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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Beginning around 1900, returnable containers were widely used for the delivery of goods such as milk or soft drinks. Milk had been sold to customers from cans or covered buckets, but concerns about sanitation and freshness led to regulations for the sale and delivery of milk. Dairies either had their own bottles made, or they could purchase more generic bottles, like this one, which were sent to stores for sale. Stores then would return a specified number to the dairy for refilling. But the increasing cost of equipment needed to sterilize these bottles and the inherent savings in consolidating milk delivery led to increasingly larger milk distributors. By the 1950s, a smaller number of distributors were delivering milk. This milk was often collected from a number of small dairies in their vicinity. These larger operations usually had their own glassware custom-decorated with their own logos, and generic returnable glassware such as this example disappeared.
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