I used to watch the show Pawn Stars, and I remember watching one episode in disbelief as the item shown here was highlighted.
The show's 'town idiot', Shumley, was trying to figure out what the item was. Although Shumley's grandfather got the name correct: demijohn, he was way off on what made it unique in the world of bottles. His suggestion was that this type of bottle, wrapped in a wicker casing, was used in the making of wine. And so the town idiot took up that suggestion and proceeded to push fresh grapes into the mouth of the bottle, in the assumption that wine would be miraculously produced.
The demijohn was never intended to be used in the actual making of wine ~ anymore than any other bottle would have been used for that purpose. The glass bottle, wrapped in a wicker casing was intended to prevent breakage in transit. It was simply a Nineteenth Century attempt at keeping bottles intact and unbroken as they were carried from one place to another in bumpy carriages and wagons.
The name is believed to have been derived from the French term dame-jeanne, a popular name translating into English as 'Lady Jane'. The name was used to describe the bottle encased in wicker as early as the 1600s. Although the name demijohn is used to describe any sized glass bottle encased in wickerwork, in Great Britain, the name is used exclusively to refer to a one-gallon vessel, and in the Philippines, where the name is translated as dama juana, it refers to a fifteen-gallon vessel.
In the Appalachian region of the United States of America, including the south-central Pennsylvania region this item was called a jimmyjohn.
There is no doubt that many demijohns were used to transport wine throughout the years, but the making of wine was not their true purpose.