Thursday, 17 October 2013

Bottled beer - some random stuff

I've a couple of texts related to bottling which are too small to merit a whole post of their own. Randomly nailing them together seems the best solution.

First it's a rather different application of the Merchandise Marks Act. I'm slightly surprised by the outcome, as I'm sure the practice condemned as illegal goes on today.

"BOTTLED BEER.
IMPORTANT CASE TO THE TRADE.
On Saturday, ease some interest to "the trade" was heard at the Dewsbury Police Court. Messrs. Findlater & Mackie, wine and spirit merchants, Dewsbury, were charged with four offences under the Merchandise Marks Act.

Mr. Warren, of Leeds, prosecuted on behalf the Yorkshire Mineral Waters Association (Limited), and Mr. G. E. B. Blakeley appeared for the defendants.

It appeared that the defendants had sold a quantity of bottled beer to William Evans, landlord the Bath Hotel, Dewsbury, and the secretary afterwards purchased from Evans two dozen bottles, of beer, and found that several them had impressed upon them the names persons who bottled beer in Leeds, Huddersfield, and Spen Valley, and therefore the defendants had sold goods to which a false description was applied.

Mr. contended at length that the defendants were not liable, and that the offences charged did not come within the meaning of the Act.

The Bench found the charges proved, and fined defendants 10s. and costs in each case."
Yorkshire Evening Post - Monday 30 May 1892, page 3.

If I read it correctly, Findlater & Mackie had refilled bottles from other bottlers, which had the other bottler's name embossed in the glass. I'm sure this goes on today, where bottles are returned and refilled. For example, Westvleteren in Westmalle bottles.

Why was the Yorkshire Mineral Waters Association so keen on taking Findlater & Mackie to court? Ti stop anyone ever re-using someone else's bottles? Doesn't seem like any great crime to me.


I've heard of Findlater & Mackie. They were a big bottler, whose name regularly pops up on labels. Hang on. It seems like they're still going. Isn't that a aurprise?

Part two of this post is about counterfeit Bass again. Only this time it's an American brewery committing the fraud. Even better, it's one I've heard of, Feigenspan. One of the big Ale brewers of Newark, New Jersey. Eventually they were bought out by their great local rivals, Ballantine.

"IMITATING BRITISH BOTTLED BEER.
A telegram from New York states that the Federal Court has issued an injunction restraining a Newark brewer, named Fegenspan, from using a label for his beers imitating that of English firm Bass and Co., on the ground that the imitation was used with intent to defraud. The Court ordered Fegenspan to account to the English company for all ales sold by him under their label."
Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 08 August 1899, page 3.


Note they got the spelling of Feigenspan slightly wrong. It says much of Bass's worldwide fame that a brewer in another continent was passing off his own beer for it. At the time, Bass was one of the best-known brands in the world.

2 comments:

Barm said...

Presumably bottles were still relatively expensive back then, so taking another bottler's bottles might well deprive him of sales, if e.g. he had beer ready to bottle and not enough stock of empties to put it in.

Friction like this was probably a reason for the later move to the use of standardised bottles.

Bob Kiley said...

That's great because if I buy a bass here in the US there is a label saying "made in the USA", which is 10 levels of wrong! (Even forgetting the recipe changes in the past decades)