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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
John Headley's Mystery Bottle
I visited with John and Nancy Headley of West Creek the other day. They are always interesting to talk with, as they collect a wide range of historical "stuff" from West Creek and the surrounding area.
During the visit, John brought out an old bottle with the following embossed words:
WEST CREEK, NJ
I asked John if he would do a rubbing of the bottle for me. Luckily, having grandchildren who visit often, John was able to quickly put his hands on a box of crayons and some paper. He soon handed me a rubbing of the embossed words on the bottle.
Needless to say, I was surprised when I read the inscription. I had never heard of a "Birmingham" in West Creek nor have I ever heard of a bottling plant in the tiny town. I remember hearing something about a glass works in Barnegat in the old days and wondered if the bottle could have been made there and shipped to to West Creek. This may be true, but it doesn't explain the P.E. Birmingham. Is he a person or is it the name of a company?
The bottle was clearly old, with a green tint and some bubbles noticeable in the glass. There was no indication on the bottle regarding the date it was manufactured. The presence of seams on the bottle indicate that it was manufactured by machine in a mold and not hand blown. I am not an expert in old bottles, so I don't have a clue as to how old it might be or what it's contents may have been. It looks like a soda bottle to me. Perhaps someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can tell from the photo below.
I Googled "P.T. Birmingham" and found that there was a Birmingham Bottle Company in Alabama who made a wide assortment of mostly soda bottles. I'm wondering if someone in West Creek may have ordered bottles from this company to fill with and sell soda, etc. If this is true, then P.E. Birmington is a bottle company rather than a person. It's a logical possibility.
The bottle was found by Tom Miller, a bottle collector from Warren Grove, in a wooded area on Route 9 in West Creek across the street from the location of the old Tower Tavern. It was with a case of the same bottles, but it was the only one that was not broken. The fact that the bottle was a part of a case and was found across the street from the Tower Tavern may indicate that it came from the tavern.
Site of old Tower Tavern
Tom gave the bottle to John, in 2009, for safe keeping until the West Creek Historical Society had a location where it could be displayed for public view. Could the place where the bottle was found be a clue for the bottles West Creek origin?
I wonder if someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere has any knowledge or another theory regarding the source of John Headley's bottle? It's a mystery I would like to solve!