GVIII-1 • Sunburst Flask
GVIII – 1
Atttributed to Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks
Keene, New Hampshire
Provenance: Michael George Collection
Sunburst flasks are considered one of the oldest of the American “geometric” and “historical” flask groups and are generally attributed to the period of 1810 to the early 1830s. This dating results from historical research, glasshouse excavations, and the manufacturing techniques of the flasks. The sunburst flasks are all made with two-piece molds with pontil scarred bases and most having sheared mouths. Except for the letter embossing on three forms, the sunburst pattern that occurs on both sides of the flask forms is essentially identical.
With many types of antique bottles and flasks, such as bitters, sodas, and medicines, the embossed names, products and locations, advertising, and paper labels greatly assist with historical research and identifying the bottle. Very limited historical information is available for sunburst flasks because they are from the early periods of the glasshouses when good records were not maintained, or records were destroyed in glasshouse fires. As noted previously, only three of the approximately thirty-three sunburst charted flasks are letter embossed. There were no paper labels on the sunburst flasks because they were purchased without contents and then filled and refilled in bars and saloons.
When looking at our extraordinary example of a vibrant green pint Sunburst Flask, the obverse side displays a large elliptical sunburst measuring about 5” x 2 7/8”. There are 24 triangular sectioned rays, that are flattened at the ends, forming the closed ellipse. The effect is that of a raised panel. At the center of the sunburst is two concentric rings with a dot in the center. The reverse side of the flask is like the obverse.
The flask edges are horizontally corrugated with the corrugations extending around the flask at the base and around the upper part between the neck and squared and concave shoulders. There is a plain lip and pontil mark.
Known glass colors are clear, deep yellow-green, light green, deep bluish-green, emerald green, green shading to amber, medium and deep green, yellow-green, moonstone, and topaz. The flask is comparatively scarce.
The flask is attributed to Keene-Marlboro Street Glassworks in Keene, New Hampshire. The glassworks opened under the direction of Henry Schoolcraft and his two partners in 1815 and continued in operation under a bewildering variety of operating firms for the next 35 years. Although the vast majority of the plant’s products appear to have been unmarked, the factory made several flasks embossed with initials of an owner or the location name—all of which may be closely dated.
See the museum example of a pint GV-3 “Success to the Railroad” and Horse Pulling Cart historical flask also attributed to the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks.
Primary Image: GVIII-1 Sunburst Flask imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio
Support: Reference to American Bottles and Flasks and Their Ancestry by George S. and Helen McKearin, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1978.
Support: Reference to Keene-Marlboro-Street Glassworks by Bill Lockhart, Beau Schriever, Bill Lindsey, and Carol Serr
Support Image: Auction Lot 63: Sunburst Flask, Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1815-1830. Bright yellow-green at mid-body shading to a deeper green with amber striations in the base, shoulder shades from deep amber to a black mouth, tooled mouth – pontil scar, pint; (5/8 inch piece of glass is adhered to side on mold seam). GVIII-1 Extremely rare, unique and beautiful color variation. Fine condition. Dr. Gary and Arlette Johnson collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #133
Support Image: Auction Lot 177: Sunburst Flask, Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1815-1830. Light to medium bluish green, sheared mouth – pontil scar, pint; (7/8 inch chip on edge of base, potstone in shoulder has several 1/16 inch radiations). GVIII-1 An interesting flask in that the two sides of the mold didn’t quite match up correctly. Beautiful color and strong mold impression. Ex Seagram glass collection, Glenn Quimby collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #177
Support Image: Auction Lot 21: Sunburst Flask, Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1815-1830. Deep emerald green, sheared mouth – pontil scar, pint; (moderate high point wear, 1/16 inch flakes from concentric ring and tip of one sunburst ray). GVIII-1 Incredibly rich and beautiful color. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #128
Support: Reference to The Keen Embossed and Similar Sunburst Flasks by Bill Ham, Antique Bottle & Glass Collector, August 1984, Connecticut Sunburst Flasks by Bill Ham, Antique Bottle & Glass Collector, November 1985, More on Sunburst Flasks by Bill Ham, Antique Bottle & Glass Collector, January 1988 and Sunburst and Similar Scents by Bill Ham, Antique Bottle & Glass Collector, May 1988
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