Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Local Milk bottles as collectible

While my primary focus will always be soda bottles I have actually picked up other interesting items over the years which I normally call "Hey that's neat" items. One category of "Hey that's neat" items would be local milk bottles. It started out simple enough with the A. R. Beavers & Son bottles from Tazewell, VA; however, as my search for sodas continued it was inevitable that I would run into other milks that would interest me. That is the basic story of how this collection grew from one bottle to what it is today, which still isn't a huge collection, but fairly interesting.

half pint from the Pure Milk Company of Abingdon, VA.
Here's one you don't see everyday. A 1/4 Pint milk bottle from Rotherwood Dairy in Kingsport, Tennessee. They didn't bottle long as they signed a deal with the Pet Dairy Company in Kinsport to supply them with milk.

The Southern Maid company was a group of dairy producers who were located in Bristol & Appalachia, VA, Kingsport & Johnson City, Tennessee, and Bluefield, Welch, & Williamson WV. This example is from Bluefield, WV.

A. R. Beavers & Sons milk bottles from North Tazewell, VA these are from the 1940's.

According to my research the Tazewell County Co-op Milk Producers Association was formed in 1931 after the local dairy farms started investing heavily in new milk cows. They were hoping to make dairy goods a thriving industry in the area. The only problem was that it was the Great Depression and things didn't turn out as well as they had hoped. They had built a milk processing plant in North Tazewell where the farmers in the association would bring the milk to be bottled and processed into other dairy goods such as cheese, and butter. Unfortunately by 1933 things had gotten so bad in the industry that when the Imperial Ice Cream Company offered to buy the plant off of them, they quickly sold it. So this bottle (which is a 1931 as best as I can tell) would have only been used for two years at the most. One of the officers of the Co-op A. R. Beavers continued to produce milk himself well into the 1940's.

One of two dairies in the little town of Marion, VA is Laurel Spring Dairy. Their competition was Shanklin Dairy which I don't have a bottle for. Shanklin Diary also made Ice Cream.

If you have lived in the Southwest Virginia Northeast Tennessee area for any length of time then you have heard of Pet Dairy, due to the fact that it is the only one of these dairies that survived into modern day. This is an early acl bottle for the brand.

Created in the 1920's as the Southern Refrigeration Company in Bristol, VA, who were manufacturers of Southern Maid Ice Cream, this company would end up with several branch plants in West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.

A Southern Maid Quart
Fain's Pinemont Farms from Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia.

There don't seem to be too many Southern Maid Painted Label bottles around, the usual form found are embossed examples like the ones above; however, they did produce some in the late 1930's and early 1940's.

Bristol has had several independent dairy producers throughout the years including Gray's Dairy.

Another Bristol dairy was Godsey Creamery, this 1939 ACL bottle is advertising their Holston Brand Butter

Yet another long running brand is Bassett's which also made ice cream as their 1939 ACL bottle indecates.
Pet Dairy Products bottle, no town name listed, but they had several locations in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia area.

By the 1950's new space saving square bottles were become the norm, and these two half pints were among them. The left one is Clinch Haven Farms from Norton, VA and the Leatherwood is from Bluefield WV.

Of all the Roanoke VA dairies I have to say that I like Clover Creamery the best, mainly due to their use of a clover on their bottles. These two early bottles for the brand are some of the most interesting of all of their bottles.

One thing that grabbed me early on were Sour Cream/Cottage Cheese jars, of course my two favorites are the Clover Creamery brand from Roanoke, VA.

A recent acquisition is this 1942 ACL war time bottle which not only advertises dairy products but war bonds. It is from the Clover Creamery of Roanoke, VA as well.

Probably the most common of the Clover Dairy bottles is the 1950's green acl bottles like this half pint.

Southern Maid Ice Cream thermometer from the late 1920's.
Southern Maid Dairies ad from a 1937 Bluefield Collage Football program.
Milk and Beer, what does it have in common? Not much except that Southern Maid Dairy was distributing both in the 1930's. After Prohibition was lifted many companies that had no connection to beer started distributing it.
And those are the more interesting examples from my small milk bottle collection. I do have some others, namely a Rotherwood Dairy from Kingsport, Tennessee, and a Piedmont Dairy from Bristol; however, I may post them another time. The number one thing to take away from this post is this, collect what you like, and make sure they are interesting enough to keep your interest even after the thrill of the hunt has worn off.