What is this thing? Mystery bottle in a box.
July 27, 2018 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Found in an old basement in the northeast USA: A glass bottle very thoroughly enclosed in a wooden box. Not sure how old it is. No writing on the box. photos
posted by evilmomlady to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is a complete guess but when I look at that it looks to me like a bottle that was used to ferment something (wine or mead?) that was light sensitive and so instead of sticking it in a dark room or something, it was enclosed in a box. Kind of an awkward solution though. Intriguing.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 2:38 PM on July 27, 2018

Sure looks a lot like this vintage carboy box.
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:03 PM on July 27, 2018 [7 favorites]

It might help narrow it down to know how big the bottle is. Do its sides touch the box, or is there a lot of space? If the former, Rufous-headed Towhee heehee seems to be onto something. If the latter, the space was probably filled with some kind of insulation--a proto-thermos?
posted by bricoleur at 3:04 PM on July 27, 2018

It could be for the Italian style carboys, which are round on the bottom, and won't properly "sit" anywhere. A box solves that problem, although you'd have to siphon the contents out - something that's often done anyway. Cleaning it would mean dismantling the box - at least somewhat.
Sorta like a Chianti bottle - which (I just found out) is called a fiasco.
posted by dbmcd at 3:17 PM on July 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

I agree with JoeZydeco, it looks a lot like a carboy box.
1956 ad for a carboy box.
2008 homemade carboy boxes.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:17 PM on July 27, 2018

Oh hey I made a MeFi post on antique bottles plus I have two of those in my house (tho not the boxes) in the Northeast. The age will have to do with some things and you can start here to check the rest of your bottle. And this page seems to indicate that it's likely for wine. This forum can help you narrow it down if you've still got questions. I'd be googling "chestnut flask" or "demijohn" depending on the shape.
posted by jessamyn at 4:57 PM on July 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just wanted to jump in and say that when up in Saratoga Springs, NY, the http://nationalbottlemuseum.org/ was super cool. It's a tiny museum, but the curator who was there that day had so many interesting bottle facts to lay on us. Anyways, sounds like you have your answer, but if you hadn't, I would have said to reach out to them. Mostly I just wanted to say that if you ever have an hour in Balton Spa (just outside Saratoga Springs), it's a cool place.
posted by Phredward at 5:03 PM on July 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

To me it looks like a bottle of "plumbers acid". One of my Great Uncles was a plumber and he had several of those around his shop. Two thoughts on why they packaged it that way: 1. because the acid was light sensitive 2. to prevent breakage.
posted by james33 at 5:09 AM on July 28, 2018

Water or other fluid, in a box to protect it. If a big glass carboy like that breaks, it's an expensive mess.
posted by theora55 at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2018

SO broke open the box. Turns out it's a flat-bottomed bottle half-full of muratic acid, packed in shredded wood between the bottle and the box. The basement belonged to a mason and bottle probably dates from the 50s.
posted by evilmomlady at 6:33 PM on July 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

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