CMAG Staff Collections

7 February - 31 May
Cabinets of Curosities Open Collection

Soft drink bottles

I can’t remember how it started. I think I managed to collect a couple of old soft drink bottles when I purchased a box of odd items from a collectables shop. They reminded me of a time when they occupied an ice chest that required the bottle to be guided through metal devices that secured them until your twenty cents freed them. A time when every town had its own soft drink manufacturer who proudly displayed their name on the bottle, which, once its contents were consumed, was then collected and refilled.

Of course small independent companies were eventually consumed by large multinationals who now rule the production of soft drinks worldwide so I tend to steer away from bottles for those companies in favour of the small independents.

Although I began this collection in Australia, return trips to Canada – where I was born – revealed that similar independent soft drink (known as ‘pop’) bottlers existed so my collection grew again as the nostalgia for my childhood took hold.

The oldest bottle in my collection dates from around 1935. It comes from a small Canadian prairie town called Prince Albert in Saskatchewan where my wife’s grandparents are from. My favourite bottle is probably the one from Moruya on the South Coast with the black swan on
the label.

These bottles are getting harder to find. I’m not sure if that’s because they are becoming popular collector’s items or if they are mostly simply discarded and ultimately destroyed.

Mark Van Veen
Assistant Director, Curatorial and Exhibitions


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