Monday, February 13, 2017

Willington Pickle Bottle Variant

Willington pickle bottle, typical small-size example.
The Willington Glass Company in West Willington, Connecticut is the source of three different sizes of cathedral pickle bottles, of a distinctive square, wide, chunky-looking and ornately decorated design. The smallest Willington pickle is about eight inches tall and three inches wide, with three sides with fancy cathedral-window designs with hanging "bellflower" decorations, and one plain label side. In typical examples, the three bellflowers are all more or less identical.

Variant small pickle bottle, side A.
Some years ago, two cathedral pickle bottles that were similar to the small Willington pickle turned up in a barn in Wallingford, Connecticut (about 40 miles from Willington). The details of the embossing on these two bottles is slightly different from typical examples, however, and it seems as if two different molds were used to produce small Willi pickles.

Variant small pickle bottle, side B.
 In the variant small Willington pickle, the three bellflowers are all slightly different from each other, and different from the bellflowers on the typical bottles. In the photos, variant side A is pretty similar to a typical example, but side B has noticeably more widely spreading petals on the dangling flower. On side C, the cathedral decoration doesn't have a component that really looks like a flower at all, instead bearing two loops and and a detached dot on its lower side. The fact that the variant bottle is shorter than the typical bottle pictured here, with a stubby neck, isn't significant, as the necks of these bottles are inherently variable, having been largely formed by hand.

Variant small pickle bottle, side C, with loops and dot design.
Whether the variant pickle bottle was actually made in Willington is an open question. It's almost identical to the small Willi pickle in most ways, but the differences in the bellflowers indicate that two different molds were used, although it might be possible that the differences are due to modifications made to a single mold. The owner of one of the variant bottles speculates that it could be a product of a different glass works, possibly New London.

Open pontil on base of variant pickle bottle.
In a further complication, Norman C. Heckler once owned a cathedral pickle bottle that he says was close to the Willington pickle bottles in form, but was distinctly smaller than the smallest of the three known sizes of bottle from Willington. Possibly, West Willington might have been the source of five different cathedral pickles.