J. B. White Pittsburgh

Provenance: Doug Shutler Collection

Here is a J. B. White Pittsburgh bottle that is challenging to research. There are few examples available for reference so we are pleased to have this bottle in our collection along with a second variant example. The bottle was made by an unknown glasshouse in the early 1850s.

This graceful green porter-style bottle is embossed, ‘J. B. WHITE’ in an arch on the face of the bottle. Beneath the arched primary name is a horizontally embossed straight-line ‘PITTSBURGH.’ On the reverse side of the bottle is a large ¾ inch embossed ‘W.’ With the transparency of the glass, it makes a nice layered image to see the copy on one face and the reverse image copy on the opposite side. The bottle has an iron pontil and an inverted tapered applied mouth and is approximately 7-½” tall.

We have a second example of a J. B. White Pittsburgh in blue-green glass with a gray tone. The primary copy is in a straight line. The porter-style bottle is 8 3/8 inches tall with an iron pontil.

John B. White was an Irish immigrant, arriving in Pittsburgh sometime around 1830 with his wife, Jane, and a couple of his Irish-born sons. Additional children were born in Pittsburgh as well.

From about 1847, John B. White is fairly well documented in the Pittsburgh directories as being in the business of selling porter. The only direct mention of his bottling operation was in the 1852 and 1856 directories and should be interpreted as being a coincidental sideline of his business of selling porter, which he continued until about 1858.

Sometime after 1858, John White appears to have switched professions, and for at least the next decade he was prominently noted as an “Engineer” at the Custom House in Pittsburgh.

After 1875 or so, it is likely he had retired but left a lasting legacy in Pittsburgh with at least two of his sons, Reverend Alexander W. White, and William J. White, long associated with the Pittsburgh Fire and Police Department.

From at least 1880, and probably several years previously, John B. White retired to the town of Plain Grove, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, located about forty miles north of Pittsburgh. He was listed in the 1880 United States Federal Census as a “Gent” (Gentleman), aged 79.

Support: Reference to Soda & Beer Bottles of North America, Tod von Mechow

Support: Reference to The American Pontiled Soda Database Project

Support Image: J. B. White Pittsburgh bottle in blue-green glass with a gray tone. The primary copy is in a straight line. The porter-style bottle is 8 3/8 inches tall with an iron pontil. – Doug Shutler collection.

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