John Matthews, Jr. Bottle Stopper

U. S. Patent Number: 48,822                             Patented: July 18, 1865

John Matthews, Jr.’s patent application specified:

I, John Matthews, Jr., of…New York…have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Closing Bottles…

My invention relates to the constructing of an internal floating stopper for a bottle, in such manner that when the liquid is poured into the bottle to the required height – say to the dotted lines W W in the drawing – that the stopper shall present itself in proper position for being seized by an instrument and drawn to its seat in the mouth of the bottle.

It is obvious that if the stopper were an elastic spherical valve no difficulty could be experienced in seizing it in any position and drawing it to its seat in the neck of the bottle; but in practice it has been found difficult to prevent such ball-stopper from losing its true spherical form after remaining for a long time in the neck of the bottle, especially when subjected to a high internal pressure, as would be the case if aerated liquids were inclosed (sic) in the bottle.  In consequence of the rings and other indentations thus permanently impressed upon such ball-stopper, it has been found difficult to close such bottle perfectly a second time, unless the same part of the ball could again be brought exactly to its former place.  This I accomplish by weighting the stopper, or so disposing the materials used in its construction that one part of the stopper shall always be presented toward the mouth of the bottle in a convenient position for being seized by instruments and drawn to its place.

In practice it has also been desirable to secure some ready means of seizing the stopper and drawing it to its seat in the mouth of the bottle.

My invention consists, principally, in accomplishing this by constructing my stopper with a central rod of iron or other metal which is susceptible of being rendered magnetic, or which may be attracted by a magnet, and thus drawn to its seat in the neck of the bottle.

In the drawing…B represents the bottle filled with liquid to the dotted lines W W.  The red dotted lines I I I I, c, and F show the position of the stopper while floating on the liquid.  C represents the central rod of iron, which projects below the cork-float F and causes it to float in an upright position.

M represents the magnetic plunger, which, being lowered into the bottle, attracts the central bar, C, with sufficient force to enable the stopper to be drawn to its place in the mouth of the bottle…

I am aware that an internal floating bottle-stopper has long been known, and that therefore that method is not new.


This patent was included here to provide insight into John Matthews, Jr.’s thought process prior to designing his Patent No. 67,781 of August 13, 1867.  Matthews indicated this stopper was made of cork with a central metal rod, but his specifications don’t explain how it would be placed in the bottle prior to filling.  It doesn’t seem practical to install a cork stopper during the process of blowing and finishing the bottle.  Most likely this invention proved to be impractical, helping to explain why no known completed examples of this closure have been found.