will you be digging in the 21st Century ?
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 1950’s tip
!" came the unexpected reply. "You’ve 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 stallholder’s 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 1920’s to the 1960’s
diggers will certainly have tried their hand on a "modern 1920’s
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
you do not enjoy digging 1920’s dumps you will find the 30’s 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.
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 40’s 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.
continued until the early 1950’s 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.
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 1960’s 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
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 1940’s 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 1920’s site in Glossop ?
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!!!!!