Wisconsin antique bottle and advertising club

Albert Albertson patented coiled spring stopper bottle - made by John Matthews

Patent #36,266 Aug. 26, 1862

The design required a bottle with an over-sized blob to house the spring with a shelf at the bottom of the blob to support the bottom of the spring. From the top of the spring a wire with a rubber gasket dangled through the neck. The spring exerted constant upward pressure so the bottle remained sealed at all times by default.

The patent showed a separate key or opener to depress the spring and release the contents while pouring. The absurdity of the design is that it would be impossible to drink from the bottle while holding down the spring. Pouring the contents into a glass while holding the key required two hands. On top of that, the contents are poured through the spring and key which was unsanitary. It’s no wonder it was not popular.

Albertson designed another closure that was patented Oct. 11, 1864 known as the Gravitating Stopper. It became very popular across the U.S. after Albertson sold the rights to John Matthews. It a 2" long glass stopper with a rubber gasket on the end that automatically seated itself after the bottle was filled in an inverted position. It did not require a separate opener and the user could drink from the bottle when it was open because the closure sank to the bottom. It also had the advantage of being captive inside the bottle at all times the like the marble in a Codd bottle. Mathews sold it as a system with equipment that filled the bottle in the upside down position.

Otto Zwietusch used the coiled spring bottle. It appears that he ordered multiple batches of them and had at least two molds made. There are several colors ranging from deep aqua to green. There is even one with an iron pontil mark. Otto Zwietusch coil spring bottles are quite rare but enough shards are dug in the Milwaukee area to suggest they were widely used.

David Gracci's book ”Soda and Beer Bottle Closures 1850 to 1910” indicates that at least 5 varieties of coiled spring bottles are known to exist, some of them embossed on the bottom with “Albertson’s Stopper Made By J. Matthews, New York / Patented Aug 26, 1862”. None of the three Wisconsin varieties have this embossing. The fact that a pontil marked bottle exists and that the Wisconsin varieties lack bottom embossing suggests that Zwietusch and Lindestrom may have used the coiled spring design before the 1862 patent date. If that's the case then Matthews was selling the closures before the patent was awarded which seems very plausible.

Another Wisconsin bottler who used this type of bottle was J.A. Lindestrom (also spelled Lindestram) from Madison, Wis. These are also quite rare and have been found only in aqua. There are two varieties, the second of which appears to date from the 1870’s. A dozen or more damaged examples were found in Lake Mendota offshore from the bottling plant location, some with the springs in place. Lindestrom also used Gravitating Stopper style bottles in the 1870's and 80's. A coiled spring bottle was found that was retrofitted with a 4” long gravitating stopper made from wood.

Albertson designed other bottle closures with internal gaskets. On Nov 11, 1864 he patented an internal coiled spring closure that seems even less practical than his 1862 spring closure design. See Figure 5. When you consider that Albertson only Patented what he thought were his best closure designs you have to wonder what other crazy ideas he came up with that he chose not to Patent. 

Author: Peter Maas
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Categories: Soda/Mineral Water, PopularNumber of views: 3982


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