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Hamilton bottle

19th Century

Joseph Priestly discovered how to make carbonised mineral water in 1772. It was prepared by dissolving carbon dioxide in water and was originally regarded as having medicinal properties. By 1860, it had become easier to manufacture and was being flavoured with fruit syrups, lemons and limes. It had lost its medicinal associations and was being retailed by grocers and 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 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, but shopkeepers were reluctant to store them this way.


In 1814, William Hamilton introduced the egg shaped or torpedo bottle, which gave shopkeepers little option but to store them on their side due to the rounded base.


Hamilton bottles did not come into general used until the 1840s, but once they did they remained popular for many decades.

glass, aqua
height 183mm, diameter (rim) 25mm
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
1840 - 1900
Dumfries & Galloway Council