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Milk Bottle Collecting
Milk bottle collecting is a fast-growing hobby across the country, according to Bill Lenga of Lenga Dairy Collectibles of Smithville Rats, N.Y., who has a dairy museum with more than 500 rare milk bottles on display.
He thinks the hobby fascinates people because there used to be so many of the bottles and now they've all but disappeared. "Most dairies destroyed their milkbottles when they closed," he says.
According to Lenga, the first milk bottle was developed in the late 1800's by Alex Campbell, who founded the New York Dairy Company. The majority of milk bottles were made and used between 1921 and 1945. However, many dairies used them up into the 1970's. In 1945 the square type milk bottle was introduced and milk cartons started becoming popular. The creamtop bottle, patented in 1925, was made so that the cream portion and milk portion of the milk could be separated from each other by a passage which could be sealed off by a separator. In 1929 green milk bottles were introduced and supposedly used for eggnog and other special uses. They are among the rarest of milk bottles today becasue so few were made and they were not popular with the general public. Amber colored milk bottles were also used at that time but again they were unpopular. Customers wanted to be able to see the color of the milk so they could tell if it was good or not.
In 1936, what became one of the most popular bottles ever was patented by Michael Pecora of Pennsylvania who .put a baby face on the bulb of the bottle. In 1938, another bottle with a face was patented. This one was called "cop the cream" be-cause if you poured milk out with the face down, you would get cream. If you poured with the face up, you would get milk. Both the babyface and cop the cream bottles are among the most sought after milk bottles on the market today. A "double" baby face bottle (a face on each side) sells for more than $85.
Glass milk bottles ranged in size from 1/ 4-pint to 1 gal.
There are a number of books and news-letters for people interested in milk bottle collecting. Following are the addresses of two popular newsletters: "The Milk Route" (publication of the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors), $15/year, 4 Ox Bow Rd., Westport, Conn. 06880; "Creamers" (4 issues/year), from Lloyd Bindsheattle, P.O. Box 11, Lake Villa, Ill. 60046. The following is a good guide for collectors: "Glass Milk Bottles: Their Makers and Marks", ($12.50), Jeff Giarde, P.O. Box 366, Byrn Mawr, Calif. 92318.
For more information about bottle collectingor theLenga dairy museum, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Lenga Dairy Collectibles, HC 73, Box 1, Pearl Street, Smithville Rats, N.Y. 13841 (ph 607 656-7594).

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #3