On this day in history : 10th August 1889 – Dan Rylands, of Barnsley, Yorkshire, patents the screw-top bottle; a simple way of closing bottles which had previously relied on cork stoppers….
Dan Rylands had taken over as Partner at the Hope Glass Works in Stairfoot, Barnsley after the death of his father, Ben Rylands, in 1881…. His relationship with his new business partner, Hiram Codd, was difficult from the start….
Codd had invented the famous ‘Codd Bottle’ in 1872….with its glass marble sealing the bottle neck, allowing the ‘fizz’ to be kept inside the liquid within…. Despite their differences the partners managed to work together and the success of the business continued…. It was when Rylands sought to make improvements to Codd’s marble neck design that things turned really sour between them…. Codd resented the younger man’s interference and eventually the partnership was dissolved with Rylands buying Codd out….
However, the conflict did not stop there…. Codd took Rylands to court for patent infringement, over a groove making tool…. The court ruled in Codd’s favour – but Rylands responded by registering a similar tool of his own…. Over the next decade he went on to patent over 90 designs relating to the glass-making industry….including the screw-top bottle…. Incidentally, the screw-top wine bottle did not appear until much later; the acidity of wine made it impractical – and remained a problem until it was solved in the 1960s….
Hope Glass Works became the largest Codd bottle producer – but then things began to go wrong for Rylands…. A fire at the factory, a major strike across the glass-works industry and bad investments in a coal mine and a brickworks meant he was declared bankrupt in 1893….with business liabilities to the tune of £300K…. His assets were sold off; this was all too much for Rylands and he attempted to take his own life….
Loyal employees raised £300 so that the family could hold on to their personal possessions; Rylands moved to London and worked in the mineral water industry…. However, he continued to have mental health issues and in 1910 he committed suicide….