The history of bottles is of course glued to that of labels.
Here is my earliest known Simonds Label. Note the bottle still has ‘Simonds’ moulded into the glass. A commemorative brew from the Coronation of 1911.
This image of the cellars at Buckingham Palace showed that the Royal Family still had stocks of ‘1911 Coronation Ale’ in 2007!
However – all is not quite as it seems, since we always wondered how it was possible that so many 1911 bottles survived intact into the 21st century and the answer was provided by a website visitor in 2020. This certificate was issued with these bottles – explaining that they were in fact bottled 5 years later, in 1916, and only issued for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth!
Earlier bottles had no label and the brand of beer was moulded into the glass, with more details on the screw top stopper, this one from the Hastings depot.
In 1947 there were 2 Royal events to commemorate; The Royal Wedding, swiftly followed by the Coronation:
I still hope to find a label that celebrates the Coronation of King George VI.
This is the very last brew from the Seven Bridges Brewery in 1979, just before closure.
Beer was also supplied in stoneware ‘flagons’ holding 2 or 4 pints:
Stoneware flagons typically held from 2 pints to a gallon. Some were even fitted with taps. In use from about the 1860’s, the early ones had their brand pressed into the surface. Later, perhaps from turn of the century, the names were printed on and they also carried a ‘stock number’, since the publicans had to return them ‘on deposit’. They faded out in hte 1920’s, save for occasional speciality brews. [any reader who knows more – please contact me!]
Early beer bottles needed to be corked by a specialist ‘Corker’, like the 1911 Coronation bottle above, at which time only 4% of beer was sold in bottles, and most bottles had corks right through the 1920’s. The screw top was first introduced in 1879 when moulds for the bottles came in three pieces, one each for the sides and one for the top. The ‘Crown Cork’ was invented in 1892 in the USA and slowly took over so that by 1952 bottled beers were up to 36% by volume.
This is a crown cork from the 1930’s