Hobbies: Identifying, Collecting, And Dating Vintage Soda Bottles

Bottle collecting is a hobby that dates back many years - use these guidelines to care for or begin a collection of your own.

The history of soda bottle collection dates back over a century, to when drinks such as Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi-Cola and other pioneering soft drinks were first marketed in glass. Of course, no other medium was available at the time to contain the drinks, but even when cans and plastic bottles became cheaper and easier to manage the glass bottle continued to thrive. This is because such bottles hold an allure for many people, and it is surprising to note how many collectors of nostalgic merchandise are out there. Do you collect or want to start collecting vintage soda bottles? You are not alone!

You may want to go after one brand, such as Fanta or the old giant Coca-Cola, collect internationally, or focus on bottles from a certain decade. Collecting whatever you come by works as well, though rarely can one hope to complete such a collection. Start by making yourself familiar with the company and its history in your town - was there ever a bottling plant, or was soda imported from elsewhere?

Identifying bottles is a simple enough task. If you've come by an older one, there's an excellent chance that the logo is embossed into the glass, as was the fashion in much of the twentieth century. Imprinted logos are often tenacious as well. However, if no logo can be found, the shape of the bottle and other symbols can help you identify it. For example, Coca-Cola's contoured bottle has been trademarked for nearly a century, and the contours were set directly into the glass until the 1980s. They are among the easiest to identify for new and old collectors alike. Pepsi-Cola distinguished itself for many years with their rounded logo, divided by a curving line. Unfortunately, companies that ceased production or products that changed names may be harder to obtain information on. To identify a particularly difficult bottle, research using one of the many books published on the subject, and get to know the names of sodas from the past. It will make future identifications much easier.

Bottle collecting is a hobby that can be fueled in many ways. You may want to visit pawn and curiosity shops, travel to other countries, investigate attics and garages, buy bottles from other collectors, or even search for your own. Forests, campgrounds, and other areas may yield bottles carelessly thrown away decades before, as they do not biodegrade. Fortunately, most bottles can be cleaned with heavy-duty cleaner and a small brush with a long handle. Be sure to sterilize them thoroughly and if possible, wear gloves when handling dirty and used bottles.

Your collection's value can be determined by dating the bottles and researching their rarity. Again, consult a printed collector's guide, preferably one with images. Internet research can also be greatly helpful, providing you with information on bottlers active throughout the decades, and photographs of other personal collections. Make contacts that you can exchange information with, and you will be able to share knowledge of your common interest.

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