Today in 1899, US Patent 625055 A was issued, an invention of William Painter, for his “Closure for Sealing Bottles.” There’s no Abstract, but in the description they describe an “invention [that] relates to closures for sealing bottles; and it is designed to provide for the ready and easy discharge of the contents of the bottle without the removal of the entire closure.” Basically, it’s an improvement to the crown, or bottle cap, that Painter first invented and patented in 1892.
Today in 1933, US Patent 1907994 A was issued, an invention of Edward McManus Charles, assigned to Crown Cork & Seal Co., for his “Cap.” There’s no Abstract, but in the description they talk about an “invention relat[ing] to caps for containers and particularly contemplates a cap wherein a sealing ring or cushion is usually employed.” If you keep reading, it’s explained that this crown works better than previous ones for a variety of reasons, even though it looks pretty much the same as other crowns.
Today in 1934, US Patent 1956218 A was issued, an invention of George J Huntley and Harry A Rau, assigned to the Crown Cork & Seal Co., for their “Capping Head.” There’s no Abstract, but the description summarizes it. “The present invention relates to an improvement in capping heads and, more particularly, comprises a means for feeding closure or cap blanks to the capping mechanism of the capping head.”
This is a fun idea. If you’re like me, you open a lot of beer bottles. Maybe you immediately throw away the crowns, or maybe some of them are too cool to just toss out, and you throw them into a jar, or a bucket or something. That’s why I do, so I ended up having a fair number of crowns just lying around gathering dust. I kept thinking that I’d eventually think of some good use to put them to, but now it looks like someone has come up with the perfect way to display beer crowns.
A small company out of Wisconsin, Beer Cap Maps, is making plywood maps of the United States along with several state maps with holes cut in them, which can be filled with your beer crowns.
They apparently fit most, if not all, crowns, and you can place your crowns geographically until you fill out the country with beer you’ve tried. In addition to the U.S., they also have maps of the British Isles, Germany and New Zealand.
Or if you want to collect beers from a particular state, they have maps for 35 states so far, with plans to have all 50 made available by May 1.
If you have a lot from your home state, it would be fun to put them roughly where the brewery is located. For bars or serious collectors, it would be cool to have multiple states.
Today in 1933, US Patent 1899784 A was issued, an invention of Albin H. Warth, assigned to the Crown Cork & Seal Co., for his “Bottle Cap.” This crown was patented shortly before the repeal of Prohibition, which took place several months later, in December, although by April some lower-strength beer became available. There’s no Abstract, but the description provides some insight in the why it was a more modern crown.
This invention relates to bottle caps and more particularly to a cap consisting of ametallic’shell containing a cushion disc having what is known as a protecting facing. In its preferred form, the invention relates to that type of cap having a protecting facing in the form of a center-disc or center-spot which is of smaller diameter than the cushion disc.
In closures of this character, the cushion or compressible disc is ordinarily formed of sheet cork or of a composition of granular cork, the particles of which are united by a binder which is resistant to gas and acids.
It is desirable to protect the cushion disc from the contents of the bottle, since the cork or other material of the disc becomes discolored and imparts an undesirable flavor or taint to the contents.
The facing discs have ordinarily been fornied either of metal foil, such as aluminum or tin, or of fibrous material, such as paper.
The present invention relates to the latter type in which the facing is of paper.
Today in 1892, US Patent 468258 A was issued, an invention of William Painter, for his “Bottle-Sealing Device.” There’s no Abstract, and it’s funny to see it called a “bottle-sealing device,” when essentially it’s simply a crown or bottle cap. Is it possible that the term had not yet been coined at this point? Painter in his application described his device:
For use with any suitable sealing medium, whether in the form vof a plug or a disk, or a combined disk and plug, applied at or in the mouth of a bottle, I have devised metallic sealing-caps embodying certain novel characteristics which render them highly effective and so inexpensive as to warrant throwing them away after a single use thereof, even when forcible displacement, as in opening bottles, has resulted in no material injury to the caps.
I meant to write about these before, but they got away from me. British photographer — and current Bay Area resident — Charly Franklin is making some amazing art … with rusty beer caps. And not just rusty, but “rusted, bent, discolored and generally distressed.” He’s taking very detailed photos of these crowns and blowing them up large, over three feet in some cases, which gives them almost an otherworldly appearance. Or in Charly’s own words, an “extraordinary quality and graphic dynamic that looks amazing.” And I have to agree. The patina of the rust, along with the colors and texture of the bottle caps looks really cool. Check out some samples.
Check out the catalog of over 200 different available crowns from breweries around the world, but with quite a few from California and many craft breweries.
Prints are available on framed canvases, in five sizes, including 18×18, 24×24, 30×30, 36×36 and 40×40 inches. Shipping is free within the U.S.
Here’s a pretty amazing time lapse video of KegWorks decorating the wall in their new office with 60,000 crowns. Thanks to Charlie Papazian for tweeting this video. It looks like a great way to use the space. KegWorks reached out to customers and fans on their blog, asking people to send in their beer bottle crowns, which they then put up on one large wall. The details are below, but watch the video to get the true scope of the project.
- Approximately 60,000 bottle caps
- 459 square feet of wall space
- Many rolls of 30 mil thick magnetic sheeting adhered to the wall
- 43 KegWorks employees putting up caps
- Started: Tuesday, November 27th @ 3:47pm (Dogfish Head)
- Last cap: Wednesday, January 23rd @ 2:31pm (Harpoon)
Most of you already know I’m a freak for obscure words and language more generally, so I’ll always take a look at a list of curious words. One that I recently was looking over at Mental Floss included such gems as a dringle, which is “to waste time by being lazy,” perfectly describing what I was doing when I discovered that.
But the other word was agraffe, which they defined as being “the wire cage that keeps the cork in a bottle of champagne.” I’d heard the word muselet used before, usually in connection with champagne, but many brewers today also use them, though most people I know refer to them more simply as a “cage,” as in a “cage and cork,” or occasionally a “cage and crown.”
But agraffe is a new one on me. A quick search reveals that it’s more often used to refer to a part of a piano, “a guide at the tuning-pin end of the string, screwed into the plate, with holes through which the strings pass.” Most dictionaries I looked at didn’t mention the cage usage at all. Champagne.net does offer this definition.
Literally means “staple” (as in Swingline); in Champagne, this is a large metal clip used to secure the cork before capsules were invented, typically during the second fermentation and aging in bottle. A bottle secured with this clip is said to be agrafé.
Notice they also spell it with only one “f.” Wordnik, in their listing under Century Dictionary does list this usage, as the fifth definition. “n. An iron fastening used to hold in place the cork of a bottle containing champagne or other effervescing wine during the final fermentation.”
Muselet doesn’t show up in most standard dictionaries either, but it is defined, at least, by Wikipedia:
A muselet is a wire cage that fits over the cork of a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine or beer to prevent the cork from emerging under the pressure of the carbonated contents. It derives its name from the French museler, to muzzle. The muselet often has a metal cap incorporated in the design which may show the drink maker’s emblem. They are normally covered by a metal foil envelope. Muselets are also known as wirehoods or Champagne wires.
Neither word is included in the “Dictionary of Beer & Brewing” (2nd ed.), but then “cage” isn’t listed in it, either.
So does anybody know? Those of you in the wine world, is either term in common usage, and, if so, is one preferred over the other? Or are they generally only used in France, perhaps? It seems more likely that they were originally borrowed from the French into English, but have since fallen out of use, or perhaps their usage lingers only in the technical jargon of Champagne and sparking wine. Anyone, anyone? Bueller.
On September 2, bloggers from around the world will converge at HopHeadSaid to write about the fabulous world of beer art found on coasters, labels and caps. I am guessing that I am not so different from other beer enthusiasts – I like to collect beer labels, bottle caps and coasters. I think they are perfect souvenirs from beer travels or drinking sessions. Judging by the size of my collection you could say that I have had many enjoyable drinking sessions over the years!
Now it is time to dig through your stash and share your favorite label, coaster or cap art.
- Choose your favorite label, coaster or cap art.
- Scan, download or take a picture of your label, coaster or cap art.
- Write a paragraph that explains your affinity to your entry. Your explanation can be as shallow as or as deep as you want.
- If the brewery name or beer name is obscured be sure to label your entry to give credit where credit is due.
- Please limit your entries to commercial examples. Homebrew labels will be a topic for another session.
- Extra karma points will be awarded to those who write about two or more categories (label, coaster or cap art).
- Post your blog entry on or before Friday, September 2, 2001 and e-mail your link to curtis [at] hopheadsaid [dot] com.
- Alternate posting method: Post your picture and explanation on my HopHeadSaid Facebook page and I will copy your post to the “official” location.
- I will collect the entries throughout the day and post them on this page: The Session: Label, Coaster and Cap Art.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what about a beer by its label, crown or coaster? Let us know what you think for the next Session on Friday, September 2.