New history in old Tullamore bottles – Egan’s, Tullamore DEW, Stirling and more besides. By Noel Guerin

I started collecting bottles a little over a year ago, interested in their origins and local history. I’ve picked a small collection of the type of breweriana bottles that were used in the day to day lives of the people of Tullamore and surrounding towns in the late 19th and early 20th century. I’ve provided a brief description of the types of bottles I’ve mentioned. Most of the dates provided are approximate and offered with the best knowledge I have at this moment. As I get more accurate information, the dates will be reviewed. I started off with some basic background information on bottles.

Carbonised mineral bottle   It is widely known amongst bottle collectors that Joseph Priestly discovered how to make carbonised mineral water in 1772. It was prepared by dissolving carbon dioxide in water. By 1860, it had become easier to manufacture and was being flavoured with fruit syrups, lemons and limes. It was retailed by grocers, wine and spirit merchants, as well as chemists. At first the new drink was stored in earthenware bottles, but the gas escaped through the skin and so the drink became flat. Manufacturers switched to glass bottles. However, corks were still used to seal the carbonised mineral water drinks, and if they were allowed to dry out, they tended to loosen which allowed the gas to escape. If the bottles were stored on their side, this was less likely to happen.

Hamilton Bottle   In 1814, William Hamilton introduced the egg shaped or torpedo bottle, they were used for aerated or carbonated water. They were oval shaped with a neck at one end and were deliberately designed so that they could not be stored upright. Torpedo bottles were in common use from the 1840s to the 1870s, when they were superseded by the Codd bottle.

Codd Bottle   In 1872, British soft drink maker Hiram Codd of Camberwell, London, designed and patented a bottle designed specifically for carbonated drinks. The Codd-neck bottle was designed and manufactured with thick glass to withstand internal pressure, and a chamber to enclose a marble and a rubber washer in the neck. The pressure of the gas in the bottle forced the marble against the washer, sealing in the carbonation. The bottle is pinched into a special shape to provide a chamber into which the marble is pushed to open the bottle. This prevents the marble from blocking the neck as the drink is poured.

Blob top bottles appear to have originated in the early 1840s and were quite popular by 1850 they were blown in a mould and the blob top was added for strength afterwards.

Crown top bottles became very popular after the 1900s.

Mineral Water Bottles

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James Walter O’ Neill produced mineral water in the old Brewery Lane in Tullamore, from c.1865-1877. However, his company known as Tullamore Mineral Waters Company Limited closed shortly after it went public in 1877. I don’t have any bottle from this company yet but he is likely to have used a blob top torpedo or even a Hamilton or egg-shaped bottle for his mineral waters, shown above is rolled lip Hamilton bottle. It was found locally. There is no name embossed on this bottle.

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1880-1895 James Lyle Stirling Tullamore & Athy handmade aqua coloured mineral water bottles,

Left is a blob top and the one on the right is a cod bottle. Both Bottles are embossed with Sterling Mineral Waters Tullamore & Athy.

James Lyle Stirling produced mineral waters in Tullamore from 1880 to 1895. The Athy connection is down to his wife Gertrude who was a daughter of Patrick Murphy a trader in Athy. Stirling moved to Dublin and set up business there in 1895, Sterling sold his mineral water company to P.&H Egan’s in 1896.

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1890-1910 DE Williams Early handmade aqua coloured mineral water bottles

Left is a small cod bottle, second from the left is a round bottom torpedo blob top bottle, made that way so the shops could not stand them up while storing them this was done to keep the corks moist and stop the gas escaping. Third from the left is a blob top bottle and the one on the right is an applied crown top bottle.

In the early 1880s Daniel Edward Williams took over as manager of the Tullamore Distillery built in 1829 on the site of a previous distillery and then owned by Captain Bernard Daly a great nephew of the original owner. In the early 1890s DE Williams was producing their own mineral waters.

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1890s-1910 P&H Egan’s shown above is a selection of three different types of aqua coloured glass blob top mineral water bottles. All three are flat bottom applied blob tops. The earliest one on the left c.1892. The middle one c.1896 and the one on the right 1896-1910 with the phoenix embossed on it.

P&H Egan’s Tullamore General Merchants and Brewers were established in Tullamore from 1852, They produced mineral waters from early 1890s, and expanded their mineral waters production in 1896 when they purchased the Stirling Mineral Waters Company Tullamore & Athy.

Ginger Beer Stone Bottles

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1900-1920 D.E Williams and P.&H Egan’s Ginger Beer salt glazed stone bottles. These were made by Price of Bristol, England, a well-known manufacturer of the much larger whiskey flagons ranging from one half gallon up to six gallons. The ginger beer was usually a cloudy liquid and unattractive so it was stored in stone bottles rather than glass bottles to hide its appearance. They were cheap to produce and survived until the 1920s when the mass-produced cheaper machine bottles came in.

Beer and Ale Bottles

Most of Williams and Egan’s Black glass bottles were produced in Dublin, with some of the earlier ones produced by W. Campbell of The Dublin Glass Works and J.A. & R. King of Ringsend. Campbell’s produced mostly black bottles from 1848-1898: The bottom of their bottles is usually marked with DBC. The Ringsend Bottle Company used the stamp R on the bottom of the bottles. Kings of Ringsend produced both Black and Aqua bottles from 1869 until 1925. The bottom of the early King’s bottles is usually marked with a K.

King’s company expanded and became known as Irish Glass Bottle Company. By the 1920s there were only two glass factories operating in Ireland: The Irish Glass Bottle Company and the Ringsend Bottle Company. These two companies merged and in 1925 the company was incorporated into Irish Glass Limited and later Ardagh Glass.

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1880-1910 P&H Egan’s handmade black glass ale and beer bottles. The first bottle on the left from the 1880s is marked Drink Egan’s Tullamore Ales and stamped DBC, these bottles can have stout or porter embossed on them. Beer bottles were always a dark colour to prevent the beer from being affected by the light. The middle bottle is dated before the company went limited in 1896 and the one on the right is after 1896; both bottles are stamped R.

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1880s-1910 DE Williams handmade black glass ale and beer bottles.

The bottle on the left is the oldest, with the defects seen here on the bottle as manufacturing marks. The middle bottle is before DE Williams company went limited in 1903 and the bottle on the right after the company went limited. All three bottles were made by the Ringesend Bottle Company and stamped with an R.

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1925-1960 The bottle on the left is P&H Egan’s, and second from the left is an early Tullamore DEW machined bottle which has a different top. Third from the left is decorated with a large Tullamore DEW display and the one on the right is the more common Tullamore Dew bottle. These machine bottles are identified by a bottle mould seam running up both sides the full height of the bottle including the lip.

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1925-1960 DE Williams beer bottles came in different colours.

Whiskey Jugs

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Tullamore DEW white and green whiskey jugs or crocks c.1935-1980s bottom row left to right, 1980s-2019 top row right to left. These jugs were designed for the export of whiskey to the American markets.

The first five jugs are made for DEW company Tullamore the circular seal is to the front. By 1965 the famous Tullamore Dew brand was sold to powers whiskey the seal was repositioned to under the pouring spout and the next six jugs were made for the DEW company Dublin, and since around the late 90s the seal has moved back to the front as seen on the more recent five jugs.

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c.1935-1945 The earliest of the Tullamore Dew whiskey Jugs.

These are the three oldest items on display, the writing of which is stamped and hand painted, not a transfer like the newer models, I believe the one on the left is the oldest. It is roughly made with manufacturers marks on the back and the circular seal is off centre. It is the only one I have that was distilled and filled in the Tullamore distillery, the next two are marked distilled and filled for the Tullamore distillery.

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Come in. The table is set for ‘a sovereign remedy if it be orderlie taken’. This may have been the last picture taken in the Old Bond in 2020.