CROWN CAPS a/k/a Bottle Caps
ABOUT CROWNS (i.e. Bottle Caps)
What most people refer to as a bottle cap, is technically a "crown cap," or simply as a "crown" by breweriana collectors. The crown was developed in 1892 by William Painter, from Baltimore. It was originally called a "crown cork," because it seemed to resemble the British crown and it was lined with cork. However, up until a few years Prohibition, most crowns were lined with a thin layer of cork, which was then changed to a layer of composite corek. After Prohibition beginning in the early 1930s, a thin layer of composite cork was used with a thin layer of fluted metal laid on top in the center. Beginning around 1960, crown liners began to have plastic surfaces. More recently, crowns are simply lined with a thin and transparent layer. (For examples, please view the bottom of this page.) The crown cap originally had 23 points; most today have 21 points, and relatively recently, some crowns are now being made with 29 points. Instead using the term points, and alternate terminology is flutes or corrugations. Crowns can be made with either metal or aluminum. This can be discerned by using a magnet, which will connect with metal, but not to aluminum.
Prior to the invention of the crown, a beer bottle often had a stopper that was secured by corks and later by a porcelain or hard stopper. These stoppers were secured by a wire bracket, called a Lightning or Swing Top. But even then, this did not always keep the top secure from an explosion from built in carbonation. However, the crown eliminated this problem and was readily adopted. An example of an early Bavarian bottle before the use of crowns with such a bracket, and a wooden case the bottles came in, are shown in Bottles and Cases. It appears Bavarian Brewery used crowns beginning when they opened a Bottling Department in 1892, which was rebuilt in 1908.
Bavarian Beer c. 1910s. No bottle caps for any beers bottled by Bavarian Brewing Co. have yet been obtained before Prohibition. However, an image of what one likely looked like for Bavarian Beer, simply with a large B in a circle, is shown from a picture on the right, which also depicts a bottle of beer and label. Bavarian probably used other crowns for other beers, and perhaps even for an Ale and Porter, which was brewed in the late 1800's before approximately 1905. Please click on any image for a large picture and more information. Please also view Beer Labels.
CROWNS AFTER PROHIBITION - Until the 1960s
Between the time that Bavarian Brewing Co. was operated from 1938 and before 1946, their main beer was known as "Bavarian Master Brand Beer," and simply as "Bavarian." However, after 1946 the labels and undoubtedly the crowns changed when the name of the beer was modified to "Bavarian's Old Style Beer," or "Bavarian's." The name of the beer was altered again in 1957 to "Bavarian's Select Beer." We have a a good collection of Bavarian crowns presented below for these latter periods when the beer was called "Bavarian's," but not when the brewery was reopened in 1935 until 1946 and the beer was called "Bavarian." Should anyone have such Bavarian crowns, or those Pre-Prohibition, as well as any others that are not displayed in this section and be willing to donate or share images of them, please contact us.
BAVARIAN'S OLD STYLE BEER CROWN CAPS
c. Late 1940s - Early 1950s. The two Ohio crowns on the upper right show tax paid for beer with alcohol less than 7% and less than 3.2%. The center of the crown depicts the seal of Ohio, and is best shown on the blue crown. The number of rays from the sun are supposed to reflect the number of original colonies (13). The the cluster of arrows on the left of the seal recognizes Native Americans and that Ohio was the 17th state to enter the Union. The cluster of wheat on the right symbolizes the state's agriculture and bounty. However, the minimization of the seal makes it difficult for the numbers and images to be recognized.
Bavarian's Kentucky Crown.
c. Early 1950s. The images of on the bottom of the crown on the left is the state symbol for Kentucky. These crowns were required for all bottles sold in this state.
BAVARIAN'S OLD STYLE CROWN CAPS for OH & KY
c. Mid 1950s - until 1957. On the far left is a Kentucky crown, and a Ohio crown is nearest on the left. They are for when Bavarian used the logo "Old Style." The alcohol content for the Kentucky crown was not required. Of note is that on the Ohio crown, with an alcohol content less than 3.2%, the state shield does not show a cluster of arrows on the left as it does on the other Ohio crowns above and below, Instead, it shows a second bundle of wheat.
BAVARIAN'S SELECT CROWN CAPS
c. Late 1950s. When Bavarian Brewery changed its brand from Bavarian's Old Style to Bavarian's Select in May of 1957, it needed to change all its merchandising and marketing items, including its crowns. All of the Bavaian's Select Crowns shown were obtained from one of the Director's of Bavarian, Louis L. Schott, along with an accompanying letter that was cc'd to Mr. Schott with these crowns. There were differences in crown designs based on whether the beer was were sold in Kentucky or Ohio. The colors of the crowns also varied depending on the tax paid by the size of the bottle (12 oz or 32 oz), and in the case of Ohio, the difference in the alcohol content (<3.2 or < 7 pct.) Further, there was also a difference in the size of the "Select" lettering, the reasoning for which is unclear. The crowns for late 1950s are displayed below.
Bavarian's Select Crown Caps for Kentucky. Just as Ohio had their seal required for crowns, Kentucky did as well. The state shield for Kentucky has two people embracing or joining in a hand shake, in reference to the moto for Kentucky, which is: "United we stand. Divided we fall." The tax paid imprinted on each of the crowns follows: 1/2 cent for the two on the left, 1.5 cents for the crown second from the right and 4.5 cents for the crown on the far right.
Bavarian's Select Crown Caps for Ohio. There were two variations of Ohio crowns, that differed by the size for the font in SELECT on the bottom of the crown. The tax paid imprinted on each of the crowns follows: 1/2 cent for the two on the left, 1.5 cents for the crown second from the right and 4.5 cents for the red crown on the far right.
Bavarian's Select Crown Caps c. Early 1960s. The labeling requirements on crowns varied among states and also began to change in the early 1960s. As shown by the crowns on the right, the crowns for Bavarian's no longer needed state shields or to indicate the tax paid on each crown. Instead, Bavarian's could simply use its name and design starting in the 1960s, as is done by all brewers today. However, IBI would sometimes change the flag symbols for its initials, and states like Florida wanted its state name on the crowns of bottles brewed in their state, as illustrated by the crown on the far right.
The Twist (Turn) -Off Caps c. 1965. Shortly before IBI went out of business and closed the Bavarian Brewery in 1966, twist-off caps were being introduced. This eliminated the inconvenience of always needing a bottle opener, which had previously been necessary for nearly a century. (Please see Openers.) Since people were unaccustomed to these new twist off tops when they were first used, a simple instruction was needed. As shown, the term "turn off" was used for Bavarian/s, whereas, the term "twist-off" is more often used today.
Why Aren't All Crowns Twist-Off,
and How Can You Tell Those That Aren't?
Curriously, the reason that some beers and other beverages still require a bottle opener is that the seal isn't as secured with a twist-off. So, for beverages that are consumed relatively quickly, like beers from most larger domestic brewers, twist-caps are common. However, for craft beer bottles, regular pry off crowns requiring bottle openers are most often used as they are considered to provide better quality. Still, it's not uncommon for some people to shred their hands assuming a bottle cap is a twist-off, when it's not. So, how do you tell whether a bottle cap is a twist-off or not? (See the Tip.)>>>>>>>>>
TIP: To avoid shredding your had on a non-twist off cap, first look for a notice on the crown. Some will indicate whether they are a twist-off or pry-off cap. Next, if there's no indication, look closely at the neck. If the ring below the cap is thin, it's a twist off, but if the area under the cap flares out slightly (and is bulbous), it's a pry-off cap. Generally speaking, nearly all micro-brewed or craft beer bottles have pry-off caps.
The Distribution of Bottle Caps. When a brewery needed bottle caps, they needed to buy them in large quantities. On the side is a the lid of a wood container that was used to send Bavarian the crowns they ordered. The crowns were made by W. H. Hutchinson & Sons and the container apparently contained 100GR. Because the crowns were corked line, the containers were packed with a special liner and there was a notice that they needed to stay dry. Several different types of crowns were needed; two different alcohol contents for Ohio, one for Kentucky and these three varieties were needed for quarts and 12oz. bottles.
CROWNS AFTER PROHIBITION - From the 1960s
Besides the advent of the twist top crown in the 1960's, the lining of bottle caps changed in the 1960s, around the time the Bavarian Brewery closed. Before Prohibition, crowns mostly had a thin layer of solid cork. However, a few years before Prohibition began in 1919, composite cork liners were used.
For nearly thirty years starting in the early 1930s, crowns had a thin composite cork backing with a thin circular layer of fluted metal that covered most, but not all, of this layer. An example of this is in the far upper left. However, in the early 1960s, this method gave way to a less expensive layer of thin plastic covering the entire inside of the crown, as shown above second from the left. In the center, there is a plastic layer on the edges of the liner, with a thin protective layer applied to the metal surface in the center. More recently, some images or text have been placed on the interior of a crown, as shown on the far right images above. Sometimes these can be promotional, inspiring the saving, or even even the return and recycling of crowns.
Recycling Crowns. Unfortunately, most crowns that get disposed of in household garbage containers today are too small to be automatically separated by the systems used by most waste management services. So, crowns wind up in in landfills. To avoid this, bottle caps (i.e. crowns), can be place in a can and then when about half full can be crumbled on the top, to hold the crowns inside the can. It can then be disposed of for recycling, or if the waste management service separates out recycling materials, it can then be detected. Since crowns are either metal or aluminum, you can distinguish them with a magnet, which will connect to metal, but not aluminum. Therefore, you could have two cans with a magnet nearby, and dispose of crowns in the appropriate metal or aluminum container.
A Different Type of Crown is Brewing. In an effort to have a more secure crown and one that can be self opening with no bottle opener needed, a new type of bottle cap was created. It has a tab on the side that can simply be pushed up to uncap the bottle.