Whiskey bottles are a popular collector’s item the world over, with their huge variety of design, colour, brand and age. However, it can be difficult for owners to identify the value of their collectable whiskey bottles, with all the fine details and factors that sometimes only an expert can identify.
With this guide, buyers will be able to determine not only the main factors affecting the value of their collectable whiskey bottle, but also how to buy and sell whiskey bottles on eBay, the site with the widest market online.
How to Value your Whiskey Bottle
The next section will look to identify the main factors that will influence the value of your whiskey bottle, and what to identify when choosing and selecting a whiskey bottle as a collector’s item.
The main three materials used to create collectable whiskey bottles are glass, ceramic and stoneware. These three different materials have their own bonuses and drawbacks, and the value of bottles may vary dramatically depending on the material used and how unusual it is.
- Glass – glass whiskey bottles are the most common type of whiskey bottle, particularly for modern items. However many bottles are valuable because of the type of glass used. Opaque glass, typically milk glass, is a less common type used (compared to the familiar clear glass) and many collectors favour this type due to its relative scarcity, interesting look, and unusual translucency.
- Ceramic – ceramic bottles are usually made from china and less commonly porcelain, and the versatility of this material means that ceramic designs of bottles tend to be unusual and highly decorative.
- Stoneware – stoneware whiskey bottles are most familiar as the large handled jug-like bottles often seen in period dramas. These bottles are of interest to collectors because of their scarcity now, due to stoneware bottles generally falling out of use in favour of glass.
The material of bottles can have significant affect on the value of bottles because of unusualness as well as the aesthetic appeal – material can have an effect on the collector’s value, as some collectors prefer to purchase bottles based on their material type before anything else.
Collector’s bottles can be valuable because of the design of the piece. Unusual or interesting designs may fetch higher values due to collector’s interest as well as the appeal of the design to a non-collector who wishes to use pieces as decoration.
Collectable whiskey bottles with appeal because of their design include miniatures (by and large ceramic items) as well as distinct shapes such as dimple bottles.
It may seem strange, but the colour of a collectable whiskey bottle can have a significant effect on the final value and buying price – in particular with vintage and antique bottles. Some colours – such as blue, and even colourless glass – could only be created by introducing elements such as selenium, lead and copper into the material. This way of dyeing has fallen mostly out of practice due to the chemicals now being deemed hazardous.
Bottles in unusual or old-fashioned colours are not only popular as collectable items but also as decorative pieces.
There is a long history of whiskey bottle manufacturing for glass, ceramic and stoneware, and like most collectables, particularly old bottles tend to be much more valuable than modern whiskey bottles. The easiest ways of determining age are:
- Design –like most areas of design and fashion, the shape and look of bottles has changed over the centuries and tastes and manufacturing processes change. Antique and vintage bottles, in particular handled ones, tend to have a much squatter look – with shorter necks, and bodies.
- Labelling – the labels, if there are any, are perhaps the easiest way to establish the age of a whiskey bottle. The labelling usually contains details of not only the name of the whiskey, but also when and where it was bottled.
- Marks – maker’s marks are raised letters in the material of the bottle itself, and are used to identify the factory that produced the bottle. These are particularly useful if the bottle is old enough that no labels are left, as the marks are symbols unique to a particular company. They are typically located on the sides or bottom of the bottle.
When selling or buying vintage or antique whiskey bottles, it is important to be able to identify the name and age of the bottle as accurately as possible. For an old bottle to have any value as an antique there must be some provenance behind it – that is, some proof that it is what it is believed to be.
Also highly collectable are particular limited editions of whiskey bottles, often derivations of commonly available whiskey brands. These are made to be collectable through different packaging and designs, and also by the small runs that make them quite scarce.
There are many brands of whiskey, and each distillery has its own unique taste, look and prominence on the market. Many collectors of whiskey bottles prefer buying according to brand, building up a history of a distillery through its bottles. Popular collectable whiskey bottle brands are:
Chivas is a brand well known for their traditional-looking but also beautifully patterned bottles, in particular their ceramic Regal and Royal Salute versions manufactured by Spode pottery.
Jim Beam, though mostly a distillery using clear glass bottles, has also used opaque milk glass for limited editions of their whiskey.
Jack Daniels is possibly one of the most famous of whiskey brands, the distinct square bottle has been accompanied by various special edition designs and packaging.
The condition of bottles can have a significant effect on the value of collectable whiskey bottles. Most collectors naturally prefer bottles in as mint a condition as possible – undamaged, with no scratches or small marks. The things that lower the condition of bottles along with their value are:
- Fading Labels
- Missing Parts
The owner of any collectable whiskey bottles – particularly any antique or vintage ones – should check their bottles thoroughly for any damage, as this will affect value. To preserve the condition of a collectable whiskey bottle – and therefore protect its value – owners should make sure to keep them in a safe place, out of direct sunlight as light can fade labels as well as any paintwork on the bottle. Faded labels can lower value as then it can be quite hard to identify any names or dates.
For both discerning drinkers and collectors, whiskey bottles are part of an extensive market, with different shapes and sizes, colours and ages to suit all collectors. With this guide buyers will not only be able to begin evaluating their own items, they will be able to determine the value of the collectable whiskey bottles they see online.
When searching for collectable whiskey bottles, the buyer should bear in mind the PayPal is eBay’s recommended way to purchase, and has additional eBay Buyer Protection.