Hutchinson Bottle Directory Overview

Updated: November 18, 2014

My involvement with this project began when I read the following “Bottle NewsNotes” item in the January, 1977 issue of Old Bottle Magazine:

HUTCHINSON BOOK(S) PROPOSED – STATE BY STATE: Printer and ex-commercial photographer Joe Nagy of Oklahoma City has plans for a state-by-state, comprehensive Hutchinson soda book series.  He requests collectors in Texas and Illinois contact him first for the purpose of cataloguing Hutchinsons in their particular states…Sounds like a worthwhile project, Joe.  Best wishes –Ed.

Wow; imagine the antique bottle collecting community enjoying the use of a national Hutchinson Bottle Directory!  Although this was exciting news, I was hard-pressed to believe it would be possible to compile and produce such a book/series of books. Nonetheless, I quickly wrote to Joe offering to contribute information on Oregon, Washington, and Washington Territory Hutchinson bottles.  Our initial contact blossomed into a long and enjoyable friendship (and a tremendous amount of work!).

During the next decade hundreds of collectors from across the continent contributed photographs, rubbings, drawings, detailed bottle specifications, company and state histories, and other information to the project.  I twice visited Oklahoma City, spending several days at Joe’s home and office preparing finished bottle drawings.  He also mailed me almost 2,000 rubbings which I turned into finished drawings and returned to him.

A terrible series of personal and business misfortunes beset Joe in the late 1980s and the Hutchinson Bottle Directory project was placed on hold.  Although he desperately hoped to finish the book, Joe lost his battle with cancer and passed away September 12, 1993. Thanks to one of Joe's thoughtful friends, most of his correspondence and Hutchinson-related files were saved and I acquired them in 1994.


Based on 30+ years of experience at authoring bottle collecting books, I estimated the Hutchinson Bottle Directory would require at least five years of steady work in order to get it into print.  Although I hungered to re-initiate work on the project, I forced myself to wait until my retirement when I would be able to devote the time required by an initiative of this magnitude. In late 2003 I re-prioritized several personal projects and decided to commence working on the Hutchinson Bottle Directory January 1, 2004.

During the past nine years, I have devoted 13,000+ hours to sorting, purging, and merging files, gathering and cataloguing data on 17,000+ different Hutchinson bottles.  Although the project has been a massive undertaking, the advent of personal computers and the Internet have greatly sped the gathering of data, all of which we did by hand and the U.S. Mail in the 1970s and 1980s.  I often marvel at the quantity and quality of work Joe (and those of us who contributed to the project) accomplished without the use of computers.


Our mission is to have the Hutchinson Bottle Directory serve as a widely used reference source for collectors, historians, and archaeologists.  It will hopefully also be a fitting legacy honoring Joe Nagy and the intestinal fortitude he showed by tackling a very worthwhile and challenging project that many thought impossible.  After all those years with so many of us contributing mightily to this project, we have been determined not to let all of this great work go to waste!  For me, development of the Hutchinson Bottle Directory has been a labor of love, and will hopefully prove to be a major contribution to a wonderful hobby I have enjoyed for over 50 years.


Joe Nagy’s original concept for the Hutchinson Bottle Directory included having drawings and photographs of as many different Hutchinson bottles as possible, accompanied by data documenting each bottle’s size, color, rarity, and other details.  Quickly, however, the scope of the project blossomed to include state and individual company histories, and much more.  As information poured in, Joe was staggered to realize there were 7-10,000 different Hutchinson bottles.  It would have required many volumes to contain all of the information Joe had planned to include.  In order to better manage the project, the initial plan for the Hutchinson Bottle Directory limited its scope to these basic elements:

  • A detailed listing of all known Hutchinson bottle variants;

  • Illustrations of each bottle; and

  • Information about state-specific antique bottle books that are currently in print.


Our original intention was to publish the Hutchinson Bottle Directory in landscape fashion on 8.5" x 11" paper with spreadsheets listing bottle details, and the facing page displaying illustrations of the bottles itemized on that specific spreadsheet page.  As the project progressed, it became increasingly obvious the initial estimate of 7,000 - 10,000 bottles was significantly low.  We have now catalogued well over 17,000 bottles and the number continues to grow.  This many listings equates to over 1,200 paper pages, requiring the book to be three, four, or possibly more volumes in length.  The associated production costs would push the break-even price far beyond the reach of most collectors, and a Hutchinson Bottle Directory that collectors can't afford is of no value.  During 2005 we began to explore alternative means of publication including CD ROM and the Internet.

Publishing the Hutchinson Bottle Directory via paper would provide a "snapshot" of data at a specific point in time.  Unfortunately, hard copy books do not lend themselves well to updating and the Hutchinson Bottle Directory contains data that by its very nature begs to be continually refined, corrected, and enhanced.  After a thorough investigation, we decided that publishing the Hutchinson Bottle Directory via the Internet offers an incredible opportunity to deliver a "living" book with substantial benefits and few drawbacks.  Additional thoughts on publishing to the Internet and “frequently asked questions” are included on the January 4, 2006 Announcement page.  

Ron F.