February 5, 2014

Do you know what this is?

The Oskaloosa Herald


This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a Milky Way Dairy milk bottle.

Several people made guesses as to the identity of the artifact.

Joyce Reed wrote via email: “Milk Bottle.”

Dorothy Vos also wrote via email: “The artifact in the shopper is either a glass milk bottle or possibly an old glass baby bottle.”

Kayla Scholtus wrote via Facebook: “It is a milk jug!”

David Patterson also wrote via Facebook: “Milk bottle from the GOOD ole days.”

Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “Milky Way Dairy milk bottle

This glass milk bottle from the Milky Way dairy is a recent donation to the Mahaska County Historical Society collection. Three bottles were donated by Viola “Pat” West who worked at the dairy in 1955 as their bookkeeper.

The Milky Way Dairy was built and owned by Clyde and Gwen Loupee and opened for business on June 16, 1950. It was located in Oskaloosa on East A Street in 1949, the present site of the Wigg store. The modern dairy boasted the most modern equipment, a clay tile building, and a memorable neon sign of a cow jumping over the neon crescent moon.

The emblem of the cow and moon were painted using a pyroglaze or Applied Color Label ( ACL) technique. This method of labeling was developed in the 1930s and made the glass bottles easier and more economical than previous bottles which were etched or molded with the dairy’s name.

Milk bottles have actually only a short timespan when looked at historically. Invented in the 1880s, milk bottled were taken to the customer’s home and left up to four times a day. Previously, the customer provided the jug or other container and the dairyman ladled milk into their container. With the invention of the glass bottle, a container that was returned to the dairy and cleaned, filled and sold again helped to facilitate the dairy trade. In the 1890’s, pasteurization enabled the dairy to deliver fresh milk only once a day and refrigeration extended the shelf life of the milk even longer.

By the time Milky Way Dairy opened it’s doors in 1950, milk bottles had become square instead of round – making it easier to fit the bottles on the shelf. The original porcelain caps had been replaced with set-in printed cardboard disks that told the customer the dairy, fat content and amount of milk purchased. These disks signaled the beginning of the end. The cardboard disks were declared unsanitary in the mid 1960s and manufacturers began to change over to the disposable waxed cartons. Waxed cardboard gave way to plasticized cardboard and then to just plain plastic bottles. While some small organic and private dairies have returned to the use of glass, the plastic milk jug has effectively replaced the glass milk bottle in super markets around the world.”

The Oskaloosa Herald and the Nelson Pioneer Farm are teaming up to test your knowledge of historical artifacts.

The Nelson Pioneer Farm has about 15,000 artifacts in its collection spanning in age from the 1840s to the present.

The Herald will take a picture of an artifact and publish it in the Herald section of the Oskaloosa Shopper, The Oskaloosa Herald an the Herald's Web site, www.oskaloosa.com. People can make a guess on what they think the object could be.

People can either email their guess to oskynews@oskyherald.com or mail their guess to The Oskaloosa Herald, P.O. Box 530, Oskaloosa, IA 52577. You can vote from Wednesday through Saturday.

The identity of the artifact and the vote breakdown will be announced in each Wednesday's Herald Shopper along with the week's new artifact.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com