2043 And All That
No, it's not a year. It's just a number. Some of you will be thinking it's vaguely familiar. Others, probably the ones who always hold their pint glasses up to the light to check that the beer is clear, will already know that it's Britain's most popular Crown Stamp number. But how come it's suddenly everywhere?
As you know, the various Weights & Measures Acts require that Draught Beer (and Cider) be served in measures of a third of a pint or a half of a pint or Multiples Thereof. Local authorities make checks to see that they're using the right size of glasses - or metered pumps, of course. And we know that the glasses hold a pint, or a half pint, because they've been checked and marked with a Crown Stamp. This little crown is usually sandblasted on after a sample of glasses from each batch has been tested. Along with the crown are the words that tell you what the measure is, e.g. PINT or PINT TO LINE or PINT ONE GRAD where there's a half pint line. And there's a number, which denotes the office or local authority that's actually inspected the glasses.
Up until recently, there were umpteen different offices checking glasses, up and down the country, and there were umpteen different numbers appearing on glasses. But two things have happened recently. One is that certain manufacturers won "approved verifier" status to certify and stamp their own glasses. The other is that production of glasses has become very much a volume business, where you have to make literally thousands of glasses at a time to keep the cost down. Several manufacturers have gone bust, or given up on glass manufacturing, leaving only a few specialists.
For all practical purposes, the only company left making your standard straight pint glass is Cristallerie D'Arques, part of JG Durand & Cie of Arques, just south of Calais in northern France. They are extremely efficient and, for straightforward standard glasses, virtually no-one else can compete. And guess what? Their stamp number is 2043.
So, now you're all wondering what other numbers are still around, and who or where they represent.
Well, 76 was Manchester. 1370 was Derbyshire, where a lot of beer festival glasses were produced by Dema of Chesterfield. 414 was also Derbyshire. 478 was St Helens. Others we know about were 37 (Sheffield - South Yorkshire trading standards unit), 1207 (also Sheffield), 1545 (Warwickshire), 303 (West Yorkshire) and 562 (Bury).
But you're much more likely to see the numbers of the Approved Verifiers. 2037 is Ravenhead Glass in St Helens, who gave up their approval last year, and 2038 is John Artis Ltd of Chessington in Surrey. And 2063 is BB Plastics of Mirfield, Yorkshire, who produce (obviously) plastic beer glasses.
Will glass collecting now become as popular as collecting beer mats and bottle labels?