As part of our on going search to find yet more exciting collections to fill W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographers’, our office is slowly being invaded by funny shaped old bottles…
They’re called ‘Codd’ bottles and were the most common type of bottle used for containing fizzy drinks from the late 19th century until the early 1930s. Patented in 1872 by Hariam Codd, the bottle was sealed by a marble that was forced against the mouth of the bottle by the pressure of the gas produced by the aerated water .inside. To drink the aerated waters inside you used a special opener to push the marble down. Then when tilted upwards, the marble was captured by two checks on either side of the bottle, allowing the drink to flow out.
For the marble feature to work the bottles had to be filled upside down using an inverted bottler. These bottlers are now incredibly rare, we only know of four that are left in the entire country. We are planning to use a modern Japanese version of the Codd bottle, which have screw tops, so that they can be filled upright using a type of bottler that we have in our collections. This also reduces the chance of any potential choking hazards the marble might cause!
Jim is particularly interested in Codd bottles as a way of telling local history, as each manufacturer of fizzy drinks had their own branded bottles. So far, some of the more unusual examples that we have collected include, one from Newcastle made by R. Emmerson Junior that shows a man riding a penny-farthing, and one from Gateshead with a picture of a bird sitting in a tree. We also have bottles from Stockton, Morpeth, Kirbymoorside, Houghton-le-Spring and many other local places. Our dream is to eventually have a bottle from every village in the North East. Please let us know if you have any that you would like to donate.