John Matthews Bottle Stopper

U. S. Patent Number: 137,941                        Patented: April 15, 1873

John Matthews’ patent application was filed April 10, 1873 and specified:

I, John Matthews, Jr., of…New York…have made a new and useful Improvement in Self Sealing or Closing Device for Vessels Containing Liquids Under Pressure…in which…

Figure 1 is a perspective view of the invention, and Fig. 2 is a section of the same, partly in elevation.

This invention is an improvement on that described in patent number 67,781, issued to me, date August 13, 1867…

A is a glass stem, and B a rubber cap, which correspond to similar parts in the patent above mentioned, but modified in the following particulars, whereby the device is rendered more useful and efficient. 

The portion a is made tapering, which gives greater certainty in the working of the device in sealing where the neck of the bottle or other vessel is of irregular form.  The part a, when in position, should nearly fill the space between the neck and itself above the rubber cap B, so as to prevent dust from collecting in that portion.  If the portion a is made straight, as shown in the invention of which this is an improvement, it must either be made too small to fit well the space so as to exclude dust, or it will become wedged fast, and no perfect sealing or closing can be effected.  Sometimes the portion a is slightly bent during the process of manufacture, and if made tapering it can still be used.  Besides, when of a taper form, the part a may be molded without any seam on the side, which cannot be done when it is straight. 

Another modification is the making of one, two, or more rings or projections, as shown at bb, so that the rubber cap cannot slide up the stem of A.  The stem A I prefer to make of glass, but it may be of any other suitable material, such as porcelain.


These improvements were likely the result of hands-on usage and input from bottlers who adopted the Matthews Gravitating Stopper and Matthews-type bottles.  The tapered stem’s primary function was to help prevent contamination of a bottle’s contents by accumulated dust (no doubt a major problem, given that bottlers delivered by horse-drawn wagons).  Also, there’s no longer mention of attaching a rubber cap to the upper end of the stem.  These glass stems were typically embossed with Albertson’s and Matthews’ August 26, 1862, October 11, 1864, and April 15, 1873 patent dates.

See John Matthews, Jr. Patent No. 67,781 for additional comments about Matthews Gravitating Stopper bottles, and Hutchinson Bottle Directory cataloguing guidelines.  See Joseph Conner Patent No. 351,496 of October 26, 1886 for subsequent design improvements.