Bottlers’ Records, 1860-1938

RECORD GROUP: County Clerk
SERIES: Bottlers’ Records
DATES: 1860-1938 (bulk 1886-1935)
VOLUME: 1 cubic foot

Bottler jpg for webpage

This small collection of 421 records under the County Clerk record group, are for bottlers, dealers and manufacturers in Monmouth County who filed to protect their products and trademarks.

The bottling business became an established industry long before the nineteenth century. Since the colonial era, bottlers have used distinctive markings, insignias, logos, or their names impressed on their bottles to identify their products. The lack of trademark legislation before the mid‑1800s suggests that either infringement problems did not exist or, by the mid‑1800s, infringement on bottle trademark rights had become enough of a problem that definite action was needed to control it.

On February 21, 1854, the General Assembly passed an act entitled, “An Act for the Security of Manufacturers of Mineral Waters, and other beverages.” The Act stated that all manufacturers of mineral waters and other beverages, in bottles, upon which their name or marks or markings shall be respectively impressed, may file in the Office of the Clerk of the county in which the business is conducted, a description of such bottles and of the names and marks thereon.” The key word in the Act was MAY. Bottlers and manufacturers were not required to file their descriptions, but if they chose to do so, they would have legal recourse.

By the late 1880s, the industry had grown, particularly in the number of wholesale liquor dealers. On March 11, 1881, another Act of Legislation entitled, “An Act for the better protection of manufacturers and bottlers of, and dealers in mineral waters, beer, ale, porter and other beverages,” was approved. The 1881 Act included provisions for manufacturers of beer, ale, and porter, as well as for boxes and crates. Again, the bottler or manufacturer was given the opportunity to protect their company’s trademarks by filing a description in the County Clerk’s Office.

The consequences for infringement were made very clear. The offense was considered to be so extreme that offenders would, in so many words, be considered guilty before they entered the courtroom. The manufacturer was always given the benefit of the doubt. Under the 1881 Act, the bottler or manufacturer could bring the offender to the Court of Small Causes. If not satisfied with the decision, the bottler or manufacturer could appeal directly to the Court of Quarter Sessions, completely by‑passing the lower Common Pleas court, which would have been the normal procedure.

Dairymen and milk bottlers were added to the list through the Act of March 21, 1888, “An Act to Amend an Act entitled, ‘An Act for the better protection of manufacturers and bottlers of, and dealers in, mineral waters, beer, ale, porter, and other beverages, approved March 11, 1881.'”

As the list of products manufactured by bottlers and dealers continued to grow, the laws needed to be expanded to provide legislative protection for a wider scope of manufacturers. On April 8, 1898, the General Assembly passed the New Jersey Bottling Act. The Act protected the owners of “bottles, boxes, siphons, tins, kegs, or other articles used in the sale of soda water, mineral or aerated waters, porter, ale, beer, medicines, perfumes or compounds.” The law also went a step further stating that descriptions of “any name or names or other marks or marks or device or devices branded, stamped, engraved, etched, blown, impressed or otherwise produced on bottles or boxes” were to be filed in the Office of the County Clerk in which the principal office of the person or corporation seeking registration was situated. The descriptions had to be printed for two weeks in the local newspaper. The 1898 Bottling Act was the first law to protect out‑of‑state and out‑of‑county bottlers, who conducted business within the county, by requiring them to file with both the County Clerk’s Office and the Secretary of State.

There were no major changes in the bottling laws until the June 15, 1933 New Jersey Bottle Act repealed the 1898 Bottling Act. All filing procedures remained the same but a wider scope of products and containers required legislative protection. The 1933 Bottle Act included “bottles, barrels, half‑barrels, quarter‑barrels, boxes, kegs, siphons, tins or other receptacles and containers used in the sale of soda water, mineral or aerated waters, porter, ale, beer, cider, ginger ale, milk, cream, small beer, lager beer, Weiss beer, white beer, near beer, or other beverages or medicines, medical preparations, perfumery oils, compounds or mixtures.”

Additional research is needed concerning why the Bottlers record series ends in 1938. There is some indication that a change may have been made in the mid‑1930s. At that point bottlers and manufacturers may have been categorized under “Labels, Trade Name, and Trade‑Marks, ‑ Bottles, Cans, Containers and other articles.” For whatever reason, bottlers and manufacturers ceased filing descriptions of their products in Monmouth County in 1938.

The Bottlers series is a collection of records pertaining to bottlers, dealers, and manufacturers who, by law, were given the opportunity to protect their products and trademarks by filing a description of the bottles with the Office of the County Clerk.

Although the series covers the period 1860 to 1938, there are very few early registrations (four in 1860 and one in 1876). The largest part of the collection covers the years 1886 to 1938, which is more than likely due to the fact that the March 11, 1881, Act of Legislation added manufacturers, dealers, and bottlers of beer, ale and porter. By 1886, the industry had grown, so that legal recourse for manufacturers, bottlers, and dealers became a necessity, not just a luxury.

Early registration forms filed in the County Clerk’s Office are handwritten and usually include the bottler’s name and the town where the business was conducted. Descriptions of marks, insignias, or logos were brief and simple. In rare cases, the color of the bottles was mentioned.

Later registrations (1890‑1938), produced on printed forms, are much more detailed. The form includes the owner’s or owners’ names, name of company or corporation, and an exact location where the business was conducted. Since bottlers often manufactured their products for other businesses, they were required to include the names of those businesses and the markings used on those bottles. For example, John D. Gorman, trading as Columbia Water Co., manufactured bottles and boxes for Charles A. List, the Asbury Park Bottling Works, Higbee & Haussling, and the Sea Shore Bottling Co. Each mark or marks associated with the other company had to be included on the registration form. In other cases, a parent company may have owned subsidiaries. The markings for each subsidiary and for the parent company also had to be included on the form.

This collection is open to researchers.

This collection is available on microfilm. Numerous cross references included in this series are provided for (1) partners; (2) subsidiaries of parent companies; and (3) cases where a bottler used only initials or numbers. The cross references provide the name where all documentation can be found. Computer indexes are available by numeric/alpha markings; and alphabetically by name of owner. The numeric/alpha index lists initials or numbers used by some manufacturers and bottlers. Cross references are provided to help identify the company or owner.
Both indexes provide:
NAME name of owner or company name
TOWN location of where business was conducted
YEAR year description was filed with the County Clerk’s Office
NOTES cross references
MFILM microfilm roll number where documentation can be found
Archives also has a searchable Access database.

The collection is arranged alphabetically by owner or company name in two manuscript boxes.

Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07725
Phone: (732) 308-3771

These records were transferred to the Archives by the County Clerk Jane G. Clayton, prior to 1993.

The records were microfilmed June 4, 1993. A finding aid was created March 1994, revised February 1, 2007, and revised by George Joynson in January 2016. An Access database was created July 30, 1997.

Information on Bottlers is also available in the wholesale liquor dealer applications within the Tavern Applications series. Since many wholesale liquor dealers were also involved in the bottling business, their wholesale liquor application indicates they were also bottlers. In some cases, but not all, their marks, insignias and logos were included on the application. A separate index, by name of bottler, is available within the Tavern Application series computer index.