How to Sell Antique Bottles

By Jan Czech
Antique bottles are often found by digging in the ground.

Antique bottles are a popular collectible. To their original owners, they were an everyday item containing things like poison, medicine, soda, milk and cologne. When the bottle was empty, it was disposed of. But bottle collectors see beauty in these cast-offs, and to add to their collections they will buy, trade and even dig. Some bottles have historical significance, while others are popular for their aesthetic appeal, age or rarity. But whatever characteristics a bottle has, someone will want to acquire it.

Research. Determine if there is a demand for the type of antique bottles you want to sell. Visit antique shops that feature bottles and talk to the dealers. Go to flea markets, garage sales and auctions and talk with people buying and selling bottles like yours. Check out Internet sites such eBay and Craigslist. Notice the asking price as well as how much was actually paid for the item. Study the types of antique bottles to educate yourself on what bottles are common and easily found or those that are more rare.

Set a price. Investigate the worth of the type of antique bottle you are trying to sell. Consult bottle collectors’ websites such as Antique Bottle Collectors Haven and Bottlebooks, where you will find the latest information on buying and selling all types of antique bottles. Consult books on the subject such as “Antique Trader Bottles Identification and Price Guide,” by Michael Polak. Hire an appraiser to give you a fair assessment of what you could hope to get from selling your bottles. Attend antique auctions where bottles are up for bids.

Choose a market. Decide where you want to sell your bottles. Find antique shops that take items on consignment. Rent space at a flea market and set up a table. Run a classified ad in the newspaper. List the bottles on an antique auction site. Post pictures and prices on a site targeting antique bottle collectors.

Tip

Keep in mind that although your bottle collection may have been passed down through generations of your family, the worth is not determined by sentimentality. Antique bottle colors include amber, aqua, purple, yellow, pink, emerald green and black.

The type of closure on a beer or soda bottle can either enhance or detract from its value.

The value of a bottle depends on its condition. Cracks and chips lower the bottle’s worth.

Many bottle enthusiasts dig for old bottles in places like the land surrounding old homesteads, dumps and even in old outhouses.

Warning

Before digging for bottles, be sure you have the permission of the property owner.

About the Author

Jan Czech has been writing professionally since 1993. Czech has published seven children's books, including “The Coffee Can Kid," which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She is a certified English/language arts teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Niagara University.