Differences between "APPLIED LIP" and "TOOLED LIP" on antique handmade glass bottles

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Well-Known Member
Feb 21, 2014
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Southern Indiana
Hello group,
I wanted to post this as it's own thread, as I posted this comment earlier on another thread, and realized it will get buried in the middle of gobs of other comments, and not be so easy to find. I really hope this will help and not hurt! If nothing else, check out the webpage (link farther down) to Bill Lindsey's site, he has a page on his site about bottle lips ("finishes") and also the Youtube video by Digger Dave Beeler.

Although to speak very broadly, many bottle collectors call the lip on most handmade (mouth blown) antique bottles "applied" but that is not actually correct. There is actually a difference between an "applied lip" and a "tooled lip", and it can be very important to dating examples of bottles that look superficially similar.

For example, most (not all) aqua pontil-scarred bottles will have an applied lip. That same type of bottle might have been made over a very long period of time (such as Davis Pain Killer) and there are newer versions that have a tooled lip (NOT an applied lip) and that might date from the 1890s or later.

Check out the paragraphs on this page titled "APPLIED FINISHES" and "TOOLED FINISHES". This is one of Bill Lindsey's pages on antique bottles and their terminology https://sha.org/bottle/finishes.htm

I know that that article gets "into the weeds" and it gets a little complicated. BUT I will try to make it simple here (sorry if it is still confusing):

Most true "APPLIED LIP" bottles are usually (not always) older, and they show the lip was added in a second step by adding an additional glob of molten glass to the body of the bottle. There is usually a very noticeable sudden "demarcation" or "discontinuation" between the body of the bottle (neck area glass) and the added lip. The vertical mold seams will suddenly disappear (often right at the lower edge of the lip) and there is often a thin crease or tiny crevice along the bottom edge of the lip, even deep enough that dirt will be caught in the crease. Sometimes you can see the direction of the glass flow and embedded bubbles are almost totally VERTICAL - right up to the point they meet up with the horizontally applied lip glass area.
Applied lip bottles often have a "drippy" effect below the lip, often crude and there is no neat "wiped" effect that would have "cleaned up" the bottom edge of the lip area. The true "applied lip" bottles usually date from before about 1885. Most applied lips bottles are found in aqua or amber, but not as many in clear.

The true "tooled lip" bottles were made by using an iron shaping tool to create and finish the lip of the bottle (but no additional molten glass was added - the tool shaped/formed the lip at the top of the bottle with glass that was already there - NOT adding any more glass).
They almost always have a very smoothly finished lip area, the glass blends in very nicely and smoothly, and you can usually see a "horizontally wiped" effect underneath the lip area - look carefully under a bright light and you can often (not always) see faint horizontal striations (like on a turn mold) and/or thin bubbles that stretch horizontally (not vertically), circling around the neck area right below the lip.
Most "tooled lip" bottles date after around 1885, although some "higher grade" clear glass bottles such as druggist bottles, decanters, etc were fire-polished and have nice smoother lips even though they date before the 1880s.
And some smaller or less prosperous glass factories were a bit slower changing over to more modern methods, and they continued making "applied lip" bottles even into the late 1880s (such as Falls City Glass Company of Louisville).

If you have some free time I'd encourage EVERYBODY to PLEASE check out Digger Dave Beeler's great video explaining about antique bottles here. He explains the difference between "applied" and "tooled" and shows actual bottles for comparison.

If you are digging in a dump, cistern, or privy that only dates back to about 1890 you may not see any true applied lip bottles, only tooled lip bottles. (Except for an occasional late-throw!)

I hope this will help explain this confusing subject!!
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Jun 26, 2020
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Applied on the left (1850's), tooled on the right (1870's). If you look closely at the applied bottle's blob you can see a horizontal line going through it which is the original glass top of the bottle before the blob was applied over it, this line does not appear on the tooled bottle on the right as the blob was made from the same glass as the rest of the bottle.


Well-Known Member
Sep 10, 2009
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Good post. I called all those blown in mold applied lip for years. They're definitely not all applied lip. Some are just tooled with no extra glass added.

It's good for us to get our terms right.

Jim G


Apr 8, 2020
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Central NJ
I definitely agree with saratogadriver. Too many new collectors use the term BIMAL for any hand finished bottle.

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