This volume’s authors describe and illustrate nearly 1,100 different Illinois embossed-bottle varieties produced before, during, and after the Civil War for close to 500 Illinois merchants operating in over 100 small towns and cities across the state, with populations ranging from just a few hundred souls to more than 100,000 people. The authors worked with historical archivists Eva Mounce and Curtis Mann to research the bottlers and bottled products included in this book—and 14 additional historical-research contributors added their local and regional expertise and knowledge to help make the volume a reality. Because of the daunting scale of the effort needed to document embossed and stamped bottle styles, user/maker marks, bottle contents, and product histories, the few existing pioneering published studies of such bottles used by early Illinois merchants provide only partial, often regional, thumbnail-outline lists with little associated historical information on the merchants and their products. This study documents, illustrates, and provides historical-context studies of 87 embossed soda/mineral water bottles of this age, used by bottlers in 46 Illinois towns ranging from Chicago to Cairo. The product manufacture and use information provided within these pages, combined with information from the archaeological sites where complete and fragmentary examples of the bottles were discarded, will no doubt be of use for overview studies of consumer behavior and patterns of product movement. But the immediate study’s focus is to provide archaeologists and historians with clear and comprehensive information on 1840–1880 bottle styles, product contents, product functions (both real and imagined), and merchant histories, to aid in reconstructing the age of archaeological site occupations and in interpreting site functions and occupant activities.
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