Bottle Attributes - Closures
Since there were bottles, man has been looking for a better closure.
A closure held the contents in and protected them. Early closures were
leather or anything soft that could be pushed into the lip of a bottle
to seal it. Eventually, the cork became the preferred bottle closure. At
times tar or pitch was applied to the cork to help seal it.
One of the problems of the cork was shrinkage due to drying out. This
is the reason some bottles will not stand up. When a bottle rested on
its side the contents would keep the cork moist. Other bottles were
stored and shipped upside down to accomplish the same goal. Often a
string or wire was fastened around the neck and over the cork to secure
it against pressurized contents.
The cork was basically a one time closure. Inventors began
looking for a bottle closures that were reusable and would be cheaper
than corks and towards the end of the nineteenth century, inventors were
looking for a closure that would prevent the refilling or reuse of a
bottle. Some types of beverages had pressurized contents that
poised additional opportunities for inventors.
As the industrial age dawned, there started a slow but steady number of
patents for closures for bottles. One of the earliest patents was for a
soda water bottle closure was in 1855 issued to Jules Jeannotat.
In 1885, there were over 80 patents granted for soda and beer closures
alone. As industries matured and smaller businesses were consolidated into
larger ones, uniformity was achieved in bottle closures. For
example, the crown cork effectively replaced all soda and beer bottle
closures and became the standard by 1920. The crown worked well on the
automated bottling lines and was more sanitary than other closures.
The closure used on a bottle has something to say about a bottle's age.
Closures used on specific types of bottles have periods of use that are
not reflective of the closures general used for other bottles. For
example, the screw-on top was used on many types of bottles, but try and
find a true screw top soda bottle. Other closures were designed for use
on soda or beer bottles. For example the Hutchinson and Codd stoppers
were designed for carbonated beverages. They both needed the pressure of
the charged gases to seal them. You will not find these closures on any
other type of bottle. Closures were often patented and the patent date
establishes the earliest date of the bottle. Some closures were only
used on a single bottle, often on the bottles of the inventor. The
Roorbach and Tucker stopper is a prime example. Other, like the ABC
Patent, gained limited success. While some, like the Hutter, were
extremely popular. Those that were popular spawned imitators who made
minor improvement to the widely used closure. There are no doubt over
one hundred different patents for a bail type closure for beer bottles
that are all variations of the "Lightning" stopper.
As more economical and easier to use closures were invented, older
styles fell out of style. Health laws in the United States and
eventually elsewhere in the world doomed many closures as unsanitary.
These events all help to mark the end of a closures use.
Closures achieved different levels of popularity in different countries.
The Codd stopper was immensely popular in England and its empire, but
was rarely used in the United States. The Hutchinson stopper was the closure
of choice in the United States, but is virtually nonexistent in Britain.
Regions can also have an influence on a bottle's closure. William
Painter's 1885 patent bottle closure, popularly called the Baltimore
loop seal, was widely used in Baltimore and the Mid-West, but scarcely
used in Philadelphia.
The following bottle closures are documented on this site:
Beer Bottle Closures
Soda & Mineral Water Bottle Closures
Click on the links above to get more information on an
attribute or to identify a bottle that you are researching.