Waterloo Milk Co ACL Painted Label Dairy Bottle, Waterloo IL

Waterloo IL Milk Co Milk Bottle ca. 1940

This milk bottle is from the Waterloo Illinois Milk Company and featured a red-painted label, Circa 1940  The label on the backside of the bottle displays two babies and states “Babies Grow With Us”.  This bottle is a pint size and there is also a one gallon version that is difficult to find.  The red-painted label was called “pyroglazed” paintings and had applied colored labels also known as ACL’s.   

The Waterloo Milk Company was a dairy based in Waterloo, Illinois of Monroe County. That dairy was in business around 1900 to 1969. The Waterloo Milk Company was originally founded as the Fountain Farmer’s Creamery Company in 1900 and changed it’s name in 1918 to the Waterloo Condensed Milk Company. In 1925, the business changed its name again to The Waterloo Milk Company. The dairy manufactured white whole milk, chocolate milk, cream, orange juice, grape juice, ice cream, cottage cheese and butter. The company went out of business in 1969 and the city used the buildings for storage of equipment for thirty years. Most of the original factory buildings were torn down in 2005 to make room for a new Waterloo government building. The Waterloo Milk Company created advertising pieces including milk bottles, lithograph signs, tin signs, wooden milk crates, calendars, rulers and other promotional items.

Overall, many antique advertising collectors are interested in the early milk bottles that were used for home deliveries. The milk bottles had embossments or the pyroglazed paintings with names of the dairies on them. The dairies wanted their company names on the bottles so they would get returned to them and reused. Milk bottles were mostly round through the 1950′s, then square shape became more popular. Otherwise, bottles tend to look very similar with clear glass and either a short or medium length neck. They also had a rounded collar but not a wide mouth to make pouring easy. The value of the bottles depend on the condition, the size, the dairy, the image and message, and the paint color.

As manufacturers improved making milk bottles they found it was less expensive to change from embossed labels to applied colored labels know as ACL’s. Bottles with ACL’s and ones that used embossed slug plates are often considered valuable. By the 1960′s, glass milk bottles were replaced with paper cartons and plastic milk containers that were less expensive to make but preserved the milk’s freshness.