Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes

Grouping of soda/mineral water bottles dating from between 1850 and 1940; click to enlarge.

Soda & Mineral Water Bottles
HOME: Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes: Soda & Mineral Water Bottles

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Soda water bottle from Canada (probably) from the 1860s or 1870s; click to enlarge.Soda and mineral water (generally just called "soda water" or "soda" here unless a distinction is necessary) was bottled in a relatively diverse array of bottle styles as indicated by the grouping pictured above.  However, like with the beer/ale bottles, the (usually) carbonated nature of soda and mineral waters narrowed the possible bottle variety in several ways.  Most importantly, the bottles had to be made of relatively heavy/thick glass in order to withstand the gaseous pressures of the product itself. (Bottles made to withstand internal carbonation pressure were known as "pressure ware" in the bottle making industry [Glass Industry 1959].)  The bottles also had to be able to survive the rigors of the high pressure bottling process as well as the extensive post-bottling handling and use since soda water bottles were typically re-used many times.  This is evidenced by extensive base and side wear to many examples.  In fact, similar to beer bottles, many (most?) soda water bottles were the property of the soda bottler and were sometimes marked as such, i.e., THIS BOTTLE IS NEVER SOLD or similar embossing to that effect (Riley 1958; Paul & Parmalee 1973; Busch 1987).  The Hutchinson soda pictured to the below left has significant wear to the high points of the embossing from rough contact with its neighbors in bottle cases and from the bottling process.  Not surprisingly, this is often called "case wear." 

8-sided mineral water bottle from the 1850's; click to enlarge.Also contributing to a degree of uniformity and related to the carbonation is the fact that a large majority of soda water bottles were round in cross section - cylindrical.  A cylindrical bottle (like to the left)  is inherently stronger than other shapes (except a sphere) all things being equal, e.g., similar size, glass thickness and quality (Tooley 1953; Glass Industry 1959).  Square, rectangular, or other highly angular body shapes are unknown with some notable exceptions.  Soda water was frequently bottled in heavy glass 8 to 10 sided bottles (and rarely 6 or 12 sides).  A picture of an 8-sided example from the 1850s is to the right.  These multi-sided shapes apparently worked fine because with so many sides the weaker 90 degree corner angles of a square/rectangular design were avoided.  In addition, with the way hot glass flows when blown the inside of the bottle is much less angular and more rounded than the outside surface, further enhancing the strength - especially given that these bottles have very thick glass anyway.  This internal "roundness" is evident if one studies a fragmental multi-sided soda bottle.  (Note: Some soda and mineral water was non-carbonated or "still"; cider and some "medicinal" mineral waters were examples.  These products would not necessarily require heavy glass bottles - and sometimes came in lighter containers - but usually came in the typical heavy glass soda water bottles since those type bottles were the most available and had consumer acceptance.)

Hutchinson soda bottle with heavy embossing; click to enlarge.Also of critical importance to the bottling of soda water was the type of closure/finish combination.  The closure had to be simple for people to use, cheap to produce, and of course be effective in not releasing the contents nor the carbonation until final consumption.  This importance is reflected in the fact that the names widely accepted for some of the bottle styles discussed on this page are related to sealing of the bottle - both the finish type (e.g., "blob" soda/mineral water like the two bottles pictured above) or closure method (e.g., "Hutchinson" soda, like pictured to the left).  Much of the information on this page for some of these closure related styles is shared with the pertinent sections on the Bottle Finishes & Closures: Part III: Types of Bottle Closures page.

For clarification, the difference between "soda water" and "mineral water" during the 19th century was often vague.  Soda water is generally considered flavored artificial mineral water, i.e., "regular" water made better with purposeful addition of various compounds and/or flavoring, and of course, carbonation.  Mineral water would generally be natural waters from spring sources that were typically highly mineralized with carbonates (alkaline), sulfurous compounds, and/or various salts and often carbonated naturally (they were also sometimes flavored confusing the issue).  "Spring water" is another name sometimes used for natural, unaltered mineral water and in fact is used to this day.  However, mineral water was also a generic term applied to various natural and artificially carbonated, (usually) non-artificially flavored waters including many utilized for their perceived medicinal qualities.  Suffice to say at this date, the distinction between them is often unknown.  Because of this the term "soda water" is primarily used here (Riley 1958; Munsey 1970; McKearin & Wilson 1978; Schulz, et al. 1980).  As a side note, carbonation was desired in these products for reasons beyond sensory pleasure.  Carbonation also helped prevent spoilage allowing for the shipment of the product to more distant places, even prior to refrigeration and pasteurization (Wilson 1981).

Soda bottle from the 1950's; click to enlarge.The history of bottled soda waters within the U.S. can be traced back to at least 1806 when the first reference was made to the need for "soda water" bottles by a New England scientist that was asked to make and offer the product by his neighbors (Riley 1958).  Mineral water in bottles goes back before that as it is known that bottled waters were being produced in - and likely imported from - Europe possibly as early as the late 17th century and surely by the end of American Revolutionary War.  There are also indications that mineral water was being bottled during the late 18th century in the Boston area.  The famous Saratoga mineral waters were being bottled at least as early as 1809 and used by many for an assortment of ills - "emetic, cathartic and diuretic...good in scrofulous and rheumatic affections; likewise in venereal taints" (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  One "Saratoga style" mineral water bottle (covered below) from Vermont (Middletown Mineral Springs) was embossed with the words "Natures Remedy" and "Healing Spring" (on different variants) indicating a common conception about mineral waters as having medicinal qualities (Tucker 1986).  A Vermont mineral water (Guilford Mineral Spring Water) claimed to cure an assortment of diseases - click on Guilford medicinal claims label to view a picture of part of an original label on an ca. 1880 bottle making all kinds of wild claims including the cure of cancer; click Guilford quart mineral water bottle to view the entire bottle which is the classic "Saratoga" shape.  Other carbonated and sometimes flavored waters were touted during the early 19th century as being helpful in cases of "putrid fevers, scurvy, dysentery and bilious vomitings" (Paul & Parmalee 1973).  There may have been some indirect merit to these claims as the water supplies in many places were suspect as to purity and even modern medicine acknowledges the utility of liquid ingestion for indigestion and nausea and for maintaining body fluids during illness (Wilson 1981).  As the above implies, the earliest mineral and soda waters were primarily consumed for medicinal purposes, though the perceived utility of soda water gradually evolved away from primarily medicinal to a flavored refreshment by the 1830s and on (Riley 1958).  However, the therapeutic benefits of some mineral waters are still claimed today; if in doubt, run a search on the internet on the subject.

1900 era pottery jug used for mineral water; click to enlarge.1850 to 1870 era stoneware root beer bottle; click to enlarge.As with beer and ale, different soft drinks and mineral water were bottled in non-glass containers.  This included the ale style stoneware bottles similar to that pictured in the introduction to the Beer & Ale Bottled page (click stoneware ale bottle to view the example).   Root beer was commonly dispensed in stoneware bottles during the 19th century, particularly east of the Mississippi.  The example pictured to the left is a typical 1850s to 1870s era bottle that is incised with DR. BROWNS on the front and ROOT BEER on the reverse (photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions).  Mineral water was also sold in larger ceramic or pottery jugs like that pictured to the right, though it seems likely that this product was not carbonated.  This particular jug dates from around 1906 or 1907 as that was the time span when the Wild Pigeon Springs Mineral Water Company was in business under that name (Fowler 1981).   It should also be noted that bottles strongly identified with beer were also used (or re-used) for the bottling of soda and mineral water.  Click on orange soda export beer label to see the fragmental label on a "quart" export beer found at the historic Fort Bowie (Arizona) that dates from the 1880s.  Though faint, the label notes that the product last contained in the bottle was orange soda (bottle in the National Park Service's Ft. Bowie collection, WACC, Tucson, AZ.).  Beer bottles were likely often used (or more likely re-used) for soda and sarsaparilla, at least in the frontier West where bottles of any type were likely in short supply.

Probably the most comprehensive source of information on the history of soda water production in the U.S. is found in John J. Riley's 1958 (also reprinted in 1972) book entitled "A History of the American Soft Drink Industry - Bottle Carbonated Beverages 1807-1957."  (Much of the history in the following two works comes from Riley.)  Schulz, et al. (1980) work entitled "The Bottles of Old Sacramento: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Glass and Ceramic Retail Containers Part 1" also includes a nice summary of the subject and history of soda and mineral waters as well as some excellent historical information pertinent to an assortment of bottles excavated in Old Sacramento, CA.  Finally, John R. Paul and Paul W. Parmalee's 1973 book entitled "Soft Drink Bottling - A History with Special Reference to Illinois" is an excellent overview of soda history, advertising, bottling, and the soda water bottle types themselves.  All these books are out of print but often available via internet used book websites.

NOTE:  Linked to the "Bottle Types/Diagnostic Shapes" grouping of pages is a complete copy of a never re-printed, 280 page, 1906 Illinois Glass Company bottle catalog scanned at two pages per JPEG file.  Click 1906 IGCo. Catalog to access the page that links to all the scans of this very useful catalog.  Soda and mineral water bottles are listed primarily on pages 236-249.


Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes:
"Soda & Mineral Water Bottles" page
Organization & Structure

Grouping of soda & mineral water bottles; click to enlarge.This page is divided into an assortment of major categories since soda water bottles do have a fairly diverse range of stylistic differences:

Early soda/mineral water styles

Saratoga mineral water style

Blob soda/mineral water style

Internal stopper soda/mineral water styles
   -Gravitating Stopper (Matthews Patent) style
   -Hutchinson Spring Stopper style

Crown top/finish soda styles
   -Early Crown Top sodas
   -Later Crown Top (ACL) sodas

Round Bottom & torpedo soda/mineral water styles

Codd soda/mineral water styles

Other soda/mineral water styles
   -Apollinaris & other large mineral water styles
   -Siphon (Seltzer) styles
   -Hunyadi Janos - Bitterquelle
   -Pedestal base style

Each of the pictured bottles has a description and explanation including estimated dates or date ranges for that type bottle and links to other view pictures of the bottle.  Additional links to images of similar bottles are also frequently included. 

The array of references used to support the conclusions and estimates found here - including the listed dating ranges - are noted.  Additional information and estimates are based on the empirical observations of the content manager over 50 years of experience; this is often but not always noted.

Various terminology is used in the descriptions that may be unfamiliar if you have not studied other pages on this site.  If a term is unfamiliar, first check the Bottle Glossary page for an explanation or definition.  As an alternative, one can do a search of this website.  To do a word/phrase search one must use the "Search SHA" boxes found on many of the main SHA web pages, including the Research Resources page (upper right side of that page) which links to this site.  The Historic Bottle Website (HBW) has no internal search mechanism so be aware that when running a search one will also get non-HBW response links to other portions of the SHA site.



Early soda/mineral water styles

Early 19th century ale bottle; click to enlarge.Soda water, as noted above, was being bottled at least as early as 1806 when the first reference was made to the need for "soda water" bottles by a New England scientist that was asked to make and offer the product by his neighbors (Riley 1958).  Mineral water in bottles goes back before that as it is known that bottled waters were being produced in - and likely imported from - Europe as early as the late 17th century and surely by the end of American Revolutionary War.

The earliest bottles that were used were probably not distinguishable from the bottles used for many other products like beer, ale, cider (fermented apple juice), and even various spirits (Guest 2007).  These types would be similar to the black glass "ale" bottles like pictured on the "Beer & Ale Bottles" page under the heading "Early Ale, Stout, and Porter Bottles" (which includes the two bottle pictured here).  More distinct types of bottles for soda water seemed to have evolved during the late 1830s to early 1840s (McKearin & Wilson 1978).

The bottle to the left is likely an early American (1820-1840) soda water or ale bottle.  This interesting bottle is free-blown with a iron or improved pontil scarred base and has an early style of finish that is called variably a "funneled", "inverted taper", or "tapered down" finish (Unitt 1980b; Jones & Sullivan 1989; von Mechow 2005).  This  unusual finish does appear with some frequency on bottles that are attributed to the glassworks in the Pittsburgh, PA. area which may be where this bottle was produced (von Mechow 2005).  Of course, without some type of positive identification (label and/or embossing) there is no sure way to determine where this bottle was made or to what use it was actually put; it could have been used for spirits, medicines, or many other liquid products.

Mid 19th century ale or mineral water bottle; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the right is a very typical short, squat beer (ale, porter, & stout) bottle, which was also used for mineral waters, with a fairly abrupt shoulder and a long (compared to body) straight, non-bulging neck.  The pictured example is embossed DYOTTVILLE GLASS WORKS / PHILAD.A. (Philadelphia, PA.), has an applied mineral finish, and though it is not pontil scarred, many of this type often are.  This was a generic bottle produced by the glassworks for those who wished to label their product or did not want to bear the extra cost of proprietary embossing, though this style was offered frequently as a plate mold and proprietary embossing is very common on these bottle types.  This general shape was very commonly used for beer and soda/mineral water bottling east of the Mississippi during the period from the late 1840s to about 1870.  Big eastern seaboard cities like New York and Philadelphia had scores of different proprietary embossed examples made for local bottlers (von Mechow 2006).  Judging from embossed specimens, this shape was rarely used west of the Mississippi with a few notable exceptions in Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, and likely a few other states.  It appears to have been little used in the Pacific states where no locally embossed examples are known, though generic bottles (like that shown) were likely used since some are found in the West (Preble 1987; Fletcher 1994; Markota 1994; Burggraaf & Southard 1998).   Click on the following link for a base view image of this bottle.

Dating Summary/Notes: The early porter, stout, and ale bottles with the shapes noted above typically date from the 1870s or earlier.  During and after the 1870s, these general styles faded from popularity as some of the other styles covered below rose in popularity.  The squatty style for beer never totally faded out with some English ale bottles still bearing a resemblance to the style (empirical observations).  The squatty "porter" shape - as some glassmakers called it - was actually still being produced as late as 1911 (IGCo. 1911).  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 260-261 to see the offering in the 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog which still produced this style with plate mold capability (page on the right).  Given this wide range of manufacture, the dating of the "porter & stout" style bottles must be based on manufacturing based diagnostic features, as discussed on other pages within this website, or with local historical research if the bottle provides enough information via embossing.

One of the better sources for information on the earliest American soda/mineral water bottle is in McKearin & Wilson's (1978) "American Bottles & Flasks and their Ancestry"  - the section on "Spring, Mineral, and Soda Water Bottles" (pages 233-244).  Also see Tod von Mechow's exceptional website on early soda, mineral water and beer bottles at the following link for more information on specific diagnostic features of these type bottles which can help refine the dating:

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"Saratoga" mineral water style

Saratoga style mineral water bottle from the 1840's; click to enlarge.One of the earliest bottle styles identified with mineral water was the "Saratoga" style.  As with most early bottle styles these have squatty bodies, i.e., relatively large diameter proportional to the body height.  This style also has a relative short neck and finish which in combination are usually less than half the height of the body on the pint bottles and somewhat less than the body height on the quarts (pictured below).  Though an early type style it continued to be used until the late 19th century and was closely identified with the mineral waters of the Saratoga Springs area of east central New York.  This style was also used around the country by other mineral water purveyors including a few on the West Coast most likely to try to recreate the "cachet" in their offerings of the famous Saratoga Springs, N.Y. products (Tucker 1986).  Click Pacific Congress Water Springs Saratoga / California to see an example from San Francisco, CA. (Linked photo courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)

The Saratoga style mineral water usually was made, not surprisingly, with a mineral type finish.  This style of bottle is almost certainly the reason this finish was and was and is called the "mineral" finish as it is almost ubiquitous to the style.  Some other finish styles were used on occasion - like the oil, brandy, and (very rarely) rolled or sheared finishes - but far and away the most commonly observed is the mineral finish.  In fact, it is also occasionally called the "Saratoga" lip or finish (Tucker 1986).  There were likely scores or hundreds of different companies that bottled mineral water in this style of bottle with a large amount of them operating in the Saratoga Springs area of New York, though similar bottles range widely across the country from the South to the far West, as noted above (Tucker 1986).  Not all companies would have used embossed bottles since unmarked ones are known, though it appears that a large percentage of these bottles were embossed with the user/bottlers name.  This probably was done in an attempt to get as many as possible of these expensive-to-produce bottles back for re-use.

The olive amber mineral water bottle pictured to the above left is one of the earlier embossed Saratoga style bottles and could have been addressed under the first section on "early" styles above.  This bottle is also the first of four bottles illustrated that were products from the same or related companies which bottled water from springs in the Saratoga, NY area, i.e., the Congress and Empire Springs.  This early bottle is embossed JOHN CLARK / NEW YORK and dates from 1833 to 1846 when John Clark was bottling Congress Spring waters.  It is likely that the pictured bottle dates from the latter half of this period as they were known to have been blown by the Saratoga Mountain Glass Works (Mt. Pleasant, NY) no later than 1845-1846 (White (1930) in Schwartz & DiBartolomeo 1974; McKearin & Wilson 1978).  This bottle has a crudely applied Mid 19th century quart mineral water bottle; click to enlarge.mineral finish, pontil scarred base (sand pontil), and was blown in a post-bottom mold with no air venting in evidence - all attributes befitting the early age of this bottle.  The earliest known embossed mineral water bottles with this general shape are the precursor LYNCH & CLARKE / NEW YORK bottles that date between 1823 and 1833 when Clarke had Thomas Lynch as a partner.  Lynch died in 1833 and the bottles are believed to have changed to being embossed with just John Clarke shortly thereafter though it is likely that the Lynch & Clarke bottles continued to be blown and/or used for a time after 1833 (McKearin & Wilson 1978;Tucker 1986).  Click on the following links to view more images of the John Clarke bottle:  base view showing the sand pontil scar (the scattered raised graininess on the base); close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.

The almost black (dark emerald-olive green) "quart" Saratoga style bottle to the right is embossed CLARKE & WHITE / NEW YORK and is a somewhat later container from the same company as the John Clarke bottle above, most likely made sometime between 1856 to 1866.   It has a mineral finish (though this example has a sparse lower collar most likely due to insufficient glass application for finish forming), no pontil scarring (though some types of Clarke & White bottles do have iron pontil scars commensurate with the noted date range), and was blown in a post-bottom mold with no air venting (Tucker 1986).  This bottle is very crude throughout the body with lots of bubbles and waviness (i.e., "whittle marks") to the glass and has rounded (i.e., not sharply defined) embossing - all attributes consistent with the noted production period.   Since this bottle does not have a pontil scar it likely dates from the latter half of the noted period, i.e., early to mid 1860s.  (This is an example of the dating refinement possible with the presence or absence of various diagnostic features.)  Click on the following links to view more pictures of this bottle:  base view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.

Congress & Empire Spring mineral water in an emerald green color; click to enlarge.The mineral water to the left is embossed CONGRESS & EMPIRE SPRINGS CO. / (large "C") / SARATOGA, N.Y. on the front with CONGRESS WATER on the reverse.  This the third bottle from the same progression of companies noted above. The medium to dark emerald green color is distinctive to mineral water bottles blown at the Congressville  Glass Works (New York), which with some subtle variations, are known to collectors as "Congressville green."  This particular Congress & Empire Springs bottle dates from about 1880-1885 as it has a true applied mineral finish but also an earlier style single mold venting mark on the shoulder of each mold half.  This resulted in a bit sharper embossing than the above pictured Clarke & White bottle, though this embossing sharpness difference is really only distinct with direct physical comparison.  This bottle represents the pint style that was used by this company (and many other companies) between about 1870 and at least the late 1880s to early 1890s (Tucker 1986).  This brand was probably the most popular of the Saratoga mineral waters; somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 bottles sold by the company in 1878, including to many parts of the world (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  (These bottles were exported in quantity to the West Coast as evidenced by this particular bottle being excavated in Portland, OR. and others found throughout the West (empirical observations).) 

Wired down cork on miineral water bottle; click to enlarge.The picture to the right is a close-up of a pint CONGRESS & EMPIRE SPRING CO. / SARATOGA, N.Y. - EMPIRE WATER mineral water bottle with an applied mineral finish and the original cork still wired down in place.  This bottle, which dates from the 1880s, also has about two-thirds of the contents in place showing that corks were an effective - but not perfect - closure method since the contents are not still carbonated (if they were originally carbonated).  The mineral finish provided a secure attachment ledge for wiring down a cork, with the anchor being either between the upper and lower parts (like in the pictured bottle) or below the flared lower part or collar at the base of the finish.  Very similar to the Congress Water bottle above, this shape/style of Empire Water was produced between about 1865 and 1884 and is another bottle from the same family of mineral water producers as the bottles described above (Tucker 1986).

Additional images/information of Saratoga style mineral water bottles:

  • 1875 to 1885 Saratoga style pint bottle; click to enlarge.GEYSER SPRING. / SARATOGA SPRINGS. /STATE / OF / NEW YORK - The preceding is embossed horizontal (some of it arched) on one side of this bluish aqua, pint, Saratoga style bottle dating from the late 1870s or early1880s. (Photo courtesy of Glass Works Auctions.)  The reverse is embossed vertically with "THE SARATOGA" / SPOUTING SPRING.   It has the typical crudely applied mineral finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold, and has single small air vents on the front and back shoulder all of which point towards the noted date range, this being a relatively early bottle with visible mold air venting marks.  Saratoga style bottles are not that commonly encountered in aqua glass (compared to greens) but that is the common color for this bottle.  According to Tucker (1986) these bottles date from between about 1873 and 1889 and were likely blown at the Congressville Glass Works (aka Congress & Empire Spring Company Glass Works - near Saratoga, NY) in operation from 1870 into the 1890s (McKearin & Wilson 1978).
  • 1870s Western American mineral water bottle reverse; click to enlarge.1870s Western American "Saratoga" style bottle; click to enlarge.PACIFIC CONGRESS WATER SPRINGS SARATOGA (arched) / CALIFORNIA - PACIFIC CONGRESS / SPRINGS - This is a Western used and produced (almost certainly made at the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works) mineral water bottle patterned after the Saratoga bottles from NY.  The Congress Springs were near Saratoga, CA. (which is near San Jose) and were, of course, named such due to a similarity to the springs in New York.  There were actually a lot of different mineral water companies around the U. S. that bottled in similar shaped bottles since the type was strongly associated with the famous springs in New York.  These bottles (there were several variations) have applied mineral finishes, were blown in post-bottom molds, lack mold air venting, were made in an assortment of colors including many shades of green and cobalt blue, and date from the 1870s (Tucker 1986; Markota 1994).   (Photos courtesy of American Bottle Auctions.)
  • Late 19th to early 20th century Saratoga style bottle; click to enlarge.EXCELSIOR / SPRING / SARATOGA, N.Y. - This is the latest embossed, mouth-blown, Saratoga style bottle known to the author as it sports a tooled crown finish dating it from the mid-1890s to possibly as late as the early 1910s.  The body shape is essentially identical to other Saratoga style bottles dating back to the 1830s and 1840s.  The pictured example is a pint in size, likely exhibits mold air venting marks and a (likely) post-bottom mold conformation (picture from eBay®).  Crown finishes on Saratoga style bottles are very unusual (this possibly being the only brand to use such?) as that finish style was not invented or used until near the end of the popularity of this long running bottle style (Tucker 1986).
  • ...more examples to be added over time.

Post mold for mineral water bottle illustration; click to enlarge.Dating Summary/Notes: The distinctive Saratoga style of bottle continued in use for a very long time spanning the period from the earlier bottles made in the 1820s and 1830s up until the end of the 19th century.  The smaller pint sizes fairly consistently have the conformation of the bottles pictured on the left side of this section, thought there are subtle variations as with all types of bottles.  The quart sizes follow the form of the Clarke & White example pictured to the above right, though later (post-1885) quart bottles sometimes have a distinctly less abrupt and steeply sloping shoulder where there is no distinct break between the shoulder and neck, reminiscent of the champagne style of beer bottle except much wider in the body (Tucker 1986).   Click steep shoulder Congress Water quart to see a quart example with the taller, steeper shoulders.  Later (post-1885 into the early 1900s) bottles may also be found with a tooled finish instead of an applied one, like the crown finish example pictured to the right above.  All bottles observed by the author were blown in post-bottom molds (illustration to the left), though living out West, one does not get a chance to observe significant numbers of what are primarily an Eastern American bottle style.

As implied by the references noted, the best sources for information on the subject of Saratoga type mineral water bottles is Donald Tuckers "Collector's Guide to the Saratoga Type Mineral Water Bottles" (1986) and McKearin & Wilson's (1978) "American Bottles & Flasks and their Ancestry"  - the section on "Spring, Mineral, and Soda Water Bottles" (pages 233-244).

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"Blob-top" Soda/Mineral Water style

Early plate mold mineral water bottle; click to enlarge.During the late 1830s to early 1840s a new and distinct style of bottle appeared on the scene.  The earliest record of flavored soda water being bottled was in about 1838 or 1839 when Eugene Roussel (Philadelphia, PA.) bottled lemon flavored soda water (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  He possibly used this style of bottle, but is known to have used bottles somewhat similar to the "squat" style noted in the "Early Soda/Mineral Water Styles" section above (von Mechow 2009).  A picture of an early 1840s Roussel bottle is available at this link:   By the early 1840s the counter-pressure bottling process and machinery appeared and bottle shops were opening up rapidly along the Eastern Seaboard to provide for increasingly demanded flavored soda waters (Riley 1958).  When precisely the blob-top soda style arose is unknown, though the early 1840s appears to be the most reasonable beginning date (McKearin & Wilson 1978).  These bottles were, of course, also used for traditional mineral water as noted with the first two medium green bottles pictured in this section; the example to the left notes "mineral water" in the embossing.

The blob-top soda style is typified by being cylindrical in cross-section (or sometimes multi-sided like the octagonal bottle to the left), with a variably long steep shoulder which blends gradually into a relatively distinct moderate length neck, topped with one of a variety of one-part blob finishes with very subtle differences (two of which are shown in the two pictures below).  As usual, the easiest way to become oriented with this style is to study the pictures found here.  The style is generally referred to as a "blob" or "blob-top" style soda/mineral water by collectors, though of course "blob" is a finish type that can be found on a relatively wide array of bottle types including some of the soda/mineral water bottle styles addressed later.  The name "blob-top soda" has become widely accepted with only a few alternative names noted, though the term was never used by bottle makers.  One slight name variation is "true blob" and some historic archaeologists have called it the "standard style" soda bottle, though this latter name has not particularly caught on (Paul & Parmalee 1973; Schulz 1980; Fowler 1981).  Von Mechow (2009) defines two subtle variations on this style - the "soda shape" with a more abrupt, shorter shoulder (somewhat like the image to the above left) and the "pony shape" with a longer, more sloping shoulder (image below right) although the break between these two variations is hard to define.  (Consult Von Mechow's excellent website for more bottle shape information: )

Blob top soda bottle from the 1870s; click to enlarge.The blob-top sodas range narrowly in size from 8 to 14 ozs., with the smaller end of that range (half-pint) predominating (McKearin & Wilson 1978; empirical observations).  The primary closure was a wired down cork for which the blob finish was eminently suitable, though some swing type heavy gauge wire cork holders were also used (Elliott & Gould 1988; Graci 2003).  Blob-top sodas are also frequently seen with another highly popular swing type stopper - the Lightning closures.  See the Bottle Finishes & Closures - Part III: Types of Bottle Closures (beverage bottle closures section) for more information on the subject.  The blob soda style, as pictured here, is similar in general form to the smaller champagne style beer bottles, though that style "evolved" later for beer and are usually distinctly larger and taller bottles with somewhat lighter thickness glass, though still fairly heavy.  

The brilliant blue-green mineral water bottle pictured above left is a very early California Gold Rush era soda/mineral water bottle embossed (in a plate) - LYNDE & PUTNAM / MINERAL WATERS / SAN FRANCISCO / CAL. A.  It has an applied blob finish, faint iron pontil scar on the base, and was blown in a post-bottom mold with no air venting in evidence.  It is believed to date from 1850 to 1851.  The address of the company in business directories of the era indicates that it was in the area destroyed by one of several "great fires" that occurred in San Francisco during the early 1850s; specifically the one on June 22nd, 1851.  The company was not listed as in business in 1852 (Markota 1994).  As there were no glass manufacturing facilities in the West prior to 1859, these bottles were blown at a glassworks on the east coast and transported around "the horn" (South America) by sailing ship to San Francisco.  This is proven by the fact that the reverse side of this bottle is embossed (not in a plate) with UNION GLASS WORKS / PHILAD.A. (Toulouse 1971; Hinson 1995).  Click on the following links for more view pictures of this bottle:  base view showing a very faint improved or iron pontil scar with virtually no iron oxide remaining; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.

The medium cobalt blue soda bottle pictured to the above right is embossed with C. & K. / EAGLE WORKS / SAC CITY (Sacramento, CA.).  The C. & K. stood for Casey & Kelly.  It has an applied blob finish, no evidence of a pontil scar, and was blown in a post-bottom mold without any evidence of air venting.  These manufacturing attributes - including the lack of a pontil scar - are consistent with the known business dates for the company of 1858 to 1866; particularly the later end of this period (Markota 1994).  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.  As shown by the images here, blob sodas were commonly produced in highly colorful glass colors as well as the more mundane aqua glass (colorless glass has never been observed but of course possible).

8-sided mineral water bottle from the 1850's; click to enlarge.The relatively early blob-top soda/mineral water bottle pictured to the left is embossed THE / EXCELSIOR / WATER  and was almost certainly made in 1850s.  It has an improved pontil mark within the indented base, applied blob finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold, and has no mold air venting as this bottle pre-dates this latter feature by several decades.  To view more images of this bottle click on the following links:  base view showing the very distinct iron or improved pontil mark filling most of the inset portion of the base; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and blob finish.  This bottle is thought by some to be have been used in California but they are known to have been found in the Northeast also.  It is likely that this was a semi-generic type bottle that was used by several bottlers in different parts of the country.  Actually, there were many generic, multi-user type blob-top soda bottles made which were not embossed (labeled) or just embossed with things like "Improved Mineral Water" or the glassmakers name, but which have no company/city specific information.  The pictured bottle has a wide, relatively symmetrical, mushroom style blob finish which was a variation common on earlier (ca. 1850s and 1860s) blob-top soda bottles.  This particular blob-top soda bottle is 8-sided, which was a shape that was frequently used during the era noted and continued to be an occasional shape through at least the 1870s (Markota 1994).  Multi-sided blob-top soda bottles are very uncommon after that time (empirical observations).

Late 19th century blob soda bottle; click to enlarge.The blob-top soda water bottle pictured to the right is embossed within a round plate - JURGENS & PRICE / BOTTLERS / HELENA MONT.  This is an example of a late 19th century blob soda that has a tooled blob finish, very heavy glass thickness, and was blown in a post-bottom mold, though lacks obvious mold air venting marks.  These features indicate a probable manufacturing date of between about 1885 and 1890.  Since beer was also bottled occasionally in this style of bottle (click H. Weinhard beer bottle for an example of a "champagne style" beer bottle with virtually this same shape) and this bottle is embossed generically with "Bottlers", it is conceivable that it could have been used for beer.  However, a check of breweries in Van Wieren (1995) does not indicate that Jurgens & Price were in the brewing business.  From this additional information, one could reasonably conclude that this bottle was indeed used for soda/mineral water bottle though more local (Helena, MT.) research would be necessary to confirm this fact.  For more images of this bottle click on the following links: base view showing the post-bottom mold configuration; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish showing where the mold seam ends on the neck below the tooled finish (as defined on this website).  This bottle also has a slightly less squat appearance than the older bottles pictured above (compare the pictures).  Bottles with this more slender shape appear to be typical of later (post-1860s) soda bottles, but is not likely to be an absolute feature (empirical observations).  (Authors note: An example of Hutchinson style soda bottle [covered later] with the exact same embossing pattern was noted on eBay after the above was written.  This provides firmer "proof" that this bottle was almost certainly used for soda or mineral water.)

Additional images/information of blob-top soda bottles:

  • Cottle & Post, Portland, Oregon soda bottle in deep blue green; click to enlarge.HOFFMAN & JOSEPH - (Left image in group to the right.)  This "blob-top" soda bottle is embossed with HOFFMAN & JOSEPH / (image of a lion on a column) / ALBANY, OGN.  According to Ron Fowler's great book on Oregon soda water companies and bottles, this business operated under this name from 1880 to 1887, though they filed for the "lion on a column" trade mark in 1882 making 1882 to 1887 the likely date range for manufacture (Fowler 1981).  The physical diagnostic features of this example are consistent with this date range as the bottle has single mold air venting marks on each sides shoulder and a tooled blob finish though the bottle has some crudity (stretch marks, bubbles in the glass) and was blown in a post-bottom mold.  The author has noted other examples of this bottle blown in the same mold which have an applied blob finish, although these examples are encountered much less often than the tooled examples (empirical observations).  This probably indicates multiple orders from the glass company (unknown) that made these bottles as well as manufacture of the applied finish bottles towards the beginning of the business date range, i.e., 1882 or 1883.  The tooled examples probably date from 1884 to 1887.  This bottle nicely illustrates the transition from applied to tooled finishes which largely occurred during the mid-1880s for soda bottles.   (This was also true of most other bottle types though with notable exceptions; see the Bottle Finishes page for more information.)  The image below left with the wire cork retainer is of this bottle also.
  • WILLIAMS & SEVERANCE - (Middle image in group to upper right.)  This early "Western" mineral water bottle is embossed on one side with WILLIAMS / & SEVERANCE /SAN FRANCISCO and on the reverse with SODA & / MINERAL / WATERS.  It dates from the California Gold Rush era of 1852 and 1854 (Markota 1994).  As there were no glass manufacturing facilities in the West prior to 1859, these bottles were blown at a glassworks on the east coast and transported around the horn by sailing ship to San Francisco (Toulouse 1971, Hinson 1995).  This bottle has an iron pontil scar, was blown in a post-bottom mold, an applied blob finish, and no evidence of mold air venting - all features consistent with an 1850s manufacture.   Purely from a manufacturing based diagnostic features assessment one would date this bottle from the late 1840s to early 1860s; the additional historical information which was derived most likely from San Francisco business directories allows for the tighter dating range.  Click base view to see the faint iron pontil scar.
  • COTTLE, POST & CO. - (Right image in group to upper right.)  This bottle is embossed with COTTLE, POST & CO. / (phoenix bird trade mark) / PORTLAND OGN with the company (Portland Soda Works) known to have been in business with both those owners between 1877 and 1881 (Fowler 1975,1981).  With that date range one would expect an applied finish on this bottle though it actually has an early tooled finish; a finishing technique which did not dominate the production of "blob-top" style soda bottles until about 4 or 5 years later.  (In fact, the same company - minus Mr. Cottle who left the partnership during 1881 - used an applied finish blob top bottle between 1881 and 1883 after the Cottle, Post & Co. bottles were produced.  These later bottles were likely produced by a different - and most likely Western - glass company than the Cottle, Post & Co. bottles, which may have been produced in the East or Midwest.)  This bottle has no evidence of mold air venting like the majority of tooled finish soda bottles would exhibit which also indicates an earlier production.  It was also blown in a post-bottom mold though that was not uncommon on this bottle style well into the 1890s and possibly into the early 1900s.
  • Mid-19th century Pennsylvania blob soda; click to enlarge.Ca. 1880 cider bottle; click to enlarge.GREEN & CLARK / MISSOURI CIDER / TRADE MARK -  This is embossed on one side of a ca. 1878 to early 1880s "blob-top soda" style bottle that actually contained fermented apple juice, aka "cider" or "hard cider."   (Amber bottle pictured to the immediate right.) "Hard" cider (with about 7% alcohol) was a very popular beverage in the U. S. during colonial and early American times and continues with some popularity today.  However, bottles with "cider" noted on them seem to have been most prevalent from the late 1840s until about 1880, largely disappearing about the time of the pictured example.  It is thought that the popularity of hard cider was and early victim of the rising power of the Temperance movement in the late 19th century (Guest 2007).  The pictured bottle is likely from St. Louis, MO. though that is not know for sure.  This example has an applied blob finish and was blown in a post-bottom mold with no evidence of air venting.  Click the following links for more images: base view showing the round mold post plate seam; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish.  The "Missouri Cider" name was trade marked in 1878 as evidenced by a variant of this bottle that is embossed with RGD. AUG. 27, 1878; click 1878 Missouri cider variant to see an example.  (Photo courtesy of American Bottle Auctions).  This trade mark registered date gives a reasonable begin date for the production of these bottles although they could have been made first a bit earlier.  (Cider was also commonly bottled in ceramic or stoneware bottles during the noted era.  These bottles were similar to the DR. BROWN'S ROOT BEER bottle pictured towards the top of this page.)
  • HONESDALE / GLASS WORKS / PA. - MINERAL / WATER - The preceding wording is embossed on two sides of another mid-19th century "blob-top" soda bottles that is embossed with the maker - the Honesdale Glass Works of Honesdale, PA. - and not the user of the bottle.  (Deep green bottle pictured to the above right.)  This bottle has an applied blob finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold, no base pontil scar (i.e., a "smooth" base), and no evidence of air venting.  This represents a generic (no bottle purchaser proprietary embossing) bottle sold to and used by potentially many different customers for mineral water. The location of Honesdale, PA to New York City (about 100 miles) probably made that large city a major customer of this glassworks.   The Honesdale Glass Works operated under that name from 1856 to January of 1861 when the factory was destroyed by the flood resulting from a breeched dam upstream (Barbe & Reed 2003).  The majority of soda and mineral water bottles made during this time period have iron pontil scars on the base.  The late 1850s and early 1860s was, however, the heart of the transition period from pontil rods to non-scarring snap case tools, one of which was certainly used in the production of this bottle.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view; close-up of the glassworks embossing; view of the reverse side with the MINERAL / WATER embossing.
  • Soda water bottle from Canada (probably) from the 1860s or 1870s; click to enlarge.(five-pointed star) /E. ROUSSEL / PHILAD.A - DYOTTVILLE GLASS WORKS PHILAD. / SILVER MEDAL / 1847 / AWARD / THIS BOTTLE IS NEVER SOLD (two images to the immediate right) - This is all embossed on two sides of an early soda/mineral water bottle made by the Dyottville Glass Works (Philadelphia, PA.).  (The images to the left show both sides of this bottle; click to enlarge.)  This bottle has an applied tapered collar type finish (common on that era of soda, mineral water and ale bottles), blown in a post-bottom mold lacking air venting, an improved pontil scar on the base and dates from about 1847 to 1849 (von Mechow 2009).
  • SODA / WATER (bottle to the far right) - This simple and straight forward bold embossing tells it all - at least about the contents.  This bottle is likely eastern Canadian in origin (where the author acquired it) and dates from the mid-1860s to late 1870s, most likely.  It is about 7.2" tall, 2.5" in diameter, has a crudely applied blob finish, no evidence of air venting, smooth base (non-pontiled) with a embossed "dot" in the center (click base view to see such), light green glass, and is quite crude - all befitting its relatively early date of manufacture.

Cork retaining wire device in closed position; click to enlarge.Dating Summary/Notes: The blob-top style soda/mineral water bottles appear to have originated in the early 1840s and were quite popular by 1850 (Markota 1994).  This style dominated the soda bottle market up through the early to mid-1870s when inroads in to its dominance were beginning to be made by other closure related bottle styles.  In general, earlier (pre-1865-1870; the two bottles pictured on the left side of this section) blob sodas tend to be slightly wider in the body (over 2.5" in diameter) with a slightly more abrupt shoulder as compared to later (late 1860s to 1880s; pictures on the right side of this section) examples which tend to be a bit narrower (right at 2.5" in diameter) and have a longer, somewhat more steep, shoulder.  However, this is a relatively loose relationship and may not be consistent enough for reliable dating.

This style appears to have largely fallen out of favor by the late 1880s, being overwhelmed by the popularity of the Hutchinson style (covered next).   Based on turn-of-the-century bottle makers catalogs, the blob style with the blob finish did survive until the early 1910s though was not very popular because few bottles are known to the author from that era.  By the early 1900s this general body shape was being almost universally produced with the superior crown cap accepting finish (covered later on this page).  Generally speaking, the blob-top soda bottles follow the diagnostic dating information found on the Bottle Dating complex of pages quite well. 

Though the blob-top soda bottle style was primarily used for soda/mineral water, and to a lesser degree beer and ale, there were some rare other uses of the shape. As a additional reminder of the impossibility of coming up with absolute rules for anything dealing with the typing (or dating) of historic bottles, the following is quoted from McKearin & Wilson (1978) about a blob-top soda type bottle put to a different use (medicinal): 

"(One collection of bottles)...included a gray-blue half-pint cylindrical bottle with (a) short rounded shoulder and thick round collar (blob type finish) that is inscribed on one side "Dr. Thornton / Lewisburg / Pa." and, on the other, "Compound / Syrup of / Wild Cherry".  All of which is a reminder that there were no hard fast rules limiting the use of a particular type of bottle to particular contents or purposes." 

(Click on the following links to see images of one of these rare bottles: entire bottle; front view; back view.)

Also see Tod von Mechow's exceptional website on early soda, mineral water and beer bottles at the following link for more information on specific diagnostic features of these type bottles which can help refine the dating:

Return to the top of this page.

Internal Stopper Soda/Mineral Water styles

This class of soda water bottles are differentiated by having internal stopper closures (i.e., not cork sealed) and often body and/or finish shapes that were designed to accommodate these unique closures.   Both of the major covered styles (first two below) have long, moderate diameter bodies, short to non-existent necks, and are topped with some variation of the blob finish.  Be aware that there were scores of different patented styles of internal stopper - and related bottles - invented and made during the era between the 1860s and the early 1900s (Graci 2003).  Most of these types were very short lived (and not covered here) though two major types of stopper defined bottle styles - used primarily for soda and mineral water - are primarily discussed in this section.  These were the Gravitating stopper and Hutchinson spring stopper styles.  Just for variety, one other closure related style - the Roorbach ball stopper - is covered briefly at the bottom of this section.  It is seen occasionally but is much more uncommon than the Matthews.  These bottles are a hybrid of sorts between the Codd ball and Baltimore Loop Seal closures and the Hutchinson and Matthews bottle shapes.

The image to the right is of a soda bottler in Iron Mountain, MI. during the early 20th century.  It clearly shows an array of embossed Hutchinson soda bottles (click image to enlarge; embossing is faint but visible on some) cleaned and ready to be filled.  According to Ron Fowler's incredible (really!) website on Hutchinson soda bottles ( there was one bottler in Iron Mountain - John C. Eslick - who operated there and used bottles embossed with his name.  Could be John and family in the background?!

The Hutchinson style (and closure) was far and away the more popular of these styles, though both stopper types could apparently be used on the other style of bottle (explained below).  Both of these related soda water bottle styles are also referred to as the "patent style" by some historic archaeologists, to differentiate them from the "standard style" (blob-top soda) discussed above (Schulz 1980).  However, neither of these names has been widely adopted by archaeologists or collectors.  (Note: The Codd style bottle is also technically an internal stopper type but is covered separately and later on this page.)

Gravitating Stopper (Matthews Patent) Style

Gravitating soda bottle; click to enlarge.Gravatating stopper & bottle patent illustration; click to enlarge.This is an example of a bottle style where its name is related to the closure device, though not to the high degree of the next bottle covered below (Hutchinson soda).  The majority (and probably all) of bottles that took the gravitating stopper have the distinctive shape of the bottle to the left.  All of the embossed (more later) gravitating stopper bottles that have been noted by the author of this site were shaped like this bottle with a relatively tall, parallel sided body, moderately long steep shoulder, and an almost non-existent neck topped by a relatively short (usually) blob finish.  Soda bottles that were made for use with this closure type are early enough that most of the ones noted to date by the author of this website have a true applied blob finish; one exception is discussed below.  Early advertisements for "Matthews' Improved Gravitating Stoppers" were illustrated with bottles of the exact conformation pictured and it appears the steeply sloping shoulder best facilitated the proper sealing of this closure (Graci 2003).  However, bottles with this shape have also been noted with a Hutchinson stopper in place (pictured below left).

The illustration to the above right shows the stopper separately outside and inside a typical gravitating stopper bottle.   Click Matthew's stoppers for a picture of several of the glass stoppers minus the rubber sealing ring which would have been on the narrow flared "knob" end (top end as shown in the picture).  These bottles were opened by pushing down on the head of the stopper to release the pressure which allowed the stopper to sink to the bottom of the bottle and the contents to be accessed.  The stoppers were removable from the bottle for cleaning and re-use, replacing the gaskets as necessary.

Gravitating stopper and bottle base; click to enlarge.The base of many (but not all) bottles that could accept this closure are embossed with something like the following: GRAVITATING STOPPER / MADE BY (around the outside edge of the base) JOHN MATTHEWS / NEW YORK (inside the first ring of embossing) PATD / OCT 11 / 1864 (in the middle).   The image to the right is of the base of gravitating stopper showing the stopper itself and this typical base embossing on a bottle used by a California bottler (discussed below).  Click gravitating stopper bottle base to see a close up picture of the embossing found on the base of the bottle pictured above.  There are also many bottles that are identical in shape and conformation that do not have the "Gravitating Stopper...John Matthews..." embossing on the base.  These may or may not have utilized the gravitating stopper and may have originally had the Hutchinson closure.  Unless embossed with the "Gravitating Stopper...John Matthews..." wording on the base, or with the actual stopper inside the bottle or in context with the bottle, one can not be absolutely sure which closure this style of bottle originally had.  It is also very likely that some of these type bottles originally started out with gravitating stoppers, but since soda water bottles were typically reused for many years, they may have been later used with the Hutchinson spring stopper or equivalent. 

The bottle pictured in the upper left corner of this box is embossed on the body - F. ENGLE / LANCASTER, PA. and has the GRAVITATING STOPPER...JOHN MATTHEWS... embossing on the base.  It likely dates from between 1870 and 1880 range based on manufacturing based diagnostic features, i.e., it has an applied blob finish, lacks any evidence of mold air venting with the resulting flattened or rounded embossing, and was blown in a post-bottom mold.  In keeping with the typical nature of soda water bottles, this one is made of very heavy glass and weighs over one pound (18 ozs.). 

A pair of Pacific Soda Works bottles; click to enlarge.The picture to the left shows a pair of different PACIFIC SODA WORKS (Portland, OR.) bottles.  The bottle to the left is a Hutchinson style bottle.  The bottle on the right has the typical gravitating stopper shape but with a Hutchinson stopper still in place.  This bottle is not base marked with the GRAVITATING STOPPER...JOHN MATTHEWS... wording but may well have started its useful life with a gravitating stopper which was replaced later with the still remaining Hutchinson.  Given its shape it could reasonably be called a gravitating stopper style even though no stopper is present.  This bottle dates from the 1880s and has early to mid-1880s diagnostic features, i.e., an applied blob finish, lacks evidence of mold air venting, the older style flattened/rounded embossing, and was blown in a post-bottom mold.  The first Portland business listing for the Portland Soda Works was in 1881 with the next listings (under a different owner) between 1888 and 1897.  The gravitating stopper style bottle likely dates from the 1881 business period though could possibly be from later period, i.e., late 1880s.  Additional support for the earlier date is that the gravitating stopper bottle is much rarer than the Hutchinson bottle supporting a narrower production period (Fowler 1981).  The Hutchinson variation almost certainly dates from the 1888 to 1897 period (covered in the next section).   For more pictures of these bottles click on the following links: base view of both bottles; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish of both bottles.  This picture nicely shows the shape differences of the two soda bottle types covered in this section.

Gravitating stopper soda bottle; click to enlarge.The bottle pictured to the right is a typical gravitating stopper bottle that is embossed on the base with a variation of the wording noted earlier.  Specifically, it is embossed with GRAVITATING STOPPEP (a "P", not an "R") / MADE BY (with the "Y" upside down) / JOHN MATTHEWS. N. Y. / PAT / OCT 11 / 1864 in a similar orientation as above.  (The base of this bottle is shown in the stopper and base image above; the noted mistakes are also visible.)  This bottle is embossed with a large, thick "B" with diagonal hatch marks indicating its use by Charles Belding who bottled soda waters for a very long time in Stockton and Marysville, CA. during the last half of the 19th century, beginning during the Gold Rush era (1853) until at least 1895.  Whether this bottle was used in only Stockton or Marysville or at both is unknown (Markota 2000).  It has the typical graceful gravitating soda shape, was blown in a post-bottom mold with no evidence of air venting, and appears to have a tooled blob finish.  This is a combination of features that indicating a bottle manufacturing date of the mid to late 1880s.

The apparent peak of popularity for the gravitating stopper and bottle style was in the 1870s and early 1880s, though it was actually still listed in (and presumably produced by) the Illinois Glass Company catalog as late as 1908 with the notation that their mold number "88" was specially designed to accept the "Mathews (sic) Patent Stopper" (IGCo. 1908).   Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - page 238 to view the page for the same bottle type from the 1906 IGCo. catalog.  Mold number "88" is listed on the left side of the image and exhibits the same sloping shoulder design of the gravitation stopper bottles pictured here.  It would be assumed that a bottle made as late as 1908 would have a molded and tooled (not applied) blob type finish, though the author of this website has not observed a tooled finish on a bona fide (i.e., base embossed) gravitating stopper bottle.  Given the listing in this catalog, tooled finish examples are quite likely and are probably not base embossed like the earlier bottles.  (Note: If any users of the website have information on tooled gravitating stopper bottles, please contact the author; his email is at the bottom of the homepage.)

Dating Summary/Notes: These bottles, with and without the "Gravitating Stopper...Matthews Patent..." embossing on the base, were made by various glass companies primarily between the late 1860s through the 1880s (Feldhaus 1986; Peters 1996; Markota 2000; Farnsworth & Walthall 2011).  By the mid-1880s, the Hutchinson stopper in bottles with a more distinctly abrupt shoulder began to dominate the soda bottle market and the gravitating stopper largely disappeared from common use.  However, as noted above, gravitating stopper bottles were still being offered as late as 1908, though bottles that conclusively date from that late have not been noted.  Although Matthew's gravitating stopper bottles were never as common as other types of bottles/closures during the time frames noted (e.g., blob-top with corks and Lightning stoppers, Hutchinson styles) they nevertheless were used by soda bottlers across the continental U.S. and Hawaii.  Please note that collectors sometimes incorrectly call the Hutchinson style stopper/bottle covered next a "gravitating stopper" bottle (though the Hutchinson style might have been rarely used with gravitating stoppers?).


Hutchinson Spring Stopper style

Hutchinson soda bottle with heavy embossing; click to enlarge.The Hutchinson stopper accepting style of bottle was without a doubt the most popular type used for soda/mineral water between the mid-1880s and mid 1910s.  Its rise to popularity in the 1880s was as quick and precipitous as was its fall in the 1910s.  One persistent researcher has cataloged well over 17,000 different embossed Hutchinson soda bottles in primarily the U.S. and Canada (few outside North America) attesting to the popularity of this closure and related bottle styles (Fowler pers. comm. 2012).  This researcher's listing includes over 2,900 different examples just for the state of Pennsylvania (over 500 of which are from just Philadelphia)!  Unlike most other bottle types, the majority of soda bottlers did utilize bottles with proprietary embossing. It has been estimated that 99% of Hutchinson bottles have proprietary embossing on them since unembossed Hutchinson's are relatively unusual (Fowler pers. comm. 2006). 

These types of soda bottles are universally called simply a Hutchinson soda with the only other noted name being the "patent style" which is little if at all used today (Schulz 1980).  The Hutchinson style bottle has a distinctive, easily identified shape as shown to the left.  Moving up from the heel to the rim of the bottle: it has proportionally tall, vertically parallel sides; a short abrupt shoulder; a short to almost non-existent neck; some variation of the blob finish (applied on the examples produced from or prior to 1885-1890 and tooled on those from the late 1880s an later); and have very heavy (thick) glass in order to withstand the carbonation pressure.  The shape is easier to visualize than describe; see the pictures here for very typical examples of several subtle varieties.  Capacities of the most common sizes ranged from 7-15 oz. range, with the approximate 8 oz. size being overwhelmingly the most common capacity.  Larger "quart" sizes (28-32 ozs.) were used on occasion also; picture and discussion below (empirical observations; Fowler pers. comm. 2006).  

Noted soda bottle researcher Ron Fowler recently completed a website that includes a searchable database of over 19,400 different embossed Hutchinson soda bottles that he has cataloged.  It is available a this link:  Although still a bit of a work in progress (primarily the inclusion of bottle images though over 16,000 are loaded to date!) this website is already a marvelous resource for those trying to identify soda bottles and fragments as well as so much more.

Many subtle different variations of the Hutchinson soda bottle were made through the years.  The early 20th-century Illinois Glass Company (IGCo.) catalogs illustrated several dozen different molds for Hutchinson style bottles, most of which were available as plate molds allowing for proprietary embossing.  There are taller and squattier versions, those with "mug bases", different capacities, and others that are hard to differentiate from the illustrations.  Click on the following links to see the different Hutchinson soda listings from the IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 236-237, pages 238-239, pages 240-241, pages 242-243, and pages 244-245.   Early catalogs did not call these bottles "Hutchinson soda bottles", but instead just referred to them as "soda or mineral water bottles" which was logical given that the Hutchinson name is attached the closure not the bottle.  These catalogs did often note that the bottles were "finished for the Hutchinson Stopper" and other closures like, cork, the Baltimore Loop Seal, and Lightning stopper.  These early IGCo. catalogs also note that "all bottles made in green glass (aqua), unless otherwise noted" (IGCo. 1899, 1903, 1906, 1908, 1911).  Indeed, the vast majority of Hutchinson soda bottles were made in shades of aqua, with colorless (which will often turn amethyst) glass being the next most common color.  Any other color is rare in these bottles as indicated by one person's account that there were 376 different embossed "colored" Hutchinson soda bottles in the U.S., which when compared to the total of embossed Hutchinson sodas recorded to date, is less than 3% of the total (Oppelt 2003; Fowler 2005).

Patent illustration for the Hutchinson stopper; click to enlarge.The Hutchinson stopper was patented in April of 1879 by Charles G. Hutchinson and fairly quickly made cork closured soda bottles obsolete (Riley 1958).  This was visually portrayed by a humorous 1880s advertisement from Hutchinson's company which portrayed the Hutchinson style bottle as a boxer knocking out multiple contenders, all of which were varying soda bottles with "other" closures.  The Hutchinson bottles "boxing gloves" were the flat ends of the stoppers (Graci 2003).  There were numerous types of competing internal spring stoppers similar to the Hutchinson, though the "Hutchinson's Patent Spring Stopper" made by W. H. Hutchinson & Son (Chicago, IL.) dominated the market (Riley 1958).  This stoppers' main drawback was that it was internal leading to eventual cleanliness issues concerning the re-use and cleaning of the bottles.  Bottlers did not always replace the stopper when reused and hygiene complaints began to be aired during the activist era of the early 20th century (Collins 1969; Fowler 1986).  At that same time the crown cap was racing towards beverage bottle dominance for various reasons (next section).

The Hutchinson spring stopper, positioned in a typical conformation bottle, is shown in the cut-away illustration to the right which shows the stopper in the sealed position (illustration courtesy of the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute).  The contents were accessed by pushing down on the top of the wire spring loop which released the pressure and opened the closure.  When pushed down slightly to open, the stopper stayed in place - i.e., did not drop to the bottom of the bottle - due to the inward curve on each side of the spring handle.

Hutchinson soda with applied finish from 1880's; click to enlarge.The relatively early (mid-1880s) Hutchinson soda pictured to the left is embossed with PORTLAND / TRADE MARK / (spread eagle) / SODA WORKS / P. O. (Portland, OR.)  The base is also embossed with NORTHROP & STURGIS whom were the proprietors of the concern from 1883 to 1911, when it became the Puritan Manufacturing Co.  In 1886 - the era of the pictured bottle - the company advertised the production of numerous beverages any of which could have been in this bottle - soda water, sarsaparilla, ginger ale, cream soda, cider, and more.  The Portland Soda Works had a long run of embossed bottles (at least 9 different molds in 3 different bottle styles) under several ownerships beginning in 1877 with the Cottle, Post & Co. blob-top soda and ending during the early 20th century with an early (mouth-blown), crown-top soda style (Fowler 1981).  The pictured Hutchinson soda is one of three similar variations with an eagle produced by the company and likely dates from about 1884 to 1887.  This style was preceded by a similarly embossed blob-top style bottle that likely dates from 1883 or so, as it is very rare indicating that there was likely only one or two orders made for it during the early years of Northrop & Sturgis.  (The noted, but not pictured, blob-top Portland Soda Works bottle is an example of where a feel for the relative rarity in hand with other information - i.e., company dates and diagnostic features - can help narrow the probable date range.)  The pictured bottle has an applied blob finish and was blown in a post-bottom mold with no evidence of air venting - all attributes typical of an 1880s Hutchinson soda.  The manufacturing methods resulted in this (and most of the bottles observed from this mold) being very crude in the body ("whittled") with relatively flat, rounded embossing.   Click on the following links to view other pictures of this soda bottle:  base view showing the embossing; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and blob finish which shows the distinct interface between the upper neck and finish base indicating a true applied finish, though without any glass slop-over below the finish which is commonly seen on applied finishes.

Typical turn of the century Hutchinson soda; click to enlarge.The soda bottle pictured to the right is a slightly "squattier" Hutchinson style that is embossed in a round plate with MT. HOOD SODA WATER / TRADE (lions head) MARK / PORTLAND, ORE.   It likely dates from between 1904 and 1906 and is an example of the relatively common style with a 10-sided "mug base", which has a sided lower body though the base is still largely round.  The base of this bottle has an embossed "H" which is believed by some to be makers mark for the Holt Glass Works, which was destroyed by the April 18th, 1906 San Francisco earthquake and not rebuilt, giving the noted end date of 1906 (Toulouse 1971, Fowler 1981,Thomas 1998).  This example has a tooled "funnel type" blob finish and was blown in a cup base mold with multiple air venting on the shoulder area of both sides and on the base - typical of an early 20th century mouth-blown bottle (Elliott & Gould 1988).

A pair of Pacific Soda Works bottles; click to enlarge.The soda bottles pictured to the left are both embossed with PACIFIC SODA WORKS PORTLAND, OREGON.  The bottle on the right side of the picture has the typical gravitating stopper shape but with a Hutchinson stopper still in place (as was described in the previous section).  The bottle on the left side of the picture is a "mug base" (10-sided lower body), tall style Hutchinson soda with the embossing in a round plate, a tooled blob finish, and was blown in a cup base mold with no apparent mold air venting.  This bottle also has embossed near the reverse heel - McC - which indicates a manufacture by a William McCully related glass company (Pittsburgh, PA.) which likely used this mark up until at least 1899 (Welker & Welker 1985; Lockhart et al. 2004).  The first Portland city business directory listing for the Pacific Soda Works was in 1881 (probably producing the gravitating stopper type bottle) with the remaining listings under a different owner between 1888 and 1897.  The glassmakers mark, business directory information, and the noted manufacturing related features indicate a likely manufacturing date for the Hutchinson bottle of the late 1880s or early 1890s which fits the later business period (Toulouse 1971, Fowler 1981).  For more pictures of these bottles click on the following links: base view of both bottles; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish of both bottles.

Quart Hutchinson soda bottle; click to enlarge.The large "quart" size Hutchinson soda bottle pictured to the right is embossed with JOHN DAHLSTROM / ISHPEMING / MICH. inside of a round plate.  At the lower back heel is the makers mark S. B. & G. CO. for the Streator Bottle & Glass Company (Streator, IL.) that used this marking from 1881 to 1905 at which point it was merged into the American Bottle Company (Toulouse 1971).  This bottle has tooled blob finish and was blown in a cup base mold with multiple air venting marks on both shoulders.  The combination of the makers mark termination date and the noted diagnostic features indicate a manufacturing date for this bottle of between about 1895 and 1905, though local (MI.) research might refine this date range further.   Click on the following links to see more images of this quart soda bottle:  base view; view of the shoulder, neck, and finish.  The early 20th-century Illinois Glass Company (IGCo.) catalogs - a regional competitor for Streator - illustrated several different molds for the larger Hutchinson style bottles, most of which were also available as plate molds like this example.  Click on the following links to see the different larger style Hutchinson soda listings from the IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 246-247 and pages 248-249 (IGCo. 1906).  The quart size Hutchinson bottles appear only to have been mildly popular and then primarily in states east of the Mississippi; only three embossed examples of the quart size are known from the 11 Western states - one each from Colorado, Wyoming, and California (Holabird & Haddock 1979; Fowler 1981 & 1986; Borton 1988; Markota 1999; Miller 1999; Kyte 2005; Oppelt 2005, Fowler pers. comm. 2006).

W. H. Hutchinson soda bottle from the 1880s; click to enlarge.The certain Hutchinson closured (stopper missing) bottle pictured to the left is embossed with W. H. HUTCHINSON & SON / CHICAGO ILL'S - W. H. H. and was presumably a salesman's sample used by the company to demonstrate their revolutionary closure, though this might also have been a generic bottle sold by the company which offered a wide array of "bottlers supplies" (Paul & Parmalee 1973).  The "SON" in the embossed title is the inventor of this closure - Charles G. Hutchinson (Riley 1958).  Note the similarity of this relatively steep shouldered bottle to the gravitating stopper bottle pictured earlier on this page; either of the two closures could have been used in bottles of this shape as noted in the "Gravitating Stopper" discussion.  This particular bottle appears to have a tooled blob finish, was blown in a post-bottom mold, but lacks evidence of mold air venting indicating a likely mid-1880s production.  Click on the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view (note the poor mold engraving which resulted in the first line of embossing running well onto the bottle heel); close-up of the shoulder, neck and blob finish (note the small dark spots on the bottle which are impact marks resulting from bottles banging against each other in the cases during the multiple use and re-use events).

Dating Summary/Notes:  True applied finishes on Hutchinson soda bottles date from about 1880 to 1886-87 and possibly as late as about 1890.  Applied finishes on Hutchinson bottles are relatively uncommon compared to tooled finishes since it took some time for the popularity of Hutchinson bottles to usurp the earlier styles.  Tooled finish Hutchinson bottles date from the late 1880s to the end of production for this style in the mid 1910s, with most bottles dating between the late 1880s and 1912.  It is estimated that well over 90% of Hutchinson bottles have tooled finishes dating most within that age range (Elliott & Gould 1988; Fowler pers. comm. 2006).

During the first decade of the 20th-century tooled crown finish soda bottles (covered next) slowly but surely began to dominate the market and by 1915-1917 period most soda bottle production consisted of machine-made bottles with crown cap finishes (Fowler 1981 & 1986; Feldhaus 1986; Elliott & Gould 1988; Peters 1996; Markota 2000; Lockhart pers. comm. 2003).  The W. H. Hutchinson & Sons company reportedly ceased production of the replacement stoppers in 1920 by which time production was almost totally to supply those few bottlers still using Hutchinson sodas made some year before (Elliot & Gould 1988).  (Note: Some references list 1912 as the end date for Hutchinson stoppers which seems unlikely since the Illinois Glass Company was still listing over 40 different molds for Hutchinson style soda bottles in their 1911 catalog and other catalogs show them being produced at least as late [IGCo. 1911; Cumberland Glass 1911; Munsey 1970]).

(Note:  Two extremely unusual machine-made Hutchinson sodas have been reported to the author [Bill Lockhart pers. comm. 2011].  One example was made by the Owens-Illinois Glass Co.  for a Puerto Rican soda bottler in 1929; the other - also made for the Puerto Rican market - was produced in 1928 by the Owens Bottle Co. - a precursor company to Owens-Illinois.  Both bottles are base date coded and are the latest known Hutchinson bottles.  Click on the following links to see photos of the 1929 bottle: full bottle view; view of the base showing the glassmakers marking and date code ("9") for 1929.  [Photos courtesy of Zang Wood and Bill Lockhart]  There are no known machine-made Hutchinson soda bottles produced for American bottlers - or at least yet known - so the mid to late teens must be considered the end date for production of these bottles for U. S. firms.)


1880s Roorbach closure soda bottle; click to enlarge.Roorbach Ball Stopper

This closure is covered primarily to show a bit of the variety to the class of internal stoppered soda bottles, most of which (this style included) had limited popularity at best.  (This style is also covered since a kind collector provided some good pictures...thanks Barry!)  The Roorbach bottle/closure worked in a similar fashion to the Codd's ball stopper discussed later on this page.  The internal pressure of the carbonated contents pushed and held in place the hard rubber ball which meshed against the rubber gasket set into a double groove within the wide blob finish.  This closure was patented February 20th, 1883, with additional patents in 1885, and did achieve some market success as bottles using it are seen on occasion (Graci 2003).

Roorback closure/finish close-up; click to enlarge.The pictured bottle is from West Virginia and shows the finish gasket and ball still in the bottle (picture to the right).  It is also embossed around the heel with the 1883 and 1885 patent dates.  These bottles seem to always have a very wide and somewhat short variation of a blob finish, almost surely to facilitate the ball and gasket use.  Click Roorbach finish to see a close-up of the unusual blob.  The overall shape of the bottle is reminiscent of a wide necked Hutchinson soda.  Most Roorbach bottles appear to be from east of the Mississippi, though a few are noted from the West (Fowler pers. comm. 2005).

During the same era as the the Roorbach closure bottles (1880s) there was also an almost identical competing bottle/stopper - the "Stewart Patented Stopper."  The bottle shape, finish, and closure mechanics appear to have been identical to the Roorbach.  Stewart's patent was issued June 16th, 1885 (Graci 2003).  Click Stewart Patent bottle to view a bottle which is visually identical in shape to the Roorbach pictured here; click Stewart Patent base to see the base of the Stewart bottle.  How this bottle differs enough from the Roorbach to warrant a separate patent is hard to say since they appear identical to each other. 

Dating Summary/Notes:  It appears the Roorbach closure/bottles were a product of the mid 1880s to possibly the early 1890s providing a fairly narrow dating range for this style.  The author of this website has not personally observed one of these bottles though both bottles appear in the pictures to likely have tooled finishes, though it is possible that they are applied.  The closure never found much favor due to its direct competition with already established (and easier to use) Hutchinson stopper and later the crown cap.  (Pictures courtesy of Barry Theurer.)


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Crown Top Soda/Mineral Water styles

Period illustration of a crown cap on a crown finish; does not enlarge.The crown cap closure and finish is arguably the second most significant closure invention of the late 19th century with continuous use throughout the entire 20th century and today.  (The external screw-thread closure/finish would almost certainly be #1 in finish importance...for those keeping score at home.)  The crown cap was patented by William Painter in 1892, who also patented the Baltimore Loop Seal which was used on soda bottles to some degree in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The period (1890s) illustration to the right shows a crown cap on a crown finish which looks exactly like the crown cap/finish used on beer (and some soda) bottles today (from Riley 1958).  It was called the crown cap because, according to Painter, it "gives a crowning and beautiful effect to the bottle."

This closure consists of a simple metal cap with a corrugated skirt or flange and a compressible liner (originally cork and now plastic) inside the top.  The finish is as shown in the pictures below which is a narrow rounded bead upper part (lip) with a variably sized tapered or rounded lower part (collar) below.  The cap is placed on the crown finish and crimped into locking position with some type of crown capping tool or machine (Lief 1965).  To access the contents of the bottle the still familiar, small, hand bottle opener is used.  This finish style prompted and required new shapes of bottles that were more conducive to the ever increasing automation in the bottling business.  That is the subject of this section.

Two date and characteristic related categories are addressed in this section: "Early Crown Top Sodas" (the pre-Applied Color Label or ACL era) and "Later Crown Top Sodas" (made during the ACL era).  This is a relatively arbitrary "break" in that some "Early Crown Top Soda" types (i.e., a style dominated by embossed product/producer information - often in a plate) were produced in the "Later Crown Top Sodas" era (dominated by ACL's to provide the product/producer information), and vice versa.  The term "modern style" has been used by some historical archaeologists for this entire class of crown top soda bottles which, though relatively accurate in a comparative sense to the earlier styles, has not been widely accepted (Schulz 1980).   On this website we refer to this entire class of soda bottles generically as "crown top sodas" due to the binding feature of that finish/closure type.

Early Crown Top sodas

Early 20th century mouth-blown crown soda; click to enlarge.The early crown top style soda bottles of the late 19th and early 20th century are, of course, identified by having the distinctive crown cap accepting finish.  There are, however, relatively distinct bottle shapes associated with this class of soda/mineral water bottles.  The name "crown top" or just "crown" soda is widely accepted by archaeologists and collectors though these were simply called a "soda or mineral water bottle" by early glass makers with the notation that they were made to "take the crown finish" (IGCo. 1903; Cumberland Glass 1911; Paul & Parmalee 1973; Fowler 1981).  One bottle maker just called this general style a "plain soda" (Fairmount 1920s).  By "early" we are referring on this website to mouth-blown crown top sodas (mid-1890s to about 1915) and the earlier machine-made examples that look similar to the mouth-blown ones in that the product and/or producer name (if present) is embossed - often in a plate.  Machine-made "early" crown top sodas date primarily from the early 1910s, throughout the 1920s, and in to the early 1930s; they generally pre-date the ACL era of bottles.  These "early" soda bottles bridge the transition from older craft based bottle manufacturing methods to modern semi-automated and fully automated bottle making machines and soda bottling methods.

The shape of most early crown top soda bottles are similar to those shown here.  Moving up from the heel to the rim of the bottle, these have: a body that is proportionally tall with vertically parallel sides; somewhat variable shoulders ranging from relatively short and abrupt to longer and steeper (note this shoulder progression on the bottles pictured top to bottom in this section); a moderate length neck which is variably less than half the height of the body/shoulder but distinctly longer than the Hutchinson style; a crown cap accepting finish; and as with all soda bottles, made with heavy (thick) glass to withstand the high carbonation pressures.  See the pictures here for very typical examples of several subtle varieties.  Similar to the Hutchinson style, capacities of the most common crown top soda sizes ranged from 6 to 15 oz. range, with the 8 oz. size being the most common capacity.  Larger "quart" sizes (27-32 ozs.) were also used occasionally (IGCo. 1903, 1911).

Many subtle variations of the early crown top soda bottles were made through the years.  The early 20th-century Illinois Glass Company (IGCo.) catalogs illustrated several dozen different molds for crown top style bottles, most of which were available as plate molds allowing for proprietary embossing.  There are taller and squattier versions, those with sided "mug bases", and others that are hard to differentiate from each other.  Click on the following links to see the different crown top soda listings from the IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 238-239pages 242-243, pages 244-245, and pages 248-249.  These early IGCo. catalogs also note that "all bottles made in green glass (aqua), unless otherwise noted" (IGCo. 1899, 1903, 1906, 1908, 1911).  Indeed, the vast majority of crown top soda bottles were made in shades of aqua with colorless (which will often turn amethyst) glass being the next commonest color.  Any other color in a early crown top soda - especially a mouth-blown example - is very unusual, even more so than with Hutchinson sodas. 

A pair of different style sodas from the same company; click to enlarge.The soda bottles pictured to the right are a pair of different styles from the same company.  Both are identically embossed with CAPE ARGO / SODA WORKS / MARSHFIELD, ORE.  (Marshfield was an earlier - pre-1944 - name for Coos Bay, OR.)  The bottle to the left side of the picture is a Hutchinson style soda which was added for style comparison.  The bottle to the right (same bottle as pictured above) is a typical mouth-blown crown soda with a tooled crown finish, multiple air venting marks on both shoulders, which was blown in a cup base mold.  Both bottles were blown in 4-piece molds as indicated by the horizontal shoulder seam and vertical body side seams.  Research indicates that this company was in business from 1904 to 1920 (Fowler 1981).  The crown soda is also embossed on the base with P.C.G.W. for the Pacific Coast Glass Works (San Francisco, CA.) which used this mark from 1902 to 1924 (Toulouse 1971).   Observations have indicated that this mark was only used on mouth-blown bottles and then primarily from about 1902 to the early 1910s (Lockhart unpublished manuscript; empirical observations).  Given all this information, it is likely that the Hutchinson style dates from about 1904 to maybe 1907 with the crown top version dating from 1907 to the early 1910s.  Within this timeframe it is not impossible that the Hutchinson style was made later than the crown style, though this would be highly unusual given the irreversible trend at that time towards the crown top style and away from the increasingly obsolescent Hutchinson stopper.  Both styles of the Cape Argo sodas are relatively common hinting towards both being made for several years at least, though the commonness might be a function of a lot of them being excavated at some point in the past.  Click on the following links to view more pictures of these bottles: base views; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and crown finish - the shoulder seam is just visible on both bottles.

Early 20th century crown top soda bottle; click to enlarge.The tall (approx. 8.5") crown top soda pictured to the left is embossed within a round plate with CITY BOTTLING CO.  / ALBANY / ORE.  It has a tooled crown finish and was blown in a cup base mold with multiple shoulder air venting marks.  The company was in operation for a lengthy period of time - 1891 to 1922 - but there is one additional bit of information provided by this bottle.  It is embossed on the base with "461 / H" which is believed to be a mold number ("461") and makers mark for the Holt Glass Works, which was destroyed by the April 18th, 1906 San Francisco earthquake and not rebuilt.  This gives a likely latest date for manufacturing of 1906 and likely oldest date of maybe 1897, based on information discussed in the "Dating Summary/Notes" section below (Toulouse 1971; Fowler 1981;Thomas 1998a).  Click on the following links to view more pictures of this bottle: base view; close-up of the neck and crown finish.

Crown top soda bottle from 1932; click to enlarge.An example of a later, machine-made "early" crown top soda bottle is pictured to the right.  It is embossed with REGISTERED  / DIRIGO / BOTTLING CO. / D. B. CO. / PORTLAND, MAINE / CONTENTS  / 7 1/2 FL. OZS.  The base is also embossed with the makers mark for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company which indicates it was produced in 1932 (a "2" to the right of the mark) at the #3 ("3" to the left of the mark) plant - Fairmont, WV.  (For additional information on this makers mark, see this  publication - Owens-Illinois Glass Company - published on this website.)  The base of this bottle also has a distinct suction scar, various mold seams consistent with its machine-made manufacture, and has very thick glass with a slight straw tint to it indicating the glass was decolorized with selenium and/or arsenic.  These are all diagnostic features consistent with its 1932 manufacture year.  This bottle marks about the end of the period for the "early" crown top soda bottles and was made just prior to the advent of ACL (~1934); otherwise it is relatively similar to the bottles shown here.   Click on the following links to view more pictures of this bottle: base view showing the Owens-Illinois makers mark; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and crown finish.  (Note:  A quick internet search for this company yielded information that it was in business at least as early as 1928 through at least the 1950s.  This is an example of how the internet can provide valuable - though often unsubstantiated - information to assist a person in their pursuit of specific bottle knowledge.)

Mission Dry bottle from 1930; click to enlarge.The black glass (extremely dark green) bottle pictured to the left is embossed on the base with MISSION / DRY / SPARKLING along with a distinct "feathery" suction scar identifying it as a product of an Owens Automatic Bottle Machine.  It is embossed just above the heel (extreme lower body) with "71 IPG (in a triangle) 0" which is a makers mold mark for the Illinois Pacific Glass Corporation (San Francisco, CA., though they also had other plants on the West Coast).  The number "30" is also embossed on the side of the machine-made crown finish, which along with the "0" at the heel, are date codes indicating manufacture in 1930; the "71" is a mold marking of unknown utility (Lockhart et al. 2005d).   Click on the following links for other images of the bottle to the left:  base view showing the embossing and suction scar; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish which shows the neck-ring mold seam just under the finish which is a sure sign of machine-made manufacture.  Another variant of this bottle is base embossed with "Mission / Orange / Dry / Reg." and contained orange soda, which the pictured bottle may also have held though the company did produce other soda flavors during this bottles' use from about 1929 to the mid-1930s (Lockhart 2001a).  This is another bottle that is at the later end of the crown top sodas included in this section, transitioning into the next category discussed below.  It is almost identical in body, shoulder, and neck shape to champagne style beer bottles.  An identically shaped bottle made of emerald green glass, which was also most likely made in 1930, is found at this link on the Beer & Ale Bottles page.  This linked champagne style bottle could have been used for beer or soda.  Crown top examples of champagne style bottles like that shown here were used for both soda and beer, though beer was usually bottled in amber or colorless bottles and soda in green, colorless, and occasionally other colors like the black bottle pictured.

Coca-Cola bottles dating 50 years apart; click to enlarge.The very familiar bottles pictured to the right are both COCA-COLA® bottles with the distinctive "hobble skirt" shape and "Georgia green" glass (Toulouse 1971).  The bottle to the left of the picture is an embossed 6 oz. Coca-Cola® bottle which is referred to by many as the "Christmas Coke" because of the December 25, 1923 patent date embossed on it, though the basic design was originally patented in 1915 (Munsey 1970).  It also is embossed on the base with the Owens-Illinois Glass Company makers mark, date code for 1935 ("5"), "24" in the plant code location (though an unknown O-I plant), and "Reno, Nevada" indicating that the Coca-Cola® franchise bottler in Reno used this bottle (Lockhart 2004d).  These bottles were marked on the base with hundreds of different city names where the product was bottled.  The bottle to the right is an ACL Coca-Cola® bottle that has the exact same shape.  It is apparently date coded (on the side) with "88" for 1988 indicating a manufacture 53 years after the other bottle shown and 73 years after the style was first patented in 1915 - an amazing length of time for a bottle style!   Besides the lack of embossed lettering and the ACL, there are no substantial difference between the bottles - they even weigh virtually the same (13 to 14 oz.).  Click Coca Cola® bases to view an image showing the bases of both bottles.  Check the following website for more information on these bottles:  This style of Coke® bottle transitioned from the middle of the "early" crown top soda period to well beyond the "later" (below) crown top eras showing that, as with most bottle related trends, there are exceptions.

Art Deco Soda Bottles - One subcategory of this group of crown finish sodas were a unique and design variable group of decorative soda bottles referred to as "art deco" soda bottles.  The style began with the skirted 1915 "Christmas" Coca-Cola bottles; image above right.   The heyday for this style was during the 1920s and 1930s, largely disappearing by the 1940s.  One author (Wade 2003) defines the style as "a fancy embossed crown top soda bottle from the 1920s and 30's."  That author goes on to further to define what an a "deco" soda bottle is:
"Deco soda bottles all share several features in common.  First they relied only on embossing in the glass for their labeling, lettering, pictorials, designs, etc., as opposed to labeling with paper labels or the later applied color label process (or ACL; covered in the next section).  Second, all deco sodas were machine made and utilized the simple crown top closure to cap the bottle.  But the most important feature of deco soda that they were designed to look distinctive and appealing by utilizing fancy bottle shapes, boldly embossed designs, pictorials, catchy names and clever slogans.  The great majority of deco soda bottles were made in clear or very pale greenish glass that allowed the colorful soda bop to catch the eye of the thirsty consumer, although green and amber bottles were occasionally used.  Deco sodas are most commonly found in small (by today's standards), single serving sizes holding between six and eight ounces, and were made of thick walled glass designed to withstand the pressure of carbonation and the wear and tear of shipping and re-use, as these were re-useable deposit bottles."  (Wade 2003)

That excerpt says it all.  Some other examples of art deco style bottles are found linked in the next paragraph.  In addition, pages 158-164 of the 1926 Illinois Glass Company catalog - scanned and linked on this website - also shows a representative sampling of different art deco designs made by that company.  The only dedicated reference this author knows about is the noted "Deco Soda Bottles" book by Brian Wade.  Click References Page to go to the listing of this book on that page.

There were likely thousands of different uniquely shaped and embossed, non-ACL soda bottles produced during the 1920s and 1930s (and even later).  Click on the following links to view examples of several soda bottles from that era (photos from eBay® listings): Vess Dry with a "corseted", ribbed shape and emerald green color; three unique shaped/embossed proprietary sodas from the 1920s and 1930s; amber ribbed Orange Crush which also has an early ACL and likely dates from the late 1930s to mid 1940s though the ribbed style was used until 1955 (Paul & Parmalee 1973; Lockhart 2001a; Sweeney 2002). 

For more of a feel for the diversity of soda bottles from the latter end of the "early crown top sodas" era, Digger Odell's excellent website has a series of pages on "designer" soda bottles.  These pages contain copies of the original patent drawings for machine-made, proprietary design, crown finish soda bottles patented during the era from the mid-1910s to 1940s.  It is available at this link:  These interesting bottles were part of the transition from the "early" (this section) to "later" (next section) crown top sodas and time wise fit within both categories.

Dating Summary/Notes: It appears that all crown finish bottles date after the 1892 patent date and virtually all several years after.  This is supported by excavations done at several Western American forts which were abandoned between 1890 and 1891.  Large quantities of soda/mineral water and beer bottles were uncovered from these forts but none were apparently found with crown cap finishes (Wilson 1981).  Furthermore, it appears that virtually all crown finish (soda and beer) bottles date from 1894-1895 or after, since in 1893 a national depression (the famous "Panic of 1893") made investment capital very scarce for several years deterring the use of new and expensive equipment like that needed to accommodate this new closure (Lief 1965).  Riley (1958) also noted that "substantial use of the new (crown) closure by soda water bottlers did not get started until about 1897."  As an example of the progression in acceptance of this finish/closure style, the crown finish first shows up in the 1896 Illinois Glass Co. (IGCo) catalog with just one soda bottle mold offering.  In 1899 the IGCo. offered 11 different crown soda bottle molds, 21 in 1903 (as well as other similar bottles available for beer), and 37 different crown finish molds by 1911 just before automatic machines took over control of the glassmaking industry (IGCo. 1896, 1899, 1903, 1911). 

Mouth-blown, true applied crown finish closure soda bottles do exist but are very uncommon and then almost always of foreign (Asian and possibly European) manufacture (empirical observations).  Mouth-blown, tooled crown finish soda bottles date from possibly as early as 1894, but more likely from about 1897 to about 1912-1915, when machine-made manufacture of soda and beer bottles was almost complete, although it appears in Canada that tooled crown sodas continued until the late 1910s (Axelson 2000; Lockhart pers. comm. 2003).  Machine-made crown finish bottles all date after 1905 when the first license for soda and beer bottles was issued for the Owens Automatic Bottle Machine.  Owens machine produced bottles would exhibit suction scars (Miller & McNichol 2002).  The semi-automatic machine production of narrow necked bottles was not significant until after about 1910 making machine-made, non-suction scarred crown finish bottles likely to date no earlier than the early 1910s. 

One additional note is that crown top soda bottles were generally not decolorized with manganese after 1914, giving a good ending date for such "colorless" bottles with an amethyst (manganese dioxide decolorized) cast to the glass as the beginning of World War 1.  Most of these amethyst crown soda bottles would be mouth-blown (Lockhart 2006a).

The early crown top style soda bottles seems to have continued through the 1920s and into the 1930s before being replaced by similar shaped bottles which were dominated by applied color labels (ACL) which provided information about the product and the producer (next section).  Excluding ACL's there is not a distinct break in style between the later bottles in the "early" category to the crown sodas discussed next.  Instead, there was gradual gradation to the more modern crown top sodas that were dominant until well after the mid-20th century.  For more information and history on crown cap closures and finishes visit the crown cap portion of the "Types of Bottle Closures" page.


Later Crown Top (ACL) sodas

Soda bottle from the 1950's; click to enlarge.

These bottles constitute what is truly the "modern style" of soda bottles since variations of these types are very familiar to most people living today as they were used commonly until the 1980s in the U.S.  Similar soda bottles continue to be used in various parts of the world and to a limited degree in the U.S.  This section primarily addresses "modern" crown top soda bottles produced during the mid-20th century, i.e., early to mid-1930s into the 1950s.  The binding feature of this class of bottles - besides a crown finish and machine-made manufacture - is that they are dominated by applied color labels for product and/or producer information.  These bottles are commonly referred to as ACL sodas.  A major benefit of an ACL soda bottle was its ability to be reused (and most were during this era) without the need for new labeling.  The ACL also permanently established ownership of the bottle and helped ensure a higher return rate for refilling - a problem that haunted the soda and beer bottling industry for a century (Paul & Parmalee 1973; Busch 1987).  Be aware that not all bottles made during the 1930s to 1950s have ACL's, but all ACL's began in and dominated that era.  For more information on the ACL process view that discussion on the Bottle Body & Mold Seams page.

Sizes for soda bottles were typically 6-7 oz. up to a full quart, though a majority of those produced during the era covered were 7 to 12 oz. (Sweeney 2002).  Heavy glass still typifies these bottles because the pressure of carbonation.  Plate molds (with embossed lettering or designs) during this era were unusual though typical of the "early" styles discussed above.  This was also the era of high diversity of shapes though often within the basic theme of the "champagne" style bottles shown here.  Similar to the end of the "early" crown top soda era there were many different shapes, body embossing designs, and/or creative and sometimes colorful ACL designs during this time period also.  It is likely that the variety of unique ACL identified soda bottles made between the 1930s and 1950s at least equals the number of earlier Hutchinson soda bottles recorded.  This is especially likely considering that many of the same brands were produced by scores or hundreds of local bottlers resulting in scores/hundreds of otherwise similar bottles which had slightly different ACL designs; particularly on the back where the bottling company and city are usually noted (Sweeny 2002; Fowler 2005 pers. comm. 2005).  Given this wide variety, the treatment of these bottles must be considered cursory here; other references need to be consulted.

Mission Beverages soda bottle from the 1940's,The emerald green 7 oz. ACL soda bottle pictured above is a "Sprig" soda bottle from Los Angeles, CA.  It is embossed on the base with "Duraglas" and the later Owens-Illinois Company makers mark of an "I" inside of an "O"Duraglas identifies the bottle as no older than 1940 and no later than 1954, though this particular bottle is known to have been made in 1954.  This is indicated by the "54" to the right of the glassmakers mark which also shows a code for the companies Los Angeles plant - the "23" to the left of the glassmakers mark (Toulouse 1971; Miller & Morin 2004).  Click on the following links to see more images of this bottle: base view showing the various markings discussed, including the date code of "54"; view of the shoulder, neck, and finish.  Emerald green was a common color (along with colorless glass) for soda bottles during the covered era with Squirt® and 7-Up® being examples of brands that are still identified with a brilliant green color.

1945 Pepsi-Cola bottle; click to enlarge.The "Mission Beverages" bottle pictured to the right is an ACL soda bottle made in 1946 by the Owens-Illinois Glass Company at their plant #20 (Oakland, CA.).   Mission Beverages was a nationally franchised product with this bottle made for - and the "Property Of" - the "Mission Orange Bottling Co. Eugene, Oregon" which is noted on the reverse side ACL.  For more information on this bottle click Examples of Dating Historic Bottles page to view Example #1 on that page which uses this bottle as an example to run through the Dating Key.  This bottle is an example of some of the interesting design patterns that typify soda bottles of this era.

The 11-12 oz. capacity bottle pictured to the left is a Pepsi-Cola® bottle with another interesting proprietary design that includes a hatch marked and embossed shoulder and stippled neck but which is otherwise similar in overall general shape to the other soda bottles shown here.  It is embossed on the base with the Owens-Illinois Glass Company makers mark, date code "46" for 1946, and code "14" for the Bridgeton, NJ. plant.  The base is also embossed with PATENT DESIGN 120,277.  This bottle is most definitely from the "modern" era of soda bottles but shares the embossing and lack of ACL (it was also paper labeled) that is typical of the later end of the "early" crown top soda styles period.  This specific style of Pepsi-Cola® bottle was design patented on April 30, 1940 (click Steelman design patent #120,277 to see the actual patent drawing & details) and was also produced with an ACL on the smooth and unembossed body portion during the 1940s (Lockhart 2001a).   Click Pepsi-Cola® base to view an image of the base showing the makers markings.

Dating Summary/Notes:  ACL type soda bottles date from their first use in about 1933 or 1934 (some differences of opinion on the first use in the U.S.) up to the present day (Lockhart & Schulz pers. com. 2006).  The dating of most ACL soda bottles within the covered dating range often entails local research into the business dates of the local or regional bottling companies themselves, though with national brand bottles there is often information available about various proprietary styles.  Dating or production location information is also ascertainable with bottles that have makers markings like the Owens-Illinois Glass Company date and plant codes found on the pictured bottles.

An excellent overview and history of ACL type soda bottles is found in "Collecting Applied Color Label Soda Bottles - Third Edition" which is still available and in print; see the Links page for more information (Sweeney 2002).  There are also books covering a few national soda brands including Pepsi-Cola® (Ayers 1995) and Coca-Cola® (Pendergrast 1993).


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Round Bottom/Torpedo Styles

Round bottom soda bottle from Boston, MA.; click to enlarge.This class of soda/mineral water bottles is unusual in that they were intended to not stand upright.  Instead, the rounded or pointed bases were designed to do the opposite of most bottle bases and ensure that the bottle was laid on its side so that the wired down cork would not dry out and shrink allowing the contents to loose carbonation and/or evaporate (Riley 1958). 

These type bottles are commonly referred to as "round bottom sodas" or "ballast bottles" since it is believed (and likely true) that many, if not most, of these type bottles were imported from England as "ballast" (weight) in ships returning to the United States.  A common variation is the "torpedo" bottle which is distinctly more pointed on the end with an bulging "amphora-like" body.  The torpedo style was first used in England at least as early as 1809 when a patent was granted to William F. Hamilton.  Torpedo bottles are often referred to as "Hamilton's" by English collectors but are also called "bombs" or "eggs" or "egg-shaped" by others (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Elliott & Gould 1988; Jones & Sullivan 1989).  A picture of a typical pointed base torpedo soda bottle is pictured below right.  It is embossed with "Walkden Aerated Water Co." (Manchester, England) and dates from approximately 1880-1890.  (Note: Round bottom and torpedo sodas are lumped together as "round bottom sodas" for simplicity in most of the following discussion.)

1870s era torpedo soda bottle from England; click to enlarge.The typical round bottom soda bottle was made of thick heavy glass to withstand the carbonation pressures of soda, mineral water, and in particular, ginger ale (Munsey 1970).  Some rounded bottom soda bottles actually have a small flattened area in the middle of the base that allows for the bottle to stand upright though somewhat precariously.  These are referred variably to as a "club", "tenpin", "semi-round", or "egg-shaped" (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Elliot & Gould 1988; Jones & Sullivan 1989).  The finish on a majority of round bottom sodas is a thick heavy blob which allowed for the wiring down of a cork closure, though other finishes are occasionally noted including a crown cap finish (post-1900) and rarely, a Codd's ball stopper type finish.  Round bottom soda bottles were usually produced in a true two-piece mold where the neck, shoulder, body, base (or what passes for a base), and sometimes all or a part of the finish were produced by the two halves of the mold.  As such these type bottles are a rounded base version of the "hinge mold" discussed on the Bottle Bases page which exhibit one mold seam that runs continuously from one side of the body, around the base, and then up the other side.  With the exception of round bottom soda bottles, the majority of true two-piece mold bottles largely disappeared during the 1870s.

The bottle pictured in the upper left corner is a BERLIN MINERAL WATER (Boston, MA.) that likely dates from the 1880s as it has an applied blob finish and evidences no mold air venting.  The majority of these type bottles found in the United States were imported from Great Britain and frequently embossed with company names and cities from England and Ireland - Belfast (picture below) being a very common point of origin.  However, some were - like the bottle pictured - either made in the United States or made overseas for U.S. bottlers.  They were advertised in the catalogs of U. S. bottle makers during the early 20th century as "Round Bottom Ginger Ale" bottles (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1908, 1911).  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 248-249 to see the two round bottom soda offerings from the Illinois Glass Company in 1906.  It includes a standard blob finish example (lower right page) and a "new" ginger ale bottle with a crown finish and a slightly flattened base ("the size of a nickel") that allowed for a precarious upright stance (upper left page).  For an image of another American utilized round bottom soda bottle, click on Saegertown, PA Mineral Springs bottle to see a labeled "ginger ale" bottle from Pennsylvania that dates from the late 19th century.  Whether this bottle was manufactured in the U.S. or imported (mostly likely) is impossible to tell, though it is known that the round bottom soda bottles were most frequently used for ginger ale like the pictured bottle was (Munsey 1970).

Late 19th century round bottom soda; click to enlarge.The round bottom soda pictured to the left is a very common and typical example that was imported from the British Isles into the U.S. in mass quantities (the pictured example was found in Oregon).  It is embossed with ROSS'S on one side and BELFAST (Ireland) on the other.  It has an applied finish that is a cross between a blob (large and one-part) and and the oil style (flattened and tapered outside surface), was blown in a true two-piece mold, and exhibits no apparent mold air venting evidence.  Click Ross's close-up to view an image of this bottles shoulder, neck, and finish.  If American-made this bottle would key out on the Bottle Dating pages as having been manufactured in the 1865 to 1880 era.  However, it was likely made in the late 19th century or even early 20th as European bottle making techniques were a decade or two behind American ones.  Though foreign made, these bottles were imported by the millions into the U.S. from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th century and are very commonly found on late 19th to early 20th century historic sites, though they can also date back to the 1870s.  These type sodas - and the Ross's in particular - are also found throughout the world but are particularly prevalent in British Commonwealth Nations like Australia, Canada, India, and others.

Additional images/information on rounded bottom soda bottles:

  • COCHRAN & Co / BELFAST - This is embossed vertically (horizontally?) on one side of a modified version of the round bottom soda that actually has enough flattened base portion (about the size of a quarter on this bottle) to stand upright, though it will tip over easy.  This bottle has an applied one part "blob" finish (with the typical flattened sides like the bottle above), was blown in a post-bottom mold (or the equivalent for a round base bottle), is almost exactly 9" tall, and lacks any obvious evidence of mold air venting.  These bottles - like the equally common and similar ROSS's bottles discussed above - are hard to date precisely but are of a late 19th to early 20th century (i.e., 1880s to 1910s) vintage, although those with the slightly flattened base appear to have first appeared in the early 1890s with most dating from around 1900 to 1920s (Illinois Glass Co. 1898, 1903, 1906; Elliott & Gould 1988).  Click on the following links for more images:  base view showing the small resting point that is indented in the middle; close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish showing the applied finish which shows a distinct line where the cracked-off end of the neck and the applied finish glass merged.  It also has the very heavy glass typical of these bottles, weighing in at just over one pound.  The bottle also has the greenish aqua color that is often seen in a variety of English made bottles, though that color was not exclusive to bottles from the British Isles.
  • Early 20th century round bottom soda with an applied crown finish.Applied crown finish round bottom soda - A commonly observed variation of the round bottom soda bottle is very similar to the bottle above but with a crown cap finish.  Some of these bottles are embossed; most are not.  Of special note is that many were produced with an applied crown finish.  (Click applied crown finish to view a close-up image of such on the bottle pictured to the right.  Note the glass "slop over" underneath the base of the finish onto the upper neck.)  The author of this website has received many questions about these applied finish examples as they do not fit the finish dating rules described on this site for applied finishes as the crown finish was not invented until 1892, which is after the vast majority of U. S. bottle manufacturers were exclusively using the tooled finishing method to form bottle finishes (empirical observations).  The author believes that virtually ALL of these applied crown finish bottles were made in the United Kingdom (or elsewhere in Europe) between 1900 (possibly very late 1890s) to the late 1910s or possibly early 1920s.  Many were imported into the U. S. for use by American soda/mineral water producers.  The mouth-blown, true two-piece mold, applied crown finish example pictured to the right was used by a  soda manufacturer in New Hampshire in the early 1900s for ginger ale.

Dating Summary/Notes: A large majority of mouth-blown, round bottom/torpedo soda bottles date from the 1870s to the 1910s.  Most were imported, although there are some American made torpedo bottles (Eastern Seaboard)  that date back as early as the 1840s in the U. S.  The style can go back as early as 1809 in England (McKearin & Wilson 1978; Baltimore Bottle Club 2002). 

The more pointed base torpedo bottles appear to be mostly a 19th century style, with few (if any) edging into the 20th century.  They virtually always have a blob or (rarely) oil/mineral type finishes; no torpedo style bottles have been observed with crown finishes (Jones & Sullivan 1989; empirical observations). 

Most mouth-blown round bottom sodas have a blob style finish (often flattened on the outside surface), rarely an oil or mineral finish.  A few have been observed with a Codd's ball stopper finish/closure (Elliott & Gould 1988).  Towards the end of the era of popularity for this bottle type, a crown cap accepting finish was relatively common.  These began to be produced in the mid-1890s and continued until at least the late 1910s.  Of course with the crown cap closure type the utility of the round bottom - to keep the cork wet and tight - was irrelevant and probably why the style appears to have disappeared by the early 1920s in the U. S.

Round-bottom soda bottles with the slightly flattened base - allowing them to somewhat precariously stand upright - date no earlier than the early 1890s with most likely dating from about 1900 or later (Illinois Glass Co. 1898, 1903, 1906; Elliott & Gould 1988).

Machine-made examples of round bottom sodas - which also included examples with the slightly flattened base - date from the early 1910s into at least the 1920s and possibly beyond outside the U. S.  Machine-made examples typically had a crown cap accepting finish though sometimes can be observed with a "blob" or other finish type (empirical observations).

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Codd Style

Late 19th century English codd bottle; click to enlarge.The Codd's ball stopper soda water (rarely beer) bottle style was by far the most successful of an assortment of internal ball type stoppers for soda bottles devised during the second half of the 19th century.  It was first patented in 1870 in England with patents for the most commonly seen types granted in 1872 and 1873; it was first patented in the United States in 1873 (Munsey 1970; Goodacre 1995).  Most of its success was in England or the Commonwealth nations like Canada, India, and Australia.  Similar to the round bottom sodas, this closure & bottle style was infrequently used by American soda bottlers (primarily due to the fierce competition from the Hutchinson and later crown closures) and was known to have been produced in only one U. S. glass factory - the Whitney Glass Co. (Glassboro, NJ) beginning in 1886 (Toulouse 1971; Goodacre 1995).  There were, however, a few seldom seen non-Codd ball types which were made in the U.S. (Riley 1958, Graci 2003).   Part of the reason for its lack of success in the U.S. reportedly was because American kids had a tendency to break the bottles to get at the internal marble for their youthful games, though that must have occurred in other countries also (Lief 1965).

The bottles were produced by a method that required the use of an applied finish until well into the 20th century which is long after virtually all other bottle types were being mouth-blown with tooled finishes.  According to one author the mouth-blown bottles were produced as follows:  After being mold blown the bottles were sheared at the neck and allowed to cool.  Then a glass marble, made from glass of a hardness twice that of the bottle was dropped into it.  The bottle was then re-heated and the neck welded on (finish applied), so containing the marble (Goodacre 1995).  Eventually fully automatic bottle machines were adapted to produce Codd bottles (example pictured below right).

This type of internal ball closure was self-sealing via a rubber gasket mounted inside the bore of the bottle against which the marble was firmly held in place by the carbonated contents.  The contained beverage was accessed by pushing down on the marble to release the pressure after which the marble dropped to the constriction ridges in the lower part of the neck.  Click Codd opener for a picture of a tool used to push down the marble.  The illustration below left shows the upper portion of a Codd bottle with the marble in the sealing position inside the bore.  The photo to the right below shows a late 20th century, machine-made Codd bottle from India with the gasket in place in the middle of the finish and the marble in the unsealed "resting" position low down in the neck on the internal constriction ridges.  This side view of a Codd bottle also shows why these bottles are sometimes called an "elephant" or "pig" bottle (Elliott & Gould 1988).   Some resemblance, I guess?  The "eyes" are actually diagonal indentations in the neck that held back the marble when pouring the contents out after opening, keeping it from impeding the flow (Fowler 1986).  During the 1920s and 1930s most of the English machinery to produce Codd bottles was shipped to India where the bottle may still be produced (Goodacre 1995).

Codd bottle made in late 20th century India; click to enlarge.Besides size, there are a few variations to the typical bottle as pictured here.  What variations there are, are primarily in the body as these bottles shoulder/neck (hard to differentiate the two separately) and finish had to be largely as shown in the pictures for this closure system to work properly.  One interesting variation is that there were some round bottom and torpedo sodas bottles that have Codd ball stoppers - some of which were made in England for U. S. soda water manufacturers (Elliot & Gould 1988).  This makes for a very unusual looking bottle to say the least and given the purpose of a round bottom - to ensure that the bottle is laid on its side to keep the cork wet - somewhat pointless, since there was no cork.

The English Codd bottle pictured to the above left is embossed NORTH LINDSEY / MINERAL WATER CO. / SCUNTHORPE.  It is also embossed on the reverse REDFEARN BROS / BOTTLE MAKERS / BARNSLEY indicating that the bottle was made by this glass company - business dates unknown.  The towns of Barnsley and Scunthorpe are located in central England so of course this bottle is English made, most likely during the late 19th century, i.e., 1880-1900.  It has a crudely applied long tapered (outwards towards base) "oil" type finish (for want of a better finish fit) with a groove on the inside of the bore for the gasket which the marble sealed against; a ubiquitous finish on a Codd bottle.  Some residual gasket is remaining as shown in the picture.  The bottle has no apparent evidence of air venting and was blown in a post-bottom mold.  These features would date the bottle - if U. S. made - from the 1870s to mid-1880s.  However, as noted on other portions of this website, European manufacturers were "behind" the U. S. in adopting new bottle production techniques so it is possible that this Codd bottle could date as late as 1900-1915 as Codd bottles from that era are known with these diagnostic traits.  It could also date from the 1880s also and would need local research on the company (or glassmaker) history to pin down the date more.  Click on the following links for more views of this bottle: base view; close-up of the neck and finish.  Though English made, it is essentially identical to the bottles that were used infrequently by soda companies in the U.S.; bottles that were almost certainly made by English glass companies like Redfearn Bros.

Period illustration of a codd neck and finish with marble in sealing position.Dating Summary/Notes: As noted, the Codd bottle/closure was a minor element in the American soda bottle/closure market.  Hutchinson closures followed by the crown closure (both covered below) were far and away the most popular sealing methods for soda and mineral water in the U.S.  One researcher, however, has tallied 25 or so different Codd bottles that are identifiable as used by American companies spanning the country (Graci 2003).  In Hawaii, the state where soda companies used the Codd bottle the most, there were at least 14 different Codd or Codd type bottles used by 4 different companies between 1884 and 1898 (Elliott & Gould 1988).  It is not known how many American soda concerns used unembossed Codd bottles with proprietary labels attached, though it was likely just a fraction of one percent and miniscule compared to the Hutchinson and crown closure bottles; Codd bottles are rarely found on historic sites in the U.S. (empirical observations).

The general date range for the mainland American use of the Codd closure is probably similar to the date range noted for Hawaii, though it is known that some Codd bottles were used into the early 1900s by some companies.  For example, one Western embossed Codd bottle with a true applied finish (BIGGAM BROS. / YAKIMA, WA) is known to date from between 1911 and 1913.  These bottles were marked as having been manufactured by NUTTALL & CO. - a glass works in St. Helens, Lancashire County, England which was merged out of existence in 1913 (Fowler 1986, Whitten 2005).  A good cut-off date for the limited use of Codd closures in the U.S. is the mid 1910s (Newman 1970). 

Worldwide, Codd bottles were used for an immense range of time from invention in the early 1870s to the late 20th century, as indicated by the bottle pictured to the above right which is machine-made and has as base sticker noting it was Made in India.  Mouth-blown Codd bottles can date as late as the 1920s with applied finishes which were required by the process needed to produce these bottles noted earlier.  Eventually fully automatic bottle machines were adapted to produce these bottles.  (One wonders how the automatic machine worked in order to get the marble in place?)  During the 1920s and 1930s most of the English machinery to produce Codd bottles was shipped to India where the bottle may still be produced (Goodacre 1995).  The machine-made Indian example pictured above right was purchased new from an import store around 1990!

For more information on Codd bottles take a look at these two articles posted on this website courtesy of a pair of well known authors in the bottle world:


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Other Soda/Mineral Water styles

There were an assortment of other variably popular bottle styles used as containers for the sale of soda and mineral water - some more or less proprietary (Bitterquelle) and others generic shapes (siphon & apollinaris).  The following assortment covers some of these bottles but is not remotely all embracing.

Apollinaris & other large mineral water styles

Apollinaris bottle from the early 20th century; click to enlarge.Mineral water was commonly bottled in larger size bottles (16 oz. and above) as it still is today.  This section is a quick overview of a few of the multitude of larger mineral water bottles used during the late 19th century to well into the 20th century.  There are many other types and varieties too numerous to be addressed on this website.  For example, the gallon crockery jug pictured towards the top of the page was also a common container for mineral water though a subject (pottery) not addressed on this website.  Other large mineral water bottles include multi-gallon carboys - plastic versions of which are still used for bottled water and water coolers.  The only commonly named style of large mineral water bottle covered is the first one - the apollinaris style.

Apollinaris Style:  The bottle pictured to the left is an apollinaris style bottle that was commonly used between the 1880s and 1910s (mouth-blown) and 1910s and likely 1930s (machine-made).  The pictured bottle was produced in a turn-mold, has a short tooled blob finish, a slightly indented base, relatively heavy thick walled glass and from the context of what other items it was found with (tooled finish beer bottles with some early wide-mouth machine-made items) most likely dates from about 1900-1910.  This style was commonly called the apollinaris by bottle makers during the noted era.  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 250-251 to see the actual catalog page from the Illinois Glass Company's 1906 catalog showing several sizes and types of apollinaris bottle (IGCo. 1906).  This shape has much in common with the typical champagne bottle of the same era except that a champagne virtually always has much deeper kick-up base, a champagne style "banded" finish, and is usually a bit proportionally wider in the body. 

Apollinaris is the name of a famous spring in Germany which was first bottled in 1852 though at that time it was most likely in tall, relatively narrow handled earthenware jugs which were commonly used for other German mineral waters.  It was later (probably by the 1870s) also bottled in the distinctive type bottle shape shown, which is usually olive green in color.  Apollinaris water continues to be sold worldwide today (Schulz 1980; Apollinaris-Schweppes website:  The name apollinaris stuck as the name of this style with bottle makers and users most likely to capture a bit of the cachet of the famous European waters - a not uncommon goal at that time in the U.S.  Click Cook's Mineral Water to see a labeled apollinaris style bottle that was used for a California mineral water and which also dates from the early 20th century most likely.  These bottles were typically made with relatively heavy glass indicating  use with carbonated mineral water (Lohmann 1972).

Finishes on apollinaris bottles were typically a  short blob (like that of the bottle pictured) from the early 1880s to the early 1900s when the crown cap began its climb to domination on all beverage bottles including this style by the 1910s.  However, blob finishes with swing ("Lightning") type closures were used at least as late as 1920 on machine-made bottles (IGCo. 1920).  Though primarily used for mineral water, this type bottle was also used for lager beer from the early 1870s to at least the mid-1880s and apparently particularly by the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association (Wilson 1981; Lockhart 2007).  These earlier "apollinaris" type bottles were most likely blown in a two-piece mold (though might have been occasionally turn-molded) with true applied finishes.  This style was also used for other products on occasion; click California Brandy to view a ca. 1900-1910  apollinaris bottle used (or more likely, re-used) for liquor and sealed with a lightning type closure.  Click close-up of closure to see such.  (Images from eBay®.)

Bythinia Water; click to enlarge.Other Styles:  The large amber bottle pictured to the right is a California mineral water bottle that is embossed BYTHINIA WATER on the shoulder.  It is mouth-blown with a tooled oil type finish more or less (though it is close to being a packer finish), was blown in a cup base mold, and has multiple air venting marks on the shoulders and within the side mold seams.  These diagnostic features (especially the copious air venting) indicate a late mouth-blown manufacturing date, i.e., 1905-1915.  Bythinia Water was apparently from a spring in the Santa Barbara, CA. area and was sold by the Santa Barbara Mineral Water Company of San Francisco, CA.  It was advertized as early as 1897 and at least as late as 1923, bracketing the estimated date derived above from the manufacturing based features (Fike 1987).  Given that the glass is of moderately heavy thickness (bottle actually weighs 19-20 ozs.) it is possible that this product was carbonated, though that is not certain.   Some examples also have a makers mark for the Illinois Pacific Glass Company (IPGCo. in a triangle) on the base and the mold number "397" (Serr pers. comm. 2006).  The IPGCo. (San Francisco, CA.) was in business under that name from 1902 to 1926; dates which also fit - and help confirm - the diagnostic features determined date range noted above (Lockhart et al. 2005d).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the mold number ("397"); close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish showing the embossing which is sharply defined.

1920s machine-made mineral water; click to enlarge.The quart size mineral water bottle to the left, which may possibly have been used for soda or even beer, is machine-made and marked on the base ("O" inside of a square) as the product of the Owens Bottle Company (Toledo, OH.) which used this mark from 1911 to 1929 (Toulouse 1971).  This particular bottle was likely made in the 1910s or early 1920s and exhibits a very distinct and crude Owens Automatic Bottle Machine induced suction scar on the base.  It is of fairly heavy glass (weighs almost 24 ozs.) so it is assumed it was made to contain a carbonated beverage of some kind.  The bead type upper part of the finish actually accepts a crown cap closure, but was likely used with either a Kork-N-Seal or Goldy closure.  Both of these closure types were often (but not always) the same size and conformation as the crown cap but with relatively reliable re-closeable cap.  Click onEarly 20th century mineral water bottle; click to enlarge. the following links for more images of this bottle:  base view showing the makers mark (box "O") and the distinct suction scar; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish showing the odd three-part finish with the bead type upper part.

The large (about 1/2 gallon) mouth-blown mineral water pictured to the right contained (and embossed as such) a popular mineral water called  BUFFALO LITHIA WATER and dates from the early 20th century.  (Photo from eBay®.) This specific bottle has most of the original label intact; to view click labeled Buffalo Lithia Water.  Mineral "lithia" water (mineral water containing lithium salts) from the Buffalo Lithia Springs  (Virginia) was first commercially bottled in 1876 although the embossed, one-half gallon sized bottles were probably first used around 1878 or shortly thereafter as the sitting woman with a pitcher trade-mark was registered that year.  Various, very similar versions of these bottles continued until about 1918 when the term "Buffalo Lithia Water" was court ordered to be replaced by "Buffalo Mineral Springs Water" when analysis proved the water contained little or no lithium (Wilberger 2011).  The product was advertised as "Natures Great Specific for Dyspepsia and Gout" and claimed to treat an assortment of diseases ranging from typhoid and malaria to rheumatism and more.  It should be noted that these bottles came in an assortment of colors ranging from cobalt blue to blue-green to shades of amber to the most commonly encountered aqua.  (3/2016 note: An excellent article by Jack Sullivan on these bottles and the history behind them is contained within the May-June 2015 edition of Bottles and Extras [Vol. 26:3, #219, pages 24-28] the official publication of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors.)

Large bottles of this general shape were often used for mineral water, though very similar or identical ones were also used for bulk chemicals, druggist products, and other bulk liquid products.  Click on 1906 Illinois Glass Company catalog - pages 94-95 to see a virtually identically shaped bottle (upper left page) that was sold by that company as a "Druggists' Packing Bottle" and which came in sizes ranging from 4 ozs. to 2 gallons, including a half gallon size similar to the pictured bottle here.  These bottles were also sold by other bottle companies like the Whitney Glass Works (NJ) in 1904 as the "packer shape - for still water" in pint, quart, 1/2 gallon and full gallon sizes (Lohmann 1972).

Dating Summary/Notes: Due to the variety of shapes and origins of this class of bottles, there are no possible dating comments general to this class or category of bottles.  Larger mineral water bottles must be date estimated using manufacturing based diagnostic features, local research if the company that used the bottle is known (via embossing and/or a label), or preferably a combination of the two.


Siphon (Seltzer) Styles

Siphon bottle with etched lettering; click to enlarge.This unusual class of soda/mineral water bottles are commonly seen today (e.g., antique stores, museums, eBay®) since they were re-usable and rarely discarded unless broken.  Siphon or seltzer bottles are familiar to many people today since the style was used fairly commonly well beyond the mid-20th century and even today.  Siphon bottles also gained a sort of fame as they were often used in comedy acts in early (and not so early) movies (e.g., Marx Brothers, Three Stooges).  Various types of siphon bottles are still available today and made out of an array of materials including glass, stainless steel, aluminum, and even plastic.  Modern siphon bottles are charged (carbonated) with disposable CO2 cartridges which are inserted into the head (metal portion shown on top of the bottle) and can be filled easily without special equipment.  The earlier (pre-WWII) siphon bottles covered here were filled by special (though relatively simple) machines that charged them to about 150 psi; the bottles had to be returned to the soda/mineral water company for refilling.  The term siphon (preferred) and seltzer are interchangeable and refer to the same thing: bottles that deliver a carbonated/pressurized beverage upon demand by pressing a lever and are sealed so that the remaining liquid stays fresh and remains carbonated (Paul & Parmalee 1988).

Siphon bottles are typified by having very heavy glass which was able to withstand pressures of - according to the 1903 Illinois Glass Company (IGCo.) catalog - "200 pounds" (per square inch).  This was important since the filling and use of these bottles could be quite dangerous if the glass were lighter (or flawed).  Click on the following link - 1906 IGCo. catalog - pages 234-235 and pages 236-237 - to view the IGCo. siphon bottles and related equipment offerings a century ago.  Siphon bottles ranged from 11 to 13" in height and were available in various capacities - 18 to 44 ozs - though most common were sizes between about 26 to 38 ozs.  These bottles are usually round in cross section, but were also made with multi-paneled or faceted bodies.  Most siphon bottles were made of colorless glass like the pictured example though wild colors like emerald green and sapphire blue are seen - especially in bottles imported from Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and 1930s.  The Czech-made bottles are often (usually?) marked with "Made in Czechoslovakia" or "Made in Czecho-Slovakia" on the base (Paul & Parmalee 1988).

The pictured siphon bottle is an early 1930s and is stenciled or etched with WHITE PELICAN / BOTTLING CO. / PHONE 38 / KLAMATH FALLS / OREGON.  The base of this item has a Owens-Illinois Glass Company makers mark indicating manufacture in 1931 at their #2 plant (Huntington, WV.).  Click White Pelican Bottling Co. to see a close up of the etched/stenciled lettering on this bottle.  Etched or stenciled product/proprietary lettering was infrequently used on bottles in general though did find a particular niche with siphon bottles from the 1890s through at least the 1930s.  This bottle is of the typical heavy glass and weighs (with the head) over 3.5 lbs.  It is, of course, machine-made and exhibits a base suction scar typical of bottles blown by the Owens Automatic Bottle Machine.

Dating Summary/Notes: These bottles were made for an extended period of time.  The examples with a pedestal base are the oldest usually and date primarily from the 1900 to 1915-1920.  Rounded, non-pedestal base bottles like the one pictured date from the mid 1910s and later with paneled and colored siphon bottles dating from the 1920s and 1930s and likely even later (Paul & Parmalee 1988).  The following website has a good discussion on the history of siphon bottles including illustrations of patents for the different siphon styles that were invented during the 19th century, how siphon bottles were filled, and more:


Hunyadi Janos - Bitterquelle

1890-1910 Bitterquelle bottle; click to enlarge.Before discussing this bottle further, we would like to state right up front that the Bitterquelle bottles were NOT BITTERS or a bitters-like product.  Bitterquelle was a "Natural Mineral Water" as shown in the 1897 advertisement pictured to the left below (scroll down a ways). This misconception, obviously caused by the name, has been going around for decades and still is extremely common.  Just take a look at eBay® in the "Bitters" section where there is almost always a misidentified Bitterquelle in the listings.  Bitters are typically alcohol based medicinal products, and though Bitterquelle claimed medicinal qualities, it was non-alcoholic and never purported to be a "bitters" type product.  It was primarily a mineral water; a labeled version is pictured below stating such.  With that said, we can move on...

The ca. 1900 Bitterquelle bottle pictured to the left is typical of the style and usual size (24 oz.) which apparently varied little over time.  This and all observed examples are a medium to dark olive green in color, have applied short blob finishes (similar to that seen on the apollinaris bottles), and were blown in cup base molds with no apparent air venting.  These bottles - including the pictured one - are usually fairly crude in the body making details like air venting hard to discern.  The bodies are usually "whittle marked" (sometimes heavily) and of relatively crude bubbly glass.  The base of the pictured bottle has the typical embossing which is "SAXLEHNERS / (dot) / BITTERQUELLE / (dot)" around the outside edge of the base and within the indented center of the base "(dot) / HUNYADI / JANOS / (dot).  Click on the following links to view more images of this bottle:  base view showing the embossing; close-up of the shoulder, neck, and finish.

The Bitterquelle bottles are among the most commonly found late 19th and early 20th century mineral water bottles in the U.S. (along with the apollinaris bottles) and were likely imported from Hungary as they have a European glass look to them.  Due to the commonness of these bottles on American historic sites they are covered here even though of foreign manufacture. This product and bottle style was apparently popular enough that similar "knock-off" bottles were being offered in the early 20th century Illinois Glass Company (IGCo.) bottle catalogs simply as "Hunyadi Janos" style bottles.  Like "Kleenex" or "Scotch Tape" this type of bottle was identified strongly with Hunyadi Janos and their brand or type of mineral water.  Almost certainly the bottles offered by IGCo. had unembossed bases (such have been observed) and was attractive to producers who wished to imitate some of the cachet of the true Hunyadi Janos Bitterquelle brand.  Whether the IGCo. bottles were actually made in the U.S. by IGCo. is an open question as there are strong indications that some bottles offered by IGCo. in their catalog were imported (Jones 1961).  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 260-261 to see a 1906 catalog listing (bottom of the right hand page).  This catalog notes that the bottle comes in "pint" (12 oz.) and "quart" (24 oz.) sizes in both green or amber glass.  The Hunyadi Janos bottles from the IGCo. were available at least as early as 1899 and as late as 1911, but gone from their catalogs by 1920 (IGCo. 1899, 1911, 1920). 

Bitterquelle label close-up; click to enlarge.

Bitterquelle, a "bitter aperient water", was bottled by Andreas Saxlehner from a spring in Ofen, Hungary who named it Hunyadi Janos after an early 14th or 15th century Hungarian national hero (Schulz 1980).   (This was apparently an early marketing based appeal to patriot urges.)  Mr. Saxlehner in his advertising made frequent claims to the "aperient" qualities of his water which means "gently moving the bowels", i.e., a laxative (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).  Saxlehner also made many other medicinal claims including that his bottled water being good for "hemorrhoids" and "organic diseases resulting from a fatty degeneration", for the organs of "respiration and circulation", and for "the evil consequences of indiscretion in diet" (Schulz 1980).  To the right is a close-up picture of an original label on an early 20th century example; click Bitterquelle with a label to view the entire labeled bottle.

Bitterquelle post card from 1897; click to enlarge.Dating Summary/Notes: The first importation of these bottles into the U.S. is not known for sure, but the 1897 advertisement to the left notes that the product had been "...a continuous success for over 25 years in the U.S.A." indicating an introduction here by the early 1870s. 

Schulz et al. (1980) noted that Bitterquelle was first marketed in 1863 (Europe most likely) and was being shipped to California by at least 1879.  The authors also noted that many of the Bitterquelle bottles excavated in Old Sacramento were found in "late deposits" likely implying the late 19th to early 20th centuries.  Mouth-blown Bitterquelle bottles are indeed commonly found on historic sites from the 1890s until well into the 1910s, although the product was produced and imported into the U. S. at least into the 1920s as it was still being advertised in 1923 (Fike 1987).  Bottles from the later era (mid to late 1910s and later) were machine-made and exhibit machine-made diagnostic characteristics, though they are otherwise identical to the mouth-blown examples as to conformation and color (empirical observations).  Click on the following links to view images of a ca. 1920 machine-made example:  full bottle view showing the identical size, shape, and color to the older versions; base view showing the identical embossing pattern (though lacking a suction scar indicating production by a non-Owens semi-automatic or automatic machine); close-up of the shoulder, neck and finish with various machine-made diagnostic features pointed out.  As inferred earlier, the mouth-blown examples have diagnostic characteristics (i.e., applied finish, lack of air venting, crude glass) that make them appear older if they had been made in the U.S.; this is a function of the earlier glassmaking techniques used by many European glassmakers through at least the second decade of the 20th century (empirical observations). 

Note: Identically shaped - though presumably not embossed - examples in "quarts" (24 oz.) and "pints" (12 oz.) were listed in early 20th century Illinois Glass Company (Alton, IL.) catalogs as "Hunyadi Janos" bottles; apparently this was not a trademarked name in the U. S.  The bottles were available in "green or amber" glass, with the notation that they could be furnished in "...the Imported Color on order." It is likely that these bottles were actually made in Europe and imported and sold by this company, though that is not known for sure (Illinois Glass Co. 1903, 1906, 1911; Jones 1961).  Click IGCo. 1906 catalog - pages 260-261 to view the offering of these bottles in the 1906 IGCo. catalog.  Non-embossed examples of these bottles have been observed by the author and are possibly the same bottles advertised by this company.


Pedestal base style

Crystal Soda Water bottle in a medium sapphire blue color; click to enlarge.The medium sapphire blue soda bottle pictured to the left is an unusual soda bottle shape variation that is a weird cross between the gravitating soda and the older blob style with the addition of a pedestal base.  The pictured bottle is embossed on the front with CRYSTAL / SODA / WATER CO.  and was used by that company which was located in San Francisco, CA.  The bottles were  certainly made by the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works and date from between about 1873 and 1886.  The applied finish on these specific bottles are sometimes a standard blob finish but are usually like that shown which is hard to classify but could be considered a modified two-part blob finish with a distinctly wider, flaring ring at the rim (click to enlarge).  The Crystal Soda bottles have a distinctive side flattened pedestal base (post-bottom mold production), typical heavy glass to withstand the carbonation pressures, and lack any air venting resulting in embossing that is smoothly rounded.  Some bottles were also made in aqua and green glass although the pictured blue color is typical (Markota 1994). 

The actual closure for most of these bottles was likely a wired down cork.  Some examples with the pictured finish type (though not this example) have a hole on opposing sides of the lower finish in which a metal pin was apparently pushed through to secure the cork (Markota 1994). 

Click Crystal Soda Water reverse for an image of the reverse side of the bottle showing the embossing which specifically reads: PATENTED / NOV. 12, 1872 / TAYLOR'S / U. S. Pt."   Recent research has found that the Taylor's patent reference was for Asher S. Taylor's patent (#133,068) which was - strangely enough - for a "bottling apparatus having an irregular lip or flange to fit irregularities of the mouth of the bottle as described (in the patent)."  That is, the patent had nothing to do with the bottle or finish shape (the specific finish is variable according to the patent) or the closure, but instead for the "bottling and corking machine" used to fill and seal the bottle.  The machine (and related finish) was invented to discourage the re-use of these bottles by other local soda producers which would have a much harder time filling the unusual ringed blob finish with their conventional machines (A. S. Taylor patent 1872). 

Incidentally, the term "Crystal" was frequently used by soda/mineral water manufacturers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The word is still commonly used today by mineral water purveyors due to its implication towards purity.

Dating Summary/Notes: This bottle was used by the Crystal Soda Water Co. of San Francisco between about 1873, when the company was formed, until about 1886 when this style was replaced with a standard Hutchinson style bottle.  The company continued in existence until about 1889 (Markota 2000).  These bottles are not particularly common but are an interesting story and do show up often enough on the West Coast to be considered briefly here.  The general bottle style with the pedestal base is unusual although there were variably similar pedestal base soda bottles occasionally used during the same era in other portions of the country.


Other Styles? - There were of course other stylistic bottle variations used for soda and mineral water, though the above listed shapes cover a large majority of the bottles used during the timeframes covered by this website, 19th century through the first half of the 20th century.  Other styles tend to be uncommonly observed or subtle variations of those covered above.  At this juncture in time other styles will not be addressed but may in the future once this website is "complete"...



For additional images of various labeled soda & mineral water bottles click the following link to view the pertinent section of the Labeled Bottles page.


Again it must be stated that the category of bottles covered on this webpage (Soda & Mineral Water) is very large.  Like all of the bottle "typing" (typology) pages connected to the main Bottle Typing/Diagnostic Shapes page, this page just scratched the surface as to the total diversity of these bottle types.  It does, however, cover the primary styles that were most commonly used and encountered within an archaeological context.  This page has also somewhat emphasized mouth-blown bottles since that subject is of more familiarity to the author of this website than later 20th century, machine-made items.  However, though the automated bottle production era also had incredible variety, it was generally not as diverse as the mouth-blown era (ACL sodas being a possible exception) since shape standardization and simplification was typical of machine manufacturing.  Also, bottle body embossing became much less frequent on machine-made bottles and a significant amount of the diversity of the mouth-blown production era was the different proprietary embossing on essentially the same shapes of bottles.


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This website created and managed by:
Bill Lindsey
Bureau of Land Management (retired) -
Klamath Falls, Oregon
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