Some bottles from the River

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Kenleyboy
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A few weeks back I decided it was time to rid the shed of the many accumulated boxes of dug bottles that were beginning to take over the floor space and start afresh . A quick call to a contact and we had a hand shake on a deal , and a few pound notes later my man walked off with the best part of five years worth of bottles , I am sure I heard the shed wheeze a sigh of relief . I must admit I too was happy to see them go as it does become a little too much . The problem with bottle digging or any form of collecting there is the natural progression of over indulgence and it becomes more likened to hoarding and that is the danger , its a slippery slope and one which is very easy to take .
The collection I keep are mostly mint or rare and it is common practice to dig an even better example of an already dug bottle , remove that from the shelf space and replace it with the better version and as this continues the excess or bulk soon builds up and thats when the problem begins and the question "what the hell am I going to do with this lot " springs to mind . So with a deep sigh I took the plunge and let go and I feel better for it . While the task in hand was in full spring I did the fatal move of looking through each box and with all good intentions I started to waver a bit and ponder , a bit like looking through a box of old photographs , a quick shifty and then the emotional memories stir up the past and soon you are sitting down with a cuppa recalling past moments of images that are long gone and never to be retrieved or experienced again .
However I am a stubborn so and so and was determined to be a little more cavalier about the whole situation and I was at that point of no return , my contact was due over in an hour so it gave me little time to ponder , which was a good thing .
Despite this I did steal just five bottles from the boxes but my excuse is more sentimental reasoning , happy days splashing about in the river and a few gifted from a dear friend no longer with us .

The Watford bottle was one of the first out my local river , and the ever rolling stream had tumbled this bottle along its course for God knows how long but it survived its journey . The shine has been matted off through years of tumbling around the gravel beds until its journey ended in amongst the clutching strands of streamer weed where it must have lay after the recent flooding . It is nothing special as far as bottles go but it is from my old home Town and came from my local river .
watford bottle.jpg
This next bottle is by far the oldest but I cannot lay claim to finding it , this was found by my old fishing buddy on the same river and we were fishing in low water conditions where the bright sun shone through the surface of the water revealing the underworld landscape where the river ran over bright gravel and in parts just ankle deep and the sun sparkled making it hard to decipher what lay beneath . We were looking for deeper holes where perhaps the odd trout may lay in safety of much darker pools where they could ambush a floating meal , preferably one of my dry flies but I fear it was too bright even for a hungry fish .
Further downstream my brother angler was knee deep in the small weir pool where the main river dropped over the sill and made that satisfying roar of frothing white water but today it was all but a steady trickle such was the the almost drought like conditions . With the levels so low we decided it was hardly worth casting a line and it seemed awfully unfair to continue so we spent the next few hours enjoying the cool depths of water and exploring the river bed and in doing so my pal chanced upon this early crude stoneware porter wedged neatly in the folds of soft silt and gravel and he gifted it to me knowing my fondness for old bottles . Date wise its hard to say but could be around 1860 .
early porter river colne.jpg
The Champion Slee bottle was a strange find and once again not found by me but a lady who owns a farm shop in the next village and after being a regular customer we got chatting and I remarked on the amount of bottles she had wedged into the cement rendering on her old cottage . It was quite a common practice but this was a fairly recent extension built to replicate the original building works and a fine job it was too , I couldn't tell the difference between old and new . Typical Norfolk style with classic flint and red brick work and adorned with bottles placed at random intervals with just the bases showing and some of them were very old with pontilled bases . They were found on her land right in the banks of a small brook with most of them broken and a few whole bottles and the this one was a survivor and being clear glass it was not used , she only wanted dark glass for the decoration . With that in mind I bought it from her for a fiver . It s huge bottle standing at 16 inches tall with with such fancy decoration I couldn't resist purchasing it .
champion slee bottle.jpg
The little jug foxed me for a year or more . This too was wedged in the banks of a small brook which is on one of my dog walks . With only the just the side of the jug poking out from the embankment it looked to me like part of an old water pipe so I generally ignored it especially as the colour resembled the typical underground waste pipes . Over the course of a year or so with the brook ambling along in a gentle flow the winter floods turn this quiet watercourse into a raging torrent of water and sometimes it can and does breach the bank .Eventually with the pressure of water washing away the side of the banks gradually the so called pipe revealed itself to much more interesting and turned out to be this little stoneware jug . I extracted it from the clutches of rock and clay and took it home to clean and managed to find out about it after some research . In general its quite a plain little vessel but has some age and dates f rom around 1880 . It turns out a few of these are found mostly on Farmland with some being found in dried ponds and watercourses or where old hedge boundaries have been . They are Farm labourers beer jugs but also carried cream or milk and were also used by Shepherds . This one is intact with no damage at all , just lay there waiting to be found .
farn labourers jug.jpg
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Blackadder43
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Even wading through streams and rivers your story captivates :thumbsup:

Is my research correct in saying the Slee bottle would have held vinegar at one stage in its life?
If so thats a large vinegar bottle for your fish and chips
Very nice though, and the condition on all of them considering their age is fantastic

Can see why this hobby is as addictive as metal detecting :thumbsup:
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Easylife
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Another superb and captivating write up Paul. :thumbsup: :Star:
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Easylife
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Kenleyboy wrote: Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:03 pm The problem with bottle digging or any form of collecting there is the natural progression of over indulgence and it becomes more likened to hoarding and that is the danger, it's a slippery slope and one which is very easy to take .
Well I can relate to that, but even with detecting it becomes a kind of survival of the fittest for me, out with the old and in with the new, I like to keep the better finds to a minimum within reason, though the lesser ones are not exactly ousted. I just can't scrap any lead that was actually something so that box is really getting pretty heavy. :thumbsup:
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figgis
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You've done it again, Paul. Excellent. :thumbsup:

That Champion Slee bottle is a right proper work of art. I've never seen anything like it.

Want.
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Oxgirl
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I would just echo the comments above. You could write a book on this subject Kenleyboy :thumbsup: One off last years surprise non-fiction best sellers was the Mudlarking book. And that gave tales of the river and the finds but not the individuals. Imagine if ‘The Detectorists’ was set in the bottle digging world? Your writing would be perfect for that.

And we get treated to glass eye candy, who couldn’t love that tall bottle? It’s a work of art
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Kenleyboy
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Blackadder43 wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:41 am Even wading through streams and rivers your story captivates :thumbsup:

Is my research correct in saying the Slee bottle would have held vinegar at one stage in its life?
If so thats a large vinegar bottle for your fish and chips
Very nice though, and the condition on all of them considering their age is fantastic

Can see why this hobby is as addictive as metal detecting :thumbsup:
You are correct , it was a vinegar bottle , all that fancy art for a common product , good eye catching sales technique .
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Kenleyboy
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figgis wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:39 am You've done it again, Paul. Excellent. :thumbsup:

That Champion Slee bottle is a right proper work of art. I've never seen anything like it.

Want.
Couple more works of art bottles , production of the container was more expensive than the contents . :shock:
cordial bottle.jpg
twist neck bottle.jpg
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Bors
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I recognise the Top one from my childhood days , I think its a "Roses" Lime juice bottle . Now that used to make your face pucker when drinking it even when diluted with water . :lol:
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Dave The Slave
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Another great write up, Paul.
One thing I have done since being a kid, especially at bridges over streams is to stop and just study what is in the water.
Mainly these days it is no doubt modern bottles.
Found an old wide necked bottle in the. Estuary near Bucklers Hard. Bought by a guy who wanted the wide neck for his ships in bottles he made.
Apart from that sections of clay pipe stem, out of the Severn at Bridgnorth is the nearest to bottles.
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Mucky
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Very interesting reading and like your style. You have a keen eye for your immediate surroundings that's for sure!
I have a fair few bottles myself. Usually found in a work capacity digging out by hand around old buildings. Usually for underpinning work or trenches for cables or drainage. May post some up later.
Thanks for your post anyway. Enjoyed that! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
hammeredsi
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That is something I would love to do and never haver done. I know of an old bottle bank and my mate has got permission on the land so I try to get him to go dig it but he only wants to detect. frustration overload. earliest dump at a 12th C town too. drives me nuts. I just wanna dig. I know shocking and unbelievable!!
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