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Bottle Collecting

Mount Vernon, Illinois mayor and retired high school teacher Mary Jane Chesley began collecting antique bottles in 1996 when her aunt from Maine gave her four old bottles. She was never before interested in bottles, but immediately began wondering about where they were from, what they had held, and the stories they could tell about a town’s history and its people. She began collecting bottles in earnest, among them beer, soda, and antique medicine bottles. Chesley explains that many of the medicine bottles in her collection were bottled before the Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906, after which their makers could no longer make the claim that their medicine cured specific conditions or diseases unless the claim could be substantiated. Chesley’s interest in bottle collecting led her to write a book that fused her hobby with her passion for the history of Mt. Vernon.

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