On the base of the two-sectioned, steel bottle pictured above is stamped these words: U.S., Swanson, 1945. The thick cotton canvas cover, lined with a dense woolen felt, snaps securely over the bottle's shoulders with two solid brass pins. When I was a kid, I'd fill it up for my bicycle trip, soaking the canvas completely and letting it hang off the back of my bicycle seat springs with the built in belt hooks (shown above). The evaporative cooling from wind passing by the wet canvas kept the water inside cool on the way to the swimming hole. In childhood memories, I can still hear that squeaky sound of hooks on springs. Years later, I found it was good to hang over a 1960's era car window...with a little jury rigging.Almost seventy years after it's manufacture, there's not a spot of rust anywhere, the canvas is completely intact. And, a decade of kid- and teen-abuse barely shows. The Bakelite cover, the only fossil fuel-based component, is free of cracks and wear. Not a single component contains Bis Phenol-A. (See Jeremy's post for background on that issue.) Remarkable.
It's not sexy, or pretty. But it works perfectly, and is likely to remain functional for a century. There's no reason that more attractive versions, in a variety of shapes, can't be made. Stainless steel would be fine for the bottle as long as the top is equally rugged. What are we waiting for?
Image credits:: John Laumer, Dad's Canteen