As a way of advertising their product or business, local brewery, bottlers, saloons, wine and liquor dealers utilized hand-blown embossed bottles to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Forces for the abolishment of the sale of liquor (Prohibition) along with advances in the manufacturing capabilities of bottle makers led to an interesting period in Washington State.
Statehood had arrived in late 1889 and Prohibition began on January 1, 1916 thus leaving a short timeframe where the two worlds would intersect. Hand-blown bottles had been used for a number of years as a way to distribute a variety of products rather than in large bulk quantities. Local dealers would fill bottles from large casks of wine, liquor or other products (usually produced elsewhere) and then fill them with their specially ordered embossed bottles and apply their own label to a product (pharmacies used a similar process and beer was typically bottled at the brewery). As an example, Seattle in 1889 had 5 Breweries, 12 Bottlers (beer, soda and mineral water), 157 Saloons and 12 Wine/Liquor distributors in business with approximately 29 of them utilizing embossed bottles that are presently known to the collecting world. By the advent of Prohibition in 1916, Seattle alone had approximately 316 liquor vendors (not counting restaurants and cafes) with about 50 or so using embossed bottles at the end of 1915.
When Prohibition ended in 1933, the bottle manufacturing process had changed as hand-blown bottle were too expensive to produce and with the creation of automated bottle-making machine, hand-blown bottles had pretty much fallen by the wayside. The combination of Prohibition, new bottle manufacturing processes and the scarcity of hand-blown embossed bottles has led to the collecting hobby as we know it today.