Antiques, Vintage, Retro, Used Furniture and
Collectibles in Fayetteville, North Carolina
Call Us: (910) 488-7004 or Connect:

The History Of Milk Bottles And What To Look For

The HistoryVariety of Milk Bottles

The first home milk deliveries began in rural Vermont in 1785. That’s quite a long time ago, isn’t it? When milk delivery began, the milkmen would fill the customers’ own jugs. However, it’s not clear when exactly milk bottles replaced the old method of milk delivery.

The first patent for a milk container was issued in 1878, which was the Lester Milk Jar. Not long after that, Harvey D. Thatcher introduced his version of the milk bottle in 1884. Thatcher’s version was the first with a cap, better known as a “milk protector”. That milk bottle was known as the Common Sense Milk Bottle. It was reusable and the patent was issued around 1900. If you’re looking for collectible or rare milk bottles, Thatcher Common Sense Milk Bottles are the way to go.

Dating Milk Bottles

Check The Shape

Milk bottles before the 1930s were round. In 1935, slender neck bottles became normal in the UK. In the 1940s, a square squat bottle became the most popular version to date.

Look At The Style Of Label

These labels were meant to prevent competitors from reusing milk bottles from another company. They also made sure the bottles would make it back to the correct manufacturer for refilling. Most have some kind of labeling, although you may run into a few that don’t. Here are the styles:

  1. Etched Label: These could have been handwritten or stamped in. This looks like a frosted design etched into the glass. Bottles with these labels could easily be from any era.
  2. Raised Embossed Label: This style features the dairy’s name or symbol in raised glass. Before 1933, manufacturers used a slug to add the glass design to the bottle during manufacturing.
  3. All-Over Raised Design: Instead of just having a raised design on the label portion of the bottle, larger dairies had special molds that allowed them to create bottles with all-over raised designs. This was fairly unique at the time.
  4. Applied Color Labels: After 1933, many bottles featured applied color labels with the dairy’s name or logo. These came in various single colors, such as blue, red, or black.

How To Spot Reproduction Bottles

With any type of collectible item, there will always be reproduction items surrounding it. Take caution when looking for collectibles. Many of the reproduction items aren’t meant to pass as antiques, but more so as decorations or as currently used bottles. However, you will run into the bottles that are imitating a rare collectible. It’s important to be able to spot a real bottle from a fake bottle! Here are a few tips we can offer:

  • Be careful when dealing with bottles featuring Disney images or war slogans, as these are frequently faked and passed off as the real deal.
  • If you come across a war slogan bottle etched with the date 1951, you will know that is a reproduction bottle. Sometimes all you have to use is a bit of common sense.
  • Check all applied color labels to see if the paint scratches off. A real label won’t do this. Fake labels are simply printed on the glass and easy to scratch off.

Happy Searching!

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just getting into the swing of things, have fun! Collecting milk bottles can be a great hobby. Learning more about what you’re looking for can just add to the fun! As always, don’t forget to stop by Back-N-The Day Antiques to check out what neat milk bottles we may have in store for you.

1 Comment

  1. heidi on June 29, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Fantastic article. Great info.

Leave a Comment