Tips for identifying old bottles include using the shape, style, color and any identifying marks to determine bottle type. Bottle types can be broken down into a number of major categories which include liquor, wine, beer and ale as well as medicinal bottles. Each category of bottle typically features a number of characteristics that may be useful for identifying old bottles.
Many older bottles have markings on the bottom or side of the glass. Find any markings that may be present by examining the bottle carefully. Product and manufacturer markings are one useful way to identify an old bottle. Markings may not always be visible. Felling the surface of the glass may reveal markings that are too faint to see. Rub charcoal or a crayon over a piece of paper held against the mark to extract it.
Liquor and spirits were bottled using a wide variety of bottle shapes and sizes, while wine and champagne were typically bottled with a more limited array of bottle shapes. Old wine and campaign bottles are very similar to the ones in use today, making them easy to identify. Old glass beer bottles were also limited in shape and style and were typically bottled in round, heavy glass bottles that offered superior strength compared to other bottle shapes.