Package Facts

When I first found this eBook online, I was thinking George Nelson (as in Herman Miller furniture), but George P. Nelson is someone else, entirely.

His 1922 booklet, entitled, “Package Facts” was written while he was an executive at Glass Container Association. Full of arcane information and critiques about state-of-the-art 1920s packaging. No illustrations, but headings like “Play Big With Package Men” and “Containers That Antagonize” keeps things interesting. (Also intriguing: “Generic Words Condemned” and “Chevy Chase and Mayonnaise Are Not Synonyms.”)

I tried to get more of a handle on who George P. Nelson was, but I could not find much…

While at Glass Container Association, he appears to have worked under Judge I. G. Jennings, who once gave a speech about how the streets of hell are paved in glass (and how that ’s a good thing)

Judge I. G. Jennings, the business manager of the Glass Container Association, delivered such an address as one would expect from so eloquent a man. The judge very aptly portrayed the experiences of a glass manufacturer who died and who went to the regions to which he never expected to go, namely to heaven, and tiring soon of that verdant region and the insipid angels he met there, he took the interurban line that goes to hell. In that line he found everything made of glass, even the streets were paved with glass bricks. Upon inquiring as to the reason for this strange phenomenon he was told by Voltaire, Dante and Napoleon that they, upon tiring of the climate there, harnessed hell’s fire to produce glass. They lured the devil into a big glass cage and he looked as small as a tin soldier and they looked a hundred times larger than they were to him and so he did not dare come out. After this introduction the judge talked about the limitless possibilities of the glass industry and by inference suggested a world in which everything was made of glass.

Canning Age, 1920

That’s right. It’s a fact. 99% of your business budget is best spent on package design. (As true now as it was in 1918)

(More facts about George P. Nelson, after the fold…)


Nelson’s resignation from Glass Container Association was reported by Canning Age in 1923 in conjunction with his wedding announcement…


George P. Nelson has resigned his position as Secretary of the Cap and Closure and Crown Cap Divisions of the Glass Container Association to become District Manager with the American Dan Bottle Seal Corporation, in charge of all sales activities of the company in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. Mr. Nelson will open offices shortly at Cincinnati, making that city his headquarters.

In addition to his duties as Secretary with the Glass Container Association, Mr. Nelson was Assistant Director of Business and Publicity and as such enjoyed an unusually wide acquaintance among glass manufacturers and the industry using this type of container. While his loss will be felt keenly by his former associates, it is appreciated that in his new position he will have much wider scope for utilizing his trained faculties as a merchandising executive. Good fortune never comes singly. On November 23rd, Mr. Nelson was married to Miss Esther Knapp of South Norwalk, Conn.

Canning Age, 1923

Nelson also wrote an article entitled Random Thoughts on Bottle Labels which was published in an issue of The Glass Container Association’s magazine. Early issues of The Glass Container do not appear to be digitized yet, but an article about his article appeared in an issue of Drug Trade Weekly, below…

Note the anthropomorphic packaging when Nelson compares men with bottles, as quoted in the article above…

“In men, a pair of square shoulders is considered a mark of strength—not so in bottles. To obtain strength in bottles pick the ones with the sloped shoulders…”

 The Glass Container Association also promoted “facts” about glass as a response to competition from cans. (via: HomeBrewTalk)

One more fact: in a 1940s anti-trust case (Hartford-Empire) the Glass Container Association was officially broken up…

The judgment dissolved the Glass Container Association, an industry group formed in 1919 by glass container manufacturers, because the court declared the organization to be “a breeding place of monopolistic planning.” However, to provide a vehicle for promotion of interests common to the industry, but not contrary to the government’s concerns, the Justice Department permitted, on June 5, 1945, the formation of a new trade organization called the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute (GCMI). The defendant companies were barred from active membership in the new association for five years, but, in the interim, could have representatives attend GCMI meetings.

Jack K. Paquette
The Glassmakers, Revisited: A History of Owens-Illinois, Inc

Glass Container Manufacturers Institute (GCMI) later became Glass Packaging Institute (GPI).

See also: Glass is Life

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