Collectible Bottles – Which Ones Are Most Popular?

Glass bottle collecting is a hobby that can be quite rewarding, both pleasurable and profitable. But where do you begin to know which bottles are in demand and those that are pretty much worthless? There are signs to look for in starting or adding to your glass bottle collection that you should know.

Knowing what is popular among traders is key to making your collection stand out. By far, the most sought after type is the whiskey bottle that is stamped with colorful labels. Clear glass does not diminish the value with the portrait of pretty girls or military suggestions. Special editions may portray a holiday greeting while others have a metal screw cap. Uniqueness and good condition in this category can easily bring $500 to $1,000 per bottle.

The colored pontiled medicine bottle is a definite great find. Any bottle that is other than aqua or clear and has the Pontil name stamped on the base along with the Dr. name or type of medicine is a rarity. Only 200 types are known today which drives up the popularity. Some have sold for $20,000 and even one in very poor shape will bring $100. The aqua colored bottles are common but still have a selling price of $20 because of the Pontil name. Dating back to the 1600s, the colored pontil medicine bottle will add value to any glass bottle collection.

Another medicine bottle that is sought after is a bottle with ‘cures’ embossed in the glass. Labels with this word included are quite common and not as popular. These bottles were produced between the 1850s to the early 1900s and are attractive and well presented. You will find most in clear or aqua but the amber or other tones are much more saleable, possible bringing hundreds of dollars.

A third medicine bottle of popularity is one with the word ‘sarsaparillas’ embossed on the glass. Quite common are the clear and aqua brands but find a colored pantiled sarsaparillas bottle and the sky is the limit.

Hair tonic or barber glass bottles spanned the entire 19th century but still have appeal to collectors everywhere. Any color other than aqua; clear or amber can assure you fifty dollars or more. An enameled design will make your bottle worth even more.

Any type of bottle in a rare or unique color will catch the eye of a serious collector. The highest value colors are yellow green, cobalt, yellow, purple or puce. Second in value are those bottles of olive green, black, teal blue, milk glass and green. If a bottle is damaged or the color has been diminished, the value will go down.

There are many good books on the subject of bottle collecting by experts in the field. These are just a few suggestions to look for but just because a bottle is aged does not make it worth a lot. The seasoned collector will also look for the unusually shaped that may or may not hold value because of the attractiveness that it gives a collection. Collecting and trading bottles can be a great past time, learning not only the pricing but the history of eras long past.

Antique Glass Bottles

As the world around us is quickly changing, we still feel strong attraction to the elements of the past – the way things used to be. People still feel this connection very passionately and collecting antique glass bottles is one way that we can experience it. Antique bottles enable us to travel back in time and experience those old things once again. Popularity of treasure-hunting for vintage bottles has grown enormously in the last few years. It is because many of us like the more simple and less busy times of the past.

There are lots of ways you can get your hands on antique glass bottles. The obvious choice would be to visit flea markets or auctions which are typical places for finding old bottles. However, you could find some antique bottles while cleaning out your attics, in an old shed in your backyard, sticking out of a construction site or just along the side of the road. Recently, there has been a new hobby created called “bottle digging” or “privy digging.” It is basically raveling down old roads or hiking and looking for old bottles. The easiest way to determine the age of vintage bottle which you found is to have a look at objects that surrounded it. If you found plastic bags right next to the bottle than it is probably just a replica and is not worth much. The crucial thing before looking for antique glass bottles in any property is to find out who is owner of the land and ask for his or her permission.

One can find antique glass bottles in many different shapes, sizes and colours. Most of the old bottles were handmade and therefore very few of them are identical. The thing that separates them and makes them unique are actually their flaws, such as bubbles within the glass . That’s why you can find 2 antique bottles that would be exactly the same. In this antique bottles are quite similar to old paintings. It is these little flaws that often make the bottle more sought after and therefore can make it more valuable. However, there are many other factors to consider when determining value of vintage bottle:
1) Age – usually there is a very simple rule: the older the glass bottle is, the more valuable it is, the easiest way to determine the age of the bottle is to closely examine the base of the bottle and have a good look at objects that surrounded it, it is quite likely that their age will match age of the bottle.

2) Colour – this is interesting, some colours are actually more valuable than others. The colors with the highest value are yellow and olive greens, cobalt and teal blues, yellow, purple, and green.

3) Design or Embossing – glass bottle is worth much more if it contains embossing that clearly identifies producer, the date when it was made and place where it was made.

4) Condition – it’s really simple, bottles that are in better condition are more valuable, chips or cracks usually reduce value of the bottle;

5) Category – there are many categories of antique glass bottles, for example medicine bottles, flasks, soda and alcohol bottles, druggist bottles, antique medicine bottles, antique milk bottles, avon antique bottles.

So why should you spend your precious time looking for antique glass bottles? Firstly, these lost everyday objects can be very valuable and you can make wonderful profit by finding and subsequently selling them. Imagine your excitement if you found out that the old glass bottle which you found in your backyard is actually worth 1000$ or more. If you really good in valuing the antique bottles you could start your own business of buying and selling antique bottles. However, there is also other, maybe even more important reason and that is the fun and sense of adventure that you experience while treasure-hunting for old bottles. Vintage bottles bring back memories of simpler, happier times when life seemed a lot less complicated. For many of us, antique bottles also bring back memories of loved ones sipping on a a bottle of soda or Coca Cola or some other product.

Collecting antique glass bottles is fun, self-fulfilling and increasingly popular hobby. Whether you are looking for vintage milk bottles or antique medicine bottles there couldn’t be more entertaining and exciting hobby. Make a move and start your treasure-hunting journey today!

Collectible Bottles – Collecting Theory

Why collect bottles? I suppose the simple answer to that question is “Why Not?”. Collecting anything is a truly personal and subjective endeavor. It could be because your father or mother did and your carrying on the tradition. It could be because the color or design of a particular bottle caught your fancy or because you see an opportunity to make some money. The reasons are as numerous as there are collectors. No matter what your motivation it’s important to follow certain principals that will that help insure your collecting activities are effective and fun .

The Sport of Bottle Collecting

The “sport” of bottle collecting does have a number of advantages when compared to other forms of collecting.

1) It is relatively inexpensive to become activity involved. While it’s true that there are bottles that are worth thousands of dollars most bottles, even those of relative rarity, can be purchased for $200 or less.

2) You can approach bottle collecting from a number of different perspectives some that may enhance and support other aspects of your life. You can collect bottles based upon their historical significance, their color, their use, their shape, method of manufacture, their historic significance and many, many other aspects.

3) The bottle you collect can be quite appealing and beautiful to view. They display well so others can enjoy your hobby along with you.

4) It’s something the whole family can do. Working the flea markets, garage sales, trade shows or actually going out on a dig can be an adventure that friends, partners, children and other relatives can enjoy.

5)You’ll become a member of a community of like minded people with whom you can trade or exchange information or treasure hunting stories.

6) Finally, you can make money at it. While unlikely to fund your retirement, bottle collecting can be a profitable endeavor.

Approaches to Bottle Collecting

Typically an individual gets involved in the collectible bottle market purely by chance. He/ she comes across a box of old, antique bottles in a garage or inherit a collection of Jim Beam collector bottles from a relative or come across a bottle that piques their curiosity. Whatever the starting point is it’s important that you approach the collecting process in a structured and organized way. Why? At the end of the day, getting organized upfront will save you time and money. Buy taking a bit of time to plan and develop a collecting strategy an individual will be better able to find that special “deal” when your out hunting, you’ll be able to focus you collecting activities toward specific types or styles of bottles and not be distracted or “sold” something that you don’t really want or need and finally it will enable you to detect a fake or reproduction, the bane of all collectors, with greater confidence and ease.

So how do you get organized? The first step is to decide which “style” of collector you intend to be. There are two basic approaches to consider; a general collector and a specialized collector. A general collector approaches the collectible bottle effort in a broad, highly subjective manner. They collect bottles that simply appeal to him or her. They see it, they like it, they buy it with relatively little or no concern for the inherent value of the price in question. They enjoy the hunt but beyond the like and dislike issue, they don’t have a very clear idea of what they are buying or why they are buying it. They buy a price guide and hit the markets. The second approach is that of a specialist. This approach requires a bit of study and research. Maybe they started out a generalist but their interest in a particular type of bottle deepens or they were burned by an ill conceived purchase and don’t want to repeat their mistakes. They may realise that a well conceived and execute collection can have a higher total value than the individual pieces that it composes Whatever the rationale, they take the time necessary to become more familiar with what it is they are collecting.

Either approach works but each has distinct advantages and disadvantages. A generalists doesn’t waste time during his searching activities, important to someone who doesn’t have much time to spend on his collecting activities. He find something of interests, looks at the price, makes a judgment and pulls the trigger or not. He can build his collection quickly using the full range of bottle sources available. His collection is often often more interesting and personal to him and to a casual observer. Each item in his collection has its own unique story and not a shared history of cobalt blue bottles or civil war era flasks. A specialists, on the other hand, after a brief period of study will be able to quickly spot value or knowledgeably negotiate the appropriate price for an item. Their collection often mirrors their other interests Unlike the generalist, a specialists has access to a community of persons with similar interests to trade with or queried for knowledge.

A bit more about the specialist. There are any number of ways to specialize.

1) Collecting bottles based upon to which it was put is one approach common among specialists collectors. There are roughly 34 different categories and subcategories of bottles based on usage. An individual can collect ink bottles, medicine bottles, tonic bottles, barber bottles, gin bottles,perfume bottles, etc. Within each catalog there can be additional divisions based on color and design.
Another specialization is by age. The age range of bottles make over the last three hundred years can often be established and collecting colonial, pre-civil war, post civil war, pre or post mass production are approaches used by many collectors.

2) Glass color is another approach. Cobalt blue color sometimes call black glass is highly desirable and collectible. Concentrating on other single colors or multi-color glass is also a popular approach with collectors.

3) For the history buff, bottles tied to historic events like the revolution, elections, etc holds appeal to many.

4) Advertising and marketing people would find a collection of bottles used as a advertising medium of interest.

5) For the artist/decorator in addition to color, the size, shape and decoration of the bottle would hold appeal.

6) Collecting bottles by region, regardless of bottle type is another popular approach,
The combinations and permutations are endless. If you think you’ll be alone in an esoteric subcategory of cobalt blue, medicine bottles produced before the civil war don’t be alarmed. After a bit of searching you’ll find a whole community who shares you interests and enthusiasm and will be more than willing to lend you a helping hand.

Regardless whether you decided to be a generalist or a specialist, you’ll need to develop a rationale to use as a framework for your bottle collecting activities. Early on it needn’t be detailed nor set in concrete but it should point you in a general direction and set some basic parameters to guide your activities.

Getting Organized

The first element of that rationale to do is to set a budget for yourself. A budget of the amount of time you are willing and able to spend on your collecting activities and a budget of the amount of money you have available to spend. If you are busy 24/7 with work, kids, home, other hobbies perhaps you should take a pass on starting something new. Its not that bottle collecting is especially time consuming but with other daily pressures, the hobby will either languish or will result in feelings of guilt . My rule of thumb is if you aren’t will to spend 8 hours a month on studying and collecting bottles, don’t bother. The next step is establishing how much money you can afford to spend. This too is subjective and predicated upon your income and current demands on that income. Again if money in your household budget is tight don’t start. If you begin to spend money you can’t afford, what began as a harmless hobby can quickly become a source of friction. If you decide to specialize, chose your collecting category carefully. If money is short don’t decide to collect ancient Roman bottles. Get a collectible bottle price guide and look at the price ranges of categories you find interesting. Make sure you can afford to actively participate. Set a dollar limit on your bottle searching excursions to the flea market. Other things to consider when budgeting are display and storage. Are you going to display your collection? Do you have adequate space in your home? How are you going to display your collection? Do you have sufficient and suitable storage? Be sure to include you significant other in the decision making process. Be sure that the money and time allotment is OK with him or her. Be sure that the category you select is something that he/she does not find objectionable. Who knows, you might end up with a partner/helpmate.

If your a generalist you planning is pretty much done at this point and you can get at it. If you decide to be a specialists there are a few more issues to consider.

There is a general rule in collecting that ” it’s easier to sell one five hundred dollar bottle and fifty ten dollar bottles”. The principal being that it’s better to collect expensive bottles than cheap ones. While certainly true for the established collector, it doesn’t necessarily hold true for the novice or even the intermediate collector. When first starting out It’s important to remember that, while you may have spend quite a few hours studying a category, you are by no means an expert. You want to avoid making a big mistake right out of the gate. So buy lower priced items, get familiar with the intricacies of the category. Examine, touch and feel the higher priced items. As questions of dealers. Your expertise will grow only with time and hands on experience. Do build a collection but start with the common and move to the rare. Yes you may end up with a few dollars tied up in bottles that you can’t sell but it’s better than having a lot of dollars tie up in a fake or in a bottle you overpaid for.

Record Keeping

The final issue to consider when collecting is record keeping. It’s extremely important to compile a complete record of all your bottle collecting transactions and activities. It’s important for your learning process and to help value your collection for your own edification and insurance purposes.
The typical item record should contain the following information:

1) Detailed description of the item: size weight, color, labels, manufacture, manufacturing method.

2) Photo of the item

3) Where , when and from whom you purchased the bottle

4) How much you paid for the bottle.

5) Value of the item from reputable price guide

6)Any information about the item given to you at the time of purchased or that you have discovered on your own.

7) Ownership history

8) Original or photocopy of receipt

9) Location ie on display, in storage

10) If you sold it, record when, to whom and for how much
Be sure to keep a copy of your records, whether on paper or digitally, off site. You would hate to lose you collection and you records at the same time. Be sure to include the value of your collection in your household insurance policy. Some policies will require a rider so be sure to check with you agent.

There you have the basic tenets of bottle collecting. By taking a bit of time up front to study you chosen category, budgeting you time and money and keep good records you will be well on your way to developing a endeavor that will provide you with hours of pleasure and fun. You can point to you collection with pride and a sense of accomplishment.