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

  1. Dawne Knop says:

    I have a whittlemore Boston u.s.a. bottle with. 6 or a 9 on the bottom and states 5 fluid oz. However does not say shoe dressing on it anywhere.

    • David says:

      Dawne, as far as I know, the WHITTEMORE bottles don’t have the actual wording “SHOE DRESSING” embossed in the glass. A paper label which would have originally been affixed to the bottles would have provided more information, including the brand and the words “Shoe polish” or “Shoe dressing” on them. Your example with the mold number on the base and the “5 fluid Oz” is one of the later versions, possibly from sometime in the 1910s-1940s.
      ~David

  2. Tom Amoroso says:

    My bottle is rectangular; it say’s Whittemore’s Shoe Polish (you have to hold the bottle horizontally to read it). It has a very rusty screw cap, and just below it says 13/4 oz. It has the remnants of white polish inside. The bottle is clear. On the bottom it has L-8546 The letter A inside what looks like an upside down U and the #6 to the right of that. Any information year, value would be appreciated. Thanks,

    • David says:

      Tom, that particular bottle was made by Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, judging from the mark you describe. Please check out my webpage on that company. The Whittemore polish bottles were made over many, many years and I cannot tell you what year your bottle was made. With a screw-type lid, it might date from the 1930s-1950s. The “L-8546” is a number that was probably assigned to that bottle mold (or style) by Hazel-Atlas. I prefer not to discuss values, but readers continue to ask me about them. The value to antique bottle collectors is very low, perhaps 50 cents to a dollar.
      Best regards,
      David

      • Desirae Janae says:

        I found one quite similar to Tom’s. The only difference is that on the bottom it has “L-8540” and the number “7” instead of six. It still has a little bit of white polish left in it as well. I just found it today in my creek. It is in nearly perfect condition. Its really amazing. I thought it was a glass liquor bottle at first. 😂

  3. 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

  4. Julia Bond says:

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

    • David says:

      Julia,
      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,
      David

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 !!