I'd say this one is pretty early for a crown.


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Here are two early ones that I have. The first one has "The non corkable patent bottle" embossed with the name of the company. It has 4 pieces of glass that are inside the lip of the bottle.

The second one has a seam that sticks out about 1/16" and then disappears.


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Wow that non-corkable patent bottle is really cool! Definitely never seen one of those before. I guess the idea with the pour pieces of glass inside the neck were to prevent people from re-using it with corks? Seems like a bit of an odd thing to be concerned about preventing. I guess maybe it would have worked to prevent people from stealing your bottles in the earliest days of crown caps before they became ubiquitous.


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It is the only one I have ever seen like that too. It is a bonus that it if from the area where I grew up.


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Thanks for sharing your Willms Bros. bottle. The unusual crown finish is interesting - but a little confusing as well. The reason I say confusing is because I did some research on the brothers and the earliest date I can find for them as bottlers is 1910-11.

For starters is the attached snippet from a book titled "South Milwaukee, Then To Now" by Gertrude Moe Endthoff. I'm not sure when the book was originally published, but it may have been in 1955 and then republished in 1976. Based on some additional research I did, it appears the information in her book is accurate. If it is accurate, then you will understand my confusion related to your Willms Bros. bottle.

I also did some research on George Zeiger - who apparently sold his bottling works to the Willms brothers in 1910 or 1911. Notice the similarity of his bottles with the Willms bottles. Here's a brief chronology I came up with for George Zeiger ...

Born in 1857 (Death year unknown)

1900 U.S. Census Milwaukee - Mfg. Soda Water - 42 years old
1910 U.S. Census Milwaukee - Soda Water Maker - 52 years old
1920 U.S. Census Milwaukee - No occupation / Retired? - 62 years old

And here's a chronology I came up with for the Willms brothers from U.S. census records and early Milwaukee directories ...

The brothers were Jacob Willms and John Willms Jr
Their father was John Willms Sr

Jacob - Born 1879 - Died 1963
John Jr - Born 1887 - Died 1962

1900 U.S. Census
John Sr - Occupation Farmer
John Jr - Occupation Laborer - 21 years old
Jacob - Still in school - 13 years old

(No records found between 1901 and 1910 - but still searching)

1911 Milwaukee City Directory - Willms Bros Bottlers

1917-18 WWI Draft Registration
Jacob and John both listed a Soda Water Mfg.

1920 Milwaukee U.S. Census - Jacob and John - Soda Water Mfg.

1930 Milwaukee U.S. Census - Jacob - Owner of Implement Store (No record for John)

1940 Milwaukee U.S. Census - Jacob - Tavern Owner (No record for John)

( I downloaded all of the above and can post them if necessary )

Reminders ...

1. The Crown finish was patented by William Painter in 1892
2. In 1892, Jacob Willms was 13 years old, and John Willms Jr was 5 years old

What's really confusing are the bottles themselves. Notice that one of their bottles has a 'Blob" finish. So called blob bottles generally range between about 1850 and 1880, and were typically replaced when the Hutchinson bottles became popular. I can't explain the Willms brothers using blob bottles because they seem way too early. In fact, your bottle appears to have a combination blob and crown. The brothers also used Hutchinson bottles. However, I don't know which bottle they used first, blobs or Hutch's. Last but not least is their typical Crown bottle - which I don't know the date of either.

More research is required to try and make sense of all this, but hopefully some of what I have provided will lead to other finds and a better understanding of what actually took place. Based on what I have found so far, it appears to me that your particular bottle is early 1900s - and possibly as late as 1910-11 - which is not what I consider to be a super early Crown - although I am keeping an open mind as to when your bottle was actually made and used.

Willms and Zeiger Source Book 1955.jpg

Willms Bros from Gertrude Moe Endthoff book South Milwaukee Then and Now.png

Willms Bros Blob Top.jpg

Willms Bros. Bottle Uncle Bruce Forum Sept 2020 (1).jpg

Zeiger Bottle.jpg

Willms Bros. Hutchinson Bottle.jpg

Zeiger Hutch.jpg

Willms Bros. Typical Crown.jpg
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