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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 12

I The First Half Century - The Initial Struggle

II The Second Fifty Years - The Start Of Expansion
i General Conditions
ii Early Iron Production
iii The Effects of the Gold Rush - Ballarat in Particular
iv Gawler - A South Australian Industrial Town
v Railways - A Major Employer
vi Brewing and Soft Drinks
vii Drink Containers
viii Food Containers

III The Third Fifty Years - Federation And The First World War

IV The Fourth Period - Second World War To The Present



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Drink Containers

Early drink containers were made either of pottery or glass and initially they were imported. There were a number of potters in the convict population, two of the better known being Jonathan Leak and J. Munro, the former arriving in the Colony in 1810 and the latter in 1840. After obtaining a ticket-of-leave, Leak set up in business as a pot maker and by 1828 was reputed to employ twenty free men and so was in a comparatively big way. There were also free settlers who entered the pottery business such as T. Field around 1839 and E. Fowler in 1837. These potteries produced containers for ginger beer and cordials.

The first glass was made in Australia by S. Lord and F. Williams in 1812, but the manufacture was abandoned a few years later. If any bottles were produced they were probably hand made as the metal mould had only been invented in England in 1811. Manufacture of glass was later taken up by J. Ross in 1866 at which time Alfred Felton and Frederick Grimwade were in business in Melbourne as Felton Grimwade & Co., druggists and bottle importers. In 1872 they brought glass-blowers from Europe and set up a business, Melbourne Glass Bottle Works Company in South Melbourne.

A newspaper account in 1882 covers a visit to the Australian Glass Company which had started four years previously and at the time, employed 80 people. During the visit, bottle blowing was demonstrated and it was clear that metal moulds were not in general use. This Company also made decorative glass and had invented a new method of etching designs using an india-rubber paint as a stop-off medium.

Early bottles had either round or pointed bottoms so that they would only lie on their side which was necessary so that the stopper or cork used would not dry out. They also had a familiar blob or thickened top to aid tying-down the stopper.

Stoppers or closures of bottles were a continuing problem and an area of much inventiveness. Hiram Codd in England invented a closure consisting of an annular groove in the neck of a soda bottle to hold a washer, generally of india-rubber and against which a small glass ball would seal when the bottle was filled upside-down, the ball being held in place by the gas pressure after filling. The contents could be released by externally pushing the ball down into the bottle. This basic idea was patented in 1870, with numerous modifications in the years following as, for example, the patent awarded to John Moore of Victoria in 1877. These changes were mainly associated with pinching in the neck of the bottles under where the ball stopper operated, and so to hold it from falling to the bottom of the bottle. Rowland used the Codd patent bottle extensively and secured the sole rights to its use in Australia which included the right to take legal action against anyone illegally filling the bottles. The now common Crown-seal was not in use until many years later because of the difficulty of close-tolerance sizing of the bottle top. The crown cork seal was eventually introduced into Australia by Rowlands.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Glass Company; Felton Grimwade; Melbourne Glass Bottle Works Company

People in Bright Sparcs - Field, T.; Fowler, E.; Leak, Jonathon; Lord, Simeon; Moore, John; Munro, J.; Ross, J.; Rowlands, Evan; Williams, F.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 858 - 859, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher