Where will you be digging in the 21st Century ?

This article was sparked by a conversation with a Lincolnshire digger. He had some unusual items on his table at a  Lincoln Bottle Show some years ago  - painted label beer bottles, painted label cream jars and stoneware storage jars. "Have you just cleared out an old shop ?" I enquired ? "No - I have been digging on a 1950s tip !" came the unexpected reply. "Youve been digging a what . ? Subsequently I discovered that the items had indeed come from a very modern tip where it was more of a case of "forking" your way through the rubbish rather than digging a hole. I noticed that the stallholders table was completely empty at the end of the day. His modern "rubbish" had gone down very well with both collectors and dealers, yet artefacts from Victorian and Edwardian tips lay unsold on most other tables. With the new millenium now with us  and most of our Victorian/Edwardian sites either dug out or inaccessible , pause awhile and think about where YOU will be digging in the future. You could do a lot worse than try your luck on a modern tip. Here then is our guide to some of the collectable and saleable items you will find on dumps ranging from the 1920s to the 1960s

The Roaring Twenties

Most diggers will certainly have tried their hand on a "modern 1920s site. It is possible to still find the odd lid and the odd codd. However such sites are better known for producing good numbers of dolls heads, blue poisons, matchstrikers and flagons and storage jars. Many of the glass bottles are still interesting because most are still aqua and "Bimal" types. Loadsa sauces and plain jampots come up too - making you wonder if people ever ate anything else on their bread in those days? These dumps are also good for producing railway bottles - this was the period when all the railways were grouped into just four railway companies - time to throw out the old and manufacture the new ! Plenty of beers and minerals still many pictorial types but most are internal screw neck. We start to see the first embossed milk bottles on these sites and they tend to be aqua ones too ! Good amounts of transfered pots especially Coopers or Keillers jam pots. Look out for the Oil bottles too !

The Dirty Thirties

If you do not enjoy digging 1920s dumps you will find the 30s almost unbearable. It is possible to find enormous numbers of glass bottles - sadly most are clearglass with external screw caps. You will find lots of Heinz ketchup bottles too - just a little too "dirty" for some. Especially as many bottles still have some contents which have not had time to decompose fully !! Along with the dross you will still find some goodies. The blue poisons are giving way now to green examples but the bisque dolls heads are still to be found - along with large items of stoneware like flagons. Its rare to see a codd but the chances of finding a crown cap ginger beer are good. Another happy hunting ground for matchstrikers and items of breweriana. Tons of white stoneware jam pots. These tips often seem to be either a feast or a famine and the march of the automated bottle machine produces a great many more boring "made by machine" bottles.

The Warring Forties

For more than six years, the country saw tremendous hardship because of the war and the consequent rationing. Mineral water works closed down for the duration and some never re-opened. Consumption fell and re-cycling was back in vogue so probing an early 40s dump hardly seems a good idea. After 1945 however the country started getting back to life again. Known finds from such dumps include some very large bisque dolls heads, wide mouth milk bottles, flagons, footwarmers, storage jars and even the occasional wartime souvenirs - like a German helmet ! Wartime marked the end of the stoneware jam pot and by the end of the decade the bisque dolls heads were gone too - replaced by the new fangled plastic varieties.

The Thrifty Fifties

Rationing continued until the early 1950s so there was still some austerity at the start of the decade - but by the end the country was booming again. Still plenty of large stoneware items to be found. The milks now have pyroglazed adverts or dairy names on them as do the small cream jars. The crown cap beer bottles also have white painted labels. The 1950s saw a great deal of urban development as bomb sites were cleared and redeveloped. This must have transported a good amount of collectable items to the landfill sites - not the least of which must be a good number of enamel signs.. Look out for  the small blue "evening in Paris" perfume bottles too.

The Swinging Sixties

I chose this era as the cut-off date for a number of good reasons - not least the fact that the stoneware flagon with the latest date I have ever seen was dated 1963 !! Look out for those painted label beers and milks - now joined by painted label pops or sodas. Still some big stoneware items - flagons and footwarmers. The 1960s saw another wave of urban regeneration as the slums were cleared. Just think how many shop cellars and attics were trashed - or could the contents have gone off to the tip ?

On almost all of the above modern sites you have a good chance of finding enamel advertising signs and matchstrikers. You must also remember that you can find items that are totally out of context. For example was a beautiful Lovely Hall Farm cream pot really found on a 1940s tip near Blackburn ? Well yes it was ! Finding shop clearouts is also more than likely. I saw a lucky digger on a 1920s site in Stockport dig up a mini-hoard of Victorian/Edwardian pot lids - clearly all thrown out together. Just isolated lucky examples ? Not really - what about the a hoard of 50+ circa 1860 slab sealed ointment pots that were found by a digger on an early 1920s site in Glossop ?

Let us face it - digging is getting harder and harder because sites are getting fewer and fewer. It is probably not a case of if you will dig on a modern dump - more a case of when. And when you do please tell us about your adventures. Have to go now.just been invited to go and dig a thirties dump!!!!!