There are as many styles of antique liquor and spirits bottles as there are the types of liquor to go in them. Regardless of their shape and size, though, the most collectible bottles are those produced prior to 1919, the year Prohibition began. Figural, barrel-shape, and engraved bottles are just a few examples of the types of liquor bottles from this era.

In fact, one of the first uses of bottles was for liquor, as well as wine. Early bottles, such as those from the 16th and 17th centuries, were made exclusively for storage, not to drink out of. The one-gallon or larger demijohn bottles are good examples of this.

Many liquor and spirits bottle collectors tend to focus on a specific type of liquor, bottle shape, or brand. Brandy, vodka, rum, and schnapps all tended to have relatively uniform bottle shapes, while whiskey and gin came in a wide array of bottles, making them somewhat more collectible than the other liquors because there are so many more variations to collect. In some cases, such as the Jim Beam figural bottles, collecting categories are combined.

Gin was first brewed in the mid-17th century in the Netherlands. Since its invention, gin has been associated with case bottles, which are tall, square-based bottles with short fat necks. In the 18th century, the bases of gin bottles tended to become narrower, though it is extremely difficult to differentiate between eras of gin bottles or their countries of origin by their shapes alone. Early gin bottles almost never had seals and were usually olive or amber colored. More rare are clear gin case bottles.

Whiskey bottles have even more differentiation than gin bottles. Though whiskey’s roots are in Scotland (hence, scotch), it is difficult to come by early scotch bottles, because the drink was not bottled until 1846.

The first bottled scotch was put out by John Dewar as a blend called “White Label.” His first bottles, however, were fashioned from stoneware. Canadian whiskey first appeared in bottles in 1853—prior to the proliferation of bottles, whiskey could often be found in pocket flasks.

Another collectible liquor bottle shape is the cylinder. These squat bottles, like the English “Onion” bottle, date to the 17th century. Roundish in shape, the bottles varied in ...

Other collectible liquor bottle shapes include Benedictine bottles (a French liqueur introduced in the 1870s), which have long necks and trapezoidal-like bases. Handled liquor bottles, as the name suggests, have handles, but the shapes the handles attach to can vary widely.

For collectors, liquor bottles are relatively easy to identify. Prohibition came about just as machine-made bottles were being introduced, so if your bottle is machine made, it is probably from after Prohibition. Conversely, if it is hand-blown it likely predates 1919. Additionally, after Prohibition, the U.S. government instituted a rule that companies must emboss the message, “FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR RE-USE OF THIS BOTTLE” on every bottle. That decree lasted until 1964, a fact that can help date bottles.

Liquor bottles can also be dated by the presence of a pontil mark at the base, as well as the type of lip. Some bottles feature a batch number or bottle date, while others bear labels with humorous and historic brand logos and mascots.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Pre-pro.com

Pre-pro.com

Pre-Pro.com tells the story of America’s thriving liquor industry in the era before the enactment of Prohibition … [read review or visit site]

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Historic Glass Bottle Identification

Bill Lindsey's fantastic bottle identification and information site. Loaded with detailed descriptions and diagrams… [read review or visit site]

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

Antique Bottle Collector's Haven

There's a ton of information here, but as with bottles, you have to dig to find the best stuff. Start with the famo… [read review or visit site]

Bottle Cap Index

Bottle Cap Index

Assembled by Gunther Rademacher with the help of several other contributors, this collection of over half a million… [read review or visit site]

Plopsite.de

Plopsite.de

Norbert Lamping's collection of 600+ ceramic bottle stoppers, Hutter stoppers, swingtops, swivel stoppers, and ligh… [read review or visit site]

Old Spice Collectibles

Old Spice Collectibles

Lather up with Creighton Fricek's complete chronology of collectible Old Spice shaving products. Start with the bot… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Light Apple/celery Green! Gi-39 Washington/taylor Qt.flask Large Glob On 1 Side!Beautiful Teal Blue/green Gi-47 Washington/reverse Plain Qt.flask W/open Pontil!Five Day Auction! Figural Cannon Barrel Bitters Castilian Bitters Apricot OrangeAntique Bottle ~ Western Whiskey 1/5 ~ J.f. Cutter Star/shield ~ Early MoldHennessy Richard Baccarat (only Bottle)Nice Old Western "j. H. Cutter / Old / Bourbon" Whiskey Bottle 5th! Super Crude Tear Drop Flask Whartons Whiskey 1850 Chestnut Grove"the Hero Of Manila" 19th Century Historical Flask Bust Of Admiral George Dewey South Carolina Dispensary Bottle Half Pint Union FlaskPhiladelphia Pa Theodore Netter 1232 Market St Cobalt Blue Barrel Whiskey BottleLouis Xiii Remy Martin Grande Champagne Baccarat Crystal Cognac Bottle 750mlCrystal Remy Martin Cognac Louis Xiii Bottle, Decanter, And Box NewU.s. Mail WhiskeySaloon Back Bar Bottle Embossed In Gold Embossed O.f.c. Chicago, IlSouth Carolina Dispensary Bottle Half Pint Jo-jo Flask With TreeJ. F. Cutter Old Bourbon E. Martin & Co. Sole Agents S.f. Cal. Bottle With LabelPappy Van Winkle 23 Year BottleQuart South Carolina Dispensary Bottle Clear Clfc Co Monogram Jack Daniels Old No.7 Maxwell House Decanter BottleGlenn Forest Sour Mash A. Graf Co. Whiskey Stoneware Crock/ Jug St. Louis Mo.South Carolina Dispensary Bottle Pint Jo-jo Flask With TreeSouth Carolina Dispensary Bottle Pint Union Flask AmberCrystal Head Vodka Skull Bottle - 750 Ml (empty) With Cork.Louis Xiii Remy Martin Cognac Box Bottle DecanterRare Pre Pro Ben Hur Whiskey J. Grossman's Sons New Orleans, La. LouisianaSaloon Back Bar Bottle Embossed In Gold Embossed Grommes & Ullrich Chicago, IlThree Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year BottlesHijos De Villa Numbered Collector Tequila BottleSkull Crystal Head Vodka BottleEmpty Bottle Of Hennessy Paradis Extra Rare Cognac (with Original Box)Antique Bottle ~ Western Whiskey 1/5 ~ Bw Houghin Whiskey~ Natural Sun AmethystDon Julio Tequila 1942 Collectors Edition Bottle In Green Wood Collectors CaseJ. Aronson. Seattle, Washington. Western Tool Top Whiskey Qt. BottleSouth Carolina Dispensary Bottle Half Pint MonogramCrystal Head Vodka Skull Bottle 750 Ml (empty)Western Amber Fifth Whikey H. J. Woollacott Los Angeles, CaliforniaAntique Patent Whiskey Bottle Whitney Glass Works Patent On ShojulderPappy Van Winkle 15 Year Bourbon Bottle EmptyVintage Whiskey Bottle-rye-the Baltimore Pure Rye Dist. Co.Olive Green Pig Snout Gin Bottle. Badly Cracked - Huge Nasty Tubular Pontil !Nice Old Amber Liquor Bottle That Is Covered In Wicker The Original X.o Cognac Hennessy Xo Empty Glass Bottle & Box 750ml 5thRemy Martin Louis Xiii Grande Champagne Baccarat Crystal Empty Decanter BottleBenton Pa Rohr Mchenry Born 1812 Swirl Neck Whiskey Liquor Amber BottleUdolpho Wolfes Aromatic Schnapps Bottle, Interesting Base MarkPappy Van Winkle 20 Year BottleVintage 1916 Old Grand-dad Whiskey Bottle - Small Trial Size Casa Noble Anejo Tequila Empty Bottle Dark Purple Glass W/pewter Stopper 750 MlCrude Amber White Oak Whiskey Bottle Betterton Distillers Chattanooga TennesseeVintage Jack Daniels Old No 7 Tribute To Tennessee Whisky Bottle DecanterGood Old Bourbon In A Hogs * ~ Figural Pig Antique Bottle European Black Ale Bottle (dark Olive Green) Probably British ManufactureVintage I.w.harper Whiskey, Bim, Amber, Odd Shape Bottle,nice Bubbles, Late1800sEmpty 2006 Blue Cabo Wabo Reposado Tequila Bottle 750 Ml Missing CapAntique Whiskey Bottle Miniature 3" Whisky Sample 3-piece Mold Emerald Green Nm+Ace Of Spades Armand De Brignac Gold Champagne Bottle, 750 MlOne Gallon Vintage Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey Bottle 1950s Old Grand-dad Nice!Rare Vince Neil Tres Rios Silver Tequila 750 Ml Glass Empty Bottle Motley CrueBlown Whiskey Bottle Jos. R. Stonebraker & Co. Baltimore, Md 1/2 Pint NiceLucas Bols Ballerina Empty Bottle With Music Box