Wheaton miniature bottles are a favorite among collectors with prices (as of 2009) ranging from $2 to more than $100. The Wheaton Glass Company, founded in 1888 in New Jersey, specialized in screw-cap vials and bottles that held liquid medicines and perfumes. The company, today's Wheaton Industries, began releasing miniature, commemorative pieces in 1969. The value of these "Wheaton mini's" depends on the age of each and the total number produced.
Presidential Miniature Decanters
Wheaton released its first presidential miniature decanter in 1969. It was a 3-inch-tall, iridescent blue bottle showing the image of John F. Kennedy. This same bottle, in excellent condition and with its original box, was priced at $150 in the fall of 2009.
Wheaton released an entire series of presidential miniatures in 1971 that displayed the first 12 presidents. Each bottle, originally priced at $5, honored a single American president and came in a different, iridescent color. In good condition, these bottles are priced, as of 2009, anywhere from $2 to $20.
Production was highest with these earliest decanters in the 1970s. Because of this, the earlier presidential bottles are valued the least.
Wheaton manufactured the presidential series in four groups. The third and fourth releases came in the 1980s. Fewer of these bottles were made, giving them the highest value of $25 and more in 2009 pricing.
The company continued to produce the presidential decanters until 1989 with a President George H.W. Bush issue. Because it's the last release, the Bush decanter is priced around $60 (in 2009).
Wheaton drew on its own history in the early 1970s releasing numerous miniature replicas of bottles the company created in the late 1800s. Prices for these replicas range from $5 to around $20, in 2009.
The bottles came in a large range of colors varying from aqua to ruby red and, were again, 3 inches in height. Wheaton sold the bottles in sets, while other companies used the bottles to house their own products like wine and vanilla extract.
There are lots of helpful price guides available for Wheaton collectors. A reference book titled, "Wheaton's My Favorite Collectible," is available through the Classic Wheaton Club (wheatonclub.com). This book lists 600 Wheaton collectibles with pictures and descriptions and is a handy guide for beginners.
Overall, Wheaton issued more than 15 different collectible series. Flea markets, estate sales and auctions are likely places to find these bottles at bargain prices.