There can be no doubt about the number one category of bottles collected in the UK - it is the codd bottle, a special type of mineral water bottle first patented in 1872.
In 1872, Hiram Codd, who worked as a salesman for a cork company, patented the very first bottle to enclose a marble in its neck. The idea was that the marble would act as an internal stopper and keep the contents and gas in the bottle until released - thus replacing the cork. This invention was a great success and was adopted by nearly all companies manufacturing mineral waters at the time. The patent gave Hiram Codd some protection from people stealing his ideas, yet many more marble-in-the-neck bottles appeared as glassworks realised they simply had to manufacture this type of bottle. This popularity and competition provides a rich legacy for the UK mineral water bottle collector. It has been estimated there are between 500 and 1000 totally different types of codd bottles. They were mostly made in two sizes, capacity being 6oz and 10oz. Then again you can find dumpy codds, jumbo codds, even giant codds whose capacities are all different. Dan Rylands, a Barnsley Glass Bottlemaker introduced the "anti-theft" codd. This was an aqua bottle whose top or lip was made of a coloured glass to identify one particular company. Thanks to Dan Rylands, bottle collectors can find codds with blue, amber, brown, green and even red lips ! Other manufacturers produced codds with coloured marbles, and yet others provided codds whose glass was all a colour other than aqua. These colours include amber, brown, all shades of green, light blue, cobalt blue and even clearglass. The holy grail for any codd collector would have to be the cobalt blue codd. Few companies used these and if available they usually change hands around the £1000 mark Many collectors prefer the colour of the coloured or coloured lip codds. Others prefer the crazy patent codds, with strange necks, funny shaped marbles and even valves to release the gas pressure ! The codd bottle also gave its name to a well-know English phrase - CODDSWALLOP. This was apparently a sarcastic reference to what was inside the bottle. No self respecting beer swilling gent would be seen dead with a bottle of "CODDSWALLOP" !! Many codd bottle were exported and so can be found in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The idea never caught on in the USA where the Hutchinson patent was king of the mineral water trade.
One of the oldest mineral bottles of all, the egg ended ovate bottle has its devotees - these can also be found in colours, with coloured lips and in patent forms. There are a huge number of "internal stoppers" all invented between 1860 and 1890. These have all manner of strange devices inside them to replace the humble cork - from big plugs of wood to rubber balls, from glass stoppers to porcelain bullets. Most of these come in aqua but coloured varieties are keenly sought. Many codd collectors will also collect these mineral water bottles. The internal screw cap was to replace all of the strange mineral water bottles gradually from the turn of the century. Some companies did favour the crown cork but it did not take over the industry as was the case in Australia and the USA.
Mineral water bottles certainly are fascinating and a great way into the hobby for a beginner. They are available in huge numbers and the bottle itself is still in a stage of evolution. History tells us that those 2 litre plastic bottles that are today's mainstays are going to be replaced soon with some other great idea for keeping the fizz in the bottle !!!!