Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/167

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155
GLASS-MAKING.

glass, the idea of beauty and decoration long remained paramount to considerations of utility. It was an article of luxury rather than of necessity. Darwin observed with amazement that when the weather was warm and fair, the Fijians paraded their coats of furs and feathers with all the pomp and pride of the Parisian beau-monde, only to stand naked and shivering in times of storm. It seems to have been much the same thing among the ancients with respect to their glass bottles. It was ornament in place of use. They were quite willing to get along without them in the economy of every-day life, provided they could have a few rare vases and gold-mounted amphorse in the early salons where Ra- meses gossiped about Egyptian politics, and Potiphar discoursed upon the mysteries of metempsychosis.

It must be confessed that, in the pursuit of this one idea, they were eminently successful. Their glass trinkets were beautiful, both in outline and in color, even if their bottles for real service were made of skin, and liable to rip and tear. The glass bric-a- brac of antiquity, its bottles and vases and jars, was not of large dimension, but it possessed a profusion of color which we have only of recent years been able to imitate.

With us moderns, however, life is much more complex, and the case is quite different. We are not insensible to ornamenta- tion, but we are more keenly alive to comfort. In the absence of a king's taster, we are disposed to guard what we eat and drink. The majority agree with Charles Lamb, that poisoning is "a nasty death," and so we eschew the use of metals in contact with our foods, and much prefer glass. We want milk miles from where it is produced, and fruits and vegetables months after their har- vest. We want medicines for health, balms for bruises, tonics for appetites, mineral waters for digestion, wines for strength, con- densed products for our travel. We want to separate with acids and put together with glues. We want a host of other things which come in bottles. We even bottle our electricity if so un- scientific an expression may be applied to the storage-battery. There is, in fact, scarcely a single department of life, either social or industrial, where some product is not needed which must be kept or carried in some form of glass bottle or jar. The manu- facture of so useful an article is thus brought into relation with all of our many-sided activity. It forms a distinct and very im- portant branch of the glass industry.

In America, the process of bottle-making is nowhere carried on more extensively or more successfully than in the neighborhood of Philadelphia. Much of the sand of southern New Jersey is sufficiently pure to make an excellent bottle-glass. Its adapta- bility for this purpose seems to have been appreciated by the early colonists, for the oldest glass-works in this country are those es-