Meet Judd. He collected glass bottles as a child. Not just normal glass bottles but turn of the century soda bottles.

Each is unique and holds within it a childhood story for Judd and an immense sense of history for any one who views them. Most contain dates, brand names and some also contain instructions like “Wash & Empty” and “This bottle is not to be used by other persons”. For the unmarked bottles Judd can still tell you something about them based on their shape, style or how their lip/caps have been formed.

I was lucky enough to have Judd answer a few questions about his collection (even though he does not refer to it as one) and he let me take them down to the railway line to photograph.

I guess for me this post questions what we deem as a collection, is it about quantity or is it something more? Maybe it does require an obsessive motive or intent…

Can you explain how the bottle collection began?

I guess I don’t really see it as a collection, just a bunch of bottles I found as a kid that I never threw out.  However, for posterity’s sake it started in what I believe was the Charlton Channel, a creek that runs through a small town called Callawadda, about half hour north of Stawell.  Our family summer holiday each year was to go and look after a friend’s farm up there, whilst they came down to Ocean Grove.  I guess I was about 10 or 11 and bored, so decided to walk the river bed, which was always bone dry at the height of summer.  By the time I’d traipsed a fair portion of the length of the property, I had most of the bottles I still have today.

Can you remember the first bottle that you found? Which one was it?

Unfortunately not, but let’s just pretend it was the torpedo, as that’s probably my favourite.

Have you been able to find much information about the bottles? Can you tell us one interesting thing you have discovered about one of the bottles?

I haven’t done much research, just rough dating and such and even then only as a result of someone else taking enough interest to photograph them.  The torpedo and marble bottles are possibly from the turn of the century, give or take 20 years.  The torpedo was developed to keep the cork wet so it wouldn’t dry out and leak.  Apparently, it also had the added bonus of forcing people to drink it in one sitting, early marketing techniques perhaps.

I noticed that some of the bottles have aged differently? Do you know why?

Apart from wear and tear, apparently a lot of it comes down to the soil they’ve been sitting in.  All the scintillating technical details like pH for example, I think high alkaline or high acid will eat at the glass to produce the pitted effect.

Which bottle/s is your favourite and why?

The torpedo and marble are favourites of mine, mainly just due to their age and uniqueness.

Do you have ambitions to display the bottles (if so how?) or are they more of a personal collection?

Not really, I’d forgotten about them for years until my Mum found them in her garage, however I do now have them on a bookshelf in the lounge room, I think that should do.

How many bottles are there?

Roughly speaking, I’d say about 30.

Finally, at what point did your obsession become a collection or vice versa, (if you consider it a collection at all)?

*chuckles*, yeah, I never really thought of it as a collection, let alone an obsession.  I think for me the fun was in wandering the river bed, digging amongst the outcroppings of roots from the century-old gums lining the bank, enjoying the solitude and listening to the flocks of cockatoos in the trees.  Now, I guess it is a collection however I don’t think I’ll expand on it, I’m happy to just leave it as is, a timestamp of a simple and enjoyable period in my life.

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  1. March 30, 2012

    He’s right about the conditions and soil having to do with how the glass deteriorates differently. When glass has been buried for a long time it can get a sort of irridescent effect on the outside (shiny/pearly) and this is due to the decomposition of the glass. One thing that you shouldn’t do with old glass (although it seems like the thing to do) is to wash it in water as this can cause micro-cracking on the surface, further deteriorating it. Wow, I have actually learned things in my conservaiton degree. 🙂

    • March 30, 2012

      Thanks for the comment and insight Adrianna! Can you suggest another technique for Judd to use to clean the glass?

      (We will be lucky enough to have a post from Adrianna in the next few days talking about her art conservation work! So stay tuned folks! 😉

  2. Jacinta #
    April 3, 2012

    Judd, you will have to have a look at the bottles that were found during the excavation for our extension 🙂

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