The area of mineral and soda bottles is a vast one, covering the 1700 and 1800's. As well,
many people collect soda or pop bottles from the 20th century. During the developement of
modern pop, many colourful and fascinating bottles were used to hold the product. It should
be pointed out that the terms mineral and soda bottles are not the same. Mineral water
is a naturally occuring substance(although McKearin refers to mineral water as man made and
spring water as natural), while soda(pop) is man made. The history of modern pop begins in
ancient times when spring water that had naturally occuring minerals in it were bottled
by the Egyptians. The more recent practice of bottling mineral water began during the 1700's
in Europe. Mineral water spas were quite popular at the time, as it was felt that this water
had therapeutic benefits. It was only a matter of time before someone came up with the
idea of bottling this healthful water for sale to the masses. And hence began a wonderful
era of beautiful bottles, with great colours, imaginitive closures and interesting embossing.
Not to mention the vast commerical empires of Coke and Pepsi!!!
The first mineral water was bottled in short, stubby bottles with a heavy applied "blob" lip. The heavy blob lip was necessary to hold the cork in the bottle. The bottle on the left is a nice example of a mineral water bottle.(Thanks David). First indroduced in the 1700's, this style of bottle was popular for many years, and was, in fact, the predominate bottle used for both mineral water and soda in the U.S. Coming in a variety of colours, these bottles sported pontils in the early years and are highly desirable, commanding high prices on todays market. The closure, however, was not the best, as the cork could easily dry out and cause leaking or contamination of the bottle's contents. This led to the search for a more efficient means of closing the mineral bottles.
It was the Irish that first developed a novel and unique way to solve the problem of the cork drying out on mineral bottles. The solution was not to replace the closure, but rather to change the design of the bottle. In 1809, William Hamilton of Dublin patented an egg shaped bottle that could not be sat in an upright position. It had to rest on it's side, keeping the cork in constant contact with the fluid thus keeping it from drying out. The bottle on the right is a nice example of what is now known as a Hamilton or torpedo bottle (also referred to as an egg). There is some controversy as to wether or not Hamilton is the actual inventor of this shape as there are earlier examples of this shape that exist. Personally I find this bottle bears a remarkable resemblance to Egyptian amphoras, without the handles. Perhaps credit should be given to them for the original design. There is little doubt, however, that Hamilton was the first to actually patent the design.
The earlier torpedos did have pontils, but the majority found today were held by a snap case. These bottles came in a variety of colours, the most common being aqua. Also available are cobalts, ambers, yellows and greens. Due to the age I wouldn't be surprised if a blackglass torpedo exists out there somewhere. The torpedo didn't catch on well in the U.S but was used extensively in the British Isles, Australia and, to some extent, Canada. The embossing on these bottles can be extensive and rivals any minerals or sodas made elsewhere.
In 1872, Hiram Codd of Camerwell perfected an interesting closure that is now refered to as a Codd stopper. (often called a pig bottle) He went into partnership with Ben Rylands and the idea took off. The Codd stopper, pictured to the left, consists of a glass marble inside the neck of the bottle that was held under pressure against a rubber ring inside the lip. The neck of the bottle was indented to prevent the marble from blocking the hole while the soda was poured. There are many variations of the Codd. Some are dimpled on one side of the neck, others on both sides. Another example has the indentations at the bottom of the bottle. The marble was originally aqua but manufactures began using coloured marbles to help identify their bottles (theft from rival manufactures was common). As well Rylands began to put different coloured lips on his bottles for the same reason. Codds came in a wide range of colours, with various colour lips and marbles, especially those produced in Britian. There was a major problem with Codds, however. Children liked the marbles!! Think of it, you're 8 years old and you've just finished drinking your pop. And sitting there is a wonderful marble. That's right, you break the bottle. This practice added to the cost of an already expensive bottle.
The Americans took a different approach when it came to closures. At about the same time that the Codd was being developed, the Hutchinson closure was developed in the U.S. This stopper, pictured to the left, consisted of a composite ring attached to a loop. When pulled up the loop fastened tight against a groove on the inside of the lip and the ring formed a tight seal. To open the bottle the loop was pushed down. As said earlier, this bottle became the predominate bottle in the Americas, although other types were used as well. The Hutchinsons lack the colour variety of the Codds, the main colour being aqua. There are other colours around, and many of the clear ones became suncast. The embossing, however, can be quite extensive and, unlike today, there was a lot of competion in the industry. As a result there are many different examples of Hutchinsons available. Incidently, the first Coke bottle was a Hutchinson.
The advent of the crown closure ended the era of both the Codd and the Hutcinson bottles. When first invented in the late 1890's the crown was hand applied. With the advent of the Owens bottling machine, the crown was formed along with the body and the soda industry was changed forever. The crown has been the predominate closure of the 20th century, although it seems to be rapidly disappearing into history as well. I can't remember the last time I saw the closure on a pop bottle, they all seem to be screw tops now. The last crown top I saw was on top of a lava lamp.
The area of soda waters is extensive, and many more types are available then those mentioned. There are other stopper types, such as the Baltimore loop seal and the bullet. As well there are many variations in the Codd. I will try to get pictures of as many as possible to give you a better feel for the area. A nice collection of local producers can be assembled for a modest amount (free if you dig). Keep an eye out for the British examples, as they are found in a lot of areas, and are spectacular. Also, as a closing note, for those of you into ginger beers, I'll do a separate page for those as they are in an interest area of their own.
3D BOTTLES: A different view
LINKS: A variety of bottle related sites
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