There was a time not so long ago when it didn't matter if the paperboy was late delivering your daily news - you could just read the milk bottle instead!

At the height of milk bottle advertising, during the 1970s and 80s, the variety of product ads stamped over your pinta was amazing - corn flakes, soup, chocolate, biscuits, tea, gas, estate agents, car servicing, practically everything you could think of was emblazoned in colour, which you couldn't help but read as you poured the milk over your honey-flavoured chocco crispy pops.

Why did advertising suddenly stop? Well, according to a Dairy Industry  it was all because of the bottom scanners! Or rather, it was because the bottom scanners had to be replaced.


Apparently, bottle bottoms were scanned by a special machine which emitted a beam of light up the bottle to check for dirt or residue.

They decided that it was cheaper to forego the revenue from advertising, rather than risk being sued.   Although we tend to think of bottle advertising as being a recent idea, it was used before the war, when companies such as Crawfords advertised biscuits or cream crackers.

 The messages were printed Onto the bottle using one color, normally red, rather than the rainbow mix of later bottles.


 During the war this kind of advertising had to cease, but it started up again in the fifties when some dairies, such as Express who also owned chains of shops, began printing bottles with details of in-house products.

To collectors, here was something new to save, and some people - who presumably had plenty of room to store dozens of empty milk bottles - began to collect them, trying to amass the different adverts.

They wanted them in pristine condition so they had to ensure the bottles were reasonably new as they soon became scuffed in the crates or scratched by the cleansing machinery.


Today, there is a small but thriving band of milk bottle collectors, whose efforts have assembled a small slice of social history, by saving a form of advertising which would otherwise have been lost.

Years ago, everyone had their milk delivered and there were thousands of dairies vying for customers .

Nowadays most people buy milk in plastic containers or cardboard cartons from supermarkets,


Today, milk bottle collectors go to bottle fairs where dealers sell old medicine and pop bottles, pot lids and various other related collectibles. Sometimes, they have milk bottles too.

 An old, Victorian specimen in perfect condition might fetch £30. Modern, advertising bottles sell for around £5- so there's scope, maybe, for young collectors who are looking for something different, and are interested in old adverts

Collectibles Coach

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