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Find The Value Of Old Antique Bottles

Updated on December 13, 2015
An old Maltine bottle .
An old Maltine bottle .
Old NDNR Dr. Pepper 6 ounce bottle from the 1950s to 1960's
Old NDNR Dr. Pepper 6 ounce bottle from the 1950s to 1960's

How To Find Out What Vintage Cork Top Bottles Are Worth

Years ago bottles of all kinds were sealed using corks, since screw top lids had not yet been invented. Old cork - top, antique bottles can be worth anywhere from a couple of dollars to hundreds or even thousands. As a part time collector of vintage bottles from the depression era and eariler, I've learned that there are many factors that affect how much they are worth. Here are some ways to find the value of antique cork top bottles.

How Rarity and Age Of Old Antique Bottles Affects Their Value

The most important factor that influences the value of an antique bottle is its rarity. Specimens from the early age of glass in China could be worth thousands of dollars, even if they are broken. On the other hand, an old cork - top medicine bottle from the 1800's may be worth only a dollar or two, if millions of them survived. A case in point would be old cork top vanilla bottles, which were made up until the 1960s. These may fetch as little as fifty cents at a garage sale or in a resale shop, depending on the brand. Though they are not cork top bottles, the old green NDNR or non deposit, non - return Dr. Pepper bottles from the 1960s are worth over $10 each, since they are very popular with collectors of soda pop memorabilia. The two small green antique Dr. Pepper bottles in the photos below are part of my collection, as is the old Maltine bottle.

The value of some old cork top bottles can affected by the "quirkiness" of the product that it once held. Bottles of "Dr. Hutchinson's Rattlesnake Oil", which might have been sold at a wild west medicine show in the mid 1800's, would most likely fetch much more than bottles of a more mundane product such as vanilla extract, given that rarity, age condition and quality were all the same. Those old bottles which once held expensive items such as perfume, and were hand blown by craftsmen, are often some of the most valuable specimens.

Some Of The Best Ways To Find The Value Of Old Antique Bottles

One of the most accurate ways to get an idea what a commonly traded antique bottle might be worth is to look at what it sells for on auction sites such as eBay. Log into your eBay account and track several of the bottles that you are interested in, then see what the final selling price including shipping ends up being. You'll typically find dozens of old antique bottles for sale on eBay.

Antique Bottle Collector's Guides Are Helpful

Another way to get a ballpark figure of the value of antique glass bottles is to purchase a collectors guide to antique glass bottles. There are several good ones on the market including the "Antique Traders Identification and Price Guide To Bottles". I own a copy and have found it to be accurate within about 40% of the vanue of an antique bottle. Such books are essential to anyone who wants to sell or collect old glass bottles for fun or profit but realize that they will only give you a ballpark figure of the items value. Old bottles are only worth what a collector wants to pay for them at a given period in time.

Many antique shops around the nation deal in rare antique cork top bottles from the 1800's and earlier. Most will offer you a free appraisal and some will offer to sell them on consignment for you. You'll find a few online buyers, but be careful and know who you are dealing with first before any transactions take place. If you find after reading a bottle collector's guide that the value of your specimen is over $100, you might want to put it up for auction with a minimum reserve price and see how far it goes.

I've personally never owned any antique bottles that were worth more than $100, but once had one that I purchased come very close. It was a bottle from the 1800's for cough syrup and featured a giraffe on the front. I sold it at auction a few months after buying if at a garage sale for $10.

Bottle collecting can be a fun and profitable hobby. It's a fun hobby for those interested in antiques and Americana. You might consider joining a local bottle collecting club. There are clubs in each of the fifty States, all Canadian provinces and dozens of countries around the world. Below is a YouTube video showing the kind of antique bottles that are worth a great deal of money.


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