Wednesday, June 15, 2022

History of glass packaging

Glass is virtually inert and impermeable, making it the most stable of all packaging materials. There is no risk of harmful chemicals getting into the food or drinks that are packed in glass. In the Neolithic period (Early Stone Age), about 7000 BC, people were using glass as a tool. They recognised the outstanding properties of the naturally formed glassy rocks.

In Mesopotamia master craftsman discovered how to make glass in the third millennium BC. From Mesopotamia and Egypt, glassmaking using the basic soda-lime-silica composition travelled to Phoenicia, along the coast of present-day Lebanon. From there the art spread to Cyprus, Greece, and, by the 9th century BC, the Italian peninsula. The oldest unopened wine bottle in the world was found in Speyer, Germany, dating back 1,700 years.

Romans invented air blowing rods, which facilitate the production of glass packaging. Near the beginning of the Christian era, the Phoenicians learned how to blow glass with a blowing iron. From the 11th century on, Venice became the centre of glassmaking in the Western world. The glassmakers there, the "phioleri di Murano", achieved unimagined heights of craftsmanship, especially in the production and processing of pure crystal glass.

Until the Middle Ages the use of glass was in the hands of a privileged few, who kept their composition and manufacturing secret. Glass became an object of luxury used both for decoration and for the conservation, transport and storage of food, medicines, oils, etc.

Most glass bottles in history were either opaque or coloured. But in the late Middle Ages people living in southern Germany, Switzerland and part of Italy created clear glass container.

Glass workshops were first established in the 16th century and that their development continued until the 19th century. In the 17th century, English businessman George Ravenscroft discovered how to produce lead glass at large scale. The production of glass packaging at workshops began in 1870.

In the United States, large-scale production of bottles was pioneered by Caspar Wistar in 1739 at his New Jersey plant. In the 1770s the carbonation process for producing soft drinks was developed, and so began an entirely new bottling industry.
History of glass packaging

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