J. Corwell Germantown
John Corwell, Germantown, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Provenance: Tod von Mechow Collection
John Corwell was born in 1816 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. His father, William, was 26, and his mother, Maria, was 24. William, born in 1790 in Pennsylvania, married Maria Sophia Danenhour in 1813. The 1850 United States Federal Census noted that John Corwell was a bottler.
Located six miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia, Germantown is one of America’s most historic neighborhoods. Originally part of 5,700 acres that William Penn sold to two groups from the Rhine region of what is now Germany, German Township was a processing center made up of a diverse group of craftsmen and cottage industries, where raw materials from outlying counties were turned into finished goods for sale at market in Philadelphia.
On Tuesday, November 30, 1841, the Public Ledger (Germantown) reported: “Horrible Threat.–On Friday, a man named John Corwell, in Germantown, was bound over in $50 before Squire Reever, on the oath of Jacob C. Hall, a soap boiler, for calling him “a swell head” and “threatening to knock the rum out of him.” What a horrible threat. Is it possible that anyone but a cannibal would think of doing such an act?”
In the mid-1840s, John Corwell wed Susan B. Waterman. They would have three children, John Corwell Jr. (1847-1927), Lizzie (Elizabeth) Corwell (1849-1909), and Hannah V. Corwell (1852-1865). From 1850 to 1868, John Corwell worked and lived on Wistar Street (now Wister) in Germantown, where he was listed yearly in Philadelphia city directories until 1868. He sometimes had his name listed under “Porter House.” On Tuesday, November 30, 1850, the Public Ledger (Germantown) posted: “Germantown Property for Sale – a very desirable two and a half story brick house and lot situated at the corner of Clinton and Wistar streets. For further particulars apply to John Corwell, Wistar street near Main.”
Our circa 1850 cylindrical porter-shaped bottle was blown in rich blue glass. The dimensions are 7 by 3 (3 ¼) inches. The bottle is embossed horizontally on the face in a serif typestyle ‘J. CORWELL’. The reverse side is embossed ‘GERMANTOWN’ in a similar manner. The bottle is hand blown, has a double-tapered collar, would have used a cork, and has an improved pontil. There are three variants of Corwell bottles also on display. All were produced in the 1850s.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that John Corwell died on March 18, 1895, at the age of 79. “The relatives and friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend the funeral, on Thursday afternoon, at 2 o’clock, from his late residence, No. 5101 Germantown avenue. Interment at Hood Cemetery.”
Primary Image: J. Corwell Germantown porter type bottle imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio.
Support: Reference to Soda & Beer Bottles of North America, Tod von Mechow
Support Image: (embossing arches up) JN CORWELL / (embossing arches down) GN TOWN (all in oval plate) // c // Dimensions: 6 3/4 x 3 1/8 (3 1/2), Manufacturer: Not Known, Two Leaf Mold, Cylindrical, Shape: Porter, Base Design: None. The “N” in “JN” and the “N” in “GNTOWN” are raised and underlined. Emerald Green, Improved Pontil, Double Tapered Collar, Hand Blown, Cork Stopper, Circulated: 1846-1850, Philadelphia, PA.
Support Image: (embossing arches up) J. CORWELL / GERMANTOWN // C // Dimensions: 7 1/4 x 2 15/16 (3 1/4) Manufacturer: Not Known, Two Leaf Mold, Cylindrical, Late Lager, Base Design: None, Green, Improved Pontil, Double Tapered Collar, Hand Blown, Cork Stopper, Philadelphia, PA.
Support Image: J. CORWELL (all in plate) // (embossing arches up) UNION GLASS WORKS, PHILAD. / (embossing arches up) BROWN / (embossing arches down) STOUT // Dimensions: 6 7/8 x 2 13/16 (3), Marked – Hartell & Lancaster, Two Leaf Mold, Cylindrical, Shape: Porter, Teal Bluish Green, Improved Pontil, Double Tapered Collar, Hand Blown, Cork Stopper, Philadelphia, PA, – Tod von Mechow
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