Frequently Asked Questions
What is an antique bottle club?
The Baltimore Antique Bottle Club (BABC) is a group of people who are attracted to antique bottles for their beauty, rarity, and history revealed by antique bottles. Some members collect dairy bottles. Others collect local pharmacy bottles, medicine bottles, jars, stoneware, beer bottles, soda bottles, barber bottles, figural bottles, poison bottles, food bottles, bitters, even household cleaning bottles.
Some buyers love the thrill of the bottle hunt. The point being that the list is endless and the appeal of any bottle depends on the tastes and whims of each individual collector. We usually meet monthly to buy and sell bottles, educate ourselves and have fun. See our Meetings page for our schedule and location.
Will the Baltimore Antique Bottle Club buy my antique bottles?
No. BABC does not buy bottles. We use the money we raise from the annual Baltimore Antique Bottle show to support local students, schools, museums and historical societies. Individual members might buy the ones they need or want for their individual collection. You can visit our club meetings early to ask questions and see how much interest you get in your bottles. Then join our club!
Okay, so how do I sell my antique bottles?
So, you want to sell your antique bottle collection for thousands of dollars, right? Well, maybe you can, if you are willing to make the necessary effort. Here is a taste of what it will take to sell your bottles for the price want.
MAXIMUM VALUE: For maximum value, you must put in a lot of effort to find the right buyers (see next FAQ) willing to pay the most for each bottle. You must have the bottles appraised or else make the effort to research and price each one yourself. You must wash your bottles and sometimes pay to have high-end bottles cleaned and polished professionally. You must photograph and list your bottles on your own or in an online auction or actual auction. Pack and mail each one you sell promptly. Market your bottles in whatever way you can reach buyers. Join the BABC and advertise in our newsletter for free!
MEDIUM VALUE: With a little effort, you can estimate the approximate value and sell each bottle to any interested buyer for a fraction of its maximum value. You can also make the effort to sell the bottles in an antique mall, at a yard sell or at different flea markets each weekend until you sell them all. Put a price on them and take any reasonable offer.
MINIMUM VALUE: With minimal effort, you may find someone willing to buy all or some your bottles. That person will take the risk and do all the work to sell the bottles, so take the highest of three offers. Go to the annual Baltimore Antique Bottle Show and talk to some dealers.
What is my bottle worth?
Your bottle is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. The question is who wants your bottle and how much are they willing to pay for it, right? A bottle’s value depends on the buyer’s perspective. Some key factors are: rarity, age, condition, color, shape, history, locality, embossing, labels, paint, individual appeal, artistic appeal and usefulness. The Baltimore Antique Bottle Book shows the rarity of Baltimore bottles and stoneware and is available for sale. Check out our Bottle Book page.
Go to the free appraisal table at the annual Baltimore Antique Bottle Show! The market is limited to the following buyers:
Avid collectors – Bottles are worth most to avid collectors who want a specific bottle for their collection or one that appeals to them. However, if a bottle is not what a collector wants, it is worthless to that particular collector. There are usually not a lot of avid collectors for any one particular bottle. Your bottle is worth the most when it is exposed to more of these unique collectors through auctions or online sales.
Casual collectors – Casual collectors have an idea of what they like and will buy whatever appeals to them as long as the price is affordable. They usually cruise flea markets, estate sales and antique stores for bargains.
Dealers – Dealers accept all the risks and work hard to sell bottles online, at antique marts, flea markets, yard sales and at bottle shows. They may buy all or part of a collection if they plan to make the effort to find buyers and make a profit. The risks are that Dealers may buy a bottle they cannot sell for a profit with a reasonable amount of effort. The effort is to find the buyers and get the bottles to them. The reward is a profit that may or may not be worth the effort depending on your love of bottles and sales.
Art buyers – A few artists or craftsmen find artistic uses for antique bottles. They may buy certain antique bottles for a reasonable price as a raw material for art. Check out arts and crafts websites and video websites for ideas and how-to videos. Then bring your art to our club meeting!
Occasional buyers – Occasional buyers are usually impulse buyers who buy antique bottles as a curiosity or for decoration. They may be willing to pay top dollar for the right bottle, but usually they look for a bargain.