The value of antique bottles is determined by a number
of factors which include not just the age and condition
but also the bottles rarity, imperfections, color and
historic value. I would highly recommend purchasing a
good bottle value book. Its always interesting to see
just how much your collection is worth. Note that most
guides list value form mint condition bottles. I find a
more realistic value can be found by searching for what
similar bottles are actually selling for on any of the
online auctions like ebay.
Age - In general older bottles of the same category are
more valuable than their younger counterparts.
Rarity -How unique or rare the bottle is. It is not only
important for bottles to be rare but must also be
desirable to collectors.
Imperfections -This is a combination of uneven
characteristics, thickness and the presence of
bubbles in the glass. The more imperfections the
more valuable the bottle.
Condition - Bottles in mint condition with no scratches
chips demand a much higher value. I have listed
below the standard definitions that determine the
condition of a bottle.
Mint: Perfect bottle with paper label intact
(if it had one) No chips, scrapes
or wear. Once a bottle is tumbled or
polished it can not qualify as Mint.
Extra Fine: slight wear, and light stains.
Very good: Light wear, missing label,
Good: some chips, scrapes, additional
wear, label missing.
Fair: Considerable wear, label missing,
Poor: Large cracks and chips
Color -In some styles of bottles one color variation may
more desirable and therefore more valuable. In general
aqua and amber are lower in value than black glass,
clear glass, cobalt blue, purple and green. Producing
colored glass was a challenge. Prior to 1840 colored
glass was very expensive. Even producing clear glass was
considerably more expensive than standard Aqua until
around 1880 when manganese was found to bleach out the
green of aqua glass.
Embossing- Most hand blown bottles with embossing have
some value. Embossing may include the
manufacturers name, state, trademarks, logo etc.
Basically the more extensive and elaborate the design
of the embossing the higher the value. Embossing can
also be helpful with ageing a bottle. For example,
bottles embossed with “Federal Law Forbids” were
made after Prohibition 1933 through the early 1970s.
Historic Value- some bottles can be associated with
and therefore have a greater value. One example are
bottles recovered from shipwrecks. These bottles
are sought after not only by bottle collectors but also
maritime historians. One example would be bottles
recovered from the prohibition rum runner Lizzie D, off
Long Island NY.. Some of these bottles are common 1920
vintage ABM but because they were recovered from this
wreck they have sold for several hundred dollars. On
that note its always advised to obtain a certificate of
authenticity for any bottles recovered from a shipwreck.
This document provides proof to the bottles origin and
increases the associated historic value.