GIX-2 • Scroll Flask
GIX – 2
Possibly Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky
Yellow Green Quart
Provenance: Brian Bingham Collection
The consignor recalls that ten or so years ago, he saw a tiny sign and stopped at a garage sale in a trailer park in Oceanside, California. It was a Saturday. He didn’t know why he stoped as it wasn’t something he normally did. He looked around and saw all kinds of typical old folk’s stuff without much value. For some reason, he opened a little kitchen cabinet above the wall oven and saw three bottles. At the time, he didn’t collect bottles and knew very little about them, but he participated in re-enacting and a flask with clasped hands looked like he could use it as a whiskey bottle. He took it up front. It was marked “300” on the bottom so the lady charged him $3. He went home, did some research and realized the flask was real. The next morning he went back and grabbed a yellow-green scroll flask. It had “600” on the bottom and being Sunday it was half off. He paid $3 for it as well. Sadly, he passed on the third bottle, a Fisch Bitters. He thought it was an Avon bottle.
George and Helen McKearin described the scroll (or violin) flasks in their book, American Glass, in the 1940s with details on 51 different molds. This list was later expanded with many variants in American Bottles and Flasks and Their Ancestry. Often, the difference between molds for scroll flasks comes down to the precise placement and shape of embossed stars and other details.
Scroll flasks were some of the first flasks blown in America and have both a French and Masonic influence. The pointed stars that adorn the top middle and midsections on these flasks are certainly eye-appealing and they have meaning. The eight-pointed stars from ancient times were Christian in their founding meaning regeneration or redemption. The seven-pointed star is associated with Ancient Babylon. The six-pointed star is the ancient symbol meaning creation, for the world was created in six days. The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily or iris that is used as a decorative design or a symbol. It may be at one and the same time, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic , and symbolic especially in French heraldry. Its origins however go back to ancient Egypt.
Scroll flasks were made by blowing hot glass into a two-piece iron mold. The hinged mold was then opened and the bottle was removed while still attached to the blowpipe. An assistant would then attach another rod, called a pontil, to the base of the bottle. The glassblower could then detach the bottle from its lip by shearing the still soft glass. Most often you will find scroll flasks with a plain sheared lip. Some flasks would receive additional work to finish the mouth and lip. Commonly found are the applied band of glass and, infrequently, an applied lip.
Our museum scroll flask has a large, inverted heart-shaped frame formed by medial and inferior scrolls and containing a lower medium star with six gothic-arch points. A similar six-pointed star is placed in the space above the frame. The reverse of the flask is the same as the obverse. The edges are a vertical medial rib. The necks are finished with either a plain lip, plump oval, or double round collar. There is a pontil mark.
The flask can be found in the following glass colors: aquamarine, blue aquamarine, yellow with olive tone, yellow-green or citron, lime green, olive yellow, apple green, medium green, moss green, light to medium blue, cobalt blue, sapphire blue, amber, olive amber, reddish amber, golden amber, rootbeer amber, pinkish moonstone, lavender moonstone, and black (deep olive green). The glass house is probably Louisville Glass Works in Louisville, Kentucky. The flask is relatively common in certain glass colors. There are at least seven additional mold variations noted in McKearin Wilson.
From 1850 to 1901, at least seven different glass manufacturing factories operated in Louisville, Kentucky. Six were utilitarian bottle houses, and the other manufactured window and plate glass. In 1850, the first glass bottle and jar-making firm, known as the Kentucky Glass Works was formed, which, by 1855, was being referred to as the Louisville Glass Works. During its production peak around 1855, many scroll flasks were blown.
Primary Image: The GIX-2 quart Scroll Flask imaged by Alan DeMaison at the FOHBC Reno 2022 National Antique Bottle Convention mobile imaging station.
Support: Reference to American Scroll Flasks by Mark Vuono, American Glass Gallery
Support: Reference to and image support from Prized Midwestern Flasks by Mark Vuono, FOHBC 2018 Cleveland National Antique Bottle Show Souvenir Program
Support: Reference to Louisville Glass Works Louisville Glass Factories of the 19th Century – Part 1 and Part 2, by David Whitten, Bottles and Extras, Spring 2005
Support Image: Auction Lot 30: Scroll Flask, probably Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1845-1860. Bright yellow with an olive tone, sheared mouth – pontil scar, quart; (light overall patchy haze, light exterior high point wear). GIX-2 Fine condition. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #187
Support Image: Auction Lot 92: Scroll Flask, America, 1845-1860. Bright medium cobalt blue, sheared mouth – pontil scar, quart; (mouth has been polished to remove a chip, light exterior high point wear). GIX-2 A rare color for a quart scroll flask. Fine condition. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #187
Support Image: Auction Lot 57: Scroll Flask, America, 1845-1860. Rich cobalt blue, sheared mouth – pontil scar, quart; (shallow 1/8 inch open bubble on scroll frame, light interior haze in lower half of flask). GIX-2 Big, bold, blue and beautiful. Generally fine condition. Ex Robert Mebane collection, Dr. Charles and Jane Aprill collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #172
Support Image: Auction Lot 29: Scroll Flask, probably Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1845-1860. Deep to dark olive amber, applied mouth with ring – pontil scar, quart; (exterior high point wear). GIX-2 Big and bold. Fine condition. Timothy and Christine Hill collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #154
Support Image: Auction Lot 87: Scroll Flask, probably Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1845-1860. Medium apple green, sheared mouth – tubular pontil scar, quart; (5/8 inch by 1/4 inch open bubble on shoulder, 1/8 inch by 1/4 inch flake from side of mouth). GIX-2 Attractive color. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #107
Support Image: Auction Lot 150: Scroll Flask, probably Louisville Glass Works, Louisville, Kentucky, 1845-1860. Medium moss green, applied mouth with ring – iron pontil mark, quart; (1/8 inch bruise on medial rib). GIX-2 Different and pretty color. Fine condition. Ex Judge Blaske collection, Mike Roberts collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #106
Support Image: Auction Lot 38: SCROLL FLASK, Midwest, 1840 – 1860. Beautiful light-to-medium honey coloration below the shoulders shading to a deeper honey amber with a very slight olive tone, sheared mouth – blowpipe pontil scar, Qt, near mint; (just a bit of very minor wear, otherwise perfect). GIX-2. A big, attractive scroll, beautiful color. Provenance: Bruce Purdy collection. – John Pastor, American Glass Gallery, Auction #33
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