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Curiosities from the National Bottle Museum

The museum's displays include a current exhibit of painted soda and Coca-Cola bottles intended to attract younger collectors.
From a bottle in a buried ship to a bizarre “baby bottle” to an ingenious early anti-theft method, every bottle at the museum has a story to tell. Here are staff favorites.

Found along the main street that runs through the small New York town of Ballston Spa is the National Bottle Museum (NBM), which  I visited during a late fall 2014 trip to a Beechnut plant in the area.

Established in 1978 and housed at a 1901 storefront since 1993, the two-story museum displays notable examples of US glassmaking, which the NBM notes as “our nation’s first major industry.”

For anyone into bottles, packaging, or simply enjoys an interesting slice of Americana, it’s worth a stop.

Meg StevensFtr-NBM-Ellie-Wall.jpg

NBM director Ellie Dillon poses with the impressive wall of bottles on the main floor of the museum.

I recently reconnected with the NBM via president of the board of trustees Ellen Dillon (above), who informed me that previous director Gary Moeller — my tour guide back then — had retired. Dillon proved highly receptive to my interest and, as fortunate, she turned out to be adept at handling my subsequent photographic assignment. Following the always reliable “what’s new?” inquiry, I asked if Dillon could solicit NBM staff to identify their favorites among the museum’s impressive collection of bottles that number an estimated 3,500. She did and so did they.

The slideshow gallery begins with her choice, a bottle that tells the intriguing tale of a ship buried under Wall Street. At the end is my own favorite, which Moeller tells me remains his favorite as well. You’ll also find in that last slide a link to the first visit slideshow from 2014.

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