141 Years of a Quick-Closing Bottle

You may have noticed I prefer to use one kind of bottle.

IMG_0320

These.

They’re known by several names – swing-top, flip-top, bail, and brace. The company that makes them calls them E-Z Cap. They’re popularly known as Grolsch bottles because the Grolsch brewery (located in Holland) continued to use them long after most everyone else started using crown caps.

Despite the association, Grolsch did not invent these bottles. American Charles De Quillfeldt did. He patented them in 1875.

At the time he called it simply an “improved bottle-stopper.” Not long after the patent was granted this stopper-type gained the fantastic name “lightning stopper” because it could be quickly sealed. Quillfeldt doesn’t include this name in his 1875 application, but he does in his 1898 patent application (for improvements to his original design).

The earliest use of “lightning stopper” found so far is this advert in The Medical Register for New England from 1876.

https://books.google.com/books?id=Q6Y9pbnCizUC&pg=PA424&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U2vvcu7IAqayHpng-ORsghEaTz6VQ&ci=158%2C769%2C769%2C349&edge=0

From a simpler time, when medical journals advertised beer as a healthful drink.

It’s unclear if Quillfeldt coined the term, but it was quickly and commonly adopted. Since then all swing-top/flip-top/bail/brace/Grolsch bottles have been formally classified as “lightning” stoppers or closures.

Almost 150 years later lightning-stoppered bottles remain as they were in 1875, “very convenient, quick, and secure.” Provided you have the thumb strength to close them.

PW Thumbing It

You can always tell the lightning-stopper user.

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For more on bottle closure types check out the Soda and Beer Bottles of North American page and the Society for Historical Archaeology’s page.

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