We have often purchased and sold bottles. Many do not go for a lot of money, just a few dollars, sometimes $10 if the label is in good shape or the product unusual. For example we had purchased a number of bottles that once held chemicals for use in funeral homes. The bottles were rather pyramid shaped, still had their labels identifying the company and the product once inside. They even had their tops! These were quite popular and we were glad we bought all four that the dealer at the flea market offered. They sold for $20-25 each, not bad when we had expended only $2 each.
Milk bottles are collectible as well. Once again, they are not big money-makers, pretty common and often the paint on them is worn or faded or because of their “purpose in life” they are chipped or cracked. These can sell for modest prices too, in the $10-20 range, that’s about it. Hubby and I attended a farm auction near Green Bay, Wisconsin a few summers back. There were literally hundreds of milk bottles and we bought quite a few. Near the end of the auction, another milk bottle came up. Quart size, with orange paint and not much in the way of graphics, just a name and location. (Neither one of us can recall the name.) The auctioneer announced it and bidding started at $5, just like the other ones. But it quickly escalated, bidding back and forth between two gents in bib overalls, neither one lowering his paddle for quite a while. We watched them bidding, looking back and forth, similar to a ping-pong match, until one finally lowered his paddle and gave in. We stared at the “lucky winner” who had just paid $215 for the bottle. He promptly scooped it up off the flat-bed truck, moved to the check-out counter and was gone. The second bidder left as well and we never had the chance to question what the “magic” was. It was quite a surprise to all but the two bidders.
The other day we were at an estate sale. Hubby ran to the basement while I checked out the costume jewelry and purses and the like. Not much for me at this sale, I was ready to move on to a second one. Hubby came up from the basement with a few tools and some sports magazines and a bottle. But not one I had seen before. It was aqua colored glass with BELFAST on one side and ROSS’S on the other. I looked at it closely and was amazed to find it was round-bottomed. Now, what could that mean? How would you set it down when you were finished with the liquid inside? And what was the product that it once contained? We paid for our purchases and I continued to turn it over and over when in the van. When we got home, I checked our “vast library” for a book on bottles, but could not find one. I’ll have to remedy that soon!
So, off to the Internet for an education. There were actually a few sites that had information on the round-bottom bottles, but the one from the Ottawa House-by-the-Sea Museum turned out to be incredible! This Museum, located in Great Britain, had been doing a major overhaul in 2007 and the men who were restoring the shed found the exact bottle. It turns out that this was most likely a bottle for ginger ale (soda) and they were designed to do the opposite of most bottles. That is, they were intended to lie down on their side so that the wired down cork would not dry out or shrink. Once the cork dried out, the contents could lose carbonation and/or evaporate. I learned a lot about these unusual bottles at their site and while it does not appear that I will have a “Roadshow-Moment”, becoming instantly rich, it does have some value and is a super conversation piece. You just never know what you’ll find on your travels.