John Matthews Jr. Bottle Stopper

U. S. Patent Number: 67,781                      Patented: August 13, 1867

John Matthews, Jr.’s patent application specified:

I, John Matthews, Jr., of…New York…have invented a new and useful Improvement on Bottle-Stoppers…

Figure 1 represents a view of a bottle, partly broken away, with my improved stopper applied to closing the neck of the same, showing also, in red lines, its position when open and

Figure 2 a longitudinal section of such stopper.

My improvement has reference to that description of bottle-stoppers which, being inserted within the body of the bottle, close the latter by bearing against an interior shoulder or suitable construction of the neck, and which, to open the bottle, are forced or pressed inwards, and in this connection more particularly relates to stoppers of the character described in Letters Patent of the United States issued to J. N. McIntire, assignee of Albert Albertson, on the 11th day of October, 1864.  But my invention essentially differs therefrom in so constructing the rigid stem or rod, and combining with it, at its inner end, a valvular cap of rubber or other like material, as that the latter not merely serves as a buffer to prevent damage to the bottle, when the stopper is forced inwards, but acts as the valve to close the neck of the bottle, thus dispensing with a separate valve or additional device for the latter purpose, and rendering impossible all percolation of gas or liquid through an intervening portion of the stem, when or porous material, or round the stem, and between it and the valve, as well as preventing loosening or displacement of the valve on the stem on entering the stopper through the neck of the bottle, or by the pressure of gas or liquor acting against the inner end of the stem.  Furthermore, my invention consists in combining with a stopper of the character described a soft or flexible cap to the outer end of the rigid rod or stem, to still further or effectually protect the bottle from breakage or injury when opened or loose within it.

Though my invention is not of necessity restricted to the bottling of any particular liquid, it will here suffice to describe it in connection with aerated liquids, such as soda-water, the bottles containing which may be filled in an inverted position when the stoppers, which, in such case, should be of superior specific gravity to the liquid, will be made self-closing by their weight, and kept closed till driven inwardly by mechanical pressure, by the force of the gas contained in or admitted with the water…

A represents an ordinary glass soda-water bottle, a its neck, and b its interior shoulder.  C is the rod or stem of the stopper, made, say, of glass, hard wood, or other suitable material, preferably of greater specific gravity than the liquid in the bottle, and of an inflexible character, and in this respect essentially different from the valvular cap D at its inner end, which is of rubber or other suitable flexible and water or gas-tight material.  The whole length of the stopper should be such as will prevent its being reversed, end to end, within the bottle, and so that when closing the bottle its stem will fit freely up into or through the neck of the bottle.  The inner end c of said stem is of knob or bulb form, and should approximate in diameter the bore of the neck of the bottle, or may be of the same size thereas, so as to be entered tightly therethrough, while the cap D may be drawn over it after the stem is within the bottle.  This cap D, made, say, of rubber, is firmly held by the knob c when drawn over the inner end of the stem, and serves to form the valve proper of the stopper by bearing against the shoulder b of the bottle, and to give increased bearing surface, may be constructed with an annular extension or collar, d, that also serves, b doubling up over the body of the cap, to prevent outward expulsion of the stopper by pressure of the gas or liquid on its inner end.  Such valvular cap, it will be seen, affords no scope or surface for percolation through or round the stem when the stopper is closed, is not liable to be torn or displaced on entering the stopper by the slipping of the stem through it, and in conjunction with a soft or flexible cap, E, to the outer end of the stem, gives to the stopper a double-buffer character. 


Bottles that utilized this patent are typically referred to as having a “Matthews Gravitating Stopper.”  Although John Matthews, Jr. specified the stopper’s stem was made of “glass, hard wood, or other suitable material,” we’re only aware of examples made of glass.  Of particular interest is the rubber cap (D) that formed the stopper’s valve and sealed against the inner shoulders of the bottle.  Charles G. Hutchinson later used this exact same concept when designing his Patent Spring Stopper.  The Matthews Gravitating Stopper achieved limited commercial marketing success with North American bottlers.  Bottles produced by The Firm of John Matthews were typically base embossed GRAVITATING STOPPER MADE BY JOHN MATTHEWS NEW YORK PATd OCT 11 1864.  The glass stopper rods were also embossed with a variety of Albert Albertson’s and John Matthews, Jr.’s patent dates of August 26, 1862, October 11, 1864, and April 15, 1873.

Bottles that utilized Matthews Gravitating Stopper are frequently confused with bottles that used Hutchinson’s Patent Spring Stopper.  Matthews’ bottles typically have distinctively sloped shoulders, and a narrower applied top than Hutchinson bottles.  Most (but not all) of the Matthews Gravitating Stopper bottles have the aforementioned Matthews base embossing.  It isn’t at all unusual to find Matthews-type bottles with Hutchinson Patent Spring Stoppers intact, as many bottlers continued to use their existing bottles with Hutchinson stoppers as long as the stopper provided an effective seal.  This dual-stopper use was facilitated by the fact W. H. Hutchinson and Company intentionally manufactured Hutchinson Patent Spring Stoppers in at least 15 different lengths and diameters.  For Hutchinson Bottle Directory cataloguing purposes, the following listing guidelines were established:

  1. If a Matthews-type bottle has Matthews base embossing, it was not added to the Hutchinson bottle data base; and

  1. If the base of a Matthews-type bottles does not have the Matthews embossing, it was added to the Hutchinson bottle data base. 

Note: See the following patents for subsequent design improvements:

John Matthews – Patent No. 137,941 – April 15, 1873

Joseph Conner – Patent No. 351,496 – October 26, 1886