GVIII-14 • Sunburst Flask
GVIII – 14
Probably Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks
Keene, New Hampshire
Yellow Green Half Pint
Provenance: Michael George Collection
Our museum example represents a half-pint GVIII-14 Sunburst Flask. The glass color is exceptional and best described as a clear yellow-green. The flask has a strong mold impression with no wear and was acquired from Jimmy Chabalo. Our example is the center flask in the museum display pedestals above. The flask on the right is ex Charles B. Gardner and Glenn Quimby collections
Sunburst flasks are considered one of the oldest of the American “geometric” and “historical” flasks and are generally attributed to the period of 1815 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. 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 yellow-green half-pint Sunburst Flask, the obverse side displays a large elliptical sunburst. There are 21 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 one concentric ring 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. The shoulders are rounded. There is a plain lip and pontil mark. Known glass colors are clear deep green, brilliant yellow-green, and yellow-green with an olive tone. The flask is comparatively scarce to rare.
The flask is attributed to the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks in Keene, New Hampshire circa 1830 to 1850. 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 the initials of an owner or the location name—all of which may be closely dated.
See museum example of pint green GVIII-1 Sunburst Flask attributed to Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks.
See museum example of a pint GV-4 “Success to the Railroad” Horse and Cart flask attributed to Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks.
Support: GVIII-14 Sunburst Flask imaged on location by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio led by Alan DeMaison.
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
Support: Reference to American Bottles and Flasks and Their Ancestry by Helen McKearin and Kenneth M. Wilson, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1978.
Support Image: Auction Lot 124: Sunburst Flask, probably Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1815-1830. Medium yellow-green, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (1/4-inch flake on side of mouth, light exterior high point wear, manufacturing roughness on shoulder and edge of mouth). GVIII-14, H #641, color plate VII. A heavy little flask with great provenance and a beautiful, rare color. Generally fine condition. Ex Charles B. Gardner collection, Glenn Quimby collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #177
Support Image: Auction Lot 33: Sunburst Flask, probably Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks, Keene, New Hampshire, 1815-1830. Brilliant medium yellowish-green, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (some minor exterior high point wear). GVIII-14 Great color. A heavy little flask with very thick glass. Fine condition. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #108
Join the FOHBC: The Virtual Museum is a project of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors (FOHBC). To become a member.