What is the Difference Between an Opaque and Clear Glass Collectable Whiskey Bottle

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What is the Difference Between an Opaque and Clear Glass Collectable Whiskey Bottle

The fashions and processes of design have changed over the years, and this gets reflected in every part of manufacturing – even in bottles. Opaque and clear glass has been used to create bottles for centuries, and many glass bottles are now considered collector's items. This guide will aid buyers in understanding the differences between opaque and clear glass collectable whiskey bottles, as well as providing guidance on how to search for and purchase bottles at the ideal price on eBay..

Glass Whiskey Bottle

Most whiskey bottles made within the last century are typically made from glass due to the relatively easy manufacturing process and the variety of shapes, sizes and designs available. The two main types of glass are:


Opaque glass bottles can vary in appearance, ranging from frosted through to solidly coloured glass that is only slightly translucent. Milk glass is an opaque glass sometimes used for collectable decanters and bottles by whiskey manufacturers – like Jim Beam..


Clear glass is a much more common material for whiskey bottles of any type, and has a great variety of tints, shapes and sizes possible. Clear glass bottles can range from delicate, thin antiques all the way through to more modern, heavy bottles.

Differences between Opaque and Glass

There are many differences between opaque and clear glass, with different techniques used to create them, and with a variety of colours, designs and appearances possible with each. Though some aspects of identifying glass are in the realm of experts, even a beginner buyer should know the basics of the differences between opaque and clear glass and how to identify them. Such as:


Glass can be changed into many colours through the introduction of various chemicals and oxides. The colour of the glass is one of the chief ways of telling the difference between opaque and clear glass.

  • Opaque – when dyed, opaque glass is typically solid in colour with lightblues and pinks. It is popular amongst small collectables.
  • Clear – clear glass bottles tend to have more tinted colour than a solid colour, and the glass is still typically see-through, unlike coloured opaque glass. Clear colourless, blues and browns are typical whiskey bottle colours.


Designs of opaque and clear glass whiskey bottles have changed alongside the usual design fashions, and the difference in design and decoration between the types of glass can aid buyers in identifying them.

  • Opaque – opaque glass is often decorated with designs that have been incorporated into the mould, as the solid, china-like appearance when coloured makes the designs far more distinct than on clear glass. Opaque glass, particularly frosted, is more likely to be painted, as paint tends to adhere better to opaque glass, rather than its clear counterpart.
  • Clear – clear glass is incredibly malleable, and bottles made from glass can be made into a variety of shapes and sizes. The ‘ dimple' design of a glass whiskey bottle is an old-fashioned favourite, but they can be as distinctive, yet different, in shape as a Jack Daniel's bottle is from a Bell's bottle.


The look of the glass is often a clear and simple way of telling the difference between clear and opaque glass, with the different types having their own appearance and characteristic traits.

  • Opaque – this can be an easy or difficult, depending on whether the glass has been coloured. Coloured opaque glass can look solid and can appear to be china from a distance – though when held up to the light the glass will still look slightly translucent. Frosted glass is an opaque glass that is more permeable by light, and has a distinctive clouded appearance, and if it is not glazed, may be rough to the touch.
  • Clear – clear glass is a very simple item to identify, as it will be fully transparent (unless coloured) and light permeable. Dyed glass will throw off clear coloured shadows when held up the light, and if it is full, the liquid inside will be visible.

Depending on the age of the glass, both kinds of bottle may have clear seam lines where the two parts of the mould have been fixed together. Particularly thick or uneven seams may indicate an antique bottle.


Techniques for making glass have varied over the ages, and the appearances, values, colours and design of bottles have varied too. The age of a clear or opaque bottle can be discovered in several ways.

  • Opaque – the styles of opaque glass have not altered a great deal over time, however, opaque glass bottles used to be far more widely available than they are currently, due to popular fashion of various periods. Opaque glass was often used as a cheaper alternative to china, and there are many designs and colours of antique bottle that mimic ceramic items.
  • Clear – the quality of the glass can be a very important way of determining the age of a glass bottle. More antique bottles are likely to be not as transparent, and may show minor flaws, such as scratches and chips. Antique bottles are also more likely to be squat, with round bodies and short necks – and early colourless glass may have a slightly green tinge due to the manufacturing method (still preserved in glass bottles used by Coca-Cola).

For both kinds of glass whiskey bottle, colour is very important – often the exact colour used will show how old the bottle is. Some colours have fallen out of use due to fashion, but also due to safety. For instance, some coloured glass was produced, using chemicals, such as selenium and arsenic, which are now deemed hazardous.

Certain shades of coloured clear glass like purple, blue and even colourless (any colour had to be removed using a lead oxide) were created using these methods, so any unusually coloured glass bottles are likely to be antiques.


There may be a difference in value between opaque and clear glass bottles, and this often depends on many factors such as condition, design, brand and age. Vintage glass whiskey bottles,, with their various colours and design, are a popular decoration, as well as collector items. If intending to buy or collect whiskey bottles for their value, the buyer should bear in mind that there are many factors affecting their value and they should take care to check current market prices.

  • Opaque – because of opaque glass not being the most typical material for whiskey bottles, any items made from opaque glass tend to be quite valuable as collector's items due to their scarcity. Opaque glass became quite popular during the early 20th century, and the Art Deco designs resulting from this fad are now popular collector's pieces.
  • Clear – since clear glass is a more popular material for whiskey bottles they may not command the same value because of rarity. However, it is much easier for buyers to find unusual bottles or limited editions that are also of interest to many collectors.

Buying an Opaque and Clear Glass Collectable Whiskey Bottle on eBay

Now that the buyer understands the difference between the two different glasses, they can begin to search for the perfect opaque or clear glass whiskey bottle. When searching for opaque or clear glass bottles on eBay, the buyer should keep in mind:

  • Price – the cost of an item is often the main factor in any search, and there are many bottles available on eBay at a variety of prices. The buyer can use the search preferences to adjust search results to match their budget, and with items available for ‘Auction' and ‘Buy It Now' the buyer has a great deal of flexibility with their purchases.
  • Type – whether the buyer has chosen opaque or clear glass for their purchase, they can use the search bar to indicate their preference should they have one.
  • Colour – the colour of the bottle may be an important factor, particularly if buying an antique bottle to match a particular set or colour scheme.
  • Age – there are many bottles of various ages available on eBay from modern through to antique, and the buyer should keep in mind that particularly old bottles are likely to be rare, and therefore more expensive.
  • Brand – there are many whiskey distilleries and brands, and the buyer may be wishing to collect glass bottles from a particular make. They can use the search bar to pick out their chosen brand, if they have picked one.
  • Local Seller – buying glass collectable whiskey bottles from local sellers is an ideal way to keep shipping prices down.

If the buyer needs any more assistance with searches, they should make sure to consult eBay's Search Tips page for more guidance on how to achieve the perfect search result. If they have any questions about any of the items they see listed, they should not hesitate to ask the seller..


Glass whiskey bottles are popular collector's items due to their designs and colours, as well as their historical value if they are antiques or vintage – items that perfectly reflect the period they were made in. With this guide buyers will be able to not only understand and learn how to identify the differences between opaque and clear glass whiskey bottles, but they will also learn how to find and buy the perfect whiskey bottle for the ideal price on eBay.

When searching for collectable glass whiskey bottles, the buyer should bear in mind thePayPal is eBay's recommended way to purchase, as it has additional eBay Buyer Protection..

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