Wisconsin antique bottle and advertising club

From The Bottom to Fame - One Beer Bottle’s Story

On the bottom of Pewaukee Lake, empty and discarded, lay a lonely beer bottle. During the early 1890's this bottle was possibly emptied by a fisherman while serenely sitting in his boat and waiting for a fish to bite, or by a picnicker while eating lunch and watching the swimmers and boaters. But alas, after the bottle was emptied it was tossed in the lake to slowly sink and settle on the bottom in complete rejection.

However, the fate of this bottle was not to spend thousands of years unknown and disintegrating in the mud on the lake bottom. In a sunny, warm summer afternoon, this bottle suddenly felt the grasp of five gloved fingers. In the darkness of the cold and murky water it felt itself being lifted and then placed into a collection bag with other bottles. After traveling around in the bag near the bottom of the lake, the bottle then found it was being taken to the surface. The water had become warmer and lighter and the bag broke the surface of the lake and was lifted into a boat. Imagine the joy the bottle felt after spending more than eighty years on the bottom of Pewaukee Lake!

This was the beginning of a trip down the road to fame and glory for this bottle. The gloved fingers belonged to Sid Hatch. After being cleaned and having its letters painted it was placed on a shelf. The road to fame was not a short one; in fact, it appeared that the bottle's future was to sit on a shelf as part of a collection of Wisconsin beer bottles in Sid's basement. The bottle settled into this home and rested comfortably with its friends for eight years when fate decided to shine its face on this bottle again.

This new turn of events began in early December, 1984, when Sid received a phone call from a lady who worked for the Fred Miller Brewing Company. She was looking for clear, embossed bottles and paper labeled bottles from the Brewery. Sid stated that he had some embossed Miller bottles and that she could view the collection.
The following Saturday she came to Sid's house to see his collection, especially the Miller bottles. Well, it so happened the beer bottle was a Miller, and the lady immediately showed a real interest in it. She stated she was from the creative arts department at Miller, and asked if she could send the bottle to Chicago to have it photographed, saying she would pay for the use.

This is where the story almost ended. Sid wasn't too wild about having the bottle leave his home and being mailed to Chicago. No mention was made of how much would be paid, but it just didn't seem a good idea. Sid conveyed these doubts to the woman, but she asked him to think about it and also asked if he knew where she could find some Miller paper labeled bottles. Sid gave her the name of another collector and suggested she check with him. She thanked Sid and left, and both Sid and the bottle figured that was the end of it. But it wasn't!

The day after Christmas Sid received another call from the lady. She stated Miller was moving ahead with the advertising campaign and they'd like to use Sid's bottle. They wanted to fly it to New York where it would be photographed by an ad agency, as well as four paper-labeled bottles from the other collector. They were planning to use the bottles for magazine and newspaper ads. A large sum would be paid to use the bottle, the bottle would be insured for a huge dollar total while being used, and a generous amount paid as royalties every month the ads run. They would fly the bottle to and from New York on a company jet.

Well, I can tell you both Sid and the bottle found this pretty exciting! Sid would make a real good chunk of money and the bottle was not only going for a jet ride, but would appear in national advertising. Sid signed on the dotted line and the bottle was on its way.
The woman returned the bottle several weeks later, and showed Sid a copy of a color ad that would appear in national magazines. Included were three paper labeled bottles and two embossed bottles, one of which was Sid's. She said the bottle would appear in newspaper ads also. She expected the newspaper ads to appear in late February, and the magazine ads in March or April.
So just what does this beer bottle look like, you're probably asking? It is a clear pint with center embossing on a slug plate. The embossing looks like this:

The bottle also has "This Bottle Not To Be Sold" embossed on the back. It has no makers mark. It is a blob top bottle, but I just know after it sees itself in the magazines and newspapers, its blob will swell right up.
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Author: Sid Hatch
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