Miniature Smelling Bottle w/Spiral Bottom
Overall: 2 1/8 x 1 3/8 x 3/4 in. ( 5.4 x 3.5 x 1.9 cm )
Colorless blown lead glass smelling bottle (or pungent); cylindrical wound body (seahorse shape) with embedded white threads (twisted) and with applied trailed thread decoration (deep blue) crimped into parallel notches, with crimped end; straight finish with fire-polished lip; pontil mark on side.
The main purpose of smelling bottles, or pungents, was to mask unpleasant odors, and thus they usually held smelling salts. They were first stoppered by corks and eventually by screw caps. The capacity of these bottles ranges from fractions of a dram to a little over an ounce. Decorative details include quilling (as side trim), embedded spirals, and occasionally engraving. This bottle, and others like it, are known to have been made as early as 1763 in Great Britain, where they were advertised as "seahorses," referring to their curved shape. Between 1769 and 1774, Stiegel's American Flint Glass Company in Manheim, Pennsylvania, sold smelling bottles as simply "twisted smelling bottles." Then, beginning in 1826, the New England Glass Works began making this type of object, calling them "dolphins," while the Boston and Sandwich Glass Works advertised their "dolphin tail pungents." Other American glassworks were making similar forms of these popular bottles during the nineteenth century. This object was once part of the folk art collection of Elie Nadelman (1882-1946), the avant-garde sculptor. From 1924 to 1934, Nadelman's collection was displayed in his Museum of Folk Arts, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The Historical Society purchased Nadelman's entire collection in 1937.
Purchased from Elie Nadelman
The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.