soda water

Water, water, everywhere!

Presenting a selection of the aerated (or soda, if you prefer) water bottles that have surfaced so far on Christchurch archaeological sites. Brace yourselves: there may be water puns (although, honestly, most of the ones we could think of were simply too terrible to include). H. Mace and Co.

290-colombo

H. J. Milsom

J. Swann, Kaiapoi

W Butement

J. Manning Rangiora

Henry France

Ballin Brothers

Thomas Raine

Whittington

J. E. Lister

Smith and Holland

Ballin brothers stoneware

References

Donaldson, B., Hume, G. and Costello, S., 1990. Antique Bottles and Containers of Christchurch and District. Antique Bottle and Collectables Club, Christchurch.

The bitter waters of archaeology

This week on the blog, we delve – or dive, even (sorry, I can already tell you that this post will be filled with water puns) – into the bitter waters of the 19th century, by which I mean mineral and healing waters, not some kind of allegorical reference to a difficult period of the past. This watery submersion (sorry, can’t help myself) came about following the discovery of an unusual bottle in a recent assemblage that turned out to have originally contained German mineral water, exported from a small town called Friedrichshall to New Zealand from the 1870s onwards. It’s not the first example of German mineral water we’ve come across here in Christchurch and well, it got me thinking. And researching. Basically, I fell down the well (see what I did there?) into the world of healing waters and haven’t quite surfaced since. Bottle base embossed with C. OPPEL / FRIEDRICHSHALL. The source of this descent into watery madness. Image: J. Garland.

The concept of water, specifically mineral water, as an elixir of health has been around for centuries – millennia, even. We’ve all heard stories of springs and pools that could miraculously cure the sick and restore the health of the ailing, in both the historical and fictional worlds. The notion of water – or rather, the ‘waters’ of certain places – as more than just a necessity of survival, as a life-giving (or life preserving) force is so prevalent in our collective psyche that it trickles through our pop culture, past (Jane Austen springs to mind) and present (Pirates of the Caribbean’s fountain of youth, for example).

During our period of study – the 19th and early 20th centuries – there are numerous references to springs, wells, pools, aquifers and other bodies of water with healing properties, sometimes bordering on the magical. The healing waters of Bath were, thanks to the Romans and Miss Austen, among many others, well-known for their alleged ability to cure anything from leprosy to rheumatism. There were several locations on the continent, including Royat in France, Pistyan in ‘Czecho-Slovakia’, Marienbad in Bohemia, Vichy in France, and Salsomaggiore in Lombardy. In California, the town of Carlsbad (not quite Carlsberg, as I thought for a while) was named after a famous Bohemian spa following the discovery of mineral water there in the 1880s. In Scotland, the well of St Maelrubha in Loch Maree, Ross-shire, “was credited with the wonderful powers of curing the insane” and, in possibly my favourite example, there was a pub in London that offered eye lotion made from the healing water in the cellar along with the normal beers and spirits. Apparently, the water contained high levels of zinc, which may have been “soothing to the eye.”

In which a publican has a strange clause in his lease regarding some mineral water in the cellar. Image:

New Zealand has its own tradition of healing waters, of course, the most famous of which is the thermal springs and waters at Rotorua. Other places in the country home to the miraculous springs of good health included Te Aroha, Puriri, and Waiwera. Dunedin soda water manufacturers the Thomson brothers also took advantage of the country’s natural resources and sold Wai-Rongoa (healing water), “the celebrated mineral water from the famed North Taeri Springs” during the early 20th century. Christchurch apparently tried to have healing waters, but the so-called mineral waters of Heathcote turned out just to be water. Nice try, Heathcote.

Advertisement for Wai-Rongoa, the healing water of the North Taeri Springs and Waiwera.

Archaeologically, here in Christchurch, the use of and belief in healing waters is represented through the bottled ‘bitter waters’ and ‘seltzer waters’ imported from Europe – like the Friedrichshall bottle – that survive in the archaeological record. To date, interestingly, all of the examples we’ve found have been German or Hungarian. We’ve mentioned the Nassau selter water bottles before on the blog, stoneware bottles that contained the waters of the Ober and Nieder Selters of Nassau, a Duchy (prior to 1866) and town in Imperial Prussia (after annexation in 1866). As well as these, and the aforementioned Friedrichshall bottle, we’ve also found examples of Hunyadi Janos, a Hungarian export which contained the waters of a spring in Ofen and was advertised as a medicinal remedy. Interestingly, both the Friedrichshall and Hunyadi products are referred to as ‘bitter waters’, marketed primarily as relief for constipation, obstruction of the bowels and congestions. Even more interestingly, Friedrichshall bitter waters also claimed that by “banishing lassitude and melancholy, [it] renders occupation a pleasure instead of labour”, while Hunyadi Janos was apparently “especially efficacious” in the treatment of obesity. So, you know, good to know.

Nassau selter waters (top left) and Hunyadi Janos bitter waters (top right), along with an advertisement for Hunyadi Janos extolling its healing properties. Images:

As a side note, searching for ‘bitter waters’ in old newspapers certainly brought home the melodrama of the 19th century. In addition to the actual products I was searching for, the phrase seems to have been something of a favourite among Victorian writers. Just a few of the examples I found included the bitter waters of sectarian intolerance, adversity, defeat, controversy, science (the bitter waters of science! Oh, science), national humiliation, penury, existence (existentialism was alive and well in the 1800s, apparently), class prejudices, tyranny and “the bitter waters of the cup of sorrow”, which seems excessively depressing.

Anyway, moving on. Back to the bitter waters of health. There’s two main things I find interesting about these Victorian healing waters. One is that, unlike so many of the other ‘medicinal’ remedies we’ve talked about here on the blog, the alleged health benefits of these mineral waters were not – and are not – wholly unfounded. They’re unlikely to have immediately cured rheumatism or leprosy through bathing (although there may have been other benefits, like the invigoration of muscles in warm water, relaxation etc.), but the ingestion of mineral waters may in fact have had some merit. I can’t speak for the specifics – presumably, mineral water didn’t really cure obesity or ‘render occupation a pleasure’ all by itself – but it’s fairly well established that certain minerals are an important part of human health and nutrition. Certainly, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it wasn’t just quacks advocating for their use (I’m not a health professional and am leery of saying anything wrong here, can you tell?).

The second thing is the apparent scepticism with which these claims of healing waters were treated which, again, runs contrary to so many of the weird and wonderful products we’ve talked about here before. There’s numerous instances of waters being tested to determine the levels of minerals present and compared to various sources around the world. If they didn’t contain the acceptable levels of minerals, they were publicly outed as ‘just water’ (Heathcote, definitely looking at you). It’s telling that the truly reputable mineral waters of the 19th century are all derived from springs and wells in areas where the geological characteristics of the surrounding land have made possible the absorption of minerals and salts into the very waters of the earth, so to speak. Like little old geothermal New Zealand or Hungary and Germany, apparently, if we’re looking just at Christchurch’s archaeological record.

It's not completely related, but it made me laugh and it certainly illustrates that scepticism (and sarcasm) was alive and well in the 19th century. Image:

There’s so many things about this whole notion of healing waters that is fascinating to me and I can’t quite articulate all of them (I guess I still haven’t really surfaced from that well I mentioned at the beginning). Not just the physical properties of the waters themselves, but the things they tell us about our view of ‘health’ – I’m thinking here about emphasis placed on characteristics like ‘purity’ and descriptors like ‘natural’, ‘fresh’ ‘cool’ and ‘clean’ – and the ways that view of health has changed and endured over the centuries. Even here and now, we might scoff at the notion of ‘healing waters’, and I imagine very few of you would go and buy a bottle of mineral water to stave off constipation, but water is still intrinsically associated with health and some waters are still considered better – healthier – than others. New Zealand spring water, for example, is marketed in part through its connection to the idea of this country as clean, green, pure and natural: in other words, healthy. In that regard, at least, we’re just following in the footsteps of our ancestors.

Jessie Garland

Raining soda water in Christchurch!

Thomas Raine's premises on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace in the 1860s. Image: Andersen 1949, p. 305.
Thomas Raine's premises on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace in the 1860s. Image: Andersen 1949, p. 305.

In 1861, the city of Christchurch would have been virtually unrecognisable to a 21st century resident. Buildings were scattered sparsely throughout what is now the central business district and dirt roads and low fences traversed a landscape that was more grassland than city. Twenty, or even ten, years later, that landscape would change so much as to be unrecognisable, with substantial buildings filling the empty paddocks and replacing many of the early, more ramshackle, wooden structures of the 1850s and 1860s. During these ‘frontier’ years of Christchurch’s existence, a number of small businesses sprang up around the place, some of which didn’t last much past the settlement’s transition from frontier to something more permanent. One such business was the soda water manufactory of Thomas ‘Gingerpop’ Raine, an early Christchurch entrepreneur whose soda bottles we often find on archaeological sites throughout the city.

Thomas Raine arrived in Christchurch in the 1850s and promptly set himself up in business as a manufacturer of soda water, ginger beer and lemonade. His first business appears to have been on the corner of Peterborough and Gloucester streets where, drawing on his prior experience as a soda water manufacturer in England, he operated from 1859 until 1860 in partnership with Walter Gee (Lyttelton Times17/10/1860: 7). One interesting advertisement in the newspaper notes that the duo used the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine, an apparatus invented by engineer Samson Barnett (otherwise known for his development of diving equipment; Lyttelton Times 15/09/1860: 8). The partnership ended with some animosity (or at least, that’s what the papers suggest; Lyttelton Times7/10/1860: 7, 5/03/1862: 6, Press 8/03/1862: 8).

1862 drawing of the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine.
1862 drawing of the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine.

After continuing on his own, Thomas Raine handed the business down to his son, Thomas Raine Jr., in 1866 (Lyttelton Times9/01/1866: 1). Things deteriorated rather rapidly after this, as Raine Jr. appears to have been a terrible businessman, eventually declaring himself bankrupt (for which he was later confined to prison and tried in court) in 1869 (Press 26/10/1869: 3Star11/01/1870: 2). Thomas Raine Jr. seems to have had quite the troubled life, actually: his father took his business partner to court in 1872, he himself was taken to court by his wife for being a ‘habitual’ drunkard in 1874 and he eventually died after drinking almost an entire bottle of ‘spirits of wine’ (equivalent to two bottles of whisky) in 1886 (Star 20/08/1874: 2Timaru Herald5/03/1872: 2, 5/06/1886: 3).

We find Thomas Raine soda water bottles relatively frequently on sites in Christchurch, usually embossed with “T. RAINE, SODA WATER MANUFACTURER, CHRISTCHURCH NZ.” This mark is found exclusively on ‘torpedo’ shaped bottles, due to the early date of Raine’s business: other, more elaborate, forms of soda water bottle (such as the Codd patent) weren’t invented until the early – mid 1870s, after Raine went out of business. As such, they can be quite useful dating tools for us, depending on the context in which they were found (i.e. discrete undisturbed deposits vs rubbish scatters): as you’d expect, they’re often found on sites in association with households or businesses dating to the 1860s and 1870s.

Thomas Raine embossed torpedo bottle found on a residential site on Armagh Street this year. Image: J. Garland.
Thomas Raine embossed torpedo bottle found on a residential site on Armagh Street this year. Image: J. Garland.

So far, we’ve found T. Raine bottles all over the city, from residential sites to hotels to commercial sites. There doesn’t appear to be any discrimination in the types of households or businesses buying Raine’s products: we’ve found them on the sites of affluent households and in association with less obviously wealthy assemblages. They would have originally contained a variety of soda waters: Raine was known for manufacturing gingerade, lemonade and ‘raspberryade’, the first of which likely led to his ‘Gingerpop’ nickname (Lyttelton Times 3/09/1859: 8).  Interestingly, one account of Raine’s business suggests that he “did not confine himself to beverages of his own manufacture”, which implies – true or not, I have no idea – that he passed other people’s soda off as his own (alternatively, he may simply have contracted others to brew for him; Andersen 1949: 305).

Advertisemet for Thomas Raine's soda water business. Image:
Advertisemet for Thomas Raine's soda water business. Image:

Thomas Raine’s story is also of interest to those of you curious about the way Christchurch evolved over the early decades, from a spatial and nomenclature perspective (this has been a recurring theme here on the blog recently). He was a resident of New Brighton for much of the 1860s and 1870s and owned large amounts of the land out there, including the land on which QEII park is now built (Christchurch City Libraries Blog 2011). During those early decades, it seems, the suburb was somewhat sparsely settled and – like Oxford Terrace – would have been unrecognisable to the modern Christchurch resident. The area was split into two ‘neighbourhoods’, named Oramstown (after George Oram, proprietor of the Clarendon Hotel) and Rainestown, after the Raine family (Christchurch City Libraries Blog 2011,Star8/05/1896:2). There are several advertisements in the local newspaper during the 1870s, in which Thomas Raine offers large sections of land for sale (Press28/02/1874:1). It wasn’t until after these sections were sold and more people began to settle out there, that the area began to take on the shape of the New Brighton that we recognise today.

Thomas Raine died in 1907, surviving his wife by two months. He is buried in the Barbadoes Street cemetery, where he shares his rest with many of Christchurch’s other early residents and entrepreneurs. And, although ‘Rainestown’ has long since faded from our collective memory, the legacy of ‘Gingerpop’ Raine lives on in the torpedo bottles we now find in the ground all over the city.

“ You’ve a Taylor for a brewer! For that he’s none the worse; And if you want a vehicle You go unto a Nurse! You’ve a Fisher for a grocer Residing in this quarter! And strange as it may seem, from Raine We get good soda water.” - R. Thatcher, cited in Andersen 1949: 308

Jessie Garland

References

Andersen, J. C., 1949. Old Christchurch in Picture and Story. Simpson and Williams Ltd., Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries Blog, 2011. [online] Available at www.cclblog.wordpress.com

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Press. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Timaru Herald. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Fizz, bang, pop!: Christchurch's early soda water industry.

Cartoon of soft drink rivals Coke and Pepsi battling it out. Image from Neatorama
Cartoon of soft drink rivals Coke and Pepsi battling it out. Image from Neatorama

Coke. Fanta. Lemonade. Lemon and Paeroa. Mountain Dew. Ginger beer. Dr Pepper. Seven Up. Ice-cream soda. Coke and raspberry. Lift.

Fizzy drinks, or sodas, are everywhere in our society. In all the flavours and colours of the rainbow, they grace our televisions, billboards, magazines, movies, and our fridges. They are (to the chagrin of so many nutritionists) a staple of the modern diet. They are also, in a slightly different way, a staple of 19th century archaeology. Locally and internationally, soda-water (or aerated water) bottles are common finds on archaeological sites and can be some of the most informative artefacts we recover.

Advertisement for Schweppe’s aerated water from the Lyttleton Times, 5/02/1862.
Advertisement for Schweppe’s aerated water from the Lyttleton Times, 5/02/1862.

The soda water industry has its origins in the latter half of the 18th century. It began as a medicinal product, created and sold by apothecaries for ailments like “putrid fevers, scurvy, dysentery, bilious vomiting etc” (Emmins 1991: 9). The first person to artificially carbonate water is believed to have been Dr Joseph Priestly, who wrote a book called Directions for Impregnating water with Fixed Air in the 1760s. Later, in 1792, Jacob Schweppe (yes, that Schweppe), established his first commercial scale soda water factory in London and the fizzy drink industry as we know it was born (Emmins 1991: 10).

Even after Schweppe started the ball rolling on the non-medicinal consumption of soda waters, the industry was still somewhat restricted by the available methods of bottling and storing their product. Glass and stoneware (ceramic) bottles were both used, but difficulties were encountered because of the internal pressure generated by the ‘fizz’ of the drink. Manufacturers had to use bottles with thick glass and find ways to seal the soda bottle and keep the cork or seal from being pushed out by the carbonation.

Two 1887 paintings by William Henry Hamilton Trood, showing the somewhat explosive uncorking of a torpedo shaped soda water bottle. Image: Munsey 2010: 3-4.
Two 1887 paintings by William Henry Hamilton Trood, showing the somewhat explosive uncorking of a torpedo shaped soda water bottle. Image: Munsey 2010: 3-4.

In the early 1800s, one solution was the ‘torpedo’ bottle, which was constructed with a rounded or pointed base. This meant it had to be laid on its side, with the liquid inside the bottle keeping the cork moist so that it was less likely to shrink, fly out and unseal the bottle (Emmins 1991; Lindsey 2013; Munsey 2010: 4-9).

A torpedo shaped soda water bottle found in Christchurch and embossed with the details of Thomas Raine, Soda Water Manufacturer, Christchurch. Image: K. Bone.
A torpedo shaped soda water bottle found in Christchurch and embossed with the details of Thomas Raine, Soda Water Manufacturer, Christchurch. Image: K. Bone.
Lamont style soda bottle found in Christchurch, embossed with Lees & Evans, Reliance, Christchurch (1891-1913). Image: J. Garland.
Lamont style soda bottle found in Christchurch, embossed with Lees & Evans, Reliance, Christchurch (1891-1913). Image: J. Garland.

Eventually, in the early 1870s, a man named Hiram Codd patented a new kind of soda water bottle, now known as the Codd bottle (or ‘marble bottle’). His invention used a marble to seal the bottle, in combination with the natural pressure of the carbonated liquid and a rubber seal, and quickly became a common and popular method of bottling soda water, particularly in the United Kingdom (Munsey 2010). Other inventions and adaptations were also applied to soda water bottles over the decades, including the Hogben patent, Hutchinson patent and, eventually, the crown finish (which we find on beer bottles today; Lindsey 2013). But none were quite so famous as the Codd patent.

Two different variations on the Codd patent, both found in Christchurch. Note the wide indent on both bottles, there to keep the marble at the top of the bottle after it was opened. The smaller indents above it stopped the marble from resealing the bottle when the drinker tilted it a certain way. The bottle on the left is embossed with T. C. Hill, Waltham, ChCh, Zebra Trade Mark Regd (1904-1914), while the one on the right reads Smith & Holland, Christchurch, Trade Mark (c. 1920-1924). Image: J. Garland.
Two different variations on the Codd patent, both found in Christchurch. Note the wide indent on both bottles, there to keep the marble at the top of the bottle after it was opened. The smaller indents above it stopped the marble from resealing the bottle when the drinker tilted it a certain way. The bottle on the left is embossed with T. C. Hill, Waltham, ChCh, Zebra Trade Mark Regd (1904-1914), while the one on the right reads Smith & Holland, Christchurch, Trade Mark (c. 1920-1924). Image: J. Garland.
Crown top soda bottle embossed with Ballin Brothers, Trade Mark Christchurch (1914 +). Image: J. Garland.
Crown top soda bottle embossed with Ballin Brothers, Trade Mark Christchurch (1914 +). Image: J. Garland.

These bottles, in all their various forms, are the artefacts of the soda water industry that we find on archaeological sites throughout Christchurch. Here, soda water production began in the early 1860s (possibly slightly earlier) with manufacturers like Thomas Raine (later known as ‘Soda Pop Raine’), the Milsom family, and James Swann (among many others). Later, names like Henry Mace, the Sharpe brothers, Lees & Evans, the Ballin Brothers and George Ellingford came to dominate the industry (Donaldson et al. 1990). As the industry grew, it remained the province of small, almost boutique, manufacturers rather than large companies or conglomerates (Wilson 2005). Most of the factories employed only a couple of people to work on the bottling process (Press 20/7/1908: 8) and produced soda water for the local, rather than national or international, market.

An 1885 sketch of McPherson’s Aerated Water Manufactory on the corner of Worcester Street and Cambridge Terrace. Image: Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 12 IMG0064. Source: Lyttelton Times, 28 June 1851, p. 3.
An 1885 sketch of McPherson’s Aerated Water Manufactory on the corner of Worcester Street and Cambridge Terrace. Image: Christchurch City Libraries, File Reference CCL PhotoCD 12 IMG0064. Source: Lyttelton Times, 28 June 1851, p. 3.

Local soda water manufacturers branded their bottles with their names and company logos, and it’s these embossed designs that make these bottles so informative for archaeologists. As well as using the physical shapes of the bottles to understand the bottling technology being used in Christchurch, we can use the designs and names embossed on the glass to understand the who and the what and the when of the local soda water industry. Alterations to these designs can tell us when a bottle was made and, perhaps, when it might have been placed in the ground. We can see changes in the history of a company, like when it might have passed from father to son or when a new partner was brought on board.

Some of the bottle designs we come across are also tied to personal events or stories in the lives of the manufacturers, giving us a glimpse of the people behind the industry. Henry Mace, who operated a soda water factory on St Asaph Street from the 1880s until his death in 1902 (although the business continued until the 1920s), used a dog trademark on his bottles, supposedly in tribute to a dog that saved a member of the family from drowning (Donaldson et al. 1990: 244-245). Another manufacturer on St Asaph Street, John Robinson, used the image of a bicycle on his bottles in reference to his previous occupation as a cycle engineer (Donaldson et al. 1990: 254).

Left) A Henry Mace stoneware bottle, also found in Christchurch, showing the ‘Dog’ trademark; Right) A crown top J. Robinson bottle found in Christchurch, with the image of a bicycle embossed in the center. Images: J. Garland
Left) A Henry Mace stoneware bottle, also found in Christchurch, showing the ‘Dog’ trademark; Right) A crown top J. Robinson bottle found in Christchurch, with the image of a bicycle embossed in the center. Images: J. Garland

Yet, these bottles, despite their personal and commercial branding, were not made in New Zealand. The first New Zealand bottle production plant wasn’t started until the 1920s (Auckland Star 11/12/1925: 11), which means that every local manufacturer in Christchurch, and throughout the rest of the country, had to source their bottles from overseas. Fortunately, as well as the name of the contents manufacturer, many bottles were also embossed with the initials, logo or name of the bottle manufacturer. Manufacturers that we’ve come across include Australian, British and American glass-making factories, some of which made bottles for multiple Christchurch companies.

This George Ellingford & Sons bottle, although embossed with the details of the Christchurch based company, was made by Cannington, Shaw & Co, bottle makers based in St Helens, England. We know this, thanks to the C. S. & Co also embossed on the base of the bottle. Image: J. Garland.
This George Ellingford & Sons bottle, although embossed with the details of the Christchurch based company, was made by Cannington, Shaw & Co, bottle makers based in St Helens, England. We know this, thanks to the C. S. & Co also embossed on the base of the bottle. Image: J. Garland.

It’s worth remembering that this also took place long before any kind of high speed communication was common in business endeavours. To get their personalised bottles, Christchurch manufacturers would have had to send off for them months in advance and wait for their purchases, not necessarily knowing whether or not their order had been received, processed or even produced correctly. It shows a kind of risk taking, a leap of faith, that those of us in the present day, with our instant communication and electronic transactions, can’t really comprehend.

There’s an interesting pattern to see here too, in the relationships between the local (grass-roots even) Christchurch soda water industry and the much larger industry of glass making in the late 19th and early 20th century. We’ve talked about global relationships on the blog before, in relation to importing overseas products like Wolfe’s Aromatic Schnapps, various pharmaceutical products and ceramics, and it’s something that leaps out again in this case. No matter how small the scale of production, how local the market, or how personal the branding, the Christchurch aerated water industry was part of a much wider, much more global industry. Frankly, it’s kind of cool that every time we pick up a soda water bottle at a site, we can see that connection right there in our hands, embossed onto the glass.

Jessie Garland

References

Auckland Star. [online] Available at: <http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz>.

Donaldson, B., Hume, G. & Costello, S., 1990. Antique Bottle and Containers of Christchurch and District. Christchurch Bottle and Collectibles Club: Christchurch.

Emmins, C., 1991. Soft Drinks: Their Origins and History. Shire Publications: Buckinghamshire.

Lindsey, B., 2013. Historic Glass Bottle Identification and Information Website. [online] Available at: <http://www.sha.org/bottle/>.

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at: <http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz>.

Munsey, Cecil, 2010. Codd (Marble In the Neck) Soda Water Bottles: Then and Now. [online] Available at <http://www.sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/coddarticleMunsey.pdf>.

Press. [online] Available at: <http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz>.

Wilson, J., 2005. Christchurch City Contextual History Overview. Theme IV: Industry and Commerce. [online] Available at: <http://resources.ccc.govt.nz>.