with nothing particularly unusual about them. However, many of the bottles of this period are beautifully designed, with unusual and artistic shapes, designs, and raised graphics employed. (Especially during the early part of the period) some of the bottles exhibit, to some degree, an “Art Deco” influence. Many of them were especially designed to be saved and re-used as decanters or rather elaborately designed decorative bottles or vases. This was often done as a marketing campaign to promote the sale of alcoholic beverages.
The latter part of this period (especially during the 1950s and throughout the 1960s) the production of, and popularity of collecting, ceramic (and opaque glass) liquor containers (such as the Jim Beam bottles) was at it’s peak, and these containers are often seen with the “Federal Law forbids……” notation. The world of modern Jim Beam decanter collecting is an entire world of bottle collecting in it’s own right; one site with more info would be http://www.jimbeamclub.com/ .
The so-called “Jeannie Bottle” was a popular shape marketed by Beam and produced in 1964. Large numbers of liquor bottles with the “Federal Law Forbids….” marking were made by Owens-Illinois Glass Company, Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company, Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation, and other bottlemakers.
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