Round Bottle Sodas
Digger Odell Publications © 2007
Round bottom soda bottles date from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century. The majority of these bottles actually dug or found in this country were imported from the United Kingdom. The most common type were ginger ale bottles.
Although were made in both countries, they were much more popular in England. They most often contained ginger ale. These bottles fall into two major categories: In America, they are round bottoms, called "cucumber" bottles in England, and torpedo sodas named "egg" sodas in England. The torpedo style is an earlier style having been made in the 1840s and 1850s both here and in England. The so-called Round bottom bottles do not appear until about the 1870-80 era.
Shown Above is a Cochrane Seltzer and one of the Company trademarks.
The company that dominated the market in the late 1800s was the firm Cochrane and Cantrell. Henry Cochrane was from Dublin, Ireland though his headquarter may have later been in Belfast and many of the imported ginger ale bottles found in this country, bear his name and the word Belfast. These round bottom bottles could have contained other soft drinks many by this company as well.
I probably get more questions about round bottom bottles than just about any other old bottle because of the unique shape. One of the first questions that come into people's minds is how did they use and ship them since they would not stand up on their own. Bottle stands as shown in one of the illustrations were popular.
Cases, which had wooden dividers, were used for shipping. A frequently oft reported story is that they were stored up-side down or lying sideways so that the cork would not dry out. At that time, corks were the most popular closure and much loss was accrued by companies because the corks, which were secured with a wire bale, could dry out, shrink and allow the carbonation to escape or worse the liquid to spoil or sour.
Many unsubstantiated stories abound about how these bottles were used as ballast and so were often dumped overboard at port. Divers in this country do recover many examples but not nearly enough to support the ballast notion.
Cucumber bottles may have either a both blob or taper lip. When embossed with a name or in a color other than aqua they can be valuable. American examples of either style, cucumbers or torpedos are scarce and when found expensive. In this county, torpedo sodas were made in Michigan, New York, Maryland, Ohio, and rarely from other states. Round bottoms are more easily found and most hail from Boston (Hathaway) or Savannah (Ryan). None are common but some are still available and others are yet to be unearthed.
Embossed English or Irish examples in aqua are not uncommon. Some have been found here, others were imported in the 1970s as collecting bottles became popular. Even today, antique malls will nearly all have one or more examples of the British bottles and none of the American. When unembossed, as the majority of examples are, the aqua bottles sell for very little and are very common.