Natural spring mineral water was the predecessor to "soda," a term which was coined in the 1800s. In the U.S., the earliest known mineral water was from Jackson's Spa in Boston in 1767. Early bottles were handblown and corked shut. The bottoms were rounded because they needed to be placed on their sides to keep the corks moist. The "Coda stopper," which was a bottle with a ball closure, was patented in 1873. By 1903, automatic bottle-blowing machines were used, but handblown bottles were still produced until the 1920s. Collectable glass soda bottles are usually pre-1920s and handblown with painted labels.
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Determine the shape of your bottle. Some patent shapes were more common than others, and rarer shapes are more valuable. The Hybrid Codd shape is thin and rounded at the bottom, circa 1873 to 1895, and was only used by eight companies, including the Tahiti Lemonade Works from Hawaii.
Look at the lip and bottom of the bottle. Handblown lips are were made before 1860 and had imperfections. The bottom of the bottle would be marked by the rod leaving a pontil mark where the lip was formed and then snapped off. Other marks like letters or numbers are mould identifiers. However, pontil marks are from older bottles, which are more valuable and collectable.
Determine the colour of the bottle. The most valuable colour is red or amethyst, and less than 20 companies used this colour for soda and beer bottles between 1846 and 1848. Another valuable colour is blue, which was used between 1845 and 1905. Richer blue colouring is more valuable, but collectable soda bottles also come in other colours including green, amber and clear.
Look at the closure of the bottle. The type of closure can help determine the age. Cork was used before ball stoppers and crown seals. Very rare closures were ones that did not go into production and were only used by the inventor.
Read the label on the bottle. Labels determine the age and how common the bottle was. For example, the Albany Glass Works label, circa 1847 to 1850, was only found on one soda product and is quite rare.
Tips and warnings
- If you love the look of a bottle, it is a collectable.
- Use a reputable website or book to help you determine the collectibility of a bottle you find at a thrift store or yard sale. There are many highly collectable bottles.
- Use caution when paying a high price for a soda bottle. Ask lots of questions and ask a reputable antique dealer for advice.
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