A dusty bottle sits on the table at a garage sale. The bottle is interesting because it is obviously old and the lovely color is eye-catching. The question is, what type of bottle is it and how old is it? Those are the questions bottle collectors ask themselves when they come across new or unusual bottles. People who collect bottles are often drawn to the hobby by the beauty of the bottles, the history behind them, and the fact that they are small and do not take up as much space as other collectibles might. Collectible bottles can be found at rummage sales, at flea markets, or even in the ground. Glass bottles do not degrade over time, so the bottles that were buried in landfills or thrown down privy holes with the rest of the household garbage years ago are still down there. Bottles are also collectible because there are many kinds of bottles, so a collector is sure to find a specific type that they want to focus on, like medicinal bottles, cola bottles, perfume bottles, or ink bottles. Some bottles are valuable because they are rare, but others have little or no value. When beginning a bottle collection, it is important to learn which bottles are considered collectible, where to find them, how to identify them, and how to determine their worth.
Choose from a number of antique bottle pricing guides useful for determining the worth of bottles. Get advice on cleaning, evaluating, and dating bottles and read a huge archive of questions and answers from bottle collectors here.
Collectors Weekly: Antique Bottles
Collectors Weekly is a website that offers antique bottle collectors a place to learn about the many different types of bottles. In addition, collectors can share pictures of their favorite bottles and read informative articles.
Peruse a wealth of information categorized by bottle classification as well as information about upcoming bottle events and advice on topics related to bottle collecting, like digging for bottles and common terms and abbreviations.
The Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors (FOHBC) is a nonprofit organization that supports people who collect antique bottles and items related to them, such as flasks and jars.
Buy and Sell Bottles
The Antique Bottle Depot buys and sells antique bottles. View a number of pictures of antique bottles and historical photographs here.
Identification and Information
Supported by the Society for Historical Archaeology, the Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website aims to help collectors determine the ages and types of bottles in their collections.
Forum and Resources for Collectors
Discuss bottle collecting with fellow collectors, view a gallery of bottle photographs, and use the site’s Resources page to find even more websites dedicated to bottle collecting.
Milwaukee Antique Bottle Club
Read articles about interesting bottle finds, view pictures of antique bottles, and get free appraisals for uncommon antique bottles made before 1910. This club specializes in bottles made in Wisconsin.
National Bottle Museum
The National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa, New York, celebrates the history of the bottle-making industry. See pictures of the museum’s large collection of bottles and keep up to date on upcoming bottle shows.
Digging for Bottles
Learn where to dig for buried bottles from an antiquarian and collector.
Get instructions for finding old privy locations and building a privy probe.
Tools and Tips for Digging (video)
Watch a video detailing the tools necessary for digging up antique bottles, how to find the best digging sites, and how to dig without breaking the bottles.
Hunting for Bottles in the Water
Discover where and how to locate antique bottles in or around bodies of water.
Determine the approximate age of a bottle using the lip style, mold style, or bottom style using this handy table with pictures.
Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Snuff Bottles
Learn about the specialized world of collecting Chinese snuff bottles. This website covers the types of materials used to make snuff bottles as well as a brief discussion of their history.
Read about manufacturers’ marks and how to identify a bottle by the mark. Use the site’s alphabetical listing of manufacturers’ marks and their descriptions to determine the manufacturer of a bottle.
The Coca-Cola Co. provides an article about what makes certain Coca-Cola bottles collectible and which ones are the most valuable because of their rarity.
Many collectible medicine bottles were originally purchased from apothecaries by patients during colonial times. Learn more about apothecaries and the treatments they used.
Glass Apothecary Containers
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History houses the Bristol-Myers Squibb European Apothecary exhibit, which includes a collection of glass apothecary containers. Find out more about the 300-plus containers in the collection.
Apothecary Jars and Bottles
Explore the history of apothecary jars and bottles on this page from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. Learn why bottles were shaped in certain ways and how bottle labels changed through the years.
Discover how apothecaries used glass show globes containing colorful liquids to attract the attention of passers-by and distinguish their shops from others on the street.
Medicinal Vessels of the First Gilded Age
Read a thesis that uses an archaeological collection of medicinal bottles from Atlanta that date from 1860-1920 to determine the impact of local drug manufacturers on the area.
Find out how unearthed milk bottles helped college students learn about sustainability on campus.
Dating a Ball Jar
Determine the dates of antique Ball jars by the logo. This blog post contains useful images of Ball logos and their corresponding dates of use.
History of the Ball Company
Ball, the makers of Ball canning jars, provides a history of some of the influential members of the Ball family and a timeline of the company.
Ball Jar History (video)
Martha Stewart talks with Martin Franklin, co-founder of Jarden, he manufacturer of Ball canning jars, about the history of the Ball jar.
Safety Tip for Poison Bottles
Read an article from the May 29, 1910, issue of the Los Angeles Herald with an important safety tip for parents on how to secure a poison bottle using a piece of cloth and a rubber band.
View photographs of collectible poison bottles with detailed descriptions of each.
Virtual Perfume Bottles Museum
From art glass to Victorian bottles and everything in between, view photographs and information about perfume bottles in this virtual museum.
This site offers a discussion of how and why pontil marks occur on the bottoms of glass bottles.