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  1. #1

    What to do with a childhood collection

    Hello all. Looking for some advice and perspective regarding my childhood collection of bottles.

    During my junior high years (about 30 years ago) I discovered an old bottle dump in a swampy wooded area near my parents' house. I spent the next few years digging like crazy. I became obsessed with antique bottles, learning everything that I could about them from books, dealers, and whatever other sources I could find. I dug and cleaned somewhere around 500 keepers, displayed as many as I could on shelves all over the house, and boxed up the rest. Eventually I exhausted the dump in question, got older, went to college, and moved out of town. My parents eventually moved out of their home and returned box after box of wrapped up bottles that I had left behind. These boxes have sat in my basement for 10 years since, taking up quite a bit of space, and giving my wife an irrefutable weapon in the debate over which of us has more junk cluttering up the house.

    I finally got around to hauling all the boxes out of the basement and unpacking every one. My dining room table, and kitchen table, and another folding table are now all covered in bottles. And I have no idea what to do with them.

    These bottles are all from the early 1900's through the 30's or 40's. I will definitely hang on to some of them, although I'm not sure how many. I have resolved to figure out some way to display those that I keep. But this will still leave me with several hundred bottles that I won't keep and don't really know what to do with. A small portion of them might be worth $5 - $10, a larger number might be worth a couple of bucks each. I'm sure many are worth next to nothing. I don't have the time or the gumption to sell them one at a time on Ebay of Craigslist. I hate to just drop them in the recycle bin.

    Among my collection are many embossed soda and beer bottles (blob and crown tops), a few dozen hobble-skirt coke bottle, liquor flasks and bottles, milk and cream bottles, medicine bottles, many extract and flavor bottles, pickle and olive jars, canning jars, sauce bottles, milk glass cosmetic jars, etc. They are not all in perfect condition; some of them have chips, pings, small cracks, scuffing, or stains.

    I am wondering if anyone can offer any suggestions. I dread having a potential buyer pick through them. I can't stand the thought of recycling them, even those I know have no real value. But there's also no sense in having them sitting in boxes and taking up space. For you bottle diggers out there, what do you do with them all?

    Thanks in advance,


  2. #2
    Member New Bottler
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    British Columbia
    That's quite a conundrum for sure. You could go about it systematically...

    Determine if you have any doubles (or triples). Pick the best example of each bottle to keep, and put the rest in a box to sell.

    Separate out any chipped or cracked bottles. You will want to sell or get rid of most of these, but you might keep the odd one.

    Now, separate all the clear bottles, the colored ones, and the ones with painted labels. Clear bottles are generally not worth hanging onto unless they are very old, uniquely shaped, or embossed. Many of these will go into your sell pile, but keep the best ones to add visual contrast to your display.

    Then go through your colored bottles and pick out the oldest ones and those with embossing. If you can't decide which to keep and which to get rid of, consider how many of that color you have (if you have loads of amber bottles but not many aqua ones, then you probably want to get rid of more amber ones).

    If you have ACL (painted label) bottles, then pick out the ones in the nicest condition, as well as the ones that appeal to you the most.

    I bet if you do this you could probably narrow it down a lot... but that's just what I would do. Other people might have different priorities... value, type of bottle, or rarity, etc. I like a variety of bottles, not just one style.

    Forgot to add -- when you do sell them, sell them in boxes not individually. You can separate them by type or whatever, but tell people they have to take the whole box or nothing.
    Last edited by BottleDragon; 10-26-2018 at 10:02 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bottle Finder
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Connellsville, PA
    After you figure out which ones you don't want, just list them them as a bulk group on Craigslist. It will save a lot of time. Decide on a price that is fair to you and then you can move them all at one time. Don't have to take a photo of every single one. But you can list the types you have for sale.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bottle Master hemihampton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    What State do you live in? Yeah, I'd pick out the ones you wanta keep & sell the rest on Craigslist. That way someone local can pick up in person. no shipping. Tell them all or nothing, no cherry picking. That's what I'd do. Curious what you have, Blob Beers & any Hutch could have some value. Any embossed beer or soda crown tops could have some value, embossed Medicines,Druggist, Pharmacy bottles also. And some Milks & ACL painted label Soda bottles. Slicks, plain with no name usually have no value & go to recycle bin. LEON.

  5. #5
    Thanks for the replies! It was quite the task, but I managed to sort through everything. It was not easy! I wound up keeping more than I would have liked, as I couldn't bring myself to let go of quite a few nice bottles. I'm hanging on to about 200, which leaves me with around 400 to let go of. I figure I will just list the whole lot on Craigslist and make it clear that they all must go together. What doesn't help me is that these are not "local" bottles - I dug them all up in New England but will be selling them in Upstate NY where I live now.

    The believe the majority of the bottles I'm getting rid of are decent, meaning I think they are worth a couple of bucks each if not more. There's certainly some in the mix that may not be. I was surprised to see how much junk is listed on Ebay these days and in many cases for ridiculous prices. I assume this is just due to people hoping to get lucky. At any rate, I've attached some pics below that are pretty representative of the lot.

    The lot roughly includes:

    • 32 hobble skirt Coke bottles in 2 Coke crates
    • About 30 liquor flasks (mostly strap side)
    • About 30 embossed beer and soda bottle (crown and blob top, clear and aqua)
    • About 30 small drug and extract bottles (some embossed, clear and aqua)
    • About 20 milk glass cosmetic jars (screw tops)
    • About a dozen canning jars
    • About a dozen cobalt blue bottles and jars (screw tops)
    • About 60 misc pickle, olive, and condiment jars (mostly clear, small number of screw tops)
    • About 10 milk and cream bottles

    Any opinions on what would be a reasonable asking price for the lot? I was thinking $300 but I'd be curious to hear if anyone thinks that's too high or too low.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0650.jpg   IMG_0651.jpg   IMG_0652.jpg   IMG_0653.jpg   IMG_0654.jpg  

    IMG_0657.jpg   IMG_0656.jpg  

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bottle Master
    Join Date
    May 2014
    The bottles all being from out of state makes it tough. There are probably some good ones in there but you'll have a hard time finding anyone who wants them outside of Massachusetts. I have my doubts you'll be able to get $300 for these in NY. The problem is that unembossed bottles tend to be more of a headache than a collector's item. Non-collectors like to buy them for a dollar or two at flea markets, but few people other than flea market sellers want a whole bunch of them and it would be hard to turn a profit when buying them for more than $1 a piece to start out with. Personally if I was looking to get rid of that lot I'd list them at $150 Canadian ($115 US) and progressively lower the price if they didn't sell at that amount which, unfortunately, I suspect they wouldn't.

    I should note that this is assuming your flasks are unembossed. If they're embossed it changes things completely.


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