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ARTEFACT OF THE MONTH: Codd Bottle Openers



Jeanne Harris,Urban Analysts

In 1872 Hiram Codd patented his famous aerated water bottle with its unique internal marble stopper. Once opened the bottle’s ingeniously designed neck kept the marble from obstructing the flow of liquid. But have you ever wondered how a Codd bottle was opened in the first place?

Figure 1 Wooden Codd Bottle Opener (Courtesy: https://www.quora.com/There-was-a-harsh-drink-in-India-with-a-ball-in-the-glass-bottle-that-they-called-Soda-What-is-it)

Most people simple used their finger to push the marble into the bottle, but this necessitated clean hands and often resulted in sore fingers. Fortunately, Codd also developed a bottle opener especially designed to open his bottles. Copied and modified by others, bottle openers for Codd bottles were primarily made from wood, such as boxwood or sycamore (Figure 1) and were more rarely made of glass (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Glass Codd Bottle Opener (Courtesy E. Jeanne Harris)

This type of opener is often referred to as a “codswallop” - a term used to mean nonsense. Wordsmiths suggest that the term is derived from ‘cod’s wallop’, meaning ‘bad beer’, but since the first documented use of codswallop was 1959, it is more probable that it is a term adopted by 20th -century bottle collectors (Chapman, 1992, p.56).

References:
Chapman, Raymond 1992 “One's vocabulary considerably increased”, English Today. Volume 32 October 1992, Cambridge Press, p 56.