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Artifact of the Month: Flacon Glass

Conservator Elise writes about flacon glass found on site.

Author: Elise Carroll, Conservator

Flacon with cork
Flacon neck with cork

We have talked about the conservation of glass, alongside the many different types of glass artifacts that we find on the site, including bottles, beads, and stemware. Glass was incredibly useful for storage on a ship! Depending on the bottle’s shape, it can be stored away easily. Square-shaped bottles are known as a “case” shape because the bottles can be packed away easily and shipped in a case. On the shipwreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge/La Concorde, a specific type of glass has been found in abundance: French flacon glass.

Flacon bottles have a variety of attributes due to manufacturing, which can lead to differing bottles being identified as flacons. Flacons are mouth-blown into dip-molds but can vary in size and shape! The color can vary, but is usually a shade of green, and made from a mixture of sand, calcium, and an alkali flux, such as sodium.

Light green flacon
Light green flacon neck

Glass bottles can also be very fragile, especially when subjected to the active environment of our archaeological site. Located near an inlet and off the coast of North Carolina, it is a wonder that we have as much glass as we do! The impacts on glass artifacts, such as the ship’s degrading over 300 years, everyday tidal changes, and extreme storms can explain why most of our glass has been found in fragments. Though we have not found an intact flacon bottle, like we have with the onion bottle, we have over 800 fragments positively identified as belonging to flacons. Fortunately, French flacon glass was made with a sodium flux and is very stable, meaning we have a lot of fragments that are in relatively good shape.

Flacon base
Aqua flacon base

Flacon glass found so far on our site are square bottles that can range in a variety of light green to aqua colored glass. Most of the glass identified as flacons from our site is a brilliant blue-green/aqua color or a bright green color. The blue-green coloring suggests that the manufacturing of the bottles was in a wood-fired furnace in the forested areas of Gresigne in Languedoc, southern France.

Flacon glass will go through desalination and reconstruction. We have multiple bottlenecks, alongside several flat side panels and corners, but we do not know exactly how many bottles we have yet. We were fortunate enough to recover a few bases and even a few necks with their corks still in place! For us, this will be a huge and fun project to piece together these bottles from so many pieces.

-Carnes-McNaughton, L. and M. U. Wilde-Ramsing. 2008. Preliminary Glassware and Bottle Analysis from Shipwreck 31CR314, Queen Anne’s Revenge Site. QAR Research Report and Bulletin Series QAR-R-08-02. Manuscript, QAR Conservation Lab, Greenville, NC.
-Hume, Ivor Noël. 2001. A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America. University of Pennsylvania Press.

-Flacon bottleneck with cork from site 31CR314. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
-Bottleneck in light green from site 31CR314. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
-Flacon base fragments from site 31CR314. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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