s Soft drinks - bottled by design - Hull Museums Collections

Soft drinks - bottled by design

At first, carbonated drinks were contained in stoneware bottles, but these had a tendency to allow the gas to leak and consequently make the drink 'flat'. As a result, makers began to use glass for their bottles. The problem with the glass bottles was that the pressure of the gas within the bottle could force the cork stopper off especially if the cork dried out.

Many shopkeepers were reluctant to store the drinks on their side to keep the cork wet, so manufacturers adopted a new shape devised by William Hamilton called the 'Hamilton Bowler'. This was egg-shaped with a rounded bottom preventing the bottle from standing upright. This shape came into general usage in 1840 and was used until the end of the nineteenth century.

The 'Codd' bottle

Thousands of different types of bottle closures were tried and tested. In 1875 Hiram Codd, from Barnsley, introduced a design featuring a glass marble to keep it airtight. The bottle could only be 'opened' by pushing the marble down into an integral compartment within the bottle-neck and meant that every customer needed a wooden cap with a plunger. The bottle was patented as a 'globe-stoppered' bottle although it was more widely known as the 'Codd' bottle.

Hybrid designs

The bottles were popular with young children, who liked to break the bottles to get the glass marbles out to play with, forcing Codd to use oval-shaped marbles in an attempt to discourage this. The design inspired the term 'Coddswallop' a derogatory term used by beer drinkers to refer to the soft drinks in the 'Codd' bottles.

Numerous designs sought to combine the different elements including a Bowler design with a flat-bottom and even a Bowler with a marble compartment in the neck. Despite the introduction of the screw-stopper in 1872, the 'swing-stopper' in 1875 and the 'crown cork' in 1892 the 'Codd' bottle continued to be used until the 1930s.

Hull landmarks used as branding and trademarks

Two Hull companies adopted local landmarks as part of their branding. Hindle & Sons bottles featuring the Wilberforce Monument. whilst the ale makers Linsley & Company, featured the King William III equestrian statue in Market Place and Burstall & Dodds used a Mermaid. The moulded inscription on the bottle surface usually included the company name and address with some manufacturers also featuring a paper label.

Not all of the bottles that were used for containing soft drinks were made from glass. Companies that made ginger beer in Hull, such as Hawkshaw and Julius Peter's, used stoneware bottles instead with the latter bottles using a buffalo as its trademark.

One of the largest glass bottle-manufacturing firms in the region was Dan Ryland's company in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. The name or initials of the company who made the bottle usually appears on the back or base of the bottle. The Ryland company name is on some of the bottles in Hull Museums collections.

Further Reading

'History and Directory of Hull, 1892', written by T. Bulmer

'Bottles and Bottle Collecting' (Shire Album 6), written by A.A.C. Hedges, Shire Publications Ltd, Risborough.

'Antique Bottles Collectors Encyclopaedia', written by The Ole Bottlemen, B.B.R. Publishing, Elsecar, Barnsley.

'The Book of Bottle Collecting', written by Doreen Beck, The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd, 1973.