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Offline riverrunner8541Topic starter
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« on: January 24, 2011, 07:35:13 pm »
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Thru out a 12 year stint of digging in various places with a back hoe, i have recovered litarly hundreds of bottles that i have researched to be late 1800's to early 1900's. I have been packing them around for the last few years never knowing what i wanted to do with them. They are all still in the same shape as when i pulled them out of the ground, does anyone have any tips on how to clean them up with out damaging them. i would like to at least display them but I dont want to destroy them. Any ideas would sure help.

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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2011, 07:41:58 pm »
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Dirt and other stubborn material on the glass surface and inside the bottle: Soaking in warm (room temperature) water with dishwashing detergent is a highly effective way to remove most dirt and stains. Always be careful not to place a glass object in water that is either much warmer or colder than the object itself. The sudden change in temperature may cause the glass to crack. Let the glass soak for several hours or preferably overnight. We have also heard of people using denture cleaning tablets or powders when soaking bottles with good results.

Mineral Deposits: Bottles, vases and other glass objects that have been used to hold flowers or were constantly filled with water can sometimes get a crusty white buildup on the glass surface that is difficult to remove. This buildup is caused by mineral deposits. There are certain types of bathroom/household cleaners that will remove lime scale and mineral deposits. Don?t confuse mineral deposits with etching, which is discussed below. Mineral deposits are often present along with staining of the glass.

Etching/Staining: White stains and cloudiness on glass is caused by the leaching or removal of certain components of the glass mixture over time. This often occurs on the inside of bottles that have contained a liquid or have been buried in the ground. These stains cannot be cleaned by conventional means, but must be left to a glass cleaning professional. A super fine polishing compound is typically used in a rock tumbling-type process to restore the glossy surface of the glass. The cost for this service typically ranges from $10 to $50, depending on the severity of the stain and the amount of work involved. Light removal of stain is an essential guideline; overcleaned glass look overcleaned, and it hurts its value.

Scratches and bruises: Minor scratches can be removed by a glass cleaning professional, but often you have little choice but to leave them alone.

Rust Stains: These stains are often left on dug bottles and can be difficult to remove. Scrub with a non-abrasive pad or gently scrape with a piece of copper, which wont scratch the glass. Dilute muriatic acid does a fantastic job of removing rust but must be handled with great caution: rubber gloves and eye protection are musts.

Dried Liquids/Paint/Etc. inside Bottles: Soak the object in dishwashing detergent and water as a first attempt. We have also had good luck by filling a bottle with paint stripper. Cork the bottle and leave it for 2-5 days.

Do This: Always use a non-abrasive pad for scrubbing. Copper wool pads are available at some grocery and hardware stores, and these will not scratch glass. Make sure that the copper pads are really copper and not just copper-colored or copper plated. Use soft bristled bottles brushes for cleaning the inside of bottles. Extra fine steel wool (OOOO) can be used with caution.

Don't Do This: Coarse steel wool and many household synthetic scouring pads can scratch glass. BBs, sometimes used to clean the inside of bottles, can also scratch glass.

Hydrofluoric Acid: This is an extremely dangerous acid and it is the only acid that reacts with glass. It was once popular for cleaning etching from bottles, but is not easily controlled and can instantly cause disastrous results. Unfortunately it will often ruin a glass object, not to mention burning a hole in your arm. We do not recommend using it.

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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2011, 07:49:12 pm »
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All of those sound like great advice. I am going to try a few of the bottles this week end. Thanks for the help.

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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2011, 07:51:17 pm »
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Quote:Posted by riverrunner8541
All of those sound like great advice. I am going to try a few of the bottles this week end. Thanks for the help.


If you can it would be nice if you can post some before and after pictures along with your experiences cleaning them

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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2011, 07:56:13 pm »
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That sounds like a great idea, i will. It seems im alot better at finding things than i am at cleaning them up. However, after reading the above ideas, i think i should be off to a descent start. but there are are alot of bottles so it will take a while im sure.

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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2011, 08:18:28 pm »
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Remember over cleaning can reduce their value. I sell a lot of bottles at the shop and most I just rinse with clean water maybe a little soap and sale as dug bottles. If you are planing on selling them most collector prefer to buy uncleaned.

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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2011, 08:25:46 pm »
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I did not know that, thanks for the advice. I have a few that are my favorites, mostly the ink wells and a few of the whisky bottles as well as a couple of medicine bottles, so i think i will start with the ones i want to keep and leave the rest dirty. I did find a horde of old beer bottles from a local brewery that shut down durring the prohibition era. I may try a couple of those as well. I did not know that there was a market for uncleaned bottles, that is good to hear.

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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2011, 09:34:35 pm »
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The bottle market was hot back in the 70's with several magazines and dozen of shows a year. In them days I could dig a 100 bottles over the week end and sell everyone by noon Monday. OK the market is not that good anymore but there are still hardcore collectors out there plus new collectors are starting everyday so you can find buyers.
Not sure where your at let us know and I will see if I have any contacts in your area. 

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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2011, 10:10:37 pm »
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Will probably be a little while before i get to the point of selling bottles, i do intend on finding more tho on some of the ghost town hunts that i do in the summer. I live in Idaho and it would be great to know of a place that i could sell what i dont want to keep.   

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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2011, 11:04:29 pm »
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Bottle market should be improving with the popularity of the "bottle tree" its a Christmas tree shaped gizmo with arms sticking up/out that old colored bottles are stuck on open end down.  My wife got one for Christmas from one of her Avant-garde artsy friends.

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