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    

Quart Amber South Carolina DispensaryRare "western","durkin","megaphone","whiskey" Bottle "spokane , Wash" 1/2gal. Louis Xiii Crystal Cognac Bottle Carafe Flask Decanter Remy Martin Boxes BookletGreat Bininger Honey Amber Old London Dock Gin Antique BottleAntique Early 1870's Sour Mash Whiskey Bottle Chapin & Gore Hawley Glass Co. Pa.Early X Base Double Struck Pontil Case Gin Bottle Heath Coll. 2014 *10-607 NrOriginal Drewry Red Wing Salt Glaze Beehive Whiskey Jug Jar Canada Crock Nice!!Early Western "cutter - Old - Bourbon" A Very Nice Bottle!Louis X111 Baccarat Crystal Remy Martin Cognac Decanter Bottle W Glass Stopper Western Amber Fifth Whiskey Dr. Warrens Ginger Brandy San Francisco California W.c. Peacock & Co Honolulu , H.i. Hawaii Western Whiskey €G. W. Chesley Sacramento. Western Embossed Pumpkin Seed FlaskRed Amber Crown Distillers Company Western Globtop Fifth Quart Old Stoneware Jug Jeroboam The Royal Blend Whiskey A G Thompson GlasgowMountain Brook Whisky - H. Free & Co. York, Pa. - Quart - Excellent ExampleRare Pre Pro Western Whiskey Flask Seattle Wa Alberta Cafe Spence ThompsonE. A. Fargo, San Francisco. Western Tool Top Whiskey BottleSaloon Back Bar Bottle Straight Great Eastern Rye Grove Lancaster Pa Nice St.louis,atlanta,st Paul, Miami Valley Whiskey Pre-pro Hayner's Bottle Troy,oh.Antique Bottle: Old Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Aqua Glass, Applied Top, Ca.1890'sLook Great "brunswick Private Stock Rye" Glass Saloon Back Bar Bottle Rare!Remy Martin Louis Xiii Baccarat Crystal Bottle StopperFantastic Unique Union Oval Flask Full Of Seed Bubbles-mint Cool-must SeeOld Gilt Edge Whiskey BottleAntique Salzman & Siegelman Old Rye Whiskey Stoneware Jug Bottle Brooklyn NyWestern Whioskey Fifth Spuance Stanley & Co Wholesale Liquor Dealers S. F. Louis Xiii Crystal Baccarat Cognac Decanter Remy Martin Etched Ser#v8387Louis Xiii Crystal Baccarat Cognac Decanter Remy MartinAntique Advertising Mini Jug C.w. Butcher & Son Neodesha KansasAntique Bottle Amber Flask Whisky/spirits Applied TopRare Western Whiskey Flask South Bend Wa The Hoffman Saloon Flask Antique BottleMacallan 25 Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Empty Bottle And Wooden Box RareRare Collectable Hennessy Paradis Extra Rare Cognac Sealed Display Bottle Crystal Head Vodka Skull Bottle - 750 Ml (empty) Without BoxPreston Merrill - Boston - Lyndeborough Glass Co.Rare Seattle Wa Pre Pro Western Whiskey Flask The Stratford Hotel Saloon BottleSouth Carolina Dispensary Bottles Plus 2 Other Bottles (sc)***l@@k Rare Paducah Ky Peter Cooper Rye Whiskey Fancy Neck Dreyfuss Weil 1890sEarly Merry Monarch Whiskey Bottle. Great Label, Ex. Cond. Ultra Rare Dom Perignon Pink €Crystal Head Vodka Empty Skull Bottle 750ml With Box/recipe CardBeautiful Lt. Golden Amber Jesse-moore San Francisco 5th. Tooled TopWestern Whiskey Flask Tacoma Washington Hotel Donnelly Ground LipAntique Choice Whiskey Druggist & Apothecaries Bottle Paper LabelAntique C.a. Richards & Co 99 Washington St Boston, Mass. Liquor BottleVintage Hock Wine Bottle - Great Blue Color - 1890s - Nice One !Vintage Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Riverboat Captains Bottle W/stopperTommy Guns Vodka - Roaring 20s 750ml Collector Bottle - (alcohol Removed)Pre-pro Hayner's Imported Jamaica Rum Quart Bottle - Dayton, OhWebster Whiskey Trade Mark M Salzman & Co New York....sharp Label !Antique Mother Putnam's Blackberry Cordial Liquor BottleHandled Chesnut Grove Amber Whiskey Bottle, Open Pontil- No Reserve! Early 1860s Olive Green Udolpho Wolfe’s Aromatic Schnapps Pre-pro Whiskey BottleEarly Black Glass Ale Dug In Baltimore-dark Olive Refired Pontil-cool Near MintEarly Mattingly & Moore Pint Whiskey Bottle. Great Label, Ex. Cond.1916 Pre-proC1860 Cobalt Blue 12 Sided Pontiled Wine Bottle With Grapes And VinesAntique Irish Whiskey Labeled Bottle ~ John Mckibbin & Son Ltd Aqua BlueDon Julio Real Tequila Bottle (empty) With Carousal Case2 Amber Duffy Malt Whiskey Co Rochester Bottles ~ Pat 1886 & Sample Bottle Antique Pumpkin Seed Whiskey Flask War Revenue Act Label California Wwi *1917