J. B. White Pittsburgh

Provenance: Doug Shutler Collection

Here is a bottle that is embossed ‘J. B. White Pittsburgh W’ that has been a challenge to research. There are few examples to use for reference and we are pleased to have this bottle in our collection. The bottle was made by an unknown glass house in the early 1850s.

This graceful green aqua 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 ‘PITTSBURGH.’ On the reverse side of the bottle is a large 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 other side. The bottle has an improved pontil and an inverted tapered applied mouth and is approximately 7-½” tall.

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 Pittsburg 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

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