Whittemore Boston U.S.A. / Antique Bottles

Whittemore / Boston / U.S.A.

Whittemore / Boston // French Gloss


    Whittemore Bros. & Company (later known as Whittemore Brothers Corporation), Cambridge, Massachusetts (1852-c. late 1930s??)  was a large producer of shoe polish and related products, launched in 1852 by David and Joshua Whittemore.   (Cambridge is  now part of the greater metropolitan area of Boston, Massachusetts). 
The majority of Whittemore bottles are marked with either of the two embossing variations listed at the top of this page.  
Whittemore Boston U.S.A. bottle in green-aqua

Whittemore Boston U.S.A. bottle in green-aqua

Most bottles with the “Whittemore” markings contained shoe polish (“shoe dressing”)  and date somewhere between 1870 and 1930. There are many minor variations among the Whittemore bottles;  most are of a rectangular shape, and some are cylindrical. They have been found in many colors, including aqua (most common), light blue aqua, green-aqua, clear, pale (sun-colored) amethyst, light green, shades of amber including a dark “chocolate amber”, citron and other shades.        
Whittemore / Boston/ French Gloss  in dark amber

Whittemore/Boston//French Gloss in dark amber

One of the earlier lines of shoe dressing sold by Whittemore was their so-called “Gilt Edge Dressing”, and some bottles  from the 1890s are found with this embossing on the front.   This decorative style of Gilt Edge Dressing bottle has a repeated maltese-cross-style raised design vaguely reminiscent of the “finecut” pattern popular in some Early American pattern glass tableware.

A nice collection of different Whittemore bottles can be assembled because of their variety in color, size, age, and exact lettering arrangement. Earlier versions, of course, are handblown.  Most later versions (generally, after the 1910-1920 period),  are machine-made.  
Whittemore Shoe Polish bottle in Citron

Whittemore Shoe Polish bottle in Citron


Although there is no absolute proof concerning glassmakers, I have been told that it is highly likely that some, if not many, of the earlier bottles were made at the Lyndeborough Glass Company works in South Lyndeboro, New Hampshire (1866-1888). 
A number of unidentified glass bottle manufacturers made these bottles over the several decades they were produced.   Most of the earlier versions have mold numbers, or arrangements of bumps or dots on the base which served to identify the molds in use within the factory, but (in general) cannot indicate any specific glass manufacturer.  There are many early Whittemore bottles that have no markings at all on the bottom. 

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6 Responses to Whittemore Boston U.S.A. / Antique Bottles

  1. Dan Renn says:

    I have a Whittemore bottle with the “B” in Boston without the final line in the “B” so it looks more like a “C”. Unique? We obviously know it’s supposed to be a “B” but still looks like a “C” to me. Found in a house built in Bethel, CT. in the 1880’s. Thanks, dan

  2. Julia Bond says:

    I have one with the number 21 is this an original just wondering.

    • David says:

      I don’t know of any Whittemore bottles being reproduced. Many slightly different mold varieties are known and, in general, Whittemore shoe polish bottles are considered to be very common by collectors. I am sure you have an authentic Whittemore bottle. The “21” would be a mold number.
      Best regards,

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