Whiskey Bottles 1932-1964

"Federal Law Forbids Sale or Reuse of this Bottle"



If your bottle has these words embossed it was made  between 1932 - 1964

These words were required on liquor bottles after prohibition was lifted.

There are thousands and thousands of these bottles, but as of yet few collectors.

The best examples, those with labels with attractive graphics and those with fancy embossed designs if complete with cap and label are bringing between $15-25. 

Those without labels, attractive graphics, contents, or fancy designs have little market value at this time.


Note the embossing around the shoulder of the bottle, "Federal Law Forbids the reuse or resale of this bottle.  This was required to be placed on all American Whiskey bottles after the end of prohibition. The requirement lasted until 1964 after which whiskey bottle no longer carried the inscription. 

Beginning January 1, 1935 Federal regulations pertaining to the marking of liquor bottles were to be strictly enforced the Alcohol Tax Unit, Internal Revenue Bureau. John H. Flynn, acting district supervisor at that time of was directed by the Secretary of the Treasury to enforce, the rules had been more or less in suspension for some time.

The new regulations were designed to protect the government's liquor revenue. As well as “provide that manufacturers of liquor bottles must possess a government permit and that they must sell exclusively to distillers, rectifiers or wholesalers.”

Import to today’s bottle collectors, they were required, “to blow into each bottle their permit number, the year and symbol of the purchaser and the following words: The Federal law Forbids the sale or reuse of this bottle."

The new rules also dictated all such bottles must be destroyed when empty. No only were American companies required to do this but the regulations applied to bottles manufactured in other countries for import to the United States. Violators were subject to a fine of $1,000, imprisonment for not more than two years or both.

The government was afraid of losing revenue from the taxes on liquor. Prohibition had been repealed, but there were still smuggling operations running illegal liquor from Canada. The law effective at the beginning of 1935 made it a penal offense to use bottles for domestic liquor with the permit number blown into the glass. Federal agents raided a number of warehouses, in New York and elsewhere in search of illegal bottles. In total it was estimated that upwards of 90 million bottles were to be destroyed. Illegal liquor, tempted many because it could be purchased at about half the price of that which was taxed. This differential continued to fuel the bootleg operations whose products were sold at the corner bar, drugstore, restaurant or numerous other establishments.

The prohibition years had turned many ports in Canada into the sites of illegal liquor export and brought life to otherwise depressed local economies. This trade did not stop with the end of prohibition. The boats stayed outside the 12 mile limit and would, at night under cover of darkness, make a quick dash for shore. All up and down the Atlantic coast this game of cat and mouse was played. Almost 2 and a half million dollars worth of alcohol and other property was seized between July and November of 1934.