tempus fugit

By ceridwen

A load of codswallop

It wasn't easy to get a good photo of these two old bottles, both of which I found quite recently, one in the garden and one down in the woods. I was thrilled! True, they are broken but that's part of their history.

They are old-fashioned soda water, lemonade or ginger beer bottles - all of which beverages used to be referred to as 'pop'. They are known by collectors as Codd bottles after their inventor, Hiram Codd. British despite his name, he worked in the soft drinks business and struggled with the old problem of how to retain the fizz once the bottle had been opened. In the 1870s he designed and patented a method of sealing a glass bottle by means of a glass ball in its neck, which the pressure of the gas in the fizzy drink forced against a rubber washer. Making the bottle was a technical challenge, since the ball necessarily had to be larger than the diameter of the neck. It was only in 1876, when he teamed up with a Yorkshire glass blower named Ben Rylands, that the answer was found. The Codd bottle was an immediate success. You opened them by pushing the ball into the neck with short cylinders supplied for the purpose (although more often people just used their little fingers and in America the bottles didn't catch on for that reason, hygiene being more of an issue there.)

Codd bottles remained in use until the 1930s, giving pleasure to generations of children who routinely smashed them to release the marbles in the neck. The patent remained with the Codd family but the bottles were made for local  bottling plants and impressed with their trademark and place of origin. These two are both from my small west Wales town of Fishguard and I was able to seek information from my usual source, an elderly man whose knowledge of the area is unparalleled. The bottle of the left, which seems relatively modern, comes from the Gwynfa mineral water works, now gone; that on the right is more interesting, and older. It's marked T. Lewis & Co. Fishguard (whose former bottling plant is still known as The Popworks) and it bears a curious logo which I've seen described as an iceberg - it seems to make sense for a cold drink. But my old friend treated this suggestion with derision: of course not, it's the Needle Rock! And so it is: I blipped it here about a week ago.
And another blipper blipped her intact Codd bottle only yesterday.

[Codswallop: English colloquial expression for nonsense, said by some to stem from a contemptuous reference to Codd's non-alcoholic drinks (wallop being an old word for beer). However it is more generally accepted that the derivation can be found much further back, in the Anglo-Saxon word for testicles.]

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