The earliest mention of a “milk bottle” in the Oxford Dictionary dates back to 1831.
The first milk bottle in the United States is normally credited to Hervey D. Thatcher, of Potsdam, New York. Thatcher developed his idea after watching a milkman dip from a can into which a child’s toy had dropped.
George Henry Lester was the first person to patent the idea the idea of a glasscontainer for milk, which he did with his Lester Milk Jar on January 29, 1878. The bottle had a lid which was held in place as a screw cap.
Echo Farms Dairy introduced the first purpose-made milk bottles in New York City on April 8, 1879 delivering the milk from Litchfield, Connecticut.
Another patent is for a milk bottle with a dome type tin cap was granted September 23, 1884 to Whitemen’s brother, Abram V. Whiteman. The Whiteman brothers produced milk bottles based on these specifications at the Warren Glass Works Company in Cumberland, Maryland and sold them through their New York sales office.
|Examples of milk bottles from the late 19th century made by the Warren Glass Works Company.|
British milk bottles were first produced by the Express Dairy Company in 1880. They were delivered by horse-drawn carts and distributed four times a day until 1894, when the advent of pasteurization enabled milk to last longer and deliveries to therefore be reduced to one time a day..
In 1915 John Van Wormer of Toledo, Ohio, was granted the first patent for the first “paper bottle,” which was the first folded blank box for holding milk. He called it the “Pure-Pak.”
In 1928 New York, Sheffield Farms began using wax cartons for their milk deliveries, but the glass milk bottle continued to be the main container of retail distribution for many decades. However by the end of the century milk was mainly being purchased in plastic jugs or waxed paper cartons.
|Getting milk at the back door ~ 1940|
In 1975, 94 per cent of UK milk was put into glass bottles. By 2012, this was down to 4 per cent.
After six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on his way to school in 1979, he became the first missing child to have his picture featured on milk cartons.
The European Patent Office lists about 1,700 patents worldwide with “milk bottle” in their title.
|A modern British milk bottle owned by Dairy Crest. By Unisouth – Wikipedia Commons|
In the US, the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors (milkbottlecollectors.com) has a newsletter called The Milk Route.
The world record for carrying a milk bottle on one’s head is an astonishing 24 miles.