Demise of the Hutchinson Era
Patenting of William Painter’s crown cork seal in
1892, development of Michael Owens' Automatic Bottle Machine in
1903, passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906, and economic
reality all combined to influence the shift from
to crown seal bottling equipment by World War I.
None of these developments, however, unilaterally prompted
were sanitary, easily applied, and significantly less expensive than
stoppers at only 25¢ per gross.
Crown caps, however, also required bottles with lips
featuring crown finishes.
Convincing bottle manufacturers to produce bottles with
standardized crown finishes was a decade-long, enormous marketing
challenge for William Painter.
several years for the glass manufacturers to become believers and
make a significant technological investment in Owens’ Automatic
Bottle Machine. Once
they switched, they dramatically increased production while lowering
unit costs, and began producing highly standardized bottles, exactly
what was needed for crown finish bottles.
Standardized bottle sizes and crown caps, combined with the
advent of automated filling machines, helped fuel the conversion
to crown closures.
One of a
bottler’s biggest challenges had long been (and still is)
worked on a small profit margin, and rapid refilling of their
bottles was a major key to success.
Hutchinson soda bottles had to make numerous
round trips to and from consumers before bottlers recovered their
initial investment, let alone made a profit.
Not all bottlers paid careful attention to removing old
stoppers, properly cleaning bottles, and inserting new stoppers.
Usually returned with the stoppers still in the necks, it was
easier and much faster to push the stoppers into the bottles, rinse
them out, and use a stopper puller to pull the semi‑clean stoppers
back into place. A
quick refilling and the bottles were once again on their way to
customers – often with unhealthy stoppers that affected product
cleaned Hutchinson bottles and
stoppers were very much in compliance with the Pure Food and
Drugs Act of 1906. Many
authors cite 1912 as the end of the Hutchinson
era, as that was the year W. H. Hutchinson & Son dropped
stoppers from their catalog.
1912 was not, however, the end of the line for
stoppers. There are
numerous instances of
bottles still being used well into the 1920s.
Most likely these bottlers were extra careful to properly
clean bottles and stoppers.
The combination of all these factors brought
the curtain down on the