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Former Milkman Builds Milk 10K Bottle Mini-Museum By Paul Luke

A former milkman has been forced to build a museum in his back garden after his home became too small to hold his collection – of more than 10,000 milk bottles.

Dedicated Paul Luke, 33, saved his first milk bottle when he was just nine years old while earning pocket money as a ‘milkman’s mate’.

But his collection has swelled to more than 10,000 bottles over the years – with some of the rarest dating back to the 1890s.

Paul’s collection grew so large that it wouldn’t fit inside his home so he was forced to build a museum in his back garden.

Father-of-one Mr Luke, who edits Milk Bottle News website for fellow fans, admitted that his hobby has ‘got a bit out of hand’.

He said: ‘My parents liked it that I had a hobby. They thought it kept me out of trouble.

‘The ones with a Kelloggs cornflakes advert caught my eye first. I used to pick these ones out when I helped the milk man while I was at school.

‘I thought it would be interesting to start collecting the different ones but it started to get a bit out of hand.

‘Some of my bottles are the only ones left in existence, to put a price on the collection is difficult but I don’t do it for the monetary value, they’re a record of history.’

Mr Luke, who lives in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, with his wife and daughter, collected his first milk bottle in 1987 when he was earning pocket money working as a milkman’s mate.

He noticed that different bottles featured various adverts and began a collection on his parent’s window sill – before going on to work as a milkman.

Over the years his obsession grew and he was forced to buy a ‘miniature museum’ in his back garden in order to display them.

Every single one of his prized milk bottles are embossed or pyroglazed by a dairy company and feature an advert.

He now owns a collection of over 10,000 different milk bottles and is still actively collecting more.

Mr Luke, who now works as a sales rep for a Hertfordshire dairy firm, also owns three old-fashioned milk floats, milk churns and milk measures which preceded bottles.

He added: ‘I have milk bottles dating from the 1890s when they were first introduced. The glass was is green because they weren’t progressed in making glass.

‘Milk used to be ladled into customers jugs out of heavy churns. It was seen to be unhygienic and it was an entrepreneurial move by the dairies to introduce bottles.

‘My favourites are the bottles from the 1950s when they had adverts using three or four colours, usually for eggs and butter.

‘The adverts by each local dairy are individual, compared say, to the Kellogg’s adverts.

‘Most of these dairies have disappeared and some of them will have been built on. My collection is a record of the milk industry.

‘I’m always looking for bottles from local farms which have the dairies name on them and would be glad to hear from anyone who has information or photo’s of local dairies.’

The first British milk bottles were produced by the Express Dairy Company in 1880, they used a porcelain stopper and were delivered by horse-drawn carts four times a day.

A new pasteurisation process which allowed milk to be sterilised and stored for longer was developed in 1894 and deliveries were reduced to once a day.

Advertisements began to appear on milk bottles in 1920 when a sand-blasting technique was used to etch them on the glass.

The advertising largely disappeared in the early 1990s with the introduction of infrared bottle scanners designed to check cleanliness.

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January 21st, 2011

Stranger to the World


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