Mystery Bottle from Johnson City, Tenn.

While perusing my local antique shop, I happened upon a strange looking deco bottle in the display case. Noticing that the sticker claimed the bottle was from Johnson City, Tenn., I decided to ask about it and upon inspection found that while it did indeed have the town name on the bottom of the bottle, there was absolutely no other indicator of who owned it or what was bottled in it. I recognized the bottle maker mark as coming from the Chattanooga Glass Company. I found that the bottle design had been patented by J. F. Harrison, who owned the Chattanooga Glass Company, on August 23, 1927. This helps me narrow down the period which this bottle might have been produced which would be late 1927 till 1930 when the Depression caused many bottlers to close. My best guess would be that this bottle may have been a soda water bottle which would explain why there is no brand noted on it anywhere. Usually if you were bottling a specific brand this information would be prominent on the bottle.

So first we have to look at which bottlers are active during the period this bottle is from, with some being left out due to the fact that given the rarity of this bottle would indicate that the company didnít last long. While Coca-Cola and Chero-Cola are possibilities, they were both long established so it is doubtful that they would order a bottle without their company information on it. There is one early bottler which had a long history of being purchased by many different owners of the years. This would be the Johnson City Bottling Works which was purchased for the last time around 1927 by W. Erastus Trivette who moved the company to Knob Creek Road. We have no clue what they were bottling and it appears that they are gone by 1930, which would fit perfectly in the timeline.

In 1928 we have the Nu-Icy Bottling Company opening; however, given that Nu-Icy was itself a flavor line with known bottles from Johnson City that are dated 1928, I seriously doubt that they were using this bottle. That being said these bottles share the same embossing on the bottom as our mystery bottle, but that may just be circumstantial. Also established in 1928 is the Johnson City Bottling Company which is a relatively unknown company which lasted for about a year and certainly fits the rarity of this bottle. The Orange Crush Bottling Company of Johnson City opens in February of 1929, and does have a bottle that shares the same town name pattern as the mystery bottle; however, knowing that this company had a long history one would think there would be more of these bottles around if they were using them. The Quality Orange Kist Beverage Company also shows up in 1929; however, being that the Kist brand is a flavor line, and that there is a certain pattern employed on the bottom embossing of these bottles that isnít replicated on the mystery bottle, yet again I doubt this bottler used them.

Another bottler which started in 1930 only to close by 1931 is The East Tennessee Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company a bottle from which we have yet to find. The ad from the 1930-31 city directory states that they are bottling Pepsi-Cola and Pilot Ginger Ale, could this bottle be either of those? I doubt the Pepsi-Cola would have been bottled in a bottle without a brand logo, even though this bottle does share some interesting characteristics with the "Pinched Waist" bottle design Pepsi was just starting to use during this period. Pilot Ginger Ale; however, had only been in existence since 1927 with a trademark registration date of August 6, 1929, which would put it squarely during this period. Later Pilot Ginger Ale bottles use a similar embossing pattern from the mystery bottle on their later ACL (Applied Color Label) bottles.

If I had to venture a guess about who was using this bottle a safe guess would be the Johnson City Bottling Company which we have seen no bottles for. The same goes for the Knob Creek Road Johnson City Bottling Works, which we may have a bottle for, but it has no date to speak of. While I am leaning strongly toward the Johnson City Bottling Company due to so little being known about this company, I have to consider the later embossing pattern on a brand we know was bottled here in its infancy, Pilot Ginger Ale, and the fact that it was bottled by a company that was possibly bottling Pepsi-Cola in a similar style bottle which rarely included a town name that had been patented in 1929. The mystery bottle would have certainly made a nice companion to the pinch waist Pepsi bottle, and might explain why there is no company information if someone was relying on recognition of the Pepsi's unique design to inform its customers who the mystery bottle belonged to.

The mystery Deco bottle

This is the design patent information for the mystery bottle.

The bottom on the left is the Nu-Icy from 1928 and the one on the left is the Orange Crush from the 1930's.

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