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Soda Water and Flavor bottles


Many bottling companies bottled soda water and flavors as an economical way to increase profits. These soda waters and flavors usually did not require a franchise agreement, and the concentrate was either made in-house or obtained at a nominal cost from companies that sold concentrates. These were the bread-and-butter of many small bottling companies.

Soda water was popular, especially in the 20s. Flavors became a popular alternative to soda water, because the earlier taste was not what we today would call "pleasant", and was generally used to ease stomach aches, headaches or other similar ailments. 

Some bottlers used "generic" standardized bottles to contain these soda waters and flavors, while others chose a design that was more individualized. Because of this, bottles bearing the Coca-Cola name in block letters could be as endless as the number of bottling companies during those years when soda water was produced. 

Also, many bottlers used bottles already designed, with molds in stock at the glass plants, to cut the costs of bottling their sodas. So the same type of bottle, with variations, may be found used by many different companies.

Glass company catalogs had the bottles identified by mold number, which the bottler could customize with his own particular information. These bottles were then modified by the insertion of a "slug plate" or removable plate, which allowed any changes without requiring a completely new mold, and cut costs for the glass manufacturer as well as the customer.

Many soda bottles dating prior to 1920 have such a "slug plate", which often covered the entire side of the bottle. Therefore the same mold number could occur on a bottle from different companies many hundreds of miles apart. 

Some of the bottles carried only the name of the local Coca-Cola bottling company in plain block letters, preceded with "Property of" or "Bottled by". Some carried the city and state location of the bottling company as well. Some of the companies gave names to their soda water. One for soda water that is better known is Quality Beverages Soda Water, although there are others. 

Some other "flavors" are Big Chief, Sunrise, Gateway, etc. Also some bottling companies just simply named their flavor after the bottling company itself, or used a nickname, or their own first, or last, name. Such an example is "Hope's Lime" shown in the advertisement  below for Magnolia Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Sometimes the cap, or a paper label, was the only thing that identified the flavor inside the bottle.

The bottles that have seemed to come up to me for questions are what I refer to as the "Star" bottles. The bottom portion of the bottle is generally square in shape with a series of stars, varying in number from 4 or 6, on the shoulder, and sometimes a single star is embossed on the center of the bottom. Online "shops" and auctions have indicated a price in the range of $35+ for this bottle. 

I have a bottle that is all-round, which I have seen, on rare occasion, in the price range of $55. It is embossed with two stars, one on each side of the shoulder, and simply the words "Soda Water". There is also a single star embossed in the center of the bottom of the bottle. The bottle also mentions that it is "Bottled in Johnson City, Tennessee" which is my hometown, and adds that it is "Property of Coca-Cola Bottling Works". 

Some other bottles can be in the same type of style as the "Star" bottle, but have different embossed figures. One is the Magnolia Coca-Cola Bottling Company soda water bottle, which has an embossed magnolia on the shoulder. Another is the Rome, Georgia bottle, with only the word "Rome" on the shoulder and "SFB" in a circular design below it. "Coca-Cola" is in the familiar block letters at the bottom.

The Richmond bottle with the figure of a colonial man has the words "Richmond Indiana" in large letters around its shoulder. It also claims to be the "Property of Coca-Cola Bottling Company" and says it was "Patented December 29, 1925". 

These bottles also fall in the $35+ price range.

An example
of the "star" bottle
Magnolia bottle shown
in a ad from 1924
Rome, Georgia bottle

A unique bottle that says its name is "Milde", with attractive embossing adorns my shelves with the rest. It also says it is a product of "Coca-Cola Bottling Company", and says it comes from "Jackson, MO". Another beside it was "Patented March 7, 1922" and on each of its side panels, states simply, "Arcadia" "Florida" "A. J. Rowe" and "Coca-Cola Bottling Company". 

star-bott-2.JPG (50779 bytes) escambia2.JPG (64509 bytes) MILDE-2.JPG (40718 bytes)
another "Star" bottle Arcadia, Florida bottle "Milde", Jackson, MO
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The bottles which have no unique shape or embossing, bearing only the "Property of Coca-Cola Bottling Co" and the words "Soda Water" in some variation can be found from time to time, and are also collectible for their connection to Coca-Cola. Their values will vary from bottle to bottle, depending on location and bottling company. 

Research for these bottles gave a price range on online shops varying from $3 to $10. Two examples, Coca-Cola Soda Water bottle from Bangor, Maine, 1920s was listed for $10, while a similar bottle from Litchfield, Illinois was offered for $3. 

The generic bottles depend greatly on condition, where they are from and what the buyer is willing to give for it, as well as what the seller expects to get for it. 

The Quality Beverages Soda Water bottles are usually found in the $3+ range. Most of the ones I have seen have been aqua, or some color similar, and embossed. They are attractive soda bottles, in my opinion, and it surprises me that they are not priced higher than they are. They are usually always in good shape, with little or no case wear, which I find puzzling.

Giving value to the flavor bottles is as varied as the types, colors, names and the locations of these bottles. The Big Chief bottles are usually the most collectible, for their Indian images, ether painted or embossed, as well as the connection to Coca-Cola. I have seen many of these bottles with impressive price tags, from $25 up to one bottle that sold on eBay for over $400.

These flavor bottles are numerous in variations of design, and generally easy to locate. I have also seen some of these flavor names, as well as the types of designs of the bottles, used by other bottling companies as well, but not often. And on the flip side, I have seen other flavors, not exclusive to Coca-Cola, which had the "Bottled by Coca-Cola" as well.

Since many bottlers of Coca-Cola used the Big Chief, or other flavor "name", bottle, many have connected these to Coca-Cola. The fact may be that these flavors were never a product of the Coca-Cola as a company, but rather perhaps a flavor that the company bottled as well as obtaining the Coca-Cola franchise. 

Richmond-2.jpg (55748 bytes) BigChief_2.jpg (53685 bytes) CCSoda.jpg (48341 bytes) JSFrancis.jpg (45373 bytes)
Richmond, Indiana Big Chief bottle C-C Soda bottle J. S. Francis,
Avon Park, Fla
Examples of bottles with different names, all bottled by a Coca-Cola bottler in similar bottles.
***Click on the thumbnails above the description to view full image.***

For example, some of the Big Chief bottles in my collection do not mention Coca-Cola at all. Rather one is from Pickens Beverage Company, Joplin, MO. Another says it is from Purity Bottling Company, in Bristow, OK and another carries the origin of Twin Falls Bottling Company in Falls Church, VA. There are others, but I also do have those which carry the Coca-Cola name in block letters as well, like the one above.

The variations in the bottle could be due to the fact that it was up to the bottler to obtain their own bottles, therefore no standard bottle existed for these flavors. 

Speculation is that later, when Coca-Cola as a company began bottling its own flavors, such as Sprite and Fanta, these various brands began disappearing from the consumer markets. Or perhaps Coca-Cola became so popular that the flavors were no longer necessary to build profit.

There is a method to date older Coca-Cola bottles. Located on the base or along the heel of the bottle or between the heel and the labeling area are a series of numbers, the first two separated from the remaining two numbers by a dash or a manufacturer's mark. A designation of 12-24 would indicate mold #12 manufactured in 1924. 

More recent bottles still use a four-digit system, but the first digit indicates the year; second, the mold; third, a manufacturer's symbol; and finally the glass plant number. But not all bottles would bear this information in this manner. 

Other bottles may have different marking / dating information than this, some of which can be found at: USA Bottle Marks
 
and Common Bottle Marks

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