Marble bottles or Codd’s patent bottles were by far the most popular used patent throughout the British colonies. First invented by Hiram Codd in 1872, this innovative design incorporated a glass marble within a chamber usually in the neck of the bottle. These bottles had to be manufactured in two parts. The bottle was blown into the mould without the lip. The marble was then dropped in and the lip incorporating an internal groove to retain a rubber seal was then applied. Filling machines for marble bottles were equally elaborate, injecting the CO2 during the filling process, but all required the bottle being filled upside down so the marble would fall against the seal. When up-righted the aeration of the beverage would retain the marble against the rubber seal within the lip. Under such pressure, the marble was kept up against the seal with considerable pressure and usually required a wooden “codd opener” to be used to force the marble off the seal and thus release the pressure. The design was very successful in that it could easily withstand the high pressures of sealed aerated beverages and could be easily re-sealed by simply inverting the bottle and letting the marble re-pressurize against the internally held rubber sealing ring.
Although Hiram Codd patented his design, in 1872, during which time he issued various licenses to bottle manufacturers to make them, the patent ran out after 15 years. During the late 1880’s through to 1900 a flood of slightly variant designs to Codd’s original patents came onto the scene, many of which were used here in W.A., the Niagara patent, the Reliance, the Acme-Reliance, the Dobson, the Eclipse, the all way, the three way etc etc to name but a few. Literary thousands of aerated water manufacturers around W.A. and the world employed Codd’s bottles in their bottling works and ordered large numbers of them to be made, with their own company names and logos from glass makers around the world. Because theft of bottles from rival companies was common, bottles began to be produced with coloured lips and with coloured marbles and even in totally blue and amber glass to make them more distinguishable, although most of these examples are very rare. There was a major problem with Codd’s bottles however. Children liked marbles! The breaking of bottles for the marbles was a practice that added to the cost of an already expensive bottle and required a high return deposit to be placed on them to encourage children to return the bottles and not break them for the marble.
Much of W.A.’s supplies of Codd’s were manufactured back in England and later by the Melbourne Glass Bottle Works (later AGM and then ACI) and shipped to W.A. as ballast loadings in the sailing ships of the day. After enjoying domination of the aerated water market throughout the world for well over 60 years, except through the America’s who had their own patent styles they favoured, like the Hutchison’s, marble bottles finally declined in their use in the early 1930’s. This was mainly due to the increased popularity and simplicity of the American Crown Seal patent, which is still very popular today and the issue of hygiene when dirt and dust would collect within the recess of the top, when the marble was sealed. Codd’s patent has endured the tests of time throughout the world like no other patent bottle and are still used through India and as a novelty aerated water bottle in Japan. The last known use of marble bottles in WA was the last consignment of soda water in codd bottles by Weaver & Lock in South Perth to the McCarthy Hotel in 1950.