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Label Coding & Spot The Difference #62 Masseys

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

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