As the world around us keeps progressing, there is something inside us all that longs for elements of the past – the way things used to be. Collecting antiques is one way that connects people to times that were more simple and less busy. In recent years, antique glass bottle collecting is becoming more and more popular and helps connects us to our rich heritage.
There are many places you can find antique glass bottles. Flea markets and auctions are the most obvious places to find vintage glass bottles. Others may come across bottles when cleaning out their attics, in an old shed in their backyard, along the side of the road, or even sticking out of a construction site. A newer fad and hobby when searching for valuable glass bottles is called “bottle digging” or “privy digging. ” Diggers often find bottles when traveling down old roads or hiking and seeing signs of formers “dumps.” A tell-tale sign of a promising dig spot is pieces of broken glass, or rusted metal sticking out of the surface of the ground. Often, when there are a few discarded items in view, there are more things buried beneath it. If you happen to find bottles, you may be able to distinguish age quickly, just by taking note of other items that are buried with it. For example, a bottle may appear old, but if you find a plastic bag beside it, chances are it's a replica and may not be worth much.
Other places these antique treasure hunters look are old riverbeds and banks where bottles may have been discarded and then floated downstream. Also, old towns that have all but been classified as “ghost towns” may have some great vintage glass bottle finds. The main thing to remember before starting to explore any property, is to find out if there is an owner and to ask permission.
Vintage glass bottles come in all shapes and sizes. Most were handmade so few are identical, with flaws that make them unique such as bubbles within the glass. It is these characteristics that often make the bottle more sought after and therefore can make it more valuable. However, there are many other factors to consider when appraising value:
1) Age - bottles that were made before 1870 had lips that were hand-made. Bottle makers would add a piece of hot glass to the already molded bottle and form the lip by hand, often making them crude and uneven. Age can also be determined by the base of the bottle. Most bottles made before the mid 1800's will have a mark on the bottom where the rod used to hold the bottle while the lip was being formed, is broken off the bottom.
2) Color – highest value colors are yellow and olive greens, cobalt and teal blues, yellow, purple, and green. Black glass is most likely the earliest form of American glass. The dark color was beneficial in that it helped protect its contents from spoiling. The term “black” also refers to dark amber and olive-amber colors.
3) Design or Embossing – it is of more value if the embossing identifies date producer, where the bottle was made;
4) Condition – chips or cracks will devalue the bottle;
5) Category – Medicine bottles, flasks, soda and alcohol bottles, druggist bottles, to name a few.
So why even bother to spend the time looking for these long-forgotten everyday items? There are several reasons why a and depending on some the criteria outlined above, they may have a monetary value or historical significance. Imagine the surprise of finding an old bottle and researching it only to find out its worth $50 or more. How exciting! Beyond the monetary value though lies something that is more complex and heartfelt. Old bottles bring back memories for many of us; memories of loved ones sipping on a a bottle of soda or using a certain product. When you see one of these items your thoughts will turn to simpler, happy times when life seemed so much less complicated.
Vintage glass bottle collecting is a popular and exciting hobby that can satisfy the treasure hunter in all of us. From glass beverage bottles to glass medicine bottles, there couldn't be a more fulfilling and exciting hobby for the history addict or treasure hunter.