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Minor archaeological find at the Santa Fe development

July 24, 2016


It appears that someone involved with building the new Santa Fe apartment tower at 2975 Oak Street, on the northwest corner of the intersection with 14th Avenue, dug up four old glass bottles. And they “dug them” (as the kids used to say) enough to keep them and put them on display for everyone else to see—construction workers and looky-loos alike.

Three of the bottles are un-coloured glass of the same size and shape and one is larger and made of green glass.

At least since July 22, the four bottles, specked with dirt and dried mud, have been grouped together on a low concrete wall, just a few feet in from the steel construction fencing along the Oak Street side of the construction site.

One of the three identically-shaped glass bottles still has its black screw top cap and another has enough of a paper label to identify it as an old Finlandia Vodka bottle.

Even a dumb old vodka bottle has a story to tell

Finlandia bottles, left to right: 1970, 1990, 12998, 2003 and 2011.—Pinterest

Finlandia bottles, left to right: 1970, 1990, 1998, 2003 and 2011.—Pinterest

The finely stippled glass bottle with its white-lettered black label represents the original Finlandia packaging, going back to the brand’s introduction in 1970 and lasting until a less stippled bottle, with a white-on-grey label was introduced in 1998.

The original 1970 Finlandia bottle, dubbed “Frozen Ice”, was created by the great Finnish industrial designer and sculptor Tapio Wirkkala, who, with his Ultima Thule barware collection in the 1960s, is credited with perfecting the entire process around producing blown “ice-looking glass”.

Three of Wirkkala’s industrial designs for Finlandia are considered important enough to be in the collection of the British Museum—a first generation 1969 1 litre bottle, a 1975 flat half-litre bottle and a “Paadar” shot glass, which was apparently sold with the original bottle as a sort of cap over the cap.

Finlandia, for its part, has continued a tradition (or pretension) of sculptural artistry in all its post-Wirkkala bottle designs. The 1998 design was called “Hammered Ice” (most appropriate, I think, given my own experience with vodka) and the 2003 bottle was named “Glacial Ice.” The current bottle design, introduced in 2011, is know as “Melting Ice” (perhaps as a nod to global warming).

While there is a serious collectors market for Wirkkala’s pricy Ultima Thule glassware, no great demand is visible (on the Internet at least) for Wirkkala-designed Finlandia vodka bottles.

At the very least though, the bottles dug up on the Santa Fe site that do not predate British Columbia’s modern bottle deposit system, introduced in 1970, should still be worth a cool dime each at any of the province’s Encorp recycling depots—at least the bottles with a shred of readable label. Click the images to enlarge them.

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