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Hiram Codd

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Hiram Codd (1838-1887) was an English engineer. In 1872, he patented a bottle filled under gas pressure which pushed a marble against a rubber washer in the neck, creating a perfect seal.

1838 January 10th. Born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, the son of Edwin Codd, a carpenter, who died on 7 October 1846 of a stroke. He had two older brothers and an older sister.

1856 On 5 February, at the age of 18, he married Jane Colebrooke aged 26. Early in his working life he became a mechanical engineer and at the age of 23, whilst working for the 'British and Foreign Cork Company', greatly improving the production of corks, he was offered the position of 'traveller for the business'. He soon recognised a need for better bottle filling machines and a new type of enclosure to alleviate the need of corks.

1862 He brought out a patent for measuring the flow of liquids.

1870 Codd registered his invention for a bottle with a marble stopper with the British Patent Office. The invention used a glass ball seated against a rubber gasket in the mouth of the bottle to seal in carbonated beverages. His bottle, the Codd, became a standard in Europe and the British Empire. [1]

1870 Codd devised a patent bottling machine. To understand the mineral water trade better and to prove the worth of his invention he experimented at a small mineral water works in the Caledonian Road, Islington in London. A letters patent issued to him in November 1870 stated he was a soda water manufacturer living at 6 Park Place, Caledonian Road, Islington.

1872 He pursued his idea of a glass ball stopper with bottle makers, to no avail but Messrs. Alexander and Austin of Blaydon and W. Brooke of Hunslet showed an interest in his invention

1872 He was introduced to Richard Barrett, a printer, of Mark Lane, London EC, whose two sons owned the Malvern Mineral Water Co at Grove Lane, Camberwell. Because of Barrett's sons' belief in Codd's invention Richard was induced to become his co-partner in all of Hiram Codd's business. This enabled Codd to continue his research into the globe-stopper idea and in particular the tool used to form the groove in the lip of the bottle.

1873 Codd perfected his globe-stoppered bottle.

Mineral Water Soda manufacturers who wanted to use Codd's Globe Stopper bottles had to pay a yearly fee for a licence to use his patent bottle, by mid 1873 he had granted 20 and received a further 50 applications. This was boosted further by a Trade Show held in London in the same year.

In September 1873 he met Ben Rylands and by 1877 they formed a partnership and started the 'Hope Glass Works' in Barnsley. They remained partners until Ben's death in 1881.

By 1874 the licence was free to bottle manufacturers as long as they purchased the marbles, sealing rings and used his groove tool solely from him and the mineral water firms they traded with had already bought a license to use his bottle. Codd had two factories in London solely producing marbles, one in Kennington and the other in Camberwell, which was run by F. Barrett, the son of Richard his financial backer.

During this period he still had a separate partnership with Richard Barrett, who let Hiram look after the day to day running of their interests.

1880 Codd instigated the idea of a bottle exchange in London, this was slow to start but eventually caught on and also all over the country. So now many thousands of empty bottles could be returned to their rightful owners via the bottle exchanges, who charged a small fee on each bottle for providing this service. (1 penny per gross - 144) Dan Rylands took over the partnership after his father's death but this new alliance was doomed to failure, even though in 1882 they patented 'the crystal' (valve codd).

Late in 1881, owing to failing health retired and passed the management of the Codd's Patents solely to Hiram Codd. His Malvern Mineral Water Works and both marble producing factories continued to thrive and he was still involved with Frederick Foster and William Brooke

On October 6th 1884, probably resenting the young Rylands inventive intrusion, Hiram Codd allowed his partner to buy him out of the business and started trading at 41 Gracechurch Street, London.

In February of the same year, his wife aged 54 died. He was devastated and this would have been a turning point in his life. They had 5 children but the first two died in infancy, 2 girls and a boy survived, Maud, Edith and Alfred Charles. He did not renew any of his earlier patents so glassworks that previously required a licence could now manufacture his globe stoppers without fear of prosecution. Early examples of these bottles sometimes had "CODD'S EXPIRED PATENT" embossed on them.

1885 Hiram married his second wife Miss Elizabeth Brundell (whose brother occupied a responsible position in Hiram's office at 41 Gracechurch St.).

1887 February 18th. Died at his family home, Suffolk Lodge, 162 Brixton Road, Brixton, London from "congestion of the brain and chronic disease of the liver and kidneys" and is buried in London's Brompton Cemetery.

Codd's patented globe stopper bottle may be over 100 years old but is still manufactured in India by the Khandelwal glass works. [2] His earlier bottles are prized items in the collections of antique bottle collectors across the globe.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Trademarked. A History of Well-Known Brands - from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar by David Newton. Pub: Sutton Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-7509-4590-5
  2. [1] Khandelwal glass works