Glass bottles were a valuable commodity in colonial Australia, and the commercial reuse of these vessels ensured that they were used to their full potential. The 2009 excavations at 19–37 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne, uncovered architectural features and occupation deposits associated with four bottle merchant businesses operating from Lot 35–37 between 1875 and 1914, providing a rare opportunity to study this little-known but significant light industrial trade. This paper draws on archaeological data from 35–37 A’Beckett Street to examine the role of bottle merchants and marine store dealers in nineteenth-century Melbourne. It also seeks to determine an archaeological signature for bottle merchants through comparison with other contemporary sites, and briefly touches on the implications of bottle reuse when identifying patterns of consumption in archaeological assemblages.
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The research discussed in this paper expands on Bronwyn Woff’s (2014) Honours thesis and Matrix Archaeological Services’ (2011) report on their work at the 19–37 A’Beckett Street site; many thanks to the Archaeology Program staff at La Trobe University and Matrix Archaeological Services for their assistance. We also wish to thank the Australian Editorial Advisory Board, and our reviewers (Ian Travers, and an anonymous reviewer) for their comments. Data for cesspit 1.400 were retrieved from the EAMC database, which was created during the Australian Research Council-funded Exploring the Archaeology of the Modern City project (SPIRT Scheme; chief investigator: Professor Tim Murray; database creator: Dr. Penny Crook).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Ellis, A., Woff, B. Bottle Merchants at A’Beckett Street, Melbourne (1875–1914): New Evidence for the Light Industrial Trade of Bottle Washing. Int J Histor Archaeol 22, 6–26 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10761-017-0412-7
- Bottle merchants
- Marine stores