Torpedo Bottle Stands

Torpedo-bottle-holdersLeft: silver plated torpedo bottle holder (sold on ebay for $75); middle: Carrington Sterling Silver torpedo bottle stand (on eBay, but not for sale); on right: 1880/90s Silver Plated Hamilton Torpedo Bottle Stand (via: Worthpoint)

And, since all forms of packaging (even archaic forms) beget package-related accessories, there had to be such a thing as a “torpedo bottle stand.” (Even if torpedo bottles were designed not to stand up.)


(More torpedo bottle stands, after the fold…)

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Torpedo Bottles

Stretton-torpedoTorpedo bottle for sale on eBay ($60)

In addition to the rocket and bullet shaped bottles we’ve been looking at, another category of projectile shaped bottle is the “torpedo bottle.”

The Torpedo bottles have a round end to prevent them from being stood up. The idea was that the soda kept in contact with the cork and stopped the cork from shrinking; the corks would dry up and shrink on upright bottles, causing the bottle to loose pressure. A side advantage for the merchant was that the consumer had to finish the beverage before the bottle could be laid down.

Seems counterintuitive, right? A container for liquids that cannot stand upright on its own?

The idea that, once opened, a beverage in this bottle had to be finished before putting the bottle down, makes pulling the cork on one of these bottles a little bit like pulling the pin on a hand grenade. (Or like drinking from one of those awful bottomless Champagne glasses.)

Schweppe’s water once came in this type of bottle… (via: ebay)


There seem to be a lot of other names (round-enders, ovate bottles, egg bottles, bomb bottles) but mostly these are called either “torpedo bottles” or “Hamilton bottles” after William Francis Hamilton, whose aerated water business required them:

I generally use a glass or earthen bottle or jar of a long ovate form for several reasons, viz: — not having a square bottom to stand upon it can lie on its side, of course, no leakage of air can take place the liquid matter being always in contact with the stopper. It permits its contents to be poured out more easily and consequently with less loss of fixed air. It can be much stronger than a bottle or jar of equal weight made in the usual form and is therefore better adapted for packing carriage etc.

William Francis Hamilton
A New Mode of Preparing Soda and other Mineral Waters, Spirituous, Acetous, Saccharine and Aromatic Liqueurs and Sundry Improvements Relative Thereto

There is, however, some debate about the true purpose of the “Hamilton” bottle’s shape and whether it was really Hamilton’s invention to begin with…

Hamilton bottles are in fact a misnomer and this designation springs from errors made by bottle collectors in the 1960s. The error was due to misinterpreting the words patent and Hamilton that appeared on the side of some early mineral water bottles. Hamilton did not patent the torpedo bottle shape and indeed may not have been the inventor…

Torpedo shaped bottles appear… at the end of the 18th century. The glass bottles made at the time were often not strong enough to contain the pressure of the gas and could explode (the bottom blew off). Glass capable of holding fizzy liquids was only made in Britain at the time and was very expensive; as a result it was reserved for expensive liquids such as Champaign. Drinks such as ginger beer were normally contained in stoneware bottles. The torpedo shape allowed cheaper glass to maintain the necessary strength to hold carbonated drinks. The fact that it made it necessary to lay the bottle on its side and so keep the cork moist was an added benefit but not the original raison d’etre. (After all conventional wine bottles are stored on their side to keep the corks moist). Torpedo bottles were also made in stoneware at the beginning of the 19th century. By 1914 glass making had improved considerably and the torpedo bottle was unnecessary being largely replaced by Malmstrom’s 1901 patent design and even ‘normal’ shaped bottles.

–Centurion (from Great War Forum:
Trench food and their containers”)

(The above mentioned Malmstrom’s 1901 patent and another bottle photo, after the fold…)

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3 Bullet Shaped Bottles


Last Friday, it was rocket-shaped bottles with fins. Without fins, a bottle with a nosecone begins to look more like a missile or a bullet…

1. Michelobe Celebrate 2007 cherry lager (also came in Chocolate): winner of a Glass Packaging Institute 2007 “Clear Choice Award” for its “elegant, 24 oz. custom glass bottles featuring refined pressure sensitive labeling” but reviewers never fail to mention the bottle’s shape. An Epinion: “ Some say bullet-shaped. I say Alberto VO5, or those food-coloring containers. Either way, it’s a shape unique to these holiday beers. Certainly it catches the eye, but beware fancy packaging; it often leads to disappointment with the contents therein.”

2. Debowa Military Vodka (because bullets are beautiful): “Consumers of liquors associate Oak Vodka of Poland with the vodka of the highest quality, refined taste, consistent with traditional recipe, and served in a beautiful packaging.”

3. Red Army Vodka, captitalizes on the Bolshevik Revolution: “In 1917, a small band of exiled Russian citizens changed the face of their nation and the course of world history. These were the young, proud men of the famous Red Army. They were workers, students, soldiers, bonded with a common goal. Led by only a few, they rose up against the oppression of a Czarist Russian government, fighting in horrific conditions. They were countrymen armed with only two weapons. The first was their undying commitment. The second was vodka.”

See also: Gun-Shaped Bottles and Single Action Army Revolver Retail Box

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

3 Rocket Shaped Bottles


A subset of vehicular packaging: rocket shaped bottles with fins. (In each of these three recent examples, the brand includes the letter “Z” for some reason.)

1. Zimbi Juice Drinks (on left) are described as “Aerodynamic Nutrition in Earth’s first flying bottle.” Their rocket shaped bottles, are recyclable, but are aslo intended to be reused as toys:

Zimbi flying bottles really fly! The bottles are aerodynamically designed to fly when thrown empty; Once you have discovered the bottle’s secret, you can throw the bottle over 100 feet.

IMPORTANT: Only throw the bottles empty. Throwing any bottle that is full of liquid can be dangerous.

2. Zun Energy Drink’s rocket shaped bottle (center) was launched in 2009. Here, the rocket serves as a metaphor for the “brain-blasting Energy®” the consumer derives from drinking the beverage.

3. LazyTown Go Water (on right) is Nordic Water’s TV tie-in brand of children’s bottle water that comes in an “easy to hold, rocket-shaped bottle.”

(Additional photos of all three brands, after the fold…)

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Donald Deskey’s Odorono Jar


Celebrated industrial designer, Donald Deskey is well-known for package design of iconic brands below. Perhaps less well-known, is his structural design of the “Odo-Ro-No” Cream Deodorant jar for Northam Warren Corporation.

Deskey2aDeskey packaging from the exhibit, “Creative Conscious: The Unconstrained Mind of Donald Deskey” (Photo via: Gilmore Branding)


Based on advertising images, Deskey’s art deco jar was in use during the 1940s. Haven’t been able to find any photos online of an actual surviving jar of this type.

The embossed lid was apparently discontinued sometime in the 1950s in favor of a plain flat version. (as with the pink one above)

Don’t know whether Deskey had anything to do with Odorono’s graphic design.

(Odorono’s trademark papers, after the fold…)

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Patent Medicine as Political Metaphor

WarnersSafeDiabeticCure Not an insulin bottle: H. H. Warners “Safe” Diabetes Cure (photos from Warner’s Safe Cure Blog)

In Friday’s post (about Charles Antell’s Formula No. 9) I took an off-topic political swipe at “today’s neo-Reagan Republicans.

Formula No. 9’s truth-in-advertising problem (there were claims made about curing hair loss) goes back to patent medicine and the laws, enacted to prevent fraudulent product claims. Not that these laws completely ended deceptive marketing. Nowadays, instead of saying “A sure remedy for diabetes” a company today might say something like, “Emerging science suggests…”

What prompted my parenthetical politics on Friday, was the apparent unanimity among current Republicans hopefuls that any governmental intervention in business affairs is bad for business, bad for jobs, un-American etc. Following the GOP’s current economic tenents to their logical conclusion, we would need to repeal the Pure Food and Drug Act and embrace the sale of rancid meat and patent medicines. Surely even die-hard conservatives would have to agree that those governmental regulations (brought about by Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt) were a good thing… right?

Wrong. By today’s political calculous Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican in name only. Maybe there’s some revisionist history at work here, in which we would all have been better off if patent medicines had never been regulated. Glenn Beck seems to swing that way.

But in the broader cultural sense, both political parties seem to understand that patent medicine was a harmful fraud, because both sides use it as a metaphor to criticize each other.

Roosevelt, himself, used it when he complained in 1898 about how McKinley’s campaign manager, “advertised McKinley as if he were a patent medicine.”

More recently the metaphor has coalesced around the economy…

Political illusions—the blue smoke and mirrors that have accompanied Reaganomics, for instance—are maintained only by hope. It’s the same sort of hope that benefits salesmen of snake oil and patent medicine; people ache so badly for relief that they suspend cynicism and mistrust.

An Honest Man, 1981, The Harvard Crimson


“The low-growth years of the past two decades have produced an intense, fascinating debate between economists of rival ideologies. Sadly, they have also produced the policy entrepreneur—the economic snake-oil salesman who offers easy anwers to hard problems.”

“The fault line between serious economic thinking and economic patent medicine, between the professors and the policy entrepreneurs, is at least as important as the divide between left and right.”

Paul Krugman, 1994
Peddling Prosperity:
Economic Sense and Nonsense in an Age of Diminished Expectations


The Great Tax Cut Delusion and its false promise of a free lunch for the American people must be cast aside as a patent medicine dangerous for the nation’s health. If not, we risk speeding rapidly toward a second tier economy and a vanishing middle class.

Walter Williams and Bryan D. Jones, 2008, SeattlePi
False promise of free lunch
Bush policies put U.S. on road to second-tier economy and vanishing middle class


Unfortunately for America, we bought “Mr. O’s Special Blend of Snake Oil Hope & Changery,” and now we’re broke and worse off than we were before.

Obama the Snake Oil Salesman
The Conservative Brawler, 2009


Thank you for acknowledging that Republican medicine has earned a Patent. While the drug that Democrats are pushing is experimental. Still not ready for use on rats, but Democrats are taking a short cut. Injecting it directly into humans. Risky at best. Deadly?

A pro-Republican comment about Jay Bookman’s anti-republican blog post in 2009: GOP still peddling its patent medicine


Last night, watching President Barack Hussein Obama’s press conference, I felt thrust back in time to the con men of the medicine shows. Obama is more polished than the quacks of old, but he’s just another snake oil salesman.

The Great Obama Traveling Patent Medicine Show
Robert J. Avrech, 2009


The latest term of political art is an old-fashioned insult: Snake oil.

President Obama used the phrase twice yesterday to describe Republican economic policies, saying the GOP would wreck the economy (again) if it re-takes control of Congress.

The Republicans "are clinging to the same worn-out, tired, snake oil ideas that they were peddling before," Obama said in Los Angeles…

Of course, the definition of snake oil is in the eye of the political peddler.

Republicans say the term applies to Obama policies — the stimulus bill, health care, new business regulations — that they say have failed.

Obama, Republicans offer different definitions of ‘snake oil’
USA Today, 2010


The GOP’s prescription for our economic woes is like one of those old bottles of patent medicine you see in museums — dusty, completely ineffective, peddled by hucksters, and probably containing something that will make you even sicker. Nevertheless, this morning’s very dismal jobs report has the GOP reaching for some of that old-time medicine yet again.

The GOP’s Bad Medicine, 2011,


Here at home, the GOP is pushing austerity politics like patent medicine, but far too many Democrats — including the White House — are also buying in…

Bruce Schmiechen, 2011
The Austerity Agenda: Governments creating even greater disaster

(Some political cartoons, after the fold…)

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Owens-Illinois: Glass is Life

O-I’s new “Glass is Life” campaign is the latest salvo in the battle between glass and plastic. Citing the benefits like “Glass is 100% recyclable, endlessly” (unlike plastic) and “Doesn’t leach anything into food or drink” (unlike plastic), this campaign makes the rivalry between glass and plastic explicit. (While plastic has been busy cleaning up its perceived public image by touting the positive environmental impact of light-weighting, biodegradable plastics, etc.)

Interestingly, Owen-Illionois hasn’t always been so dead-set against plastic…

Until July 2007, the company was also a worldwide manufacturer of plastics packaging with operations in North America, South America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Plastics packaging products manufactured by O-I included containers, closures, and prescription containers. In July 2007 O-I completed the sale of its entire plastics packaging business to Rexam PLC, a UK listed packaging manufacturer.

Wikipedia’s entry on Owens-Illinois

We’ve commented in the past on the contrast between relatively benign beach glass and the eco-disastrous microscopic plastic particles in the ocean’s floating garbage patch. Our trips to Dead Horse Bay have also got me thinking more about glass versus plastic. Add to O-I’s list of benefits of glass over plastic: “better for archeology.”

One odd, apocalyptical side-note: we went just yesterday to Dead Horse Bay Beach and were astounded to see this man in speedos and water shoes padding across the bottles and broken glass to go for a swim in Dead Horse Bay.

(Another video from the “Glass is Life” campaign, after the fold…)

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Formula No. 9

On left: an unearthed jar of Charles Antell Fomula No. 9 (photo by Debby Davis); on right: a 1953 photo of Charles Antell’s founder, Charles D. Kasher from Life Magazine

Okay, I know that I said that two weeks of Dead Horse Bay archeology was enough, but we went back there last weekend and I happened to find this Charles Antell “Formula No. 9” jar. Never heard of the product before, but its vintage styling and hormonal claims piqued my interest.

Charles_antell_pomade Promoted as a baldness cure—(“Did you ever see a bald-headed sheep?”)—the lanolin-based Formula No. 9 was the premier product of Charles D. Kasher’s Baltimore-based hair care juggernaut: Charles Antell, Inc. (“Antell” was his Mother’s maiden name.)

Originally this milkglass jar’s cap was white, enameled metal. (See photo on right from Pro Commerce) After 50 years buried in a Brooklyn landfill, its rusty cap has now bonded with surrounding rocks and roots. Giving the jar, itself, an epic hairdo.

Pictured above, holding a jar of Formula No. 9 in his hand, Charles D. Kasher looks like an interesting character. The product does not appear to have prevented hair loss in his case.

A gifted huckster, Kasher was a master of the unusually long sales pitch. (The more you tell, the more you sell.) His 30 minute television commercials (with titles like “A Hair Raising Tale”) were among the earliest examples of what would eventually be called, the infomercial

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have done everything but go into your home and put it on your hair every day for thirty days. Now, it’s up to you. If you’re tired of hair trouble, and you believe as I do that [Charles Antell Formula No. 9] has the answer, step to your telephone now. Call the number you are about to hear. And if you don’t believe, or aren’t convinced, call the number anyhow. Because if it works, and it will, it’s certainly worth the price … if it doesn’t, it has cost you nothing.”

via: NY Folklore

His Life Magazine photo accompanied an article entitled, “Money Makers of a New Era”— subtitled: “Despite taxes they take risks and make money from own businesses.” (Note to today’s neo-Reagan Republicans: Charles Antell, Inc. made loads of money and employed people despite taxes and certain onerous governmental regulations…)

Docket 6102, Charles Antell Co., Inc., and others. Order issued December 18, 1953 The order issued by the Commission in this case prohibited false and misleading advertising of Charles Antell Formula No. 9… This order affected the  advertising  program  of Charles Antell amounting to approximately $8,000,000 annually. Among other things the order forbade claims that Formula No. 9 would prevent baldness or loss of hair…

Annual Report of the Federal Trade Commission
For the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1954

Billboard One year later, Billboard reported that Kasher had cashed out, leaving the hair care company that he founded and starting a new television advertising company called “Television Advertising Associates” or TAA. (Note how Billboard characterizes Kasher’s career as a “meteoric rise” from “hepest of hep med workers” to “top spot on the totem pole at Charles Antell”)  Although he does not yet seem to have a Wikipedia page, Charles D. Kasher was a serial entrepreneur whose main career was yet to be revealed…

(More about Charles D. Kasher, after the fold…)

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