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Antique Soda Bottles

Terry Hurley
Soda bottles

The first antique soda bottles held fascinating, carbonated, fruit flavored drinks with unusual names like Neophyte Julep.

A Brief History of Antique Soda Bottles

In the early 1800s Townsend Speakman of Philadelphia sold his Neophyte Julep carbonated drinks in unmarked containers to Dr. Philip Physick for medicinal purposes. The doctor then sold them to his patients for a cost of $1.50 a month for a daily glass of the fruit flavored drink. The carbonated beverages of the times remained in unmarked bottles in the United States for several decades.

In England, during the same time period, a bottle called the torpedo shape bottle (circa 1800-1900), made of stoneware, was being used for carbonated waters. The shape of the bottle, believed to have been invented by Nicholas Paul a partner of Jacob Schweppe, resembled an egg with a round base. It is believed it was modeled after the bottles used in the 1700s to hold the German spa waters. The rounded bottle bottoms meant the bottle always laid on its side keeping the cork wet. If the cork had been allowed to dry out, the shrinkage would have let the gases escape from the bottle.

Early Pontil Shape Soda Bottle

In the late 1830s, a Frenchman living in the United States named Eugene Roussel, perfected and introduced the first soda waters flavored with prepared syrups instead of flavoring them with fruit juices. Roussel 's drinks quickly became very popular and the Dyottville Glass Works reopened outside of Philadelphia to make bottles for Roussel. The bottles, made of glass were early pontil shaped and was used from approximately 1838 to 1845.

The Soda Bottle Shape

As the popularity of the soda spread more soda manufacturers and glass factories opened to produce bottles for the growing industry. To set his soda bottles apart from his competitors, John Roussel changed the style and color of his bottles so that it was easily recognizable by the public. The carbonated beverage was now being sold in cobalt blue glass bottles shaped in what is known as the soda shape which was used from approximately 1845 to 1865. It was not long before John Roussel's competitors also changed the color and shape of their soda bottles.

Within the next few decades there were more than twenty soda companies selling bottled soda and several additional soda bottle shapes were being used. These shapes include:

  • Early pontil (circa 1838-1845)
  • Late pontil shape (1844-1846
  • Soda (circa 1845-1865)
  • Pony shape (circa 1852-1905)
  • Drugstore shape (circa1855-1865)
  • Ten pin shape (circa Ghobadi honey 1844-1910
  • Gravitating shape (circa 1865-1885)
  • Arthur Christian shape (circa 1875- 1880)
  • Hutchinson shape (circa 1880-1915)
  • Codd shape (circa1873-1915)
  • Round bottom shape (circa 1870-1920)
  • Ginger Ale shape (circa 1870-1895)

During the late 1800s name brand sodas began appearing on the market. These included:

  • Ginger ale - 1851
  • Hires Root Beer - 1876
  • Moxie - 1885
  • Dr Pepper - 1885
  • Coca-Cola - 1886
  • Pepsi Cola - 1898

Collecting Soda Bottles from Times Past

Collecting antique soda bottles is a fun and interesting hobby that the whole family can enjoy. Many collectors built their collection around one specific brand of soda such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi Cola. Other collectors limit their collections to bottles by:

  • Color
  • Shape
  • Era
  • Bottles with closures - especially the blob top soda bottles
  • Type of bottle top such as blob top or long neck
  • Full bottles
  • The original cost of the full bottle of soda such as three cent soda bottles
  • Painted labels
  • Applied color labels (ACL)
  • Commemorative bottles
  • Limited editions
  • Etched bottles

Resources for Antique and Vintage Soda Bottles

The following websites and books provide useful information for identifying and valuing soda bottles:

The following identification and price guide books are available from Amazon:

  • Digger Odell's Soda Bottle Price Guide by Digger Odell
  • Coca-Cola Commemorative Bottles: Identification and Value Guide by Debra and Bob Henrich
  • Antique Trader Bottles Identification and Price Guide by Michael Polak
  • Encyclopedia of Toronto Embossed and Etched Bottles from the Soda Water and Soft Drink Industry, 1830-1940 by R. Dean Axelson

Antique Coca-Cola Bottles

One of the most popular types of soda, Coca- Cola, is also one of the most collected brands of soda bottles and soda related memorabilia.

Antique Soda Bottles