An old Tamaqua soda bottle dating back to the town's industrial heyday has been unearthed and is raising questions about its origins.
The mystery began several days ago when Earl Edmondson, employed by Tamaqua Borough as an assistant mechanic, was working on a job in the Dutch Hill section when, he says, his eyes were drawn to something shiny on the ground.
"We were up above the baseball field almost in the area of the radio station when I saw it just lying there," says Edmondson. "I went and picked it up and saw it was a bottle. It had some dirt around it but was in perfect condition."
Edmondson immediately recognized the clear bottle as being old. He showed it to co-worker Dave Lesniak.
After his shift ended, Edmondson took the artifact to his Rolling Mill Avenue home, where his wife, the former Sharon Roberts, put effort into cleaning it to make it more presentable and to make the bottle's details discernable.
"It had a little bit of dirt inside," says Sharon. "So I used baking soda in it, using a skinny brush."
Turns out, the unique bottle with an elaborate pressed design is marked ANDROKITES BOTT. WKS. TAMAQUA, PA. It also includes the word 'Registered' and its volume capacity of 7 FL. OZ. But what makes the identifying marks so unusual is that the capital letter S is reversed. It appears backward, not once, but twice.
"I wonder what that means," asks Edmondson.
The bottle displays artistry in design. It carries an elaborate paneled pattern bordered with half-moon shapes at the top and bottom.
Both Earl and Sharon are life-long residents of Tamaqua and would like to know more about Androkites Bottling Works. For instance, where was the enterprise located and what years did it operate? There seems to be no written account mentioning it.
The only other Androkites bottle that surfaces through research is a later variety. On December 25, 2007, a clear Tamaqua soda bottle from the 1930s, signed B. A. Androkites, was sold on eBay for an unknown price. However that bottle featured a very plain design with much less character than the one found by Edmondson. His bottle is more elaborate and appears to be late 1800s or turn-of-the-century.
The Androkites name is prominent in Tamaqua history, spelled a variety of ways.
Records of S.S. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Lithuanian Cemetery, Owl Creek Road, indicate several burials with the name Androkites, including a Bolis Androkitis. But any relationship of those individuals to the name on the bottle is unclear.
Edmondson intends to add the new discovery to his collection of keepsakes, which also includes NASCAR items and racer Mark Martin memorabilia, along with Hess Service Station model trucks.