View Full Version : Help with soda and beer bottle dating

03-29-2011, 03:11 PM
Hey everyone,
I was wondering when the embossed slogan "This bottle not to be sold" (and related) and "Registered" came into use on soda and beer bottles. Google hasn't helped me, and I'd like to know the general timeline in which these words were used. I have some bottles with neither of the two embossed on it, "This bottle.." only, "This bottle.." and "Registered", and "Registered" only. I'm assuming "Registered" came into use later, but if someone has a good timeline, that would be of great help.


03-29-2011, 08:22 PM
Hey Michael,

Heckuva good question. I've wondered about this myself, but generally in bottom of the hole musings.

My googler didn't help much either. I'm gonna guess circa 1880ish for the debut of "This Bottle Not to be Sold." Maybe with the introduction of the first Hutchinsons. There were lots of new bottles and closures being introduced along thereabouts. Bottles were an expensive nuisance for the bottlers, I bet.

Dale Murschell in his excellent article American APPLIED GLASS SEAL Bottles (http://www.glswrk-auction.com/029.htm) sez, "These merchants of whiskey, wine, and olive oil in the late 1800's, who were using the seal bottles for their products were trying to convey a sense of superior quality (purity, character, premium value, or excellence) as a reason for patrons to buy their brand instead of some other brand. What better way could there be to show this quality than to have an embossed glass seal on the side of the bottle? Having the seal applied was not difficult when the bottles were hand blown. Additionally, this seal portrayed quality much better than just embossing the side of the bottle. There is no indication that these seal bottles were re-used to any great extent. They do not have the familiar “This bottle not to be sold” phrase on the back as many other bottles of the time contained. The embossed applied glass seal eventually evolved to a flat unembossed seal for a paper disk label."

It certainly is a rather coarser embossed reflection of economic reality for the bottler. Times were changing. That shoulder sealed cylinder with the sealed expression of quality and Esprit de Product was morphing into something different. What about the "This Bottle to be Washed & Returned"? I've only seen that on milks, though. Seems hopelessly optimistic in this age. "This Bottle Stolen From" is one I associate with the west.

I've not got a handle on the whole "Registered" angle. I'm assuming this was Trade Mark Registered related. The "Trade Mark" language, with or without a swell logo seems to have preceded the lone "Registered" to my way of thinking. I'm just "feeling" this mostly. Don't have anything hard evidence or timeline wise to support my bottom of the hole musings. Just gut talk.

I'd be interested to hear from the more experienced hands on this one.


03-30-2011, 06:40 PM
The 'Registered' embossing has been around on sodas for a long time - the squat shown dates to the about late 1840's, but it doesn't turn with any great frequency until about the 1880's. All the various return/sold notices (this bottle not to be sold, this bottle to be returned, stolen from, thou shalt not steal, to steal this bottle is a criminal offense, etc.) don't start appearing until maybe the early 1880's, then suddenly everyone has them. This seems to coincide with a sharp rise in theft rates of returnable bottles, mostly by rival bottlers rather than the general public - but used bottle dealers often bought from the public, so the messages were there to encourage poeple to return the bottles instead of selling them to a dealer(or tossing them in a hole, which is what we diggers prefer they did). The theft problem faded by the 1920's, and the notices started dissapearing as well - the 'registered' and 'this bottle not to be sold' embossing were in use the longest, I've seen them on 1950's returnable sodas, and it can probably be found on newer ones. 'Registered' can even still be found on modern returnable milks as well. Exactly what was registered? Got me - the compant name, the bottle, maybe it just sounded official. It would be interesting to compile a list of all the different 'return' embossings that were used and for how long...


03-30-2011, 07:04 PM
What was actually registered?

I was thinking the product trademark at first but I dont think US trademarking started until much later.

The early text reminds me of the Radways embossing "..according to an act of congress..."

03-30-2011, 07:10 PM
I always figured it was the company that was registered. Never thought about it till now.. [8|]hmmmm

03-31-2011, 03:02 PM
repost this in the soda section I bet you sodapopbob has a lot of iinfo to share, along with many others who frequent that forum..interested to see the results also

03-31-2011, 03:07 PM
sorry didnt mean to imply that you were not getting good infomation here, because you are

03-31-2011, 10:27 PM
Thanks guys!

It seems like these wordings on soda and beer bottles were universal, so it got me wondering if there was some sort law back then that required that a bottle had these markings. The more I think about it, the more illogical it seems, though [:)]