Collecting Bottles can be a fun, inexpensive hobby

Friday, February 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

By Richard Carr
Special to

If you collect bottles, or are interested in bottles, you're not alone! More than three million Americans collect bottles, and the number is increasing. Bottles are America's third most popular collectible, following coins and stamps.

Why is bottle collecting so popular?

Bottles tell us about our past. Bottles are attractive with many shapes, designs, and colors which make them ideal decorations for your home. The greatest appeal of bottles is that they are plentiful and inexpensive to buy most of the time. You don't need a fortune to assemble an enjoyable collection.

What to collect

There are many different categories in collecting bottles and here are a few.

  • Medicine Bottles
  • Inks
  • Fruit Jars
  • Sodas
  • Flasks
  • Bitters
  • Cures
  • Milk Bottles
  • Candy Containers
  • Snuffs
  • Poisons

. . .and the list goes on.

Always buy Quality, not Quantity

It is much better to buy one bottle for $10.00 than 10 bottles for a $1.00 each. The same rule applies to the condition of the bottles. Most damaged bottles are worth far less than comparable undamaged specimens.

Where do you find collectible bottles?

Bottles can be found at flea markets, antique malls, on the Internet, attics, or basements. My fwo favorites: digging old dumps, and turn of the century privies. The hottest area of collecting bottles in Green Country includes early and territory pop bottles from Oklahoma.

Soda or Pop Bottles

Again there are many different categories, however Painted Label Sodas bottles that include Dr. Pepper, Grapette, Pepsi-Cola, and Coca-Cola in that order are the most popular. The prices for Painted Label Soda bottles have gone wild in the last five years. Remember the old Red & White & Blue Pepsi bottles we used to buy for 5¢? Today, they are worth $20.00 plus. Some rare soda bottles have brought over $1,000.00! It is very hard these days to find good old Dr. Pepper and Grapette items as compared to five years ago. All bottles that say I.T.(Indian Territory), O.T.(Oklahoma Territory) are very highly collectible in our area and around the country. Since Oklahoma is such a young state(1907) most soda, drugstore, whiskey, beer, and milk bottles made before November 16, 1907 will have I.T. or O.T. embossed on the bottle. Most of these bottles start at $100 dollars and the prices go up from there!

Find out more about your bottles

Tulsa happens to have a bottle club that has been in existence for more than 30 years. You don't have to be a bottle collector to join. You just need to be interested in collecting, and history. The Tulsa Antiques & Bottle Club meets at 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of every month at the Maxwell Park Library, 1313 N. Canton in Tulsa. They have guest speakers, field trips, auctions, shows, and a monthly newsletter.

Editor’s Note: Richard Carr is a bottle collector/dealer who lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Twice a month, you’ll find him at his booth at the Tulsa Flea Market at Expo Square. An Oklahoma history buff, Carr is the past president if the Wagoner County Historical Society.