Midwest Archeological Center
  • A portion of the battlefield landscape at Little Bighorn

    Midwest Archeological Center

    Cultural Resources National Park Service

Bill Hunt's Medicine Bottle Glass Index


This database is a reference to aid in the identification of embossed medicine bottles. It is equally ppropriate for researching complete labels as well as label fragments and is suitable for use by bottle collectors as well as historical archeologists. The finding aid is available as a Microsoft Word document or as a text file. The data file was built as a text file to allow the researcher to employ word processing software text finding aides (a "word search") to locate strings of letters, complete words, or combinations of words which appear on a bottle or bottle fragment. It includes about 6,080 entries.

The embossed label listing was compiled using information from 38 archeological reports and popular bottle publications. Printed labels were not used in the data file's compilation.

This finding aid has proven itself to be an extremely rapid means of identifying an embossed medical bottle or fragment and sources of information for that specimen. Where once it may have taken hours or days to sort through the published materials, now only minutes are required to either locate a label or establish that it is unlisted in the designated sources. The database will be updated as entry errors and additional published information are provided by users.

Entry format

Each entry includes:
1. a label as it appears on the bottle description. The compiler's comments are contained in square brackets [like this].
2. a tab character.
3. a bibliographic reference from which the label was obtained.

Embossed labels are listed following standard notation. A single backslash - / - within an entry marks the end of one line of embossed labeling and the beginning of another on a single side of a bottle. A double backslash - // - marks the end of embossing on one bottle side and the beginning of another.

Citing the Index

For citation purposes, refer to Hunt, William J. Jr. (compiler), 1995, Embossed Medicine Bottle Labels: An Electronic Finding Aid for the Identification of Archeological Specimens. National Park Service, Midwest Archeological Center, Lincoln, Nebraska. Revised August, 1997.

Using the Index

The bottle glass index is currently available as a PDF file (555k) or as a HTML file (450k). The index is very large (over 360 pages), so it may take a while to download (2-3 minutes on a 56k connection). The best strategy is to search for the string of letters and spaces as they appear on the bottle or bottle fragment. Once a label has been identified, the user may consult the appropriate reference(s) for additional information about the bottle, manufacturer, date of manufacture, and contents.