Collectible Bottles – Collecting Theory

Why collect bottles? I suppose the simple answer to that question is “Why Not?”. Collecting anything is a truly personal and subjective endeavor. It could be because your father or mother did and your carrying on the tradition. It could be because the color or design of a particular bottle caught your fancy or because you see an opportunity to make some money. The reasons are as numerous as there are collectors. No matter what your motivation it’s important to follow certain principals that will that help insure your collecting activities are effective and fun .

The Sport of Bottle Collecting

The “sport” of bottle collecting does have a number of advantages when compared to other forms of collecting.

1) It is relatively inexpensive to become activity involved. While it’s true that there are bottles that are worth thousands of dollars most bottles, even those of relative rarity, can be purchased for $200 or less.

2) You can approach bottle collecting from a number of different perspectives some that may enhance and support other aspects of your life. You can collect bottles based upon their historical significance, their color, their use, their shape, method of manufacture, their historic significance and many, many other aspects.

3) The bottle you collect can be quite appealing and beautiful to view. They display well so others can enjoy your hobby along with you.

4) It’s something the whole family can do. Working the flea markets, garage sales, trade shows or actually going out on a dig can be an adventure that friends, partners, children and other relatives can enjoy.

5)You’ll become a member of a community of like minded people with whom you can trade or exchange information or treasure hunting stories.

6) Finally, you can make money at it. While unlikely to fund your retirement, bottle collecting can be a profitable endeavor.

Approaches to Bottle Collecting

Typically an individual gets involved in the collectible bottle market purely by chance. He/ she comes across a box of old, antique bottles in a garage or inherit a collection of Jim Beam collector bottles from a relative or come across a bottle that piques their curiosity. Whatever the starting point is it’s important that you approach the collecting process in a structured and organized way. Why? At the end of the day, getting organized upfront will save you time and money. Buy taking a bit of time to plan and develop a collecting strategy an individual will be better able to find that special “deal” when your out hunting, you’ll be able to focus you collecting activities toward specific types or styles of bottles and not be distracted or “sold” something that you don’t really want or need and finally it will enable you to detect a fake or reproduction, the bane of all collectors, with greater confidence and ease.

So how do you get organized? The first step is to decide which “style” of collector you intend to be. There are two basic approaches to consider; a general collector and a specialized collector. A general collector approaches the collectible bottle effort in a broad, highly subjective manner. They collect bottles that simply appeal to him or her. They see it, they like it, they buy it with relatively little or no concern for the inherent value of the price in question. They enjoy the hunt but beyond the like and dislike issue, they don’t have a very clear idea of what they are buying or why they are buying it. They buy a price guide and hit the markets. The second approach is that of a specialist. This approach requires a bit of study and research. Maybe they started out a generalist but their interest in a particular type of bottle deepens or they were burned by an ill conceived purchase and don’t want to repeat their mistakes. They may realise that a well conceived and execute collection can have a higher total value than the individual pieces that it composes Whatever the rationale, they take the time necessary to become more familiar with what it is they are collecting.

Either approach works but each has distinct advantages and disadvantages. A generalists doesn’t waste time during his searching activities, important to someone who doesn’t have much time to spend on his collecting activities. He find something of interests, looks at the price, makes a judgment and pulls the trigger or not. He can build his collection quickly using the full range of bottle sources available. His collection is often often more interesting and personal to him and to a casual observer. Each item in his collection has its own unique story and not a shared history of cobalt blue bottles or civil war era flasks. A specialists, on the other hand, after a brief period of study will be able to quickly spot value or knowledgeably negotiate the appropriate price for an item. Their collection often mirrors their other interests Unlike the generalist, a specialists has access to a community of persons with similar interests to trade with or queried for knowledge.

A bit more about the specialist. There are any number of ways to specialize.

1) Collecting bottles based upon to which it was put is one approach common among specialists collectors. There are roughly 34 different categories and subcategories of bottles based on usage. An individual can collect ink bottles, medicine bottles, tonic bottles, barber bottles, gin bottles,perfume bottles, etc. Within each catalog there can be additional divisions based on color and design.
Another specialization is by age. The age range of bottles make over the last three hundred years can often be established and collecting colonial, pre-civil war, post civil war, pre or post mass production are approaches used by many collectors.

2) Glass color is another approach. Cobalt blue color sometimes call black glass is highly desirable and collectible. Concentrating on other single colors or multi-color glass is also a popular approach with collectors.

3) For the history buff, bottles tied to historic events like the revolution, elections, etc holds appeal to many.

4) Advertising and marketing people would find a collection of bottles used as a advertising medium of interest.

5) For the artist/decorator in addition to color, the size, shape and decoration of the bottle would hold appeal.

6) Collecting bottles by region, regardless of bottle type is another popular approach,
The combinations and permutations are endless. If you think you’ll be alone in an esoteric subcategory of cobalt blue, medicine bottles produced before the civil war don’t be alarmed. After a bit of searching you’ll find a whole community who shares you interests and enthusiasm and will be more than willing to lend you a helping hand.

Regardless whether you decided to be a generalist or a specialist, you’ll need to develop a rationale to use as a framework for your bottle collecting activities. Early on it needn’t be detailed nor set in concrete but it should point you in a general direction and set some basic parameters to guide your activities.

Getting Organized

The first element of that rationale to do is to set a budget for yourself. A budget of the amount of time you are willing and able to spend on your collecting activities and a budget of the amount of money you have available to spend. If you are busy 24/7 with work, kids, home, other hobbies perhaps you should take a pass on starting something new. Its not that bottle collecting is especially time consuming but with other daily pressures, the hobby will either languish or will result in feelings of guilt . My rule of thumb is if you aren’t will to spend 8 hours a month on studying and collecting bottles, don’t bother. The next step is establishing how much money you can afford to spend. This too is subjective and predicated upon your income and current demands on that income. Again if money in your household budget is tight don’t start. If you begin to spend money you can’t afford, what began as a harmless hobby can quickly become a source of friction. If you decide to specialize, chose your collecting category carefully. If money is short don’t decide to collect ancient Roman bottles. Get a collectible bottle price guide and look at the price ranges of categories you find interesting. Make sure you can afford to actively participate. Set a dollar limit on your bottle searching excursions to the flea market. Other things to consider when budgeting are display and storage. Are you going to display your collection? Do you have adequate space in your home? How are you going to display your collection? Do you have sufficient and suitable storage? Be sure to include you significant other in the decision making process. Be sure that the money and time allotment is OK with him or her. Be sure that the category you select is something that he/she does not find objectionable. Who knows, you might end up with a partner/helpmate.

If your a generalist you planning is pretty much done at this point and you can get at it. If you decide to be a specialists there are a few more issues to consider.

There is a general rule in collecting that ” it’s easier to sell one five hundred dollar bottle and fifty ten dollar bottles”. The principal being that it’s better to collect expensive bottles than cheap ones. While certainly true for the established collector, it doesn’t necessarily hold true for the novice or even the intermediate collector. When first starting out It’s important to remember that, while you may have spend quite a few hours studying a category, you are by no means an expert. You want to avoid making a big mistake right out of the gate. So buy lower priced items, get familiar with the intricacies of the category. Examine, touch and feel the higher priced items. As questions of dealers. Your expertise will grow only with time and hands on experience. Do build a collection but start with the common and move to the rare. Yes you may end up with a few dollars tied up in bottles that you can’t sell but it’s better than having a lot of dollars tie up in a fake or in a bottle you overpaid for.

Record Keeping

The final issue to consider when collecting is record keeping. It’s extremely important to compile a complete record of all your bottle collecting transactions and activities. It’s important for your learning process and to help value your collection for your own edification and insurance purposes.
The typical item record should contain the following information:

1) Detailed description of the item: size weight, color, labels, manufacture, manufacturing method.

2) Photo of the item

3) Where , when and from whom you purchased the bottle

4) How much you paid for the bottle.

5) Value of the item from reputable price guide

6)Any information about the item given to you at the time of purchased or that you have discovered on your own.

7) Ownership history

8) Original or photocopy of receipt

9) Location ie on display, in storage

10) If you sold it, record when, to whom and for how much
Be sure to keep a copy of your records, whether on paper or digitally, off site. You would hate to lose you collection and you records at the same time. Be sure to include the value of your collection in your household insurance policy. Some policies will require a rider so be sure to check with you agent.

There you have the basic tenets of bottle collecting. By taking a bit of time up front to study you chosen category, budgeting you time and money and keep good records you will be well on your way to developing a endeavor that will provide you with hours of pleasure and fun. You can point to you collection with pride and a sense of accomplishment.

Tom Landy

A Collectible Bottles Community Member

Willis Kilmer And The Spurious World Of Herbal Medicine

Tucked away in Vestal, a small town on the southern fringes of New York, is a small pet cemetery known as Whispering Pines. This is the final resting place of ‘The Exterminator’, one of the greatest racehorses in the annals of American horse racing. When he died in 1943, it is said of ‘Old Bones’, as he was fondly known, that “no other horse to date was enjoyed with more genuine affection by the fans of racing.”

Which is more than can be said of the man who owned and trained him, Willis Kilmer. When the multi-millionaire businessman died at the age of 71 in 1940, an aunt overheard a news reporter lamenting his lost opportunity of meeting the tycoon. The elderly relative disabused the journalist of his sentimental notions, remarking sharply that her nephew “was not a nice person”.

In his spats and a fedora, Willis Sharp Kilmer epitomised the classic early twentieth century business tycoon, portrayed so brilliantly on the big screen by James Cagney. For men like him, money and power were close family to be flaunted; ethics was a distant cousin you humoured. Establishment families such as the Vanderbilts were part of your social circle.

Willis ‘collected’ houses and horse studs from New York to Vermont, commuting between them in a chauffeur-driven car or his own private yacht. Like all self-made men, he also wanted to be remembered. Today residents in his home town of Binghampton, New York can hardly forget him as they play golf at the club he created. The local hospital pathology laboratory bears his name.

For Willis, the path to riches was as calculated as it was meteoric. Like his equine asset, Willis ruthlessly crushed all opposition. And he started with his own family. Just a few years after joining the family firm as head of sales and marketing, he ousted his uncle Andral as head of the company in a hostile takeover. Hardly the way to thank the man who has given you your big break after leaving Cornell University. And a shabby way to treat someone who has created one of the most successful ranges of proprietary herbal medicines on sale in America. But Willis was never the humble employee, in awe of his uncle’s achievements. Nor was he a botanist like his benefactor. He was, however, a consummate salesman with a big personality, who wasted no time in implementing the new marketing ideas he had learned at college.

Willis was astute. He was one of the first to embrace the concept of a brand and he did so relentlessly. He ensured that his uncle’s profile appeared on the label of every medicine bottle the company sold; there wasn’t a leaflet, sign or poster that didn’t bear his image. Willis made the Kilmer brand unmistakable by giving it bright orange packaging. A customer in a drugstore seeking a bottle of the company’s most famous product, Swamp Root, merely had to look for the familiar kidney-shaped bottle. He utilised what was there and improved on it. The humble almanac became something more than a useful guide to moon cycles and planting times. Under Willis’ direction, Kilmer products featured on every page, with a guide to the ailments they could cure.

Willis was also bold. He took the traditional model of advertising locally and developed it nationally. To achieve this widespread coverage, he needed the right ‘vehicle.’ Providentially, his father-in-law was one of the sharpest brains in the newly emerging industry of newspaper advertising. Here was a powerful, well-connected man, running a business that could reach large numbers of people very quickly. Willis used the family connection shamelessly.

Soon the Kilmer brand featured in print across the country. He wasn’t shy about using company money in the process. But it all paid off. Rapidly expanding sales meant that within two years his uncle’s modest dispensary had moved to gleaming new premises spread over five floors. The range of products had expanded to 18, with production met by a bottling facility boasting an output of 2,000 bottles an hour, and sales had extended to Europe and Australia.

In pursuit of these sales, truth was an acceptable casualty to Willis. The label on each bottle of herbal medicine offered the user a ‘cure’ for their ills. He knew, as did most of the medical establishment, that this claim did not bear close scrutiny. But when asked what the company’s famous ‘Swamp Root’ was good for, he replied “about a million a year”. Until the Food and Drug Act was introduced in 1906, the company used such terms as ‘cure’ quite legitimately, with little chance of being successfully prosecuted. Those that did meet him in court, notably his uncle who sued him for misrepresentation, usually lost.

But Willis was smart enough to know that the authorities were closing in and public opinion was turning against firms like his. He quietly replaced ‘cure’ with ‘remedy’ on the label and began to diversify in other directions. Breeding racehorses, he discovered, was just as lucrative, and much less contentious.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Liquid Medicines Over Tablets And Pills?

Every person needs to take medicine at some point in their life and the normal format usually comes in the form of a pill or a capsule. Patients who find it difficult to take medication, like very young patients or older patients are given liquid forms of the medication. Most people are aware of the liquid OTC analgesic formulations for babies and toddlers, as well as the liquid cold and flu remedies marketed for adults, but few realize that it is possible to obtain alternative formulations for many prescription drugs when the patient has trouble swallowing pills. As always, when taking any medications, whether they are sold by prescription or over the counter, care must be taken to make sure that there will not be any adverse side effects when two or more medications are taken concurrently. You always need to tell your physician and pharmacist about any medicines you are currently taking.

Normally, individuals who take their medications in the form of pills or capsules do not have any difficulties in swallowing the medicine. These may come in several different sizes that range from fairly small to others that are rather big. Sometimes patients have trouble swallowing because of a condition called dysphagia. This condition may develop when one is young and persist throughout life, or it may develop later in life, brought on by an illness or condition that impacts the ability to swallow. When this happens, the best thing to do is to consult with the physician or pharmacist to find out if the prescribed medication comes in a different form, such as a liquid, that would be easier to swallow. There is a lengthy formulation and development process that drugs in a liquid formulation must go through prior to being prescribed for utilization by patients. This is because it is essential that the drug is evenly dispersed throughout the formulation. Liquid formulas frequently state on the label that the bottle needs to be shaken up before ingesting the medicine in order to ensure that the medication is evenly distributed and has not settled at the bottom of the bottle.

It is necessary for the design of liquid formulations to be a bit different than that of tablets so that the patient receives the proper amount of medication without imbibing large quantities of liquids. In addition, it must include an additive that masks the taste of the drug, which is frequently quite bitter and foul tasting. Normally, the average dose is not more than 5 millilitres for children, but adults usually need to take the medicine in a higher dosage. Normally the medication comes as a syrup, mixture or solution and includes sweeteners and flavouring agents to disguise the drug’s taste. Frequently fluids with a thicker viscosity are utilized so that they are not as likely to be spilled or inhaled in error. Additionally, it might have other ingredients that help the drug to stay in the liquid, which will ensure that the drug is going to be effective.

A special measuring spoon comes with liquid medications to ensure that the proper dosage is administered every time. A recent study revealed that when the special measuring spoon was not utilized, the dosage size could vary greatly due to the fact that teaspoons are not made in standard sizes. If you learn that you cannot easily use the spoon that is provided to you, ask your pharmacist for a special medicine cup or an oral syringe so that you will be able to measure the proper dosage correctly.