It’s funny how one little thing can lead onto something else really interesting, and bring back unexpected memories! In this case it was an Instagram picture from a mudlark (a person who looks along the banks and shores of rivers in the mud, looking for interesting and maybe valuable things.) This particular mudlark’s image showed them holding a small round ball about the size of a marble. In fact it was a marble, and the mudlark commented that they weren’t sure if it was an amber Codd marble. They’d found or seen other Codd marbles in different shades, aqua and blue and clear, but were puzzled by the colour. There were plenty of comments and people who obviously knew something about marbles kept referring to codds and codd makers. I was intrigued and began to investigate.
I looked up codd and ignoring Edgar Frank Codd the English computer scientist and the sheep disease, contagious ovine digital dermatitis otherwise known as CODD, I discovered that codds were the glass balls which were put in carbonated drinks bottles, as a stopped to keep the fizz in. They were invented by and named after Hiram Codd, an English inventor who was born in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk in 1838. Hiram was an engineer and an inventor who early in his working life worked for a cork company – which made corks for bottles. He saw a need for improvement in corking bottles, and in fact a way of sealing bottles without corks at all. The idea of a glass stopper was so simple, as Wikipedia explains:
The bottle was designed and manufactured with thick glass to withstand internal pressure, and a chamber to enclose a marble and a rubber washer in the neck. The bottles are filled upside down, and pressure of the gas in the bottle forced the marble against the washer, sealing in the carbonation. The bottle is pinched into a special shape to provide a chamber into which the marble is pushed to open the bottle. This prevents the marble from blocking the neck as the drink is poured.
Now it’s thought that the word codswallop is derived from Codd’s wallop, wallop being a slang word for beer, and beer served in a Codd’s bottle became Codd’s wallop. This was where I became particularly interested because my dad – and no doubt his friends, used the word ‘wallop’ to mean beer. He’d talk about ‘a nice pint of wallop‘ and I never wondered where the term might come from, it was just one of the things he said. I wonder if it was a common term everywhere, or if it was just a southern thing – Cambridge where he was born and grew up was only fifty miles north of London where Hiram Codd had his factory in the nineteenth century, although that was nearly fifty years before Dad was born!
My featured image is, of course, a nice pint of wallop!