Joseph Conner Bottle Stopper

U.S. Patent Number: 351,496                Patented: October 26, 1886

Joseph Conner’s patent application was filed March 13, 1886, and assigned to The Firm of John Matthews.  This patent specified:

I, Joseph Conner, of…New York…have invented an Improvement in Bottle-Stoppers…in which…

Figure 1 and 2 represent sectional side views of bottle-stoppers of well-known construction, to which my invention is intended to be applied.  Figs. 3 and 4 represent similar views of my improved stoppers.

The object of this invention is to provide certain internal bottle-stoppers…which are intended to close upwardly with an elastic peripheral flange against the seat in the throat of the bottle – with a packing which shall at all times hug the stem of the stopper.

The old kind of stoppers, which I seek to improve, is represented in Figs. 1 and 2 of the drawings, and consists of a rigid stem, A, and a rubber or other flexible packing, B, which packing is slipped upon the lower end of the stem, so as to tightly embrace and surround the same.  The packing B has an outwardly-projecting flexible flange, a, which seats against the throat b of the bottle C.  The difficulty with this kind of stopper is that when pressure is applied internally against the stopper the flange a will be distended or crowded outward, as is clearly shown in Fig. 2, so as to partly draw the upper portion of the packing away from the stem A and produce an annular cavity, d, around said stem.  This cavity will remain open to the reception of dust, insects, and other impurities during the entire period of time the bottle is charged with gaseous liquid, and when afterward the bottle is emptied the packing B will again close on the stem and grasp and retain the impurities which settle in said cavity or groove d.

As these stoppers, when the bottle is being opened, are forced into the liquid contents thereof, the aforesaid impurities will become in part absorbed by the liquid, tainting the same.  This is one of the principal difficulties connected with the use of ordinary bottle-stoppers.  They serve to taint the liquid by the above-mentioned impurities and at all times to retain sufficient of the impurities to be objectionable in continual use.  The stoppers, being within the bottle, cannot conveniently be cleaned, especially if the impurities settle, as has been stated, in a cavity, which becomes subsequently closed whenever the bottle is opened.

My invention consists in providing a packing of the kind stated, and which surrounds the lower part of the stem and carries the flange a, with an upward projection, e, on the packing directly above the seat or flange portion a, so that said upwardly-projecting tubular portion e of the packing will at all times tightly hug the stem A.  When pressure is applied to the stopper from within and the seat or flange portion a distended, as in Fig. 4, the tubular projection e will thereby be drawn down on the stem, still tightly hugging the same, all as shown in Fig. 4.  By this means the objectionable open groove or cavity heretofore referred to is avoided, and all danger of contaminating the liquid with impurities that settle in the folds of the stopper obviated.


This patent was included in this review to highlight the industry’s continuing struggle to prevent the contamination of bottle contents.  See Matthews Patents No. 67,781 and 137,941 for additional comments about Matthews Gravitating Stopper bottles, Hutchinson Bottle Directory cataloguing guidelines, and previous design improvements.

Soon after John Conner’s patent was granted, The Firm of John Matthews began to advertise these latest improvements.  The following advertisement ran in the March 1, 1887 issue of National Bottlers’ Gazette (a special THANK YOU to David Graci, author of Soda and Beer BOTTLE CLOSURES 1850 – 1910 for providing this great illustration).  Although this advertisement mentioned the improved stoppers were “the best substitute ever offered for corks, and obviate all former objections to the use of patent stoppers,” the “POINTS OF SUPERIORITY OVER ALL OTHERS STOPPERS” were clearly aimed at slowing down the rapidly increasing conversion to the use of Hutchinson’s Patent Spring Stoppers by bottlers.