Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Bottle Bonanza

Yesterday on my way to work I passed a pile of rubbish in the street with some clay flowerpots sitting on top. I thought, "I could use those!" So I grabbed them, and when I did I noticed a nearby container, also in the rubbish pile. It was in a box along with some cans of old paint, and covered with grime and leaves as if it had spent years in someone's garage or shed. On the top were several odd-looking brown bottles.

I realized they were old Bovril bottles. Bovril is a beef extract that can be either made into a hot drink or eaten as a spread, sort of like Marmite. (I've never had it but apparently it's still being made.) And beneath the Bovril bottles were other parcels wrapped in old tissue paper, containing what felt like glass objects. I picked up the whole container and took it to work with me.

It wasn't until I got home in the evening that I had a chance to unwrap everything and take a closer look.

There were about 30 little antique bottles, clearly someone's erstwhile collection. They looked like pharmaceutical bottles, maybe -- long and thin. Only a few (aside from the Bovril bottles, which are all marked) had embossed words on them. One said "Breidenbach London" and one said "Hindes." Breidenbach was apparently a Victorian perfume maker.

Here are the Bovril bottles, once they'd been cleaned up a bit. There are four sizes. I read on this fascinating blog (and how did I not know about a blog specializing in Victorian trash?) that they're probably from between 1918 and 1930. From what I can tell they have machine-made lips, as opposed to hand-tooled lips, and were originally sealed with corks.

What a fascinating haul! And I'm so glad I got to it before the rubbish men. I can't imagine why someone tossed out such old and interesting objects. It would have been a shame to have them ground up into recycling. Those are my favorites in the top photo, sitting on our windowsill. It makes me wonder what else is in that pile. If it's still there this morning I may take a closer look! (Dave will love that.)

And oh yeah, being back at work? Well, it felt great. I had a lot to do and it kept me busy all day -- and yet I only interacted with five or six people because the school is mostly locked up and dark. It's an ideal working situation if you're trying to avoid contagion! I began our book inventory, processed all the magazines that had arrived in the last couple of months, and neatened things up overall. There's plenty more to do so I'll be busy for the rest of this week at least.

The main downside, as I see it, is that there's no lunch available in the building because the cafeteria is closed -- I had to run out to a nearby Pret (amazingly still open) for a takeaway lunch that cost me almost £10. I'll probably pack a lunch today. Also, because the coffee machines in the staff lounge are turned off, the only available coffee is instant. I suppose I can cope with Nescafe. It reminds me of Africa -- when I traveled through West Africa in the early '90s Nescafe was often the only available coffee!

Those are minor complaints, I know, compared to all the problems afflicting the world.


  1. Are you wearing a mask or gloves? I can't wait to see what else is in that pile, the bottles are certainly interesting as is that blog.

  2. What a find! Rescuing history!
    Good to have a focus being back at work...but stay safe

  3. Wow, what a fabulous find.......have you looked online as to what they are worth? Actually I just did.....not worth the bother, just enjoy them yourself! You could put a single flower in a group of 5 or 6 of the tiny clear ones on your shelf?
    Also, you really must try Bovril now......I love it spread on toast.

  4. Steve, you are a man of my own heart. I would have done exactly the same thing and love those little bottles.
    When we moved into this flat in 1965 there were similar bottles in the loft and little china cream bottles, I was overjoyed with them.
    How lovely they would look on a glass shelf with the sun behind them.
    I think there must be a name for people like us who see beauty in other peoples throw outs. lol

  5. I am seething with jealousy Steve! That old bottle haul was just like finding treasure. As Bill and Ted might have said on their "bogus journey" - "Most Excellent!"

  6. Ooh boy! This is the best!
    When I first moved to Lloyd and took a load of trash to the dump, I found a box of old bottles right by the glass recycle container and it was so thrilling! I've never found another treasure like that. But they weren't nearly as gorgeous as your find. GO BACK AND FIND THE OTHER BOX!

  7. What a great find! It's great that you saved those old glass treasures. Wonderful.
    Do you have a thermos to bring some coffee from home? I used to bring a thermos of tea to work with me years and years ago. Or at least that's what my faulty memory is telling me. LOL!

  8. Those bottles are a treasure. As for the coffee, SG has been enjoying a mug of instant Nescafe every morning of lockdown. I switched to tea and won't have coffee again until I can have a really good cafe con leche at one of my favorite places. (Anyway, I've never been a fan of instant, although I do like the way it makes the kitchen smell every morning.)

  9. Wow! Steve scores again! what cool bottles.

    And yeah pack a lunch and a thermos of coffee. I'll do without if instant is the only coffee available. Nice to be back at work and be busy with purpose instead of being busy with make work.

  10. You're going to have to find a larger residence to hold your bottle collection or else start up a little museum of some kind. That was an interesting find.

  11. Those are very interesting bottles. It does make you wonder why someone tossed them out.

  12. What a fabulous find! I do hope you find more treasure when you go back for the other box. I agree, some of the bottles would look super with a flower in them. It just dresses up the window a bit. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

  13. Yes, a great haul. I think there's a name for your kind of collecting. Ah yes, it just came to me: dumpster diving. I suspect you would draw the line at actually entering a large bin though.

  14. Great find! I had a friend who collected old bottlescans she kept them on glass shelves in a window that caught the setting sun. The room was filled with amazing rainbow colors when the sun shone through.

  15. What a lucky find. I hope there are more! Was the box heavy? I admire your energy to schlep it the rest of the way to work and all the way home again.

  16. E: I am not. I'm essentially working alone, so there's no point. I see maybe five people during my workday, and it's easy to keep distance. I also wash my hands a lot and do my best not to touch my face!

    GZ: I am doing my best!

    Frances: Ha! Yeah, I get the impression they're not at all scarce. But they're interesting!

    Briony: I think the word is "scavengers." LOL

    YP: Right?! I was very excited!

    Ms Moon: At least someone had the sense to leave that box NEXT to the recycling, rather than just dumping it in. They knew someone might want them, I guess.

    Robin: I have a thermal travel mug, which I could take with me. I might try that today.

    Mitchell: I don't mind instant too much, but it's definitely not really coffee.

    Ellen: It does feel good to be DOING something.

    Red: Ha! It IS getting a little excessive.

    Sharon: I know! I would think an antique dealer might be interested in them.

    Edna: I didn't find anything else when I passed the trash pile yesterday. I guess this was the only good stuff.

    Catalyst: Actually, you might be surprised! LOL. I've been known to pull stuff out of dumpsters.

    Penelope: Glass just calls out to be displayed against a window.

    Jenny-O: It wasn't super- heavy but it was kind of a drag to carry it. Fortunately I had a bag to put it in.