The growing strength of the Temperance movement and rising anti-alcohol fervor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to the passage of ever increasing restrictions on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. The power of the Temperance movement culminated in the addition of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution on January 16th, 1919; the amendment written to take effect one year after ratification, i.e., January 17th, 1920.The famous (or infamous depending on perspective) Anti-Saloon League was primary force doggedly pursing the move towards the banning of alcohol and one of the first the successful single-interest pressure groups in the U. National Prohibition, however, was already the law of the land through Congressional passage - over a presidential veto - of the National Prohibition Act (aka the Volstead Act) on October 28th, 1919 which took effect immediately, although existing stocks could be sold through the January 16th, 1920 date.Liquor of all types - bourbon, rye, gin, cognac, scotch, etc.- was bottled in a wide variety of bottle shapes and sizes ranging from small flasks that held a few ounces to demijohns and carboys that held gallons.Prohibition makes a very convenient dating transition point for liquor bottles which is not available for other types of bottles.However, there were some machine-made liquor bottles and flasks that most definitely pre-date Prohibition.Click -Squat spirits/utility cylinder bottles (earlier) -Tall, moderately slender bodied, bulged neck spirits/utility cylinder bottles -Tall, moderately slender bodied, straight neck "Patent" style spirits cylinders (mid-19th century) -Tall, moderately slender bodied, straight neck spirits cylinders (late 19th & 20th century) -Decorative shoulder spirits cylinders -Squat cylinder spirits bottles (later) -Malt whiskey cylinders -Tall, straight neck spirits cylinders (early 20th century) -Tall Modern Cylinder liquor (mid-20th century)These categories are shape based primarily with the exception of the first category - figured flasks - which are largely recognized by collectors/archaeologists as a separate category.Each of the pictured bottles has a relatively short description and explanation including estimated dates or date ranges for that type bottle and links to other view pictures of the bottle.
For example, even though Hostetter's Stomach Bitters contained as much as 43% alcohol (86 proof!
(It should be noted that implementation of this requirement began in late 1934, so some bottles made that year will have the noted embossing.) This regulation was repealed in 1964 giving an effective dating tool of 1935 to the mid 1960s for this diagnostic feature (Munsey 1970).
Be aware however that for some years after 1964 liquor could still be found in bottles with this embossing since not all liquor producers switched immediately to new bottles due to the expense of new molds or to deplete an existing supply of bottles (Ferraro 1966).
If a term is unfamiliar, first check the Bottle Glossary page for an explanation or definition.
As an alternative, one can do a search of this website.