THE CROWN CORK -
stopping your pop from popping
The crown cork, also know as the crown cap, crown seal, or just cap, was invented in Baltimore by William Painter in 1892. It was the first highly successful disposable product as it is difficult to re-use it. Not something we'd encouraged in these days of recycling.
An 1892 Dutch patent application
Before the invention of the crown cork, soda bottles had ordinary corks and many bottles had rounded bottoms so they could not be stored upright. This was because the cork tended to dry out and shrink, allowing the pressure in the bottle to make the cork 'pop'. Crown corks eliminated this problem and bottles could then be stored upright.
Because of the huge range of designs, crown corks are collected all over the world. In Mexico they are called corcholatas; in Spain and south America, chapas or chapitas; in the Philippines, tansan.
There are many distinct designs of tools to open bottles. The famous Victorinox Swiss Army knife generally has one in its armoury; pubs often have a wall mounted example and traditional, metal bottle openers, with advertising cast into the handle, can still be found.
The caps can, of course, be removed without a bottle opener, as I describe in this passage from my novel, BLOOD ON THE SHRINE when the minor felon, Tommy Atkins, turns up in a bad mood.
‘Yes I did. And I was wrong. I was proper shafted by the bastard.’ Atkins shook his head dazedly and kicked the leg of a chair before sagging on to it. ‘Gimme a drink.’ Bates leant over and took a bottle of Courage beer out of the crate on the floor. He rested the cap on the edge of the table and thumped down on it with his fist. The cap flew in the air and he handed the bottle, creamy foam running down its neck, to Atkins who tipped the bottle to his mouth, his Adam’s apple bobbing furiously as he guzzled the contents. When he’d drained the last drop he banged the bottle down on the table, belched and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth.
‘We’ve been ’ad, good and proper. Stitched up like a bleedin’ kipper.’
Bates coughed, softly. ‘’Er, we did warn you Tommy.’
‘Yes, yes, I know,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘But what’s done is done. How’re we gonna get out of this one? I ain’t gonna let this job go; it’s too good to lose.’ He had a wild look in his eyes.
‘C’mon, calm down Tommy. First of all, tell us how you found out,’ Baker said.
And if this has whetted your appetite and you want to know more, you'll just have to read the book!