W. T. Rawleigh’s / Freeport, Illinois

W. T. Rawleigh’s  / Freeport, Ill.

This embossed marking “W. T. RAWLEIGH’S” in cursive font is seen on many antique and vintage glass bottles, the most common variants dating from the early to mid-twentieth century.

The W.T. Rawleigh Company operated in Freeport, Illinois circa 1889 to 1989.  (The modern incarnation  of the company appears to be still around,  based in West Palm Beach, Florida).    This firm was established by William Thomas Rawleigh, who was born in Iowa County, Wisconsin, in 1870.  This company sold a wide variety of household products (cleaning agents, flavorings, medicines, ointments, etc) , which were sold by mail-order and by traveling salesmen (similar to the way in which the Watkins products are sold).

The company headquarters was based in Freeport, though there were other manufacturing plants located elsewhere in the US during the heydey of the company, including a huge manufacturing facility located at Memphis, Tennessee.

There are many minor variants of the bottles with this marking, both BIMAL (Blown in mold by hand, applied lip) and ABM (made by Automatic Bottle Machine methods).  Some include the city “FREEPORT, ILL”, others are marked with the phrase “BOTTLE MADE IN U.S.A.”.

The earlier versions of the bottles have a ‘smooth’ lip designed for a cork closure, and the later variants (probably after the mid to late 1920s) have a screw-threaded lip.  The bottles are seen in aqua, clear and, not quite so often, in amber (brown) glass.  Most of the aqua examples have a cork-type lip.

I don’t have an exact timeline but I assume the aqua ones are mostly pre-1920s, and the clear versions were phased in sometime in the 1920s or very early 1930s.  The amber bottles were made over a long period of time, being found in both mouth-blown (handmade) and machine-made versions.

The height of popularity of this company and it’s products appears to have been during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.  The bottles are very commonly found,  but are still of interest as there are so many slight variations in their  exact appearance.    Many, many individual bottle molds would have been used over the decades during which these bottles were made. Lots of the bottles are found with mold numbers on the base, or no letter or number marks, or just an “Owens scar” (irregular, circular scar on the base, caused during machine manufacture).

Rawleigh's bottle in amber, machine-made type, circa 1910s-20s (photo courtesy ebay seller "704mikem")

Rawleigh’s bottle in amber, machine-made type, no glassmaker mark, mold number “4”, circa 1910s-20s (photo courtesy ebay seller “704mikem”)

Base of Rawleigh's amber bottle (Photo courtesy ebay seller "704mikem")

Base of Rawleigh’s amber bottle (Photo courtesy ebay seller “704mikem”)

For some period of time, huge quantities of the bottles marked RAWLEIGH’S were made at their OWN glass bottle manufacturing facility which was erected (or finished) in 1926, according to contemporary newspaper reports.  The exact period of time (especially the ENDING year) in which bottles were made by Rawleigh’s at their own Freeport glass factory is open to question.      Here is a brief article from the September 21, 1932 issue of the Freeport Journal-Standard, Freeport, IL. , appearing on page 24:

“One of the most fascinating of the industries within the Rawleigh Industries is the bottle factory, where flames leap and writhe in the terrific heat of 2650 to 2675 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature which must be maintained day and night for many months at a time to manufacture the bottles Rawleigh’s use.  The annual capacity of the factory, first started in 1926 and since enlarged several times, is close to 100 million bottles.

A huge bottle warehouse completed last year will house 12 million bottles at one time. New equipment includes a cooling system superior to any existing system and the first of its kind to be used; new bottle-forming machines which make bottles with almost incredible swiftness and perfection; new reversing valves to add to the efficiency of furnace heat; new batch equipment; a new annealing oven or lehr; improved air compressors, etc.”

I suspect that the numbers of bottles quoted may be an exaggeration.   If anyone has information indicating when the Rawleigh glass factory at Freeport discontinued making their own bottles, I would like to hear from you.

I did a casual search of a few ebay listings, and from the base photos of several bottles we can identify at least 5 glass companies that produced Rawleigh’s  bottles for some period of time (there are probably others) :

Illinois Glass Company, Alton, IL  .  The “I inside a diamond” indicates those bottles would date between approximately 1915 and 1929.  (If Illinois Glass Company made bottles for Rawleigh before 1915, it is uncertain what, if any, mark was placed on the bottom.  It is possible they made some of the many Rawleigh’s bottles that only carry a mold number, or no mark at all, on the base).    Owens-Illinois Glass Company  made bottles with their “Diamond and Oval with an I inside” which date from c. 1929 into the mid-1950s.

Other marks seen on Rawleigh’s bottles include a “P in a circle” (Pierce Glass Company),  “O in a square”  (Owens Bottle Company, circa 1919-1929) and an “F” (Fairmount Glass Company, Fairmount and Indianapolis, IN).

If anyone knows when the last glass Rawleigh’s bottles were produced, please contact me, and I can add that information to this site!

Currently (2017) all (or most) products sold by Rawleigh’s are apparently being packaged in plastic containers of various types and sizes.

For more information on products currently sold under the RAWLEIGH’S brand name, please check out this website at  https://www.rawleigh-products.com/

 

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17 Responses to W. T. Rawleigh’s / Freeport, Illinois

  1. jacob says:

    I found a bottle at an antique store and i can’t find its origin, it has a screw top and has a small triangle on the bottom with a G or C in it. it also has a small 1 on the bootom. any info would be helpful

  2. Matt says:

    I found one of these in a 30’s dump. A long with the Rawleigh’s Trademark. The bottom lip says “bottle made in USA” stamped with a #5 and #10. The 10 being centered. Has lip for screw on cap. Anyone have any idea where and when it might have been made?

  3. It’s probably an OWENS ILLINOIS mark.

  4. David Hofmann says:

    I just found an old rawleigh bottle in a riverbed. Its definitely cast from a mold (i can see the mold lines) and has a threaded lip (no cap found tho)… the stamp on the bottom has “12” on the left, a crude image of what i think is saturn in the center, possibly a crudely drawn “9” on the right, and “10” on the bottom. What does the saturn come from?

    • David says:

      David, please see my page on Owens-Illinois Glass Company. That is their earliest logo which is seen on tremendous numbers of bottles made from around 1930 to the mid and late 1950s. It is supposed to be a “Diamond and oval with an I inside” but on many bottles it is hard to make out, and appears something like the planet Saturn or a cat’s eye.
      Best regards,
      David

  5. Jordan says:

    I found a bottle like these that said it had sewing machine oil in it in the attic of an old abandoned house

  6. Came across a bottle in Michigan with a worn, embossed paper label. Molded, with lip, no threads. Label says “TreVere”, with “Rawleigh” over “Freeport” toward the bottom, and underneath that a floral motif over a vertical oval with an “R” inside. Would this have been WT Rawleigh? I’m thinking that it must have been. I’m sure the label had more info probably printed on it, but cannot make out anything except the embossed part now. The shape of the bottle, design of the label, and the name, make me think perfume, although the bottle seems large (5.25″ tall). Bottom of the bottle has a 9 on the left side. I cannot find mention of TreVere anywhere. Do you have any clue as to what might have been in this bottle? I’m stumped.

  7. Chad says:

    I have come accross a few hundred of these bottles in an old family homestead in northern michigan, there are lots of clear screw lids, some clear blue corked openings and i have just started to get into a pile of approximately 2000+ bottles.
    this will be a summer project.

  8. Kathleen Zuidema says:

    I found a small bottle with W.T.RAWLEICHC . Freeport ill. embossed in a depression on one side of it also a number 2 on the bottom is this the same company? The glass is somewhat iridescent. Perfect

    • David says:

      Hi Kathleen,
      It is not uncommon for the embossed lettering on some bottles to appear distorted or hard to read, especially when the letters are in “fancy” cursive style writing. On older bottles, the lettering was engraved into the inside of an iron bottle mold (painstakingly, by hand, using very small hammer/chisel tools) so the lettering may not be quite “perfect”. When the molten glass was blown into the mold, the engraved letters appear in “raised relief” on the surface of the finished bottle. If you were able to compare the embossed lettering closely on a number of bottles made from several different molds (of the same type bottle), it is easy to see that each one may not appear absolutely identical. Yes, it is a W. T. Rawleigh’s bottle. Thanks for writing.
      ~David

  9. Chris howell says:

    I have been helping my father in law dig a leaking water pipe on his farm and found sever bottles with this company name on them, they are in great shape no cracks or
    Deep searches that I can see

  10. David J. Vohlken says:

    I am a relative of W. T. Rawleigh, and I’ve always been under the impression that the Rawleigh company in Freeport manufactured its own bottles for some period of time in its history.
    David J. Vohlken

    • David says:

      Hi David,
      As far as I am aware, Rawleigh never manufactured glass bottles, but if you can point me to any information that might shed light on this, I would love to find out more. It seems to me that the great majority of producers/distributors of medicine and other types of products typically form business relationships with one (or more) glass manufacturers who produce the containers for them. In a good percentage of cases, who the glass company(s) were may not be immediately obvious………the bottles may not carry any glassmaker identification mark. This was very common with “private mold” bottles made only to be used by a specific company (usually with the company name embossed on the front) as opposed to “generic” or common “packer ware” bottles that were sold to, and used by, many companies.

      David

      • W. Ronald Johnson says:

        I wonder if there may have been a partnership or conection by Raleigh with the Arcade Company in Freeport that made coffee grinders that had a top much like a glass bottle with a screw top lid and a catch glass on the bottom that the ground coffee dropped into. They also made toys that used glass cubes that were used as a part of toy ice trucks and toy ice boxes. I have done some research about the Arcade Mfg. Co. that talks about their glass plant being in another part of the town of Freeport that makes me think that they made their own glass rather than ordering it from a glass maker. Another possibility is that they bought a glass factory from Raleigh when they started buying the bottles they used from a glass Company. Arcade made a lot of coffee grinders but probably nothing like the quantity that Raleigh would have used. I regret that I did not ask some of the people that worked for Arcade when I researched the Company back in the 1970’s when they were still alive. If you can find out anything about this I would be interested. Thanks much, Ron Johnson

      • David says:

        Hello David J. Vohlken,
        This is a VERY VERY LATE update and reply to your post which was published May 11, 2013. I tried to contact you directly using the email address you submitted at the time of your post, but it was returned as invalid. I haven’t been able to find your current email.
        Anyway, I recently found more info which shows you are quite correct, and I’ve incorporated some of the material into the main text on this page. Rawleigh DID make many of their own bottles, from 1926 to ????. I don’t know how many years they continued to produce bottles at their manufacturing facility in Freeport, but if anyone lands on this site who has additional information, please let me know! As far as I can surmise at this time, the bottles they produced do not carry a specific logo or glassmaker mark on the base, as the name of the company (of course) is already embossed across the front of the bottles!
        I do find it rather odd that so little information can be found online concerning the glass bottle factory built there, as, evidently, a very huge number of bottles were made over some period of years. I haven’t found any info on people who worked in the glass factory (as might be included in obituaries, etc) so if anyone can point me to more sources of background info, please advise.
        Thank you very much, and best regards,
        David Whitten

Comments/Replies: All comments are moderated so will not be published immediately. Because of mail volume received, and time and energy restraints, some questions may not be answered individually, especially if the subject is already addressed elsewhere on this site. This website is not intended as an appraisal service, but as a resource for background info on glass companies and the marks they used, so I usually delete "What is this bottle worth?" types of queries. Thank you very much for your patience & understanding !!