To some, old bottles are just junk taking up space on the windowsills of the kitchen. They truly don’t appreciate the craftsmanship that typically went into making these items, which was usually done by hand. Of course there are other reasons why someone would be interested in antique bottles, and it has to do with more than just how the bottles were made.
Antique bottles are truly a part of history. The different types of bottles tell a story about a particular industry or way of life. For example, medicinal bottles tell us how far the medical industry has come since many elements are now stored in plastic bags. Seeing an old glass IV bottle can take you back decades. There are antique bottles from the pharmaceutical industry that have the name of the chemical and even poison warnings worked right into the bottle’s design. This is so different from items today where everything is printed on adhesive labels and attached to the bottle itself.
It can be said too that antique bottles are a part of true Americana. Old Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola bottles can remind one of the time when sodas were actually sold in glass bottles and were enjoyed at a real soda counter. Other types of antique bottles that are valuable to collectors include vinegar bottles, whiskey bottles, torpedo bottles, cosmetic bottles, and of course beer bottles. To collectors, a bottle that is in good shape and that is an unusual shape or color is very valuable and some can sell for literally tens of thousands of dollars.
There are of course antique bottles that are appreciated for their design and workmanship. For instance, bitters are an old type of medicine that were made from herbs and roots and were called that because of their bitter taste. The bottles they were contained in were often shaped like log cabins, ears of corn, women’s figures, or even a pig. These types of antique bottles are valued for their different colors as well as their shapes. You just don’t see that much detail put into a bottle any longer! If you can imagine a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, you have an idea of what old bitters bottles were shaped like.
Antique bottles can be found all across the United States. Good locations include ghost towns, old dumps, old houses, old homesteads and the campsites on the trails that the early pioneers used to cross the United States.
Before you start treasure hunting for these valuable antiques I suggest that you pay a visit to the National Bottle Museum at 76 Milton Avenue, Ballston Spa, NY, to learn the early bottle making methods. The museum sponsors a antique bottle show every June and dealers and collectors from all over the world attend. At the very least you can visit the museums web site.
Many of the more valuable bottles were produced in the 1800s and were handmade and no two are exactly alike. Bottles are appreciated for their look and for the visual appeal they have. Lining colored bottles up against windows can really reflect sunlight and brighten up a kitchen. But more than just visually appealing, antique bottles are truly part of history. For antique lovers, bottles are an important part of any collection and can be very valuable.