Superior Soda Water (motif of an American eagle, shield and flags)
Superior Soda Water
(motif eagle, shield & flags)
Probably Baltimore Glass Works, Baltimore, Maryland
Cobalt Blue Soda Water
Provenance: Mike Newman Collection
Our cylindrical 7 ¾ inch tall cobalt blue “Superior Soda Water” bottle was probably blown at Baltimore Glass Works, circa 1846-1852, and features a pictorial eagle, shield and crossed flags. This patriotic motif was used on many soda water bottles and was heavily used in Charleston, South Carolina but has been found in other cities. Like many period standard glasshouse products, it is hard to attribute the bottle to any one proprietor or company unless they specifically claim to be responsible in a newspaper advertisement or other legal record.
The “Eagle-Shield-Flags” bottles are a collector’s favorite and are primarily dug and collected in cities like Baltimore, Richmond, Alexandria, Savannah, Wilmington and Charleston. These cities had bottlers that preferred Baltimore-made bottles during the late 1840s to 1850s. H. J. & C. J. Baker, or Baker & Brother, were agents of Baltimore Glass Works and advertised that they had Mineral Water Bottles for sale in 1846. They were standard glass works ware and were supplied to anyone who wanted stock bottles. New Orleans bottles of this period were generally manufactured by glasshouses up the Mississippi River in cities like St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and possibly Cincinnati and Wheeling.
Many druggists had soda fountains and advertised soda water for sale, but very few bottled their soda water. In Charleston, for example, the druggists who bottled soda and mineral water advertised that fact in addition to having their in-store fountains. These druggists included Finley & Phin, Gatchall & Co., Charles Clark, Dawson & Blackman, Christian Schlepegrell, Christian Alfs, B. H. Fink, and Nathaniel Fields. This may explain the preponderance of different proprietor advertisements for Superior Soda Water in city newspapers. The proprietor would not have used paper labels as the bottles were typically returned, cleaned and re-used.
When looking at the Superior Soda Water bottle, the typography occurs from shoulder to base in two lines of delicate serif copy reading, ‘SUPERIOR’ (top) and ‘SODA WATER’ (bottom). This copy is typically faint as far as embossing. The reverse pictures an embossed American eagle sitting atop a shield flanked by flags and underlying laurel. The bottle has an applied tapered mouth and an iron pontil mark. The neck is long and tapered. The thinner, taller form soda water bottles tend to be from the 1845 to 1849 period, while taper tops are “generally” an 1845 to 1849 style of mouth.
The bottle can be found in many glass colors such as cobalt blue, medium sapphire blue, deep steel blue, deep yellow olive, deep olive green, olive-amber, dark olive (black), very dark purple amethyst, medium to deep yellow-green, and deep grass green.
See the museum example of a very dark-olive-black-glass Superior Soda Water.
These bottles exist without the “Superior Soda Water” embossed copy, where the eagle, shield, and flags occur on one bottle side. Superior Soda Water bottles were generally made from 1850 to 1853 or so. See the museum examples of these bottles.
Other times the proprietor’s name is embossed on the opposite bottle side of the pictorial eagle, shield, and flags. You see this with Roseberry & Co. in Alexandria, Va., Charles H. Umbach & Co., George Gemenden and Philip Young in Savannah, Ga., and William Heiss in Philadelphia, for example.
Primary Spinning Image: Cobalt blue “Superior Soda Water” – Eagle On Shield with Crossed Flags soda water bottle imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio.
Secondary Spinning Image: Black glass “Superior Soda Water” – Eagle On Shield with Crossed Flags soda water bottle imaged on location by Alan DeMaison, FOHBC Virtual Museum Midwest Studio. Mike Newman Collection.
Support: Reference to Soda & Beer Bottles of North America, Tod von Mechow
Support: Reference to the forthcoming draft of Early Carolina Sodas, The Bottles & Proprietors by David Kyle Rakes.
Support: Research assistance from Robert Hinely, Tod von Mechow and David Kyle Rakes.
Support Image: Auction Lot 134: “Superior / Soda Water” – Eagle On Shield With Crossed Flags Soda Water Bottle, America, 1845-1860. Cylindrical, deep yellow olive, applied heavy collared mouth – iron pontil mark, ht. 7 3/4 inches; (1/8 inch surface bruise on edge of mouth, professionally cleaned with remaining wear marks). Similar to H #1189 An attractive early soda with patriotic embossing. Dr. Charles and Jane Aprill collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #182
Support Image: Auction Lot 33: “Superior / Soda Water” – Eagle On Shield With Crossed Flags Soda Water Bottle, America, 1845-1860. Cylindrical, deep steel blue, applied sloping collared mouth – iron pontil mark, ht. 7 3/4 inches. A beautiful bottle in fine condition. No excuses here. Dr. Charles and Jane Aprill collection. – Norman Heckler Jr. & Sr., Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #172
Support: Reference to Really liking this “Charleston Shield” Superior Soda Water, PeachridgeGlass.com, Ferdinand Meyer V, April 2012
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