Cream Separating Milk Bottles
Before milk was homogenized the cream would rise to the top of the milk bottle. Consumers would want to pour the cream off but in a conventional milk bottle the milk would just mix with the cream as it was poured out. Thus there was a lot of interest in designing a milk bottle that would allow one to remove the cream without mixing it with the milk. The earliest patent we have found for a cream separating milk bottle was granted on August 8, 1911. This bottle had an L shaped tube at the shoulder of the bottle that could be turned and used to drain off the cream. Depending how the tube was turned the thickness of the cream could be varied. A patent granted on February 13, 1912 just had a small hole in the shoulder of the milk bottle at the cream line so the cream could be drained out. On August 17, 1915 a patent was granted for a bottle with a hole in the heel of the bottle near the base. This allowed the skim milk to be drained out of the hole and the cream could remain in the bottle.
All the bottles on this page are examples of trying to solve the problem of separating the cream from the skim milk.
There were devices to remove the cream from a regular bottle of milk. To go to the page with cream extractors click here.
The bottles shown in the two pictures above are Cream Top milk bottles. They have a bulb at the top of the neck that has a smaller diameter opening at the base of the bulb than the opening at the top of the bottle. When the cream rose up in the bulb a special spoon or separator could be used to close off the neck between the cream and the milk. This allowed the cream to be poured out of the bottle and the milk to remain. The separator was not intended to spoon out the cream as many people think.
These bottles were patented on March 3, 1925 by Norman Henderson of Albany, New York and the patent was assigned to the Cream Top Bottle Corporation. In the patent papers Henderson stated that the size of the bulb could be varied depending on the cream content of the milk. To our knowledge this did not actually occur and all cream top milk bottles use a standard bulb size of about one fifth of the bottle capacity. Literature from the Cream Top Bottle Corporation stated that milk with 3.5% butterfat test was sufficient to fill the cream bulb with cream and the separated cream would be 22 to 27% butter fat. The patent papers for the bottle described a separator disk on a wire handle rather than the common Cream Top separator. The actual Cream Top separator was marked with the Mar. 3, 1925 patent date of the bottle and also with the Sept. 2, 1924 patent date for the separator itself. The separator was patented by Herbert Hill, also of Albany, New York and the patent was also assigned to the Cream Top Bottle Corporation. One may notice that the separator was patented in 1924 prior to the bottle being patented in 1925. It appears that the bottle patent was applied for on April 16, 1921 and the separator patent was applied for a year later on August 3, 1922. For some reason the separator patent was granted prior to the patent for the bottle. We have seen trade advertisements for the Cream Top milk bottle as early as September of 1924 and that advertisement alluded to the bottles being already in use for two years, well before the issuing of the patent. Some Cream Top milk bottles will be embossed Patent Pend. or Pat. Appl'd For, although most will be embossed Cream Top and the patent date on earlier bottles or the patent number along with the patent date on later bottles.
One will find Cream Top milk bottles that refer to a 1923 patent date. These are actually Canadian milk bottles. Norman Henderson applied for a Canadian patent on July 11, 1922, over a year after he applied for the patent on his milk bottle in the United States. However the Canadian patent was granted on May 8, 1923 almost two years before the U.S. patent. Herbert Hill also was issued a Canadian patent for the cream separator spoon that he applied for on October 5, 1925 and received on August 24, 1926. In Canada the patent for the milk bottle proceeded the patent for the separator spoon.
A patent for a square Cream Top milk bottle was issued on January 11, 1944 to Ruth Clark of Albany, New York. She assigned her patent to Norman Henderson. This was a design patent and had no specifications but the drawing showed that the sides of the cream bulb had flattened sides in addition to the body of the bottle. The Cream Top Bottle Corporation featured their new, square Cream Top milk bottle as early as October of 1946 at the Dairy Industries Exposition in Atlantic City. The bottle that was out into production had a square body but the cream bulb remained round. Norman Henderson, himself, was granted a design patent for a square Cream Top milk bottle on July 31, 1951. The milk bottle in this patent had a square body with beveled corners and a round, fluted cream bulb. The Cream Top Bottle Corporation even redesigned their familiar logo with a square Cream Top milk bottle (picture). We have never seen the 1944 or 1951 patent number or date on a square Cream Top milk bottle however.
The Cream Top Bottle Corporation claimed many advantages for their milk bottles. Since they were only allowed to be used by one dairy in a given territory they were easily identified and difficult for other dealers to steal and use. The Cream Top Bottle Corporation also claimed that their bottles would experience less breakage due to their design. They also claimed that this unique design would discourage consumers from keeping bottles for preserving foods (a common problem with regular milk bottles) or storing other liquids. In fact a patent was issued to John Burns of Saint Louis, Missouri on January 18, 1921 for a bottle that internally was very similar to the Cream Top milk bottle. It had a constriction at the neck and a bulge above it below the cap. It looked amazingly similar to the Cream Top milk bottle. However the claim made in the patent papers was only that the constriction would prevent the bottle from being used for preserving food. No mention was made of separating the cream from the milk. One wonders if Norman Henderson might have gotten the idea for his milk bottle from this previous patent. Since the Cream Top milk bottles were instantly recognizable they tended to be good advertisement for a dairy using them. They also were compatible with all filling, capping and washing equipment used with conventional milk bottles although Cream Top milk bottles were definitely more difficult to wash.
A Cream Top separator is shown hanging on the first bottle in the top picture. The curved end of the separator had a point that could be used as a milk cap remover. These separators were supplied to licensed dairymen by the Cream Top Bottle Corporation at a cost of 5 cents. They were usually given to customers for free.
These bottles can be found embossed (top picture) or pyroglazed (bottom picture) as well as round or square in shape. The first milk bottle in the bottom picture is a square Cream Top bottle. We have seen these square Cream Top milk bottles labeled as the Space-Saver Bottle. Many pyroglazed Cream Top milk bottles will also have pyroglazing on the bulb. "It Whips" was a common phrase. Cream Top milk bottles are found in half pint, pint and quart sizes. Many glass manufacturers made patented Cream Top milk bottles however the dairyman needed to be licensed to use it by the Cream Top Bottle Corporation of Albany, New York. We have seen Cream Top milk bottles manufactured by Illinois Pacific Glass Corporation, Pacific Coast Glass Company, Owens-Illinois Glass Company, Thatcher Manufacturing Company and Lamb Glass Company (square bottles).
The bottles were sold at a similar price as conventional milk bottles however the dairyman had to pay an annual licensing fee to the Cream Top Bottle Corporation. In exchange, the Cream Top Bottle Corporation would give the dairyman exclusive rights in his territory to sell milk in Cream Top bottles. However in 1933 this was challenged in court and not upheld. The court decided in a suit brought by the Cream Top Bottle Corporation on behalf of Meyer Sanitary Milk Company, one of their license holders in Kansas City, Kansas, that since it was the custom to be able to return any bottle in exchange for a full one if competitors acquired Cream Top bottles in this way they could then refill them. The case was complicated by the fact that Meyer had refused to trade its competitors back their bottles in exchange for Meyer's Cream Top milk bottles.
Milk bottles top picture left to right:
Parkside Dairy, quart, Fresno, California, Illinois Pacific Glass Co., pre-1930
Gold Valley Creamery, pint, Dodge City, Kansas, Berney Bond Glass Co., 1929
Wildwood Dairy, half pint, Santa Rosa, California, Pacific Coast Glass Co., 1931
Milk bottles bottom picture left to right:
Country Maid Creamery, quart, Sacramento, California, Owens-Illinois, 1961
Crystal Creamery, quart, Sacramento, California, Owens-Illinois, 1946
Home Milk Company, quart, Sacramento, California, Owens-Illinois, 1947
Sunshine Dairies, half pint, Utica, New York, Owens-Illinois, 1940
These are Modern Top milk bottles. They worked on the same principle as the Cream Top milk bottle but the bulb was a different shape and the separating device was different. One of the patent dates associated with these milk bottles was March 29, 1938 and was granted to William Teunisz of Detroit, Michigan. The patent was for the cream separator and the milk container but most of the patent deals with the cream separator device. This was patent number 2,112,233 which is the number most commonly associated with Modern Top milk bottles. The patent papers describe the bulb size of the milk bottle to be one fifth of the bottle volume, similar to the Cream Top milk bottle. The separator device was described as having weakened areas that could bend so that it could pass through the cream in the vertical position and not disturb the cream and then fold over into the horizontal position to block the neck. Hard pressed, tough paper was the material described for the separator. We have found this type of separator which was stamped PAT'D, but the ones that are most commonly found actually hinge rather than fold and are made of metal or plastic. Advertisements for the Modern Top milk bottle describe these paper separators as a single use item. The patent also describes a way to place the separator device in the bottle with the milk so that it would always be available for the user. We do not think this idea was ever utilized but rather the metal and plastic separator devices were given away to customers with the intention to be reused.
A second patent was issued to William Teunisz covering the shape of the bottle. This second patent was design patent 111,311 and it was granted on September 13, 1938. Many round Modern Top milk bottles will be embossed with both of these patent numbers. William Teunisz was granted a third patent on April 14, 1942 that covered the design of the hinged, metal cream separating device that is commonly found stamped Modern Top (picture). We have never seen this patent date or number used on Modern Top milk bottles or separators however. The metal separators are usually stamped Pat. Pend. and the actual disc that separates the skim milk from the cream was rubber. Because the disc was rubber it would bind into the neck of the milk bottle and did not need to be held in place as one poured off the cream. The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company advertised this feature since with the Cream Top milk bottle the separator had to be held in place as the cream was poured off. Also shown in the picture is a newer, plastic separator embossed Modern Top Cream Separator. In the picture, the separator on the left is a paper one that was described in the original 1938 patent, in the middle is a metal separator with a rubber disc detailed in the 1942 patent and the one on the right is a later plastic version. We have even seen advertisements for Modern Top milk bottles that claim over 2 ounces of rich cream could be poured from the bottle without even using a separator. This was probably to compete with Baby Top and Cop the Cream milk bottles which advertised that they did not require a separator device.
We have also learned of a bottle shaped like a Modern Top milk bottle but embossed:
PRESENTED FOR DEMONSTRATION ONLY BY BETTER CREAM MILK BOTTLE CO. GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (picture). This bottle was also embossed PAT. PEND. and made by the Lamb Glass Company. Grand Rapids, Michigan was the home to the Modern Top Milk Bottle Company so one wonders if this was an early sample bottle for the company. Was the original name of the company the Better Cream Milk Bottle Company? An interesting addition to the story of the Modern Top milk bottle and we thank Don for sharing this bottle with us.
In the picture above, the first and second milk bottles are round, quart, pyroglazed examples of the Modern Top milk bottle. The center bottle is a square, quart bottle and is labeled as the Spas-Savr Modern Top. Note that the spelling is different than the Space-Saver Cream Top milk bottle. The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company was advertising the Spas-Savr bottle in April of 1945. The fourth bottle is a pint Modern Top and the last milk bottle is a half pint Modern Top. The half pint also has the slogan A BETTER BOTTLE OF MILK embossed on the lip. This was a slogan that Lamb Glass Company offered on their bottle lips. The pint and half pint Modern Top milk bottles were only used by a few dairies and are not common. A few California dairies even used a half gallon Modern Top milk bottle. Click here to see a quart and half gallon Modern Top milk bottle used by one San Diego, California dairy. The dairies in California that we know of that used the half gallon Modern Top milk bottle were Mountain Meadow Creameries of San Diego, Kirk Ragland Creamery of Bakersfield and Pioneer Dairy Company of Pittsburg. The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company varied the shape of their half gallon milk bottles. On some the cream bulb had the Modern Top shape while on others the cream bulb was more rounded, similar to the Cream Top milk bottle (picture). Both styles of milk bottles were embossed with the same patent dates. At the time these bottles were made the patent for the Cream Top milk bottle had expired and the Modern Top Milk Bottle Company could copy the Cream Top style of bulb and not worry about patent infringement. Modern Top milk bottles can also be found embossed (picture). Modern Top milk bottles are much less common than Cream Top milk bottles. Since the Modern Top milk bottle was introduced so much later than the Cream Top milk bottle it was forced to compete against the Cream Top bottle after its patent had expired.
Modern Top milk bottles were sold under a franchise plan to only one dairy in a territory. The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan was the company that controlled the rights to the Modern Top milk bottle and sold the franchises. In California, Paul L. Schwartz of Monrovia, California advertised as the western representative in 1939-1941. However Schwartz and the Modern Top milk bottle company soon separated and ended up in court fighting over commissions due him. This probably did not help sales of the Modern Top milk bottle in California. One sales pitch was that at the time the Modern Top milk bottle was introduced, the patent was about to expire on the Cream Top milk bottle. Once the patent expired dairies that were using the Cream Top milk bottle could no longer be guaranteed exclusivity. If they switched to the Modern Top milk bottle however the patent would be in affect for 14 years to protect their franchise.
These milk bottles were actually made by various glass manufacturers. Owens-Illinois and The Lamb Glass Company were common manufacturers of Modern Top milk bottles. Owens-Illinois began manufacturing Modern Top milk bottles in 1941. Modern Top milk bottles are found with many lip finishes, both cap seat style caps and over the lip style caps such as the Dacro and the Alseco finish.
The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company did not seem to advertise as much as the Cream Top Bottle Corporation. However they did have an advertising campaign during WWII. They claimed that war restrictions on cream and butter made the Modern Top bottle more popular as a way for consumers to get cream. They also advertised that with Modern Top bottles dairies could do away with selling cream in small bottles since consumers would get their cream out of the Modern Top bottle. This would conserve bottles during the shortages of the war. They also advertised that dairies could cut their milk to 3.3% butterfat as a way to stretch cream. We guess the idea was that since it was easier to get cream out of a Modern Top milk bottle than a regular milk bottle, the dairy could water the milk down and the consumer would not notice. They also stressed the idea that Modern Top milk bottles could not be used for home canning. With the shortages of the war many homemakers started to preserve their own fruits and vegetables to get by. Empty milk bottles were often kept and used for this purpose. The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company advertised that their Modern Top bottle could not be used for preserving because items could be put into the jar but it was almost impossible to get them back out.
The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company also advertised that their milk bottles had a larger throat than conventional milk bottles and especially Cream Top milk bottles. We found this surprising but if you check with calipers the Modern Top milk bottles do tend to have a wider throat even though the cap size is identical. Definitely the constriction at the base of the cream bulb is larger on a Modern Top milk bottle than a Cream Top milk bottle. This was one of the main complaints against the Cream Top milk bottle. The small constriction at the base of the cream bulb made it difficult to wash the bottle and could interfere with filling the bottle.
Milk bottles left to right:
American Dairy Co., quart, San Jose, California, Owens-Illinois, 1944
Mother Lode Dairy, quart, Angels Camp and Sonora, California, Owens-Illinois, 1945
Premier Creamery, quart, Coalinga, California, Lamb Glass Co.
Lake View Dairies, pint, Ithaca, New York, Lamb Glass Co.
Hi-Lan Dairy, half pint, Des Moines, Iowa, Lamb Glass Co.
First off page milk bottles left to right:
Mountain Meadow Creameries, quart, San Diego, California, Lamb Glass Co.
Mountain Meadow Creameries, half gallon, San Diego, California, Lamb Glass Co.
Second off page milk bottles left to right:
McDonald's Dairy, half gallon, Black River Falls, Wisconsin, Lamb Glass Co.
Mountain Meadows Creameries, half gallon, San Diego, California, Lamb Glass Co.
Third off page milk bottles left to right:
Hudson Dairy, half pint, Rochester, New York, Lamb Glass Co.
Brown, pint, East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lamb Glass Co.
Weir Cove Dairy Company, quart, Holliday's Cove, West Virginia, Lamb Glass Co.
The bottles shown above are Baby Top milk bottles. They were a cream top style of milk bottle that had a baby's face embossed on the cream bulb. These bottles are found in both embossed and pyroglazed versions as well as round and square bottles. They are found in half pint, pint and quart sizes. In addition, Associated Dairies of Los Angeles, California used a round, embossed half gallon Baby Top milk bottle. Click here to see one of these half gallon Baby Top milk bottles next to a quart pyroglazed Baby Top also from Associated Dairies of Los Angeles. There was also a rectangular, half gallon double Baby Top milk bottle (picture). We believe this bottle was a prototype and may not have been actually used for the sale of milk.
These bottles were granted a design patent on February 18, 1936 as an ornamental design for a milk bottle. The round bottles often are embossed with this patent number. The patent was granted to Michael Pecora of West Hazleton, Pennsylvania and was assigned to Pecora's Farm Dairy. The milk bottles were franchised by the Pecora Baby Top Products Company, also of West Hazleton, Pennsylvania but actually made by various glass manufacturers.
The officers of the Pecora Baby Top Products Company were Pasquo, Michael and Salvadore Pecora. The Baby Top milk bottles were advertised as increasing milk sales because consumers preferred these milk bottles as well as lowering bottle costs since these milk bottles were so easily identified and less apt to be used by competitors. Advertisements for these milk bottles stated that they were in use since November of 1936, however sales advertisements did not appear until January of 1938. Possibly they were only used by the Pecora's Farm Dairy until 1938. Coincidentally January, 1938 was the same month that the Cop the Cream milk bottle was patented. There was a heated competition between the two milk bottles. At one point a patent infringement suit was brought against the Cop the Cream milk bottle but the courts ruled there was no infringement.
Interestingly the Baby Top milk bottle was itself very similar to the Cream Top milk bottle. In their advertisements the Pecora Baby Top Products Company often compared the advantages of the Baby Top milk bottle to specialized milk bottles (meaning the Cream Top and cream separator milk bottle). There was also a patent infringement suit brought by the Cream Top Bottle Corporation against the Baby Top milk bottle but this case was also found to have no infringement. The Pecora Baby Top Products Company proudly boasted of this decision in their March, 1939 ads. At the same time they also boasted that dairies in 25 states were using their Baby Top milk bottle. Quite impressive for only a little over a year of sales.
One difference from the Cream Top milk bottle was that the Pecora Baby Top Products Company advertised that a cream separator device was not needed with the Baby Top milk bottle. Simply pouring over the side of the baby's head would result in the cream being removed. Pouring over the baby's face would result in whole milk being removed. The constriction at the baby's neck was oval rather than round like the Cream Top milk bottle. Presumably this difference is what allowed the cream to be removed without a separator but in reality a Cream Top Separator Spoon would work quite well and improve the separation of the cream.
The square bottles also are found in a version that has a baby's face embossed on the front and back of the cream bulb and are known as double Baby Top milk bottles. Michael Pecora was granted another design patent on November 1, 1949 for a round milk bottle with a double baby face. However we have never seen this patent date or number embossed on these milk bottles. Michael Pecora also was granted a patent on May 31, 1938 for an ice cream cone with a man's face on it which he advertised along with the milk bottles. He definitely got the most out of his idea.
The first bottle on the left is a square, pyroglazed quart Baby Top, the second bottle is a square, pyroglazed quart double Baby Top, the third is a round, pyroglazed pint Baby Top and the last bottle is a round, embossed half pint Baby Top. Many Baby Top milk bottles were manufactured by Lamb Glass Company of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. The very first Baby Top milk bottles were made by Reed Glass Company and later these bottles were also manufactured by Buck Glass Company and Thatcher Manufacturing Company.
The only California dairies that we know of that used Baby Top milk bottles were Associated Dairies of Los Angeles and Riviera Dairy of Santa Barbara. The Baby Top Bottle Company of Los Angeles, California advertised the bottles in California in 1939. They said that during the milk price wars in Los Angeles milk in Baby Top milk bottles held its price and sold for 3 to 4 1/2 cents more per quart than milk in regular bottles. They advertised half gallon Baby Top milk bottles which were only used by Associated Dairies of Los Angeles. They also advertised that territories were going fast and only a few choice territories were still open. This was probably not the case since Baby Top milk bottles from California are rare.
Associated Dairies of Los Angeles promoted their Baby Top milk bottles heavily. They supplied their dealers with lighted signs and samples of their Baby Top milk bottles that had the faces painted and wearing little dresses (picture).
Milk bottles left to right:
Pecora's, quart, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Lamb Glass Co.
W. B. Brown & Sons Inc., quart, location unknown, Lamb Glass Co.
Upton's Farm, pint, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Lamb Glass Co.
Brookfield Dairy, half pint, Hellertown, Pennsylvania, Lamb Glass Co.
First off page milk bottles:
Associated Dairies, half gallon, Los Angeles, California, Lamb Glass Co.
Associated Dairies, quart, Los Angeles, California, Lamb Glass Co.
Second off page milk bottle:
No dairy identification, half gallon, no location, Lamb Glass Co.
Similar to the Baby Top milk bottle was the Cop the Cream milk bottle mentioned above. This was a cream top style milk bottle with a policeman's face embossed on the cream bulb. They are found in round versions pictured on the right and left, and square versions pictured in the center. Around the lip of the round bottles it is embossed COP THE CREAM BOTTLE CO. INC. and on the bottle's shoulder under the policeman's collar is a circle or line embossed COP THE CREAM.
Robert, Vincent and Emil Gennaro of Hazleton, Pennsylvania were issued a design patent for the ornamental design of this bottle on January 25, 1938. These milk bottles are often embossed with this patent number. Sales advertisements for these milk bottles started to appear the very next month. Advertisements for these bottles stated that the inventors were dairy owners themselves. The Gennaros operated Ideal Dairy Products Company in Hazleton, Pennsylvania but we do not believe they ever used Cop The Cream milk bottles at their dairy. The Cop The Cream Bottle Company, also located in Hazleton, controlled the franchise of these milk bottles. Like most franchised milk bottles only one dairy in an area was allowed to use the bottle. They advertised a strong sales and support plan that went along with the bottle franchise. Initially the Cop the Cream Bottle Company charged 5 dollars per 1000 population in the territory that the dairy served. Later, in 1941, they offered the franchises for free as long as the dairy purchased 20 gross of Cop the Cream milk bottles initially and agreed that 50% of their milk bottle purchases would be from the Cop the Cream Bottle Company. This was an attempt to lure customers away from Baby Top and Modern Top bottles that still had franchise fees. The Cop the Cream Bottle Company did not manufacture the bottles but had a contract with Universal Glass Products Company of Parkersburg, West Virginia. In 1941 the Cop the Cream Bottle Company quoted prices of $7.65/gross for embossed quarts in 20 gross quantities and $6.25 in carload quantities. For pyroglazed quarts the prices were $9.95 and $7.90. The Cop the Cream Bottle Company also sold conventionally shaped milk bottles that had the COP THE CREAM BOTTLE CO. INC. embossing on the lip. These bottles could be purchased and used to meet the dairy's quota.
The Cop the Cream milk bottle competed heavily with the Baby Top milk bottle as discussed under the Baby Top milk bottle. The Cop The Cream Bottle Company claimed that the unique shape would increase sales just like the claims of the Baby Top milk bottle. Like the Baby Top milk bottle the Cop the Cream bottle advertised that no separator device was needed to pour off the cream. In one ad they stated that by pouring over the back of the head one could get heavy whipping cream and by pouring over the face one could get table cream. In practice the bottle seems to separate the cream better by using the Cream Top Separator Spoon. In fact, in September of 1939, the Cop the Cream Bottle Company started to advertise a separator device they called the Cream Copper. It was a cover for the mouth of the milk bottle with a rod that went down to a disc to close off the neck of the bottle and separate the cream from the skim milk (picture) (picture). The cover could be used to seal the top of the milk bottle between uses and it had a cut out that could be opened to pour cream out of the bottle. The disc that blocked off the neck of the bottle was not round but somewhat of an egg shape to fit the neck of the Cop the Cream bottle. They were stamped PAT. PENDING but we have never found the patent for this cream separator. The Cop the Cream Bottle Company sold them wholesale for 15 cents to dairies while the dairies usually passed them on free to their customers.
The square milk bottle is embossed THE SQUARE COP on the bottle shoulder. The bottle base is embossed COP THE CREAM and PATENT APPLIED FOR. We do not know if a patent was ever issued for this square Cop the Cream milk bottle. The Thatcher Manufacturing Company was a manufacturer of the square Cop the Cream milk bottles. Cop the Cream milk bottles are found embossed like the bottle on the right and pyroglazed like the left and center bottles. In addition to the quart and pint sizes pictured above we have also seen a half pint size. In later years there was also a squat, quart Cop the Cream milk bottle that was advertised as the Econo-Cop (picture). The tall, round, pyroglazed, quart Cop the Cream milk bottles were the most widely used. The only California Cop the Cream milk bottle that we are aware of was from Alameda Dairy in Alameda, California. The Cop the Cream Bottle Company had a west coast representative, L. G. Kaskey, based in Oakland, California but he must not have had much luck selling the milk bottles in his own back yard.
It is interesting that the only two figural milk bottles were invented in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. There also was a design patent issued for a milk bottle in the shape of a cow (picture). It even had an udder and a tail on the base of the bottle. The inventor was John Welky, also from Hazleton, Pennsylvania. That patent was issued on April 11, 1939 however we don't know that the bottle was ever used.
Milk bottles left to right:
Watkins Farm Dairy, quart, West Minster, Vermont, Universal Glass Products Co.
Orchard Farm Dairy, quart, Dallas, Pennsylvania, Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Co., 1949
Glenside Dairy, pint, Deepwater, New Jersey, Universal Glass Products Co.
First off page milk bottle:
Collier's Meadow Crest Farm, quart, Westford, Massachusetts, Universal Glass Products Co.
Second off page milk bottle
Alameda Dairy, quart, Alameda, California, Universal Glass Products Co.
Pictured above are two cream separating milk bottles used by J. F. McAdams & Brothers. The first milk bottle on the left is a common Cream Top Bottle. The bottle on the right is an uncommon cream separating bottle used by this dairy. On August 9, 1938, John Neal of Allston, Massachusetts patented an idea for a milk bottle and cream separator. The bottle in this patent was shaped similar to a conventional milk bottle however. On May 7, 1940 John Neal was granted a design patent for the bottle shape pictured above on the right. On both of these patents he assigned thirty-seven and one half percent to Fredrick McAdams of Revere, Massachusetts and twenty-five percent to Everett Kent of Newton, Massachusetts. Fredrick McAdams must have been involved with the J. F. McAdams & Brothers dairy. Everett Kent was the attorney that signed the patent drawings.
The idea behind this milk bottle and cream separator was to improve upon some disadvantages of other cream separating milk bottles. Most other cream separating milk bottles have a restriction below the cream bulb that is smaller than the opening at the top of the bottle. This allows the cream separating spoon or device to fit in the top of the bottle, seal the base of the bulb and allow the cream to be poured off without the milk following. The problem was this restriction made it difficult to clean the lower portion of these bottles. There also was a tendency for the milk to splash and gurgle as it passed this restriction during pouring. And last this restriction could affect the filling of the milk bottles. In the bottle pictured here there is no restriction at the base of the neck, only a shoulder. The cream separating device that went with this bottle could be folded to fit in the top of the bottle and once inside the bottle it would unfold and could be held against the shoulder in the glass by a wire rod. This idea was very similar to rubber cream separating discs sold for regular milk bottles that were folded to fit in the bottle. The advantage of this bottle over that system was that the shoulder in the glass allowed one to easily locate the cream separating device so it was level and sealed off the skim milk in the lower portion of the bottle. We have never seen the cream separating device that goes with this patent. These bottles are usually embossed with the number of the 1938 patent and we have only seen them in the quart size and pyroglazed. We have only seen these milk bottles manufactured by the Lamb Glass Company.
John Neal and Fredrick McAdams were both assigned two other patents for improved cream separating devices that went with this shouldered bottle. Both patents were dated April 7, 1942. One was invented by Everett Kent and the other was invented by Joseph Birchall.
Milk bottles left to right:
J. F. McAdams & Bros., quart, Chelsea, Massachusetts, Owens-Illinois, 1949
J. F. McAdams & Bros. Inc., quart, Chelsea, Massachusetts, Lamb Glass Co., 1938-1940's
Shown above are two more cream bulb style milk bottles. The first bottle on the left is a short, squat style granted a design patent on December 9, 1941. The patent was granted to William Teunisz, who now resided in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He had been issued the patent for the Modern Top milk bottle three years earlier. This milk bottle was also franchised by the Modern Top Milk Bottle Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was advertised in 1943 as a light weight (17 3/4 ounces) squat milk bottle. These milk bottles are a full inch shorter than a conventional Cream Top milk bottle and slightly larger in diameter. They probably were designed to be compatible with the squat quart milk bottles that were being promoted at that time. The Modern Top Milk Bottle Company advertised that they cost less than the normal Modern Top milk bottle.
Teunisz was granted several milk bottle patents however most of them we have never seen in actual use. This design patent was for an ornamental design of a milk bottle and no new claims were made for the bottle. This bottle is embossed with both the Modern Top patent number that covered the cream separating device and the design patent number for this bottle shape. These bottles are not that common and we believe they were only used by Thompson's Dairy of Washington D. C.
The Union Dairy of Sacramento, California used a squat cream separating bottle that had almost identical dimensions to the Teunisz bottle discussed above. However the Union Dairy milk bottle had a different shape to the cream bulb and we do not think it came under the Teunisz patent. However it did not have the 1925 patent date of the Cream Top milk bottle either (possibly because the patent had expired by that time). This bottle was produced by the Thatcher Manufacturing Company of Elmira, New York and there was no patent date or number on the bottle. Since there were several creameries operating in Sacramento, California, using Cream Top milk bottles (see picture under Cream Top milk bottles above) this might have been an attempt by Union Dairy to make their bottles unique and easy to distinguish from their competitors. Another possibility is that it may have been a move to standardize the bottle height to the size of the squat quarts that were being promoted at that time although we do not know of Union Dairy using a conventional shaped squat quart. The Union squat Cream Top bottle was a light weight milk bottle. Click here to see a picture of the Teunisz squat cream separating bottle, the Union Dairy Squat cream top and a conventional Cream Top milk bottle.
The second bottle is embossed THE GRADUATE MILK BOTTLE on the shoulder. It gets that name because along the side of the bottle are graduated marks measuring out cups in increments from one half cup up to 3 cups. We have never seen a patent date or patent number on these milk bottles however we came across a patent drawing that is very similar in shape to this bottle and also has measurements along the side from one half to 3 cups. This design patent was granted to Arthur Bramhall on March 28, 1939 and we suspect that it was for this milk bottle. Graduate milk bottles can be found either embossed or pyroglazed but we have only seen bottles one quart in size. We have seen a square Graduate milk bottle from one dairy in New Jersey (picture). It has flattened corners so that it is almost octagonal in shape. All the Graduate milk bottles that we have seen were manufactured by the Lamb Glass Company.
Arthur Bramhall was also granted two patents for cream separating devices to go with his milk bottle. One dated December 10, 1940 was designed for use with his graduate milk bottle and one dated June 1, 1943 was designed to be used with a conventional milk bottle, a Cream Top milk bottle or his graduate milk bottle. We have never seen either of these cream separating devices. Even though his 1940 patent was for a cream separating device, he also describes his milk bottle (which he did not do in the original patent since it was a design patent). One interesting feature was that he said the diameter of the constriction below the cream bulb was at least as large as the diameter of the bottle's mouth. In the Cream Top milk bottle this constriction would have been a smaller diameter than the bottle's mouth and that resulted in difficulties cleaning those milk bottles, which would have been improved upon in the graduate milk bottle.
The cream separating device that was used with these milk bottles actually was based on a patent granted earlier than the Graduate milk bottle itself and not invented by Arthur Bramhall. In a Cream Top milk bottle, since the hole below the cream bulb was smaller than the mouth of the bottle, the cream separator spoon could fit through the mouth of the bottle and still be big enough to plug the hole below the cream bulb. This was not true in a Graduate milk bottle. The hole below the cream bulb was just as big as the mouth of the bottle so something that could pass through the bottle mouth would not be big enough to block the passage at the base of the cream bulb. The solution was a cream separating device that could be expanded once it was inside the milk bottle, making it big enough to block the passage below the cream bulb yet small enough to fit through the bottle mouth when it was not expanded. Click here for a picture of the cream separator used by the Graduate milk bottle. It was stamped with a patent number granted on August 9, 1932 to James Bryan of Newark, New Jersey. The drawings in the patent papers looked nothing like the separator shown here but the feature of an expandable member to seal against the sides of the bottle was the key idea behind the patent. This separator had two metal discs at the bottom with a rubber ring between them At the top was a cam lever that was attached to the lower metal disc. By moving the cam lever, the bottom metal disc would squeeze the rubber ring against the upper metal disc causing it to expand against the sides of the milk bottle. The horizontal bar at the top of the separator sat in the cap seat locating the rubber ring at exactly the right height in the bottle. The box that this cream separator came in advertised the Graduate milk bottle and showed a picture of it being used in one of these milk bottles.
Milk bottles left to right:
Thompson's Dairy, quart, Washington D. C., Lamb Glass Co.
Valley Dairy, quart, Syracuse, New York, Lamb Glass Co.
First off page milk bottles left to right:
Thompson's Dairy, quart, Washington D. C., Lamb Glass Co.
Union Dairy, quart, Sacramento, California, Thatcher Manufacturing Co., 1945
Purity Milk Co., quart, Stockton, California, Owens-Illinois, 1946
Second off page milk bottle:
Lone Pine Farms, quart, Hanover, New Jersey, Lamb Glass Co.
The two types of milk bottles pictured above are designed to allow one to pour the cream off of the skim portion of the milk without the need for a separating device such as a spoon. The three milk bottles on the left are cream separator bottles. This bottle is a little different in that it did not have a cream bulb at the top but rather a dent in the bottle shoulder that was designed to hold back the milk while the cream was poured off. Ads said that if you wanted whipping cream one would pour until two bubbles entered the bottle and if you wanted coffee cream one would pour until twelve bubbles entered the bottle. This bottle was patented on July 8, 1930 by George West of Van Buren, Arkansas. The patent was assigned to Cream Separator Bottle, Inc. of Delaware, who marketed the bottles but did not manufacture them. Usually only one dairy in a locality was allowed to use these milk bottles. The bottles usually are embossed THIS SIDE UP just above the dent and often are embossed with the patent date and patent number.
George West was also granted a second patent on Dec 8, 1931 for a similar bottle but we have never seen this patent date on a cream separator milk bottle. That patent described a different shaped dent that did not require the bottle to be held with the dent perfectly at the top and also was claimed to be easier to clean.
Cream separator bottles can be found embossed or pyroglazed but we have only seen them round in shape. They came in half pint, pint and quart sizes. The half pint size was only used by two dairies that we know of and was probably not that functional. We have seen Cream Separator milk bottles manufactured by Lamb Glass Company, Liberty Glass Company, Thatcher Manufacturing Company and Reed Glass Company. The bottles we have seen made by the Liberty Glass Company had a round seam around the dent, similar to a slug plate. Possibly an insert was used in the mold to form the dent. The cream separator milk bottles made by the Reed Glass Company had a very angular shape to the dent unlike the other manufacturers who used a dent with rounded edges. The only Cream Separator milk bottles we have seen from California were used by Mission Creamery of Daly City, Ideal Dairy of Fresno, Golden Poppy Dairy of Modesto, Cunningham Milk Depot of LeGrand and Nobles Dairy of Porterville.
One former milkman told us that he had to be very careful where he left these milk bottles on a freezing morning. They were very susceptible to breaking if the milk froze. Probably the indentation trapped the milk as it froze and when it expanded it had no where to go and broke the glass. When a conventional milk bottle froze the cream would push the cap out of the bottle and the frozen cream would form a column above the lip of the bottle. Customers were also leery that the bottles did not hold a full quart or pint since the dent made it seem like the bottles had less capacity. To assure customers, many cream separator milk bottles are embossed ONE FULL PINT or ONE FULL QUART GUARANTEED. The bottles were the same height as regular milk bottles so they would work on the fillers but the bodies were slightly larger around to make up for the capacity lost in the dent. Still it was an optical illusion. You would swear that these milk bottles had to hold less because of the dent. The problem was if a customer believed it, they could be persuaded to buy their milk in a conventional bottle from a competitor.
The bottle on the right is known as a toothache milk bottle. It was invented by Royden A. Blunt of Baltimore, Maryland and was granted a utility patent on July 7, 1953. These milk bottles are usually embossed with this utility patent number but Blunt was also granted two design patents on the same day for ornamental variations of this milk bottle. They were marketed by Richer-Pour Bottle Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland. These bottles are only found in square versions but can be embossed like the bottle pictured above or pyroglazed (picture). We have only seen quart bottles. Royden Blunt was president of the Buck Glass Company of Baltimore, Maryland and all of the toothache milk bottles that we have seen were manufactured by this company.
Advertisements for the Richer-Pour milk bottle offered a 38mm Dacro closure, a 48mm cap seat finish or a 56mm finish that also accepted a milk cap. We have only seen bottles with the 38mm Dacro finish or the 48mm cap seat. Of these the 38mm Dacro finish is more common.
These bottles were only used in the eastern part of the United States. Many are from the state of Virginia. We do not know of any dairies that used them in the west. The lop-sided cream bulb allowed one to pour off the cream if held correctly. The patent papers describe lab tests that showed these bottles could pour off the cream with less mixing in of the skim milk than standard cream chamber bottles. This meant that the cream removed had a greater fat content. In advertisements for the Richer-Pour milk bottle, the company presented test results from the firm of Strasbuger & Siegel that showed if one poured four ounces of cream out of a conventional bulb milk bottle the butterfat would be just over 17% but the same amount of cream poured out of one of these milk bottles would test over 20% butterfat.
The toothache milk bottle was the last of the cream separating milk bottles. Around this time homogenized milk was becoming more popular. As milk was homogenized and the cream no longer could rise in the milk, the need for cream separating bottles disappeared. In fact Blunt mentioned that homogenized milk removed the need for this type of milk bottle in his patent application.
Milk bottles left to right:
Union Dairy Co., half pint, Steubenville, Ohio, Lamb Glass Co.
R. N. Freshwater, pint, Birmingham, Iowa, Liberty Glass Co.
Rothermel's, quart, Minersville, Pennsylvania, Lamb Glass Co.
Richmond Dairy, quart, Richmond, Virginia, Buck Glass Co., 1954
Off page milk bottles left to right:
Birtcherd Dairy Farms, quart, Norfolk, Virginia, Buck Glass Co., 1957
Foremost Emmadine, quart, location unknown, Buck Glass Co., 1958
All the cream separating milk bottles shown previously on this page required that the cream be removed from the bottle before the skim portion of the milk. Basically the consumer had two choices. They could either pour out the cream followed by the skim milk or mix up the milk and have whole milk to pour out. This was not surprising since the opening of the bottle was at the top and the cream would rise to the top of the bottle.
One of the first patents for a cream separating milk bottle actually worked from the bottom. It was a conventional milk bottle with a small hole on the bottom edge that was sealed by a metal clip. In this bottle the skim milk was drained through the hole first and then the cream could be poured out last. This patent was granted to Arthur Rowe of Boise, Idaho on August 17, 1915. This was ten years before the patent for the Cream Top milk bottle was granted. For some reason we guess that this milk bottle was not a hit with consumers. If the clip was accidentally knocked off the bottle or it it leaked, the milk would spill all over the table or the ice box.
The milk bottle pictured above was another attempt to allow the skim milk to be removed before the cream. Notice the web along the side of the cream bulb. When the cream separating device was placed in the milk bottle and sealed the bulb, it also formed a passage in this glass channel. The top of the bottle now had two openings. One opened into the cream bulb and the other opened into this passage which lead to the skim milk portion of the bottle. Depending which opening one poured out of they could either pour out the cream first and leave the skim milk like a regular Cream Top milk bottle or pour the skim milk from the bottom chamber first and leave the cream in the upper bulb. Of course they could also mix the milk up and just pour out whole milk without using the separating device.
The idea for this milk bottle belonged to Emile Scheemaeker of Blackstone, Massachusetts. Scheemaeker was granted his first patent on March 19, 1935. The bottle shown in the patent was very complicated and would have been difficult to use and manufacture. He was granted two more patents on March 30, 1937 for the same principles behind this milk bottle. However these two patents utilized a bottle with a diamond shaped mouth rather than the round mouth normally found on milk bottles. The bottle also had complicated guides in the wall of the bottle to engage the cream separator device. Since the bottle mouth was not round it did not work with conventional filling and capping machines. The guides in the glass bottle also proved difficult to manufacture. Scheemaeker was granted a fourth patent on October 25, 1938 that addressed these problems.
We believe the milk bottle pictured here was a prototype for the 1938 patent and was never put in production. It is base embossed B. G. CO. BALTO. MD. 1 B 41. We suspect it was manufactured by the Buck Glass Company of Baltimore, Maryland, possibly in 1941. An advertising booklet for the E. S. Dairy of Woonsocket, Rhode Island referred to it as the Magic milk bottle. Scheemaeker was also granted a design patent on March 25, 1947 for a square version of this milk bottle. We have seen a pyroglazed, quart version of this bottle called the Deluxe Cream Separator (picture) (picture). Scheemaeker was granted an additional patent for this milk bottle on July 14, 1953. This last patent dealt with improvements in the bottle and the separating device. By 1953 however homogenized milk was making cream separating bottles obsolete.
Scheemaeker was also issued a patent for a cream separating device that would work in a conventional milk bottle and allow the skim milk to be poured off before the cream, similar to what he was trying to accomplish with his patented milk bottle. That patent was granted on October 12, 1943.