The Bourne company was set up in 1806 by William Bourne, a local entrepreneur, who heard about the exceptional clay found during construction of a Derbyshire road. He purchased some of the land and started production in 1809. He appointed his son Joseph to run the pottery. The "J. Bourne & Son" mark was not used until about 1850.
The clay used in making the stoneware bottles was a coarse, sandy and heat-resistant quality. When fired at a high temperature it became very hard, dense and non-absorbent. These bottles are referred to as salt-glazed pottery; salt glazing was a popular method of decorating stoneware in the mid 1800's. Common salt was thrown onto the kiln fires when the embers were at their hottest. The salt vapor combined with the surface of the pot to produce a shiny brown surface coating. The process for producing these salt-glazed wares was patented as noted by the stamp at the base of the bottle below the J. Bourne & Son company name.