Orange County Milk Bottle Museum

Containing over 800 bottles, the Orange County Milk Bottle Museum is among the largest collections of bottles from a region once revered for its dairy products. All bottles from Orange County are displayed in alphabetical order by town and vary in age from the late-1870s to the 1960s. Some of the collection’s outstanding features include a circa-1870s Tuthill Milk Jar (one of the earliest examples of a glass vessel used to store milk in the United States), an 1878 Lester Milk Jar (the first patented glass vessel intended to hold milk in the United States), an 1878 bottle popularized by Brooklyn milk dealer Alex Campbell as the country’s first milk bottle, and an example of the circa-1880 Warren Milk Jar (the first standard-shaped milk bottle). Apart from those local to Orange County, there are also milk bottles featured from New York City and national milk dealers such as Borden’s, Sheffield, and Crowley’s which had connections to the region.

The Orange County Milk Bottle Museum contains over 800 milk bottles from across Orange County, New York from the mid-1870s to the 1960s. Amazingly, the hundreds of bottles represent only a fraction of the 2,900 dairy farms that once operated within Orange County at the turn of the twentieth century.

The museum is dedicated to two individuals that have influenced my perspectives as a historian on this topic. Herman Galberd (1927-2019), a resident of Central Valley, NY gave me my first milk bottle from the Arden Farms Dairy Company when I was eleven years old. That single bottle has led me to develop amazing connections with others as well as a magnificent collection of milk bottles. This was further influenced by carrying the legacy of Anthony J. Knipp (1935-2003), a resident of Washingtonville, NY who was both a founding member of the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors and the owner of one of the county’s largest milk bottle collections. Like any relic, they are a vessel through which we can remember the thousands of hands that toiled amidst one of New York’s most prosperous industries. With dairy farming continuing to decline in Orange County, milk bottles are among the only remaining relics that reveal how approximately 2,900 of these farms once existed across the county at the turn of the twentieth century.

The museum’s phase A, completed in April of 2022, welcomes visitors by appointment and those looking to research Orange County’s dairy farming history.

The museum is dedicated in part to Herman Galberd (1927-2019), who gave me my first milk bottle when I was eleven years old. Seen here is Herman with a collection of Orange County milk bottles I had recently purchased from Pennsylvania.
Where Herman ignited my interests for collecting, I was then inspired to continue the legacy of Anthony J. Knipp (1935-2003). Toni was a founding member of the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors and, though his collection was dispersed after his passing, I am honored to preserve a few of his bottles in the museum.
Construction of the museum’s phase A began in early March 2022, began with wall painting and the instillation of shelf bracketry. The five shelf standards are affixed into wooden studs behind the wall and additionally supported by a bracket running near the ceiling.
In late March 2022, shelves were test fitted on the brackets. The toy milk wagon was once in the collection of Toni Knipp of who this museum is dedicated.
After each shelf was test fitted, they were sanded and painted white. Additionally, a second tier was added on all shelves to make the rear row of bottles more easily visible and additional shelving was added to the right wall.
The main focus of the museum features milk bottles from across Orange County’s many municipalities organized in alphabetical order by town.
Tin-tops, named for their unique metal closures, were among the earliest milk bottles used from the early 1880s until the turn of the twentieth century. As they were a new innovation of the time, these bottles could often only be afforded by city milk dealers who bought milk from farmers and re-sold it to the public. However, the few local farmers by the late 1890s that purchased their own tin-top milk bottles were the pioneers of a new era where farmers, equipped with their own bottles, could deliver milk directly to homes.
The Tuthill Milk Jar of Unionville, NY, said to date from the early 1870s, is one of the earliest examples of a glass vessel designed to contain milk in the United States. It features a pontiled base and a ground lip.
Patented in January of 1878, George Henry Lester’s milk jar was the first patented glass jar in the United States designed to hold milk. As with many of the era’s early glass jars, Lester designed his milk jar to combat the unsanitary measures of selling milk in cities during the nineteenth century. The jar’s lid was featured a glass lid held in place with a metal screw clamp.
At the same time that Lester patented his milk jar, Brooklyn milk dealer Alex Campbell popularized what he claimed as the first “experimental milk bottle.” Though examples such as the Tuthill Milk Jar prove that several milk dealers were experimenting with glass jars, Campbell’s contribution has become one of the most famous and he is often seen as an early inventor of the milk bottle.
In 1880, the Warren Milk Jar was patented as the first “standard-shaped” milk bottle in the United States and served as the basic template of milk bottles for over half a century.
Displayed in tandem with the milk bottle museum is the William S. Johnson collection of Orange County Dairy Farming History (, featuring books, ephemera, go-withs, milk cans, and larger artifacts from this industry.

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