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Bottle Collecting Mystery

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posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 09:27 AM
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I'm into old bottles. I got into this hobby a few years back around this time of year while I was out mushroom hunting for morels. I found some old art-decco bottles in a trash heap dumped there in the 1930-40s and that got me hooked.

So, because of where I found those first bottles and the obvious connection to the local area's history, I do a fair amount of research on the bottles I acquire now. I try to give the bottles in my collection some provenance by at least identifying the glass company that made the bottle, the year it was likely made and what product was held by the bottle. So I look into the glass company's history, the beverage company's history, and search the bottle identifying websites to positively identify a bottle I have. Patent searches also give up a lot of identifying information on bottles.

Just yesterday I bought seven old bottles at a garage sale and I was able to identify six and get an average retail value based primarily on eBay sales of those exact bottles. But one bottle has left me scratching my head.

It is a smaller sized 7 ounce beverage bottle made of very heavy glass and decorated by heavy embossed fluted designs. It is made of clear glass and the finish at the top originally had a crown cap that required a bottle opener. At the top of the body, just below the shoulder, is embossed the words "IMPERIAL BEVERAGE CO". Below that, diagonally across the body (front and back) is the word "IMPERIAL" and at the bottom of the body, near the heal, is the words, "KALAMAZOO MICH." On the base bottom is has, "REGISTERED IMPERIAL KALAMAZOO MICH" and a glass makers mark that has the letter C inside of a somewhat rectangular box.

This is plenty enough information to identify this bottle but I found some basic information that complicated identification.

There was, and still is, an Imperial Beverage Company in Kalamazoo that has been in business since 1933, just after prohibition. It has been and still is an alcoholic beverage distribution company. The history offered by the company's website didn't elaborate on what beverages may have been produced in the early years, but a small clear glass bottle is more likely a soft drink or non-alcoholic beverage container, not for beer, wine or spirits. However, the bottle design does look a lot like an art-decco era design.

Now the mystery of this bottle. Zero online information on this particular bottle, no where could I find this bottle. Also, the glass maker's mark, the C inside a slightly rectangular box is from the Crystal Glass Company, Los Angeles, California that was in business from 1921 to 1928. Therefore this bottle dates from 12 to 5 years before this Imperial Beverage Company supposedly existed. Nothing in the history websites for Kalamazoo Michigan or in websites on the history of the beverage company and the glass maker can explain this anomaly.

Perhaps we have some bottle collectors or research nuts here that can provide some helpful information in identifying this bottle. Thanks for all replies in advance.

The link below is as close as I could get, but it is quart sized, not a little 7 ounce bottle. Based on that single link, my bottle is worth $8, making the value of my $7 purchase around 10 times more than I paid ($1 for each bottle). Not that I could ever hope to sell a bottle and get any of the prices I saw on eBay.

LINK

edit on 18-4-2021 by MichiganSwampBuck because: Typo



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 10:25 AM
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I forgot about trademark searches. Since a patent number is not on this bottle I did a trademark search on "Imperial Beverages" "Imperial Kalamazoo" etc. and all I got was a recent patent on a bottle cap design registered in 2013.


Word Mark IMPERIAL BEVERAGE EST. 1933
Goods and Services IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: Importing services of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and wholesale and retail distributorships in the field of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
FIRST USE: 20101000.
FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20101000
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS Design Search Code 19.11.01 - Bottle caps ; Caps, bottle ; Corks (bottle stoppers) ; Lids ; Stoppers, bottle
Serial Number 85310087
Filing Date May 2, 2011
Current Basis 1A Original Filing Basis 1A Published for Opposition
November 6, 2012 Registration Number 4278007
Registration Date January 22, 2013
Owner (REGISTRANT) C.K.L. CORPORATION CORPORATION MICHIGAN 4124 Manchester Kalamazoo MICHIGAN 49001


Another dead end except that information that they distribute non-alcoholic beverages as well as the alcoholic kind.

I can only resolve this issue with the theory that a registered company named "Imperial Beverages" existed in Kalamazoo Michigan sometime in the 1920s that actually produced their own (likely non-alcoholic) beverages. It operated for a short time before prohibition and then went out of business before 1933 when the present day company of the same name started business. Nothing else seems to make any sense and would require contacting the local historical society in Kalamazoo to verify.

edit on 18-4-2021 by MichiganSwampBuck because: For Clarity



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 10:44 AM
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I just sent a message to the Kalamazoo County Historical Society with an edited version of this post. If or when I get a response I will share it here.



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 10:45 AM
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perhaps there was a previous Imperial company there.

pic would help.

baking powder bottle maybe?



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 10:49 AM
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a reply to: ElGoobero

That etsy website link is really close, but it is a one quart version, also clear glass like mine. The clear glass along with the two sizes, quart and 7 oz, leads me to believe these were to hold a non-alcoholic beverage. Also they claim their bottle is from the 1920s.

I've never heard of baking soda in a bottle, a jar perhaps. Did they bottle dry baking powder?



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 10:51 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

I believe this probably had tonic water or soda water in it. My brother has a collection and it seems like the sodas of the times that were bottled in these fancier bottles were often for cocktail mixing.



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 10:57 AM
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Perhaps you have stumbled into a Mandela Effect in the making!



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:04 AM
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originally posted by: Atsbhct
a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

I believe this probably had tonic water or soda water in it. My brother has a collection and it seems like the sodas of the times that were bottled in these fancier bottles were often for cocktail mixing.


Good reply, I was thinking along those lines especially when I discovered that the Crystal Glass Company is well know by collectors for their art-decco seltzer bottles. This could explain a connection to the present day Imperial Beverages Company, but the glass maker went out of business 5 years before Imperial started business apparently. How could a company design such an elaborately embossed bottle, get the molds made and have the bottle produced before the company existed?
edit on 18-4-2021 by MichiganSwampBuck because: For Clarity



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:07 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

Record keeping wasn't really the absolute best at that time either. Lots of inconsistencies when you're looking around for history of objects like this.

Hopefully the historical society can help. This is such an interesting little mystery!



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:08 AM
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originally posted by: ToddB
Perhaps you have stumbled into a Mandela Effect in the making!


I never even went there, but if true I have physical proof!



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:10 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

I know some of the biggest bottle collectors on the east coast that may help you.

If you cant find it in a search you may have a rare and valuable bottle.

If you are interested in contacting them let me know.



edit on 18-4-2021 by enament because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-4-2021 by enament because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:14 AM
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originally posted by: Atsbhct
a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

Record keeping wasn't really the absolute best at that time either. Lots of inconsistencies when you're looking around for history of objects like this.

Hopefully the historical society can help. This is such an interesting little mystery!


Quite true, it can be very difficult to identify a bottle before and around the time bottles were made in a mold. Finding a date embossed on a bottle is more common around the 1950s and onward. Sometimes mold numbers are helpful, but that kind of information is often lost after so many years and esp. with companies that have gone out of business.



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:29 AM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck
Is it possible they existed as a small unregistered, non alcoholic beverage company before prohibition then when that lifted it offered up new possibilities? Possibilities that would allow them to go be big enough to trademark. There are lots of small companies that operate below that capacity and back in those days bottle customization might have been part of setting up your account with the bottle manufacturers.



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 12:48 PM
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originally posted by: MichiganSwampBuck
a reply to: ElGoobero

That etsy website link is really close, but it is a one quart version, also clear glass like mine. The clear glass along with the two sizes, quart and 7 oz, leads me to believe these were to hold a non-alcoholic beverage. Also they claim their bottle is from the 1920s.

I've never heard of baking soda in a bottle, a jar perhaps. Did they bottle dry baking powder?



Seagull Baking Powder. parents had a few of those. they had a ton of old bottles.

I can't open your linque (work puter) so not sure what looks like



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 02:00 PM
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a reply to: ElGoobero

Mine is very different, definitely a beverage bottle. Your resembles a milk jug with the opening, while mine is a crown capped bottle. The opening on your is very wide and designed for a cork.



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 03:55 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

I hope you are able to find some information on your bottle.
Years ago, I purchased a tiny purple, very decorative bottle with a cork in the top. I do remember researching and finding info on it, though I have forgotten what it is I discovered about it. lol It's a beautiful tiny bottle I found at an antique store.



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 10:06 PM
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a reply to: MichiganSwampBuck

Someone could have bought overstock in the moving out of the original bottler...and used them in the future?

I worked at a Coca Cola Bottling plant in Miami in the 70's...and did see many older stamped bottles up the conveyor being used. And that was glass bottles...shortly before going plastic

Coke. Mr. Pibb. Hey, good luck!
edit on 18-4-2021 by mysterioustranger because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:26 PM
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I have a fairly large collection of bottles I literally stumbled upon. It was over 20 years ago I decided to dig up a garden for my dad, and dug up about 15 very old bottles. I did some research and realized they might be worth money, so I dug up almost the entire back yard to a depth of 7 feet and unearthed maybe 200 bottles.

The rarest ones I found were a few small embossed poison bottles, and several gin bottles and a nice snuff jar. The ink bottles can be worth a ton. Most were from the 1900-1930 era (hand tooled necks, bottom attached). I got some nice embossed cure bottles and local drug store apothecary bottles, but the majority of it was ketchup mustard olives milk bottles and antacid, also lots of milk glass makeup jars. Found some spice jars that were "amethysted" from sunlight from the selenium in the glass, also lots of "sick" glass that turned opalesecent from 100 years in the ground (loses ionic bond and glass begins to flake).

I sold most of the valuable stuff at barter faire or swap meets, and got to meet alot of odd bottle collectors, typically older guys in overalls who's wives are angry everytime they see someone selling bottles!

I really ought to find out how to get rid of the rest of the less valuable ones.

Happy collecting



posted on Apr, 18 2021 @ 11:29 PM
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One odd thing I remember finding was am embossed tabasco bottle, but it had a label for something different on it, like vinegar. Also found several bottles with contents intact, they were kinda scary.



posted on Apr, 19 2021 @ 05:21 AM
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a reply to: Aliquandro

Because of the development of my area in the 1920s and 30s, you can find material mostly from that era up through the 1970s. There may be older stuff at the site of the original dump near the first city that sprouted up, I finally found that area a couple years ago, but haven't nosed around there (it was "cleaned up" a while ago, but I doubt that means nothing is there).

There were waves of development around here, first settlers and loggers in the mid 1800s, then farmers created a soil erosion problem by the 30s with a mini dust bowl, after that there was a wave of vacation homes built from the 1950s through 1970s, finally by this time the population was high enough for a local garbage dump (that was later built over with a mobile home park) so that's when the dumping on public land stopped for the most part in my local area.

From my experience, decorative bottles commemorating something are valued, old soft drink bottles are very popular, any bottle with paper labels or unopened with contents in tact are the most valuable. ACL (applied color label) soft drinks from little known smaller companies do well, but popular brands like Coke Cola, etc, are still valued by collectors. Beer, alcohol, and wine bottles don't do as well, esp just after prohibition with the federal license and warnings about using the bottles. Stubby brown beer bottles before the deposit laws are the least valuable to find.

But like I said, it's hard to sell anything for the prices you find online. I have to get into the bottle collectors shows and the like or sell on eBay (if that even works).




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