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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Photo courtesy: Jim Winter
Cobalt blue seltzer bottle. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
Light blue seltzer bottle.
Wooden box for shipping.

COSLEY BOTTLING COMPANY. The 1939 through 1957 Dubuque City Directory listed 141-145 Locust

The 1964 through 1968 Dubuque City Directory listed 400 E. 3rd St.

Originally opened as the Cosley Bottling Works around 1923 by Ray J. Cosley, the company had only three competitors in the area.

In an article that appeared in the TELEGRAPH HERALD, Cosley remembered washing the bottles by hand. The first bottles carried the Cosley Bottling Works name. After four or five years, the name of the company was changed to the Cosley Bottling Company. The new name appeared on the bottles.

(A bottle was expected to be able to be reused between six and ten times before it became too nicked or scratched to be refilled. The initials R. J. C. and "30S" appeared on the bottom of some of the bottles. The initials referred to the owner of the company while the "30S" indicated the mold of the bottle which was made in Streator, Illinois.

Metal caps were applied to the bottles with the use of a crowning machine operated by a foot pedal--one bottle at a time.

Photo courtesy: Jason Cosley
Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald and Paul Hemmer

As business grew, Cosley employed twelve men at the plant with nine trucks in operation for distribution to five counties. Occasionally requests were received from other parts of the country. Cosley used his own private formulas for the various soft drinks including creme soda, grape, strawberry or orange. Like candy manufacturers, Cosley had to curtail production at times of sugar rationing.(see advertisement)

Photo courtesy: Jason Cosley

The company was also a distributor for other beverages. Cosley was the first Iowa distributor for near-beer and the first distributor for beer in Iowa after sale of it was made legal in 1933. The distinction was received because the wholesaler could sell legally only to the retailer and there were no legal retailers in Dubuque until the new city ordinance became effective on April 26, 1933. Cosley's state license and federal license arrived on April 21st. (1)

Cosley operated the company for forty years and three months. It was succeeded by DUBUQUE FALSTAFF SALES, INC. which bottled Cosley's Bubble Up, Whistle, Spik It and 3-V Cola as well as distributing beer.

One of the popular local soft drinks.
Wooden crate for bottles.
Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
1937 Advertisement. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald and Paul Hemmer
1942 Advertisement. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald and Paul Hemmer
1948 Advertisement. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald and Paul Hemmer
1962 announcement of the successor company. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald and Paul Hemmer



1. "Bottling Company Has First State License to Wholesale Legal Brew," Telegraph-Herald, April 23, 1933

Jason Cosley, grandson of Ray Cosley.