Great Radium Spring Water Co. Bottles (ca. 1914-1923)

This embossed glass bottle was produced by the Great Radium Spring Water Co. Inc. in Berkshire Hills, Pittsfield, Mass.

To my knowledge, the company never claimed that their product was radioactive. As such, it is somewhat misleading for us to include this item in the Radioactive Quack Cures section. Still, the name "Great Radium Spring" implies the use of water from a radioactive spring.

The Great Radium Spring, located to the northwest of Pittsfield and near the border with New York State, feeds Parker Brook. The latter flows into Onota Lake.

According to a letter that appeared in the November 19, 1947 issue of the Berkshire Eagle, an analysis of the spring's water had indicated trace amounts of radium. Then again, almost any groundwater will have traces of radium.

The Great Radium Spring Water Company was incorporated in New York in May of 1915, but it seems to have been formed the previous year as it was listed in the 1914 Pittsfield City Directory. The last indication that I have found to indicate that it was still in operation was a 1923 Christmas day notice in the Wall Street Journal regarding the sale of the company's stocks and bonds.


The capital listed at the time of the incorporation was substantial: $1,000,000. Those involved were John F. Forrester, Walter C. Low and Jacob Essner. They had a New York address, or to be more specific, a Brooklyn address. Whether this served as the corporate headquarters or as a bottling plant is not known.

Great Radium Spring Water Company used the type of bottle shown above for a variety of drinks, e.g., Mayflower Ginger Ale (photo below left kindly provided by Terry Palmiter), Sarsaparilla, Orange, Birch Beer, Root Beer and Lemon Soda.

Size:  10" tall

Typical Prices: 15cents each, $1.75 for a dozen, $3.50 for a case of 24.

The advertisement (above right) appeared in the October 1916 issue of the quarterly bulletin of the Berkshire Athenaeum and Museum.




Embossed glass bottles made by the Great Radium Spring Water Co. of Pittsfield MA are pretty common. Stoneware bottles like that in the photo to the right are comparatively scarce.

Of particular interest is the paper label glued to the bottom of this bottle that partially covers the stamped letters “G. R. S.”   The printed text across the bottom of the label reads “Open Schools to Epileptics.”  There is also a handwritten date of 12-25-66. If it was a Christmas present, there are only a few of us who would appreciate it.

It might be that these stoneware bottles predate the creation (in 1914) of the Great Radium Spring Water Company. Perhaps they were sold at the spring by a local entrepreneur. Then again, maybe not.


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Last updated: 04/30/10
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