On my first ever mudlarking trip I picked up an unusual thick glass pointed bottle end. It belongs to a torpedo bottle, also referred to as ‘Hamiltons’, the original producers called them ‘egg’ bottles. A simple but clever invention. The rounded end forced the bottles to lie on their side keeping the cork wet, stopping it from shrinking and thus preventing the fizz escaping from carbonated drinks.
|Mudlarking Finds: The end of Torpedo Bottles|
The line running down each side of the bottle fragments and meeting at the top reveals they were made in a mould and were therefore produced after 1831.
Several hours detective work on the web which I know makes me sound rather sad, but I just couldn’t let it go – and I'd found the company the bottles were made for. John Webb, the soda water company was only a mile or so from us in Islington. Founded in 1818 and granted a royal warrant in 1830 the first embossed lettering was ‘J. Webb, manufacturer/double soda water/to his majesty/Islington/Near London’, very close to the endings on the bottle fragment ‘...ers of /...ter/...sty/...on/....n, looks like the first bottle - ‘...rs/...y’ could be from the same company, later labelling was ‘Webb’s double soda & other waters/to her majesty/Islington/London’ this one from around 1840. In a matter of ten years Islington, an out of London town had been absorbed into the metropolis, funny given we now think of Islington as very inner city.
|Webb's Double Soda Torpedo Bottle with blob top c1840 with 'WEBB'S DOUBLE SODA & OTHER WATERS-TO HER MAJESTY- ISLINGTON- LONDON' embossed. (ebay)|
Victorian households purchased special stands for the torpedos, so the bottles could stand on the dining table. All looks rather elegant - I wonder if there'd be a market for them today?
|Torpedo Stands (backpackagingdesign)|