When I saw Ace post this image of a James Ryder Ginger Beer from Guelph on Flickr, I knew there had to be a backstory, and so I asked him for more narrative in the comments. Two weeks later, on a cold Sunday afternoon in May 2016, Ace replied to my request in an email.
But first, on his original Flickr post, Ace wrote,
“always nice when you can find an old ginger beer bottle from your hometown.
____Ye Olde English____
___Stone Ginger Beer___
Mineral Water Manufacturer
___This Bottle Must Be___
__Returned Or Paid For__
Category: 4 Rare “
The same James Ryder Ginger Beer bottle is in the Guelph Museum and is described in their website archives as “Stoneware ginger beer bottle. Glazed, off-white and gold neck, black label, ceramic stopper with rubber ring attached to neck by wire. “James Ryder, Mineral Water Manufacturer”. Stamped: “Ye Olde English Stone Ginger Beer”. They do not attempt to date the piece.
Also present in the Guelph Museum are two clear glass bottles
that hold 8 fluid ounces each. One is embossed “Ryder’s High Class Mineral
Waters, GUELPH” on the front. It also has an image of “Conveyor Belt
with a Wheel”. Bottle made in a mold between the years 1915 to 1925. The other clear glass bottle is also embossed with the same lettering but features a picture of “a well with a pulley
While scouring the online archives in Guelph for anything know about James Ryder, I did discover his name among the membership rolls in the Masonic Lodge and we know he was a benefactor or at least had some affiliation with the Salvation Army, cause his name is in a booklet from the 1920s. Perhaps I could have found out more. Maybe a reader will email me more information?
Ace emailed me this morning and wrote,
Here’s the story for the James Ryder bottle,
I was walking by a Guelph construction site and noticed some bottles lying around and one of the construction workers didn’t seem to mind if I stopped by after hours to look around. When I came back in the evening I noticed the hole the backhoe had been digging earlier was mostly filled in again but there was one spot I could still dig myself. I dug up many junk bottles and was about to give up when I noticed a white stopper sticking out the side of the hill, I gently poked at it and it fell out and there appeared to be a top of a ginger beer bottle lying its side but I figured it probably wasn’t intact so I didn’t get my hopes up. I carefully dug it out and turned it over and to my surprise it was a James Ryder Ginger Beer bottle from Guelph and in one piece. I continued to dig a little longer for more good stuff but got nothing but junk. The hole has now been filled in again so I’m lucky to have at least found one good bottle.
– Ace from Guelph