MOST VALUABLE WHISKEY BOTTLES

this category excludes a number of bottles which held whiskey whose form or age puts them into another category – e.g. black glass and Historical Flasks.  There are probably more whiskey bottles than almost any other category and most of them do not fall into the most valuable group. 

The top whiskey bottles are the Western Whiskey Bottles.  Those bringing the highest prices are the rare Western bottles some of which have sold in the $10,000-$12,000 range. Hundreds of Western Whiskeys, which were made from 1860-1910, are known and most coveted by collectors who connect them with the Old West and Cowboy era. Scarcity of the early and odd colored examples has driven the price out of the range of most collectors.  Dozens of Western Whiskey bottles sell in the $800-$1000 range and many more over $100. Western Whiskey bottles usually fall into one of three categories, cylinders, Strap side or Coffin and finally Pumpkinseeds.

 

Figural Whiskeys also bring some high dollar figures.  These include bottles made from 1860-1900 in the shape of Indians, cigars, pigs, barrels and cabins and many others.

 Original Booz Bottle shown at the left.
Colors and shape make these bottles tops in their class.

 

Related to the Figurals are the handled whiskey bottles which always bring strong bids.  Odd colors, embossing and pontil marked examples can bring $800-3000.

 

These bottles have applied handles and many date in the 1840-1860 period.

 

There are so many classes of whiskey bottles that it can be confusing to the beginning collector.  One can find, in the pre 1900 whiskey bottle group, back bar bottles, pinch bottles, label under glass whiskey bottles, Blown Decanters, sample whiskeys, square and rectangular whiskey and a myriad of other forms. Non-machine made whiskey bottles, those with applied or tooled tops were made up until 1918 when Prohibition ended the deluge of companies flooding the market. Any of the examples below will bring $100 or more.

     

 

Highly colored or unusual colored whiskeys like those shown below are also desirable.

 

 

In today’s collector market, there is interest in the early post prohibition era bottles, especially those found with full labels and contents – even better if the original packaging or box survived. While these bottles are not bring the prices of the best of the older bottles, they are in some cases bringing $100-$200.

 

By the end of Prohibition, 1934, technology had advanced greatly in part due to the First World War.  The major changes were first, manganese was used in the War effort and so selenium was used to make clear glass in place of manganese which turned old bottles a purple color when exposed to the sun.  Secondly, bottles were no longer made by hand but by machine. The bottles were less likely to be embossed and more likely to be label only and they lacked to crudity and hand made look which appeals to today’s whiskey bottle collector.  In the short span of sixteen years, everything changed.  Bottles in many cases were no longer sealed with a cork but might have had a metal closure or even a threaded lip and and screw cap.


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DIGGER ODELL'S WHISKEY BOTTLE PRICE GUIDE 2004


Bottles like these will sell in the $10-30 range.

   

 

Thousands, perhaps millions of bottles with label and contents still survive from the 1940-1990 period.  Unless these were rare editions when originally sold, they will go lacking for a buyer.  There is very little interest from bottle collectors and if they have value it would be the whiskey drinker not the whiskey collector.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

Digger Odell’s Whiskey Bottle Price Guide, 2004.

 

Barnett, R. E. Western Whiskey Bottles. Bend, Ore.: Maverick Publishing, 1992.

 

Thomas, John L. Whiskey Bottles of the Old West. Scott Valley , CA. 2002.