Ships in Bottles
Ships in Bottles, Folk Art, and Bottle Whimsies have captivated imaginations and intrigued collectors since they first appeared. We find them prominently displayed on mantles, in bookcases, and on desks as a collection or an individual specimen. They are wonderful conversation pieces that never fail to raise the question, “How did they put this in a bottle?” They have proven to be a strong investment over time and the outlook for increasing values and collectability looks very bright and growing stronger.
While some art forms have been around for thousands of years, the first bottle whimsies did not appear until translucent glass bottles and containers were developed and generally available to the public. The earliest clear bottles were very rare, expensive, and prized possessions. In time and as they became more available, it is not surprising that craftsmen found these bottles to be excellent containers for their creations. They learned how to carve their folk art into small pieces that would fit through the small neck of the bottle so that they could be reassembled inside. The artists loved the challenge and were soon building nearly anything that could be imagined inside the container using homemade tools and learned techniques. Common among the items crafted were chairs and other furniture, fans, reels, niddy-noddies, winders, religious scenes, patriotic themes, scenes with people and animals, clipper ships and other nautical dioramas, to name a few. To complete the bottle and protect its contents, amazing and intricate stoppers were developed, often with cross pieces going through the wooden stopper inside the bottle making it impossible to remove. The custom stands on which the bottles rest are often works of art themselves.