Hi. This is my first blog entry on my newly revised web-site www.bottlebible.com, and I want to welcome all Antique Bottle & Glass Collectors to the site. I plan on providing updated news, events, and helpful information regarding the Hobby of Bottle Collecting. I’m looking forward to everyone’s input and comments. Remember, “Have Fun With The Hobby of Bottle Collecting.”
John Pastor, Publisher of “Antique Bottle & Glass Collector” magazine, recently asked me to write an article on what it would take for a beginning collector to start a bottle collection from scratch with a budget of $10 to a $100. John’s question brought back memories of my own early experiences as a new bottle collector 40 years ago, along with discussions I have had with new collectors at antique/bottle shows about the cost involved to start a collection. This inaugural blog is an excerpt from a full length article that will be published in the December 2013 issue of “Antique Bottle & Glass Collector.”
I’ve lost count of how many new collectors have walked up to my table, checked out some of my bottles for sale, then with a frustrated voice said, “I’m new to the hobby and want to start collecting bottles, but they seem so expensive?”
Well, that’s partly true. There are rare and scarce bottles with unique designs, shapes, and colors that demand premium dollars. But there are even more average or common antique bottles available such as Whiskey Cylinders, Whiskey Flasks, Beer, Inks, Medicines, and Food or Utility bottles, in the range of $1.00-100.00. I’ve developed a quick look technique of buying bottles into three categories.
Low end or common bottles: Bottles in this category reflect noticeable wear and in most cases the label is completely gone and there isn’t any embossing or identification. The bottle is dirty, (which can usually be cleaned) with some scrapes but free of chips. These bottles are usually clear but can also be found with colors.
Average grade/common bottles: Bottles of this type show some wear, and a label may be visible but usually is faded. They are generally clear, aqua, or amber and free of scrapes or chips. Many of these bottles will also have some type of embossing.
Average grade to Mid-High Grade: These bottles can be empty, partially, or completely full, with the original stopper and labeling or embossing. The color of the bottle can be clear but usually are green, teal blue, cobalt blue, amber, yellow, or yellow green, or variation of shades of each of these colors. The bottle should have no chips, scrapes, and very little wear. If it has been stored in a box, the bottle is most likely in good or excellent condition. Also, the box must be in very good condition.
The Low End category can be found for $1.00 to $5.00, the Average grade from $5.00 to $20.00, and the Average Grade to Mid-High grade from $20.00 to $100.00. Remember, the goal is to keep everything below $100. As a general rule, I try to only spend $2 to $5 per bottle for the Low end, $10 to $20.00 for the Average Grade, and $20 to $40 for the Average to Mid-High grade.
Another great place for new collectors to find inexpensive bottles is under the dealers table. Many dealers spend a lot of time digging, find many common bottles that they don’t intend to keep, and don’t the time to clean them. So, they put them under their tables to sell at reduced prices might even take less. Don’t be bashful. I’ve seen these bottles offered for $10-20 for a box of 20-25 bottles, and some cleaning. I’ve even seen large quantities of common medicines sell for as low as .50 a bottle.
Always let the seller know that you are a new collector with a limited budget. I’ve never run across a dealer who wouldn’t work with a new collector on a limited budget. Most dealers are also experienced collectors and enjoy helping a new collector. Now check out those bottle shows, flea markets, swap meets, and garage sales, handle that glass and ask plenty of questions, and bargain hard to get the best deal. Above all, “Always Have Fun With The Hobby Of Antique Bottle Collecting.”
Bottles on a Budget