Antique Medicine Bottles

How to Value that Antique Bottle

Most of the antique collectors are confused about how to determine antique bottle values. If you are an antique collector, this comprehensive guide helps you to know how to determine the antique bottle value. Let us check this topic in detail.

According to antique colleting experts, one can determine the antique bottle value by checking the following factors. All these factors are not sufficient always to make an antique bottle valuable. Antique bottle value is determined by checking whether the bottles have one or more of these value factors.

Given below are the main factors which determine the antique bottle value:

• Demand and supply
• Age
• Condition
• Rarity
• Size
• Color
• Category
• Design and embossing
• Esthetic appeal
• Historic significance
• Individuality
• Locale
Demand and supply of the antique bottle

Demand and supply of antique bottle is the first factor which determines the antique bottle value. For example, milk bottles as well as soda bottles with beautiful labels, mostly built after the turn of the century, has become a favorite collectible antique item recently. The main reason for the increase in the antique bottle value is the demand and excellent supply of these items antique bottles of different types.

Age of the antique bottle

Age of the bottle is an important factor which determines the antique bottle value. Collectible antique bottles are mainly divided into different periods to determine the value. The ‘Open Pontil’ bottles are considered as the earliest in America, which are made between 1600 and 1850. The ‘Iron Pontil’ bottles are generally built from 1840 to 1865. ‘Smooth Based’ bottles are those which were created after the American Civil War and before the World War I. While all those bottles which were created ahead of the turn of the century are completely or partly hand made and shaped. Generally after 1914, the bottles were made by machines.


Just like any other hobbies, antique bottle collectors also need items in the original condition. Bottles which are in their original condition have good antique values. Generally chips and cracks will decrease the antique bottle value. Bottles with wrappers, original labels, and boxes will help to raise the antique bottle value.


Rarity also determines the antique bottles value. Rarity alone will not make an antique bottle valuable – it is seen that there are numerous rare bottles which are not as expensive as there is no demand for them. So if you are a novice antique collector, it is better to consult antique specialists or other collectors to know about the rarity and demand of the antique bottles.


Size is another factor which determines the antique bottle value. Even though the size is less important when compared with the other factors, it influences the price of the bottle. Large sized antique bottles bring more money when compared with small antique bottles. For example, large cathedral pickles, large sized Pontil medicines, large bitters, and half gallon jars have high antique bottle value.


The color of the bottle also determines the antique bottle value in various ways. Antique bottles boast a wide variety of colors for which attracts the collectors. Antique bottle value will be high for those bottles with rare and remarkable colors. Some of the popular antique bottle colors include amber, aqua and a wide range of greens (such as olive green, blue green, teal, and emerald). One of the rare colors for antique bottle is cobalt (blue). Hence antique bottles of cobalt color are highly expensive.

Design and Embossing

Without beautiful embossing and design, a bottle with common color will not get any demand. That is, the antique bottle value will be less for these types of bottles. But there are some exceptions – if the bottle is very old, rare or have any historic value, then it will have high antique bottle value. Embossing will add valued to antique bottles. The place where embossing is done is also significant. For example, if the embossing is on the center and can be seen from the front view, then the antique bottle value will be high.

Esthetic Appeal

Esthetic appeal of an antique bottle is entirely subjective. Generally antique bottles which are beautiful in shape, design, or color will yield more demand. Labels with eye-catching graphics or color, neural fancy panels, and crudity can increase the demand of a bottle which results in the antique bottle value.

Historical Significance

The historical significance of a bottle can increase the antique bottle value. That is the combination of age, rarity, color and historical significance can increase the antique bottle value.


As antique bottles are generally hand made, most of them have less uniformity when compared to modern bottles. For example, some antique bottles are crudely made, while others feature numerous bubbles on it, some have ‘whittle marks’ etc. These types of individuality can increase the antique bottle value.


The geographical area of origin of a bottle can increase the antique bottle value. For example, Hawaiian and Alaskan bottles have more antique bottle value than similar bottles from other areas.

Even though these are major factors which affect the antique bottle value, antique bottle collectors from various parts of the country shows varying interests. For example, Western state collectors are much interested in early whiskey bottles, Hawaiian sodas are popular antique bottles in Hawaii. That is, the interests of the collectors tend to change in different places. Therefore, the antique bottles value can also change in different places.

Sonali Sen for Read more about Antiques Copyright 2005

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2 Responses to How to Value that Antique Bottle

  1. pat hobbs

    I recently purchased two pinched glass bottles at an estate sale. One has OLD TAVERN enameled on the front in cursive writing and the other has KING LEO. I can’t find out about this bottles. Any info would be greatly appreciated. ph

  2. Cheryl Tilton

    My son recently found a 7up bottle with the girl in the swimsuit with a bottling label from Lamar,Colorado.. I am trying to find out what it is worth.. He also has an old a&w rootbeer bottle, clear with raised letterings

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