International Society of Label Collectors & British Brewery Research

Comments on #62 raised the question regarding label edge codes. Well with a bit of personal knowledge & some research, I can shed some light on this issue. Virtually all edge codes were produced by a machine supplied by the Sauven Marking Machine Company of London,known unsurprisingly as the Codedge system. this very basically comprised of an electric motor driving a drum bearing saws to mark the label edge. The labels being clamped to a table above the saws. Both label & saw position being adjustable to provide the edge codes.

Codes are read by using a simple plastic card, such as the one illustrated below

Codedge reader

Now providing you line up the large edge cut (register mark), the date can be calculated by adding up the numbers relating to cuts in each section. However you need to know the starting year as the year marks are able to span a 15 year period or it may be that certain machines were configured to use the lower red lines to give specific year data. Bearing in mind there were many possible configurations for the saw positions on the machine drum and that nearly every brewery of any size was using this system during the 1950/60’s, not only in the UK, but around the world.

Considering all of this & the fact that some brewers had their own specific system of codes again using the Codedge machine, we are not really much closer to unravelling the dates.

A British Patent was granted to Maurice Oswald Sauven for this machine in early 1950s and the company is still trading today, although the technology they offer has moved on. These machines are still available on the secondhand market though.  If you can add to this please post a reply as usual. Cheers Pete

Had a couple of drinks, a chat and a look at some labels with friends on Thursday night. Lovely evening in the Trackside Bar and I came away with a swap box and told not to expect anything fantastic. A few happy hours going through a large number of labels and up comes a label from Masseys. Looks a bit different to the one I have, a quick look through the Lancashire No. 1 album and there is is similar but definitely different example. You all know how keen I am on small variations and to find a new one from a brewery that was only 10 miles away, that’s fantastic.

My original is on the the left, the one I had not seen before on the right.

Massey 2

Spot the difference #61; Tomson & Wotton

Alan has also sent in this pair from Tomson & Wotton. In his mail he suggested there may be one or two collectors who don’t have the pair. Not only do I not have the pair, I have never seen the variation on the left, or is it the right. I will have to check my album. OK it’s the one on the right I have not seen before. Had a look in our featured brewery section.

Three things I want to know. Which was issued first, I think I can tell that and when was each variation in use.

Also, who had to look in their collection to be sure which one they had?

Tomson & Wotton 2

What you ask is that, well for #60 we thought we would try out a couple of modern labels, as our LOTY event is the weekend after next, yes it will 18th October as planned. If you have not booked your place yet, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO SO. Please email our Treasurer from the Contact Us page to book your place.

BP BP x2


This pair have a number of differences and as they will be on sale at Windsor & Eton Brewery at our LOTY event, we will leave you to examine them in detail. Have fun!

The response to Spot the difference #58 was probably the best we have ever had. However, I still think there are a couple of collectors and brewery historians out there who could and should have commented on our post. I shall be in contact with them again, because I don’t think the matter is anywhere near closed. But thanks to all those who did comment, particularly Mike and Alastair, and of course the elusive ‘Fascinated’. I still can’t work it out. I only visited 2 or 3 breweries that year.

So in the hope that this posting generates a similar or indeed better response, here are two labels from the first brewery I ever visited. I would like possible dating information please.

Tadcaster Tower 2

Two things have prompted this post. First the comment from ‘Fascinated by beer labels’ yesterday. Who is this? And secondly a discussion with Des, the Society’s esteemed treasurer, during the excellent meeting yesterday at Sadler’s Brewery, Lye. This pair from Clarkson’s Old Brewery is almost a competition entry. See if you can spot the crucial difference.


Just added the Greenalls labels to featured brewery section. Two of them are here to highlight the addition. I believe that the label on the right was used on bottles destined for the North Wales market, hence the NW logo. I have no idea whether the beers were different. They could have been brewed in Chester from the takeover of the Northgate Brewery in 1949. The featured brewery section has the two versions of the Pale Ale.

Greenall W

I had several mails from collectors who were amazed by ‘Spot the difference #43’:

Apparently many were unaware that the second variation existed and have spent some time seeking it out. I couldn’t tell whether they were complaining or congratulating us. So here are two variants of the Nut Brown Ale. The second less common variation is different from the variations in the Light Dinner Ale. All of you who may have spent time fruitlessly looking for the missing variant of that label will be pleased to know that I look at every Brockbank label I can in case the two missing versions can be found.

Brockbank 2

With a few exceptions, labels from Hewitt Brothers can be obtained fairly cheaply. Most collectors are familiar with the change of trade mark and the different size of labels for pint and half pint bottles. However this pair may not be so well known. And I will ask the usual question: Are there similar differences for other beers? I don’t know of any others, perhaps there is someone out there who has the other pairs.


1 4 5 6 7 8 12