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Rebuilding an old bottle

This story is not just about rebuilding a bottle which was found broken and in pieces; it is also the story of trying to find its history. With the help of Lady Luck and some good detective work, it may be possible to identify the maker of this bottle, as well as its place and approximate date.

Let the rebuilding begin!
Peter Huber, Austrian expert on mining bottles, had never found a bottle in his home town of Wiener Neustadt, a small city about 50 km south of Vienna. But one day in February, he got a call from a friend who is a mineral dealer: there was a broken bottle in a local antique shop. Peter was amazed to find it was true, and the bottle was a huge one, measuring about 9 inches across and over 20 inches tall. Nearly a third of the glass was missing, and the figures, about 40 in all, were in a box. Of course he bought it, thinking of the long process of making it whole again.

Peter knew he had a treasure. The bottle and the contents were not typical, and he knew it had to be from the middle of the nineteenth century. He began to make inquiries.

The antique dealer (let’s call him “E”) had gotten the bottle from another dealer (“D”), but that’s all he knew about it. Quite by accident, Peter found the next link. He was at the local weekend flea market and mentioned the bottle to another dealer who said that his uncle (“C”) had sold the bottle to “D”! When Peter queried Uncle “C”, he learned that the bottle came from a man (“B”) who bought it from “A” who had found the bottle, broken, in his attic.

Partly reconstructed
While tracking down all of the owners of the broken bottle, Peter decided to take a second look at a video he has about a Hungarian bottle collector, hoping to find some clues. And there he saw a religious bottle very clearly made by the same carver. Certain elements were identical, enough to know the artist was the same. The bottle in the video was made to commemorate a historical event in Vienna in 1848; it had some handwriting in it and the date 1857.

Peter did not give up the hunt for the bottle’s origins. He finally tracked down Mr. “B” who, it turned out, lived in Wiener Neustadt. Mr. “B” confirmed that the bottle had come from “A”’s attic, but he would not divulge the location or the man’s name; he only said that it was in a village in southern Lower Austria.

Stay tuned for more of this story, if more is to be found!

The insides completed
Antique shop where bottle was found
Flea Market in Wiener Neustadt

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