R & CO mark: Reed & Company, Massillon, Ohio

         R & CO – mark used by 

            Reed & Company

             Massillon, Ohio    (1881-1904)

Although this factory was also known locally as the Massillon Glass Works (at least for a period of time during the mid 1880s), the business firm name is given as Reed & Company in most contemporary records.  (Please see “M G W” mark entry on Glass Bottle Marks, page three. )

This R & CO mark is apparently seen almost exclusively on the bases of hand-made, tooled blobtop and crown-lip amber or aqua export-style beer bottles.   Reed & Company specialized in producing beer bottles, although they are believed to have manufactured several other types of bottles as well.

R & CO mark on base of beer bottle (From unidentified ebay seller)

R & CO mark on base of beer bottle

The R & CO mark is most commonly seen embossed in a semi-circle on the base, along with a mold number.   Although Julian Toulouse (Bottle Makers & Their Marks, 1971) attributed the R & CO marking to Roth & Company, San Francisco, I know of no evidence that Roth (a whiskey distributor, not a glassmaker) had ANY bottles made for them bearing this type of mark.

 

Dark amber "R & CO" export beer bottle (mold number 49 on the base).

Dark amber “R & CO” export beer bottle (mold number 49 on the base).

 

Some Reed & Company beer bottles have the “R & CO” embossed in a straight line (horizontal configuration) near the center of the base, as opposed to semi-circular.    The examples with the straight-line embossing are somewhat less common than the ones with the “arc” configuration. Pictured on this page is the base of one of those bottles, with a “36” mold or shop number.

R & CO bottle with straight-line marking. (Photo courtesy of "Vintage Trekker" on Etsy & Facebook)

R & CO bottle with straight-line marking. (Photo courtesy of “Vintage Trekker” on Etsy & Facebook)

If you know of any bottles with “R & CO” on the base which is not of the typical “export beer”bottle shape (as illustrated here), please contact me.

A photo of a typical bottle base (with mold number 35, from an unidentified ebay seller—credit for the pic will gladly be given upon request) is shown here.  Another base example carries mold number “49” on the bottom.    Huge quantities of these “generic” bottles were made, especially throughout much of the 1880s-1890s, frequently being found in bottle dumps from that time period.  They are quite often found at old fort sites in the Western states of the US.

They were, without doubt, sold to many breweries around the US, especially those located in the midwestern area of the country.   As there is usually no raised lettering on the front, each brewery (or bottler) would have affixed their own private brand label on the bottles before shipment.  The great majority of these bottles (usually dug) no longer carry a label, which has long since disintegrated.

R & CO / 49 bottle base. (Profile above)

R & CO / 49 bottle base. (Profile above)

 

 

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44 Responses to R & CO mark: Reed & Company, Massillon, Ohio

  1. Ren Few says:

    I found a R & Co #17 in great shape. Amber crown top beer bottle.

  2. Suzanne says:

    HI! I found a bottle in ocean of Portobelo Panama last week labeled R & CO 26. Ever excited to hear the history of the bottle and more information on it’s age. Thanks!

    • David says:

      Hi Suzanne, the bottle was made sometime between 1881 and 1904, but there isn’t a way to be sure what year it was made. The “26” is a mold number …. the number identified the exact metal mold the bottle was made in.

      Best regards,
      David

  3. Cheryl says:

    I have a similar bottle, but it’s bluish colored with the R & Co with an 8 in the middle with a dot below the 8. Is this the same company.

  4. George Thompson says:

    I found the base of a R & Co brown bottle, whilst beach combing in Playa Bonita, outside Panama City, Panama. It had the letter L in the middle of the base. It was just a fragment, but did not look to have been at sea for long, as the edges were still sharp to the touch and not rounded. Most likely dropped off a ship at anchor, as we are right by the Pacific entry/exit point where the ships wait to go through the Panama Canal. When though, I don’t know.

  5. Heather says:

    Hi I have an amber-colored R & Co bottle half circle but there is either a o or a zero under it I’m assuming it’s pretty generic

  6. Darren C Sculuca says:

    hi david!! ,ok i have what i think is a whiskey bottle..11 inches high amber and the marks r & co.m,do you have any clue if it is that? found it on our farm in Pennsylvania years ago..thank you for your touble.

    • David says:

      Hi Darren,
      I would guess your bottle is a beer bottle. Reed & Company specialized almost entirely in beer bottles (although they might have made a few other types, but not nearly as much). Anyway, whiskey bottles normally do not have a “blob” top; blob tops (or a more slightly rounded lip) were more common on beer and soda bottles. Most whiskey bottles had a “tapered top” or “brandy finish”, such as shown in this old illustration:
      https://www.sha.org/bottle/Finishes/1908IGCofinishes.jpg
      Hope this helps,
      David

  7. Ron Mackaway says:

    Hi David , today I excavated out a perfect R&CO amber coloured bottle semi circular embossed with the letter K on centre on a job site plumbing extension in Maitland a city near Newcastle NSW Australia a well travelled bottle to add to the collection. I enjoyed tracking down its origin

  8. Steve W says:

    I just found a excellent shape R&Co 25 bottle, it’s clear – bluish green! At an old mine area in BC Canada, it’s got a seam but glass has air bubbles n imperfections.. Is it 100 yrs old?

    • David says:

      Steve, since Reed & Company discontinued making bottles in about 1904, you can rest assured your bottle is AT LEAST 112 years old (as of this year, 2016) . And probably older, since the company started in 1881. But there is no way to be sure EXACTLY what year any particular bottle was made. But we know they made GOBS of them over quite a few years time.
      ~David

  9. Liz says:

    What a great resource. Thank you, David. I have a blue-green quart bottle, R&Co 37, semi-circular lettering. It was dug from a dump site near Dawson City, Yukon, some 40 years ago, is totally intact, has a few bubbles in the glass. Quite pretty. I always wondered at its provenance. Liz.

  10. David I have a pair of light green BIMAL crown tops that are embossed in an oval slug plate mould KEEN BOTTLING CO/SOUTH/PITTSBURG/BRANCH which have an R & CO/5 embossed on the base(semi circle). This firm bottled soft drinks and in time had 4 bottling plants in New River, South Pittsburg, Oakdale, and Oneida(TN). The Keens marketed Koca Nola, Rye-Ola, Gay-Ola, etc. So Reed apparently also produced crown top soda bottles, thought that you would find this information of interest. Charles David Head(kocanolabook@yahoo.com)

    • David says:

      Hi Charles,
      Thank you very much for your information. I am happy to post your info and add it to the site. Do you have any ideas on the date range of these soda bottles made for Keen Bottling Company?
      Best regards,
      David

      • Research indicates that the keens started their first soda bottling plant in 1906 so the time frame seems to be off a couple of years from the time period in which Reed & Co were in operation. I’ll furnish photos of the said bottle in the very near future(front, rear, and base) but the base embossing clearly matches that of bottles previously confirmed as to have been produced at Reed & Co. I obtained excerpts from James Keen’s 1906 diary which stated that A.Y. Keen begun the South Pittsburg Keen Bottling Company/Branch in March 1906.

      • David-According to excerpts from James Keen’s 1906 diary his son, A.Y. Keen, and John McCoy started the South Pittsburg branch of the Keen Bottling Company in March 1906. Although that time frame is a couple of years off from when Reed & Co were in operation the base embossing on the aforementioned Keen soda bottle perfectly matches that of documented bottles from the firm. I’ll forward photos of the Keen bottle to you in the very near future(front, back, and base).

        • David says:

          Hi Charles,
          Thank you for the information. From info in “Bottle Makers and their Marks” by Julian Toulouse (page 399), Reed & Company was one of several bottle-making firms that joined forces to form the Ohio Bottle Company in 1904-1905. Others involved included Wooster Glass Company, Edward H. Everett (Newark Star Glass Works), and the Massillon Bottle & Glass Company. Ohio Bottle Company along with some other plants then merged to form the American Bottle Company in late 1905. I’m sure, as you give strong evidence of, the bottle(s) made for Keen were made after the merger, but the R & CO /5 engraving on the bottom of the molds had not been re-tooled or “erased”. Since you are describing “slug plate mold” bottles, the bottle molds themselves would have been made years before, and the appropriate slug plate was placed into the mold for the Keen examples. Any comments are welcome!
          ~David

  11. George Lewis says:

    This is a great site. Well done, David. I have a R&Co 18 with a paper label for Dr G I Haynes blood Purifying Tonic on it. Haynes address is Pensecola but I can’t seem to get any more info on it. I wonder if this is an early example of recycling beer bottles or if he had a legitimate business..
    Looking to sell so if you know anyone, please contact me.

    • David says:

      George, The “R & CO” beer bottles, similar to other “generic” bottles of the late 1800s and early 1900s, were often saved and re-used by businesses and individuals for other products. In fact there were businesses, especially in some of the larger cities, called “bottle shops” that actually bought and sold empty bottles and jars, and in this way many were recycled and are sometimes found with labels for a completely different product than was originally contained in them. I think this is what happened with your bottle. There were many businesses, many of them short-lived, around the country that couldn’t afford (or didn’t want) to have bottles embossed with their name in the glass, so paper labels would suffice. A huge number of “tonics”, “syrups”, “cures”, and other questionable “patent medicines” (generally made of alcohol along with various flavorings and other unnamed ingredients) were promoted during the mid to late 1800s, and the Dr. G. I Haynes Blood Purifying Tonic was no doubt one of them. I can’t find any info on it either, but it was likely a very short-lived company/brand name.
      ~David

  12. Darby says:

    Hi, I have a brown R & Co #1 marked bottle but with embossed Schlitz lettering. Any idea on the date? Thanks.

  13. Rich Dasher says:

    Love the site! I’ve been hunting the mangroves near me and came across a R & Co. bottle with the letter A instead of a number. The neck seems to be skinnier than the ones I’ve seen online. Is this just another generic beer bottle?

  14. Kay Willey says:

    I have an R & Co bottle that is aqua colored and not amber. (Mold number 46) Is this more rare than the amber colored version?

    • David says:

      Hi Kay,
      From my perspective none of the “R & CO” bottles are scarce, as they were made in very large numbers over a period of years and many of them are still around. But most of those I have seen are in amber glass, so I would agree that aqua colored examples are scarcer. However, since the majority of “R & CO” bottles are considered “generic” and were not marked on the sides with an actual brewery or bottler company name or city, they don’t get much attention from collectors. I doubt if the aqua colored examples carry a premium value but that is just my opinion.
      Best regards, David

  15. Rob says:

    Hi David. ..I just dug one of these “R & Co” amber beers today at a late 1800’s mining cabin in British Columbia, Canada. No number on mine. It has an “E”

  16. Jason barnett says:

    I found a r and co beer bottle at a yard sale today. It has j walker brewing co. Cincinnati, O on the front and r and co pat. 85 on the bottom . All the info i can find is that its a #1 amber piby champagne baltimore loop…???.can u tell me more ..is there a collectors market? Thanks

    • David says:

      Yes, there is a collector’s market for most older beer bottles. Although, Cincinnati area bottle collectors (those who specialize in Cincy-embossed beers) would have a much better idea on the relative scarcity and desirability of the various Cincinnnati-region beer bottles and their many variants than I do.

  17. Bracken says:

    I found one of the bottles you asked to be contacted about. Its a R&CO 41 horizontally on the base.

  18. Jason Briggs says:

    Just found a “R & Co … 22″ Amber bottle” while diving in Bermuda. I dive for artifacts including bottles and this caught my eye. Covered with 100 years of coral.

  19. Hakim tazerouti says:

    Hi I found about 50 different bottle on a old house that I purchase this one is orange and on bottom says r & co and under it a letter i any information thank you in advance

    • David says:

      Hi Hakim,
      All of the info I have on the “R & CO” bottles is on this webpage. The letter “I” (it may be the number ‘1″) is a mold or shop number identifying that particular bottle mold.
      Best regards,
      David

  20. Rick says:

    A great site! My cousin and myself were the last two members of the family to work at Reed Glass in Rochester, NY, which went down in 1956. Worked in the packing house, test lab, and hand loaded box cars. Running three tanks at that time, Emerald Green, Amber and Flint. What an experience. Our grandfather was A.F. Reed, my uncle was Merton Reed. My father was production manager in the mid forties.
    Thanks again

  21. Bag says:

    David i dug to blobs with the R & CO 25 on the base beside that there blanks some guy offered me 10 dollars a peace for em . I kept them thinking he knows something i don’t is there something i am missing thanks .

    • David says:

      Hi “Bag”,
      Well, I don’t think you are “missing” anything, but anyway I will just give you some of my own thoughts about this. R & Co. beer bottles are commonly found. Evidently Reed & Company made lots and lots of them for quite a long time, and they were bought by many different brewers who pasted their own private label on the front. They have been found throughout alot of the US, especially the midwestern, southern and western states.
      There is no established “price” or “value” of these bottles that is set in stone. They are worth whatever a collector is willing to pay for them. Someone might try selling one at a yard sale or a flea market for 1.00. Someone else might list an example on ebay for 10.00; an antique store may have a bottle like this priced at 25.00 or more. As you know, the main two reasons why so-called “serious” bottle collectors don’t pay that much for them is simple: 1) They are plentiful, and 2) They usually don’t have any brand name, city, or state embossed on the front.

      NEVERTHELESS, they are authentic antique American-made bottles! Real artifacts from a by-gone era. The last ones were made around 1904, so (needless to say) here in 2013, your bottles are AT LEAST 109 years old! Possibly up to 132 years old, since R&CO started approximately 1881. Some collectors (or historians, or persons from Ohio or Massillon or the surrounding region) may be more than happy to pay 10.00 or more for a piece of local history. And I wouldn’t fault them for that. It is perfectly possible that the bottle could have been actually blown and handled, or used, by one of their own ancestors especially if their family grew up in the Massillon area.
      It is possible a collector could be looking for an example of different molds from R&Co production, and would be willing to pay more for a specific mold number. For instance, trying to assemble a group of bottles, showing one example of each mold number known (from 1 to 50, or whatever). I don’t know that anyone is actually doing this, but this type of “mold set collecting” is not unknown in the antique glass insulator collecting field.

      But just think, you can go to any large department store and pay 10.00 for a decorative object (such as a knick-knack, perhaps made in China) that has no provenance, no (researchable) history, may have been mass-produced by the millions, and was probably made just in the last few months. Is it worth it? To some, yes. To others, definitely not.
      I know you were not expecting such a long, drawn-out answer (!), but basically it’s really a matter of personal taste, and someone’s own interest in the past. Perhaps the prospective buyer is willing to pay more for any blob-top handmade bottle. Blob-tops are usually older, and not so common, as later crown-top beer bottles.
      Hope this helps a bit,
      Thanks for writing, ~David

  22. Daniel Camacho says:

    David, thanks for a quick reply and the great info. That was interesting to read.I still have some bottles I need to identify but haven’t been able to and probably won’t. Until then I can’t wait to get back to Montana and dig more in the near future.Again thank you for the info and speedy reply. Daniel

  23. Daniel says:

    I love what you have done with your website here and just recently found it because Ive been trying to ID a few Beer bottles i recently dug, and one of them was an R & Co. as you have mentioned here, but mine is embossed in a straight line (horizontal configuration) near the center of the base as you have stated.And I was wondering what exactly is the mold number’s purpose?

    • David says:

      Hello Daniel,
      Glad that you have found my site useful! Thank you! Concerning the numbers found on the bottoms of these bottles…. the chances are they are either mold numbers or “shop numbers”. I’m not sure which. As far as I know, no one is absolutely 100% positive what the numbers signify, but, in general, it is believed they are either one or the other. Basically, a mold number is just an identifying mark to differentiate a particular mold (in a series of identical molds). If several identical molds are being used at the same time, if any problems were to arise with the finished bottles, the defective mold could be quickly identified. (Mold numbers have been used for well over a hundred years. Even today, most modern commercial plastic and glass bottles have some type of mold number or identifying mark on the bottom or the “heel”. )
      As far as shop numbers: most bottle factories had several groups of glassworkers, each group called a “shop” (basically, a team of 4 to 6 employees, including both men and boys. Each shop member was assigned a specific duty, such as the actual blower; one to carry the bottle to the cooling lehr; one to hold the mold steady or snap the mold shut, etc). Each shop was assigned specific molds for their own use. The molds carried engraved numbers, so the finished bottles could be checked and counted, with proper credit being given to the shop that made the bottles. Each shop was paid piecework according to their total bottle output.
      I tend to believe that the numbers on the bottom of R & CO beer bottles are shop numbers, but they might only be mold identifying numbers. We may never know for certain.
      Hope this helps,
      David

Comments/Replies: All comments are moderated so will not be published immediately. Because of mail volume received, and time and energy restraints, some questions may not be answered individually, especially if the subject is already addressed elsewhere on this site. This website is not intended as an appraisal service, but as a resource for background info on glass companies and the marks they used, so I usually delete "What is this bottle worth?" types of queries. Thank you very much for your patience & understanding !!