I Just inheritaed a bottle collection, How much is it worth, what is the best way to sell these?
It is difficult to know what a bottle or a collection is worth as there are many factors that determine this. With many collections coming up for sale in the last few years, it has become a buyers market for collectors. Generally speaking Whiskies, Vodkas, Cognacs, Tequilas, and Absinthes have the greatest value. Rums and Gins to a lesser extent with Liqueuers (which generally take up that majority of collections) having the least (and in some cases almost no) value. Figural bottles can be all over the board depending what they are, going anywhere from hundreds of dollars to a dollar or two. You will sometimes see a website out there selling bottles and in many cases the prices are what I would consider unrealistic, you might find someone to pay those high prices for individual bottles but be prepared to wait a long time to find them. Also you will see bottles selling on e-bay sometimes there are reasonable pricing but often times people overvalue what they think the bottle is (and just because you call it rare on facebook does not make it so). The best thing to do when trying to value your bottles is to get in touch with a club (or two). By sending a list (or preferably pictures) it can be determined if there are any high value bottles in the collection. When sending information it is nice to know size of collection (or approximate size), pictures if you have any, and where you are located (there may be shipping considerations or a known collector in your area that may be intereseted in the collection or may be able to help you). Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any bottle questions you may have. You can find information about other clubs on our club info page. More information on selling your collection can be found below.
How Large is a Large collection?
Many times I get an e-mail proclaiming "I have a very large collection of 300 mini bottles". I suppose size is realative, but in the bottle collecting community there are collections as small of a dozen or so bottles and the largest collection I have heard of is over 30,000 bottles. The "average" collector has between 3,000 and 5,000 bottles.
My Local Liquor stores don't have much of a selection of mini bottles, where can I find bottles to add to my collection?
E-bay used to be a great place to get mini bottles but due to some restrictions they put the selection has really gone down (bottles are suppose to be empty now to sell on e-bay). You can still find some bottles on other countires e-bay (but have to deal with overseas shipping). Craigs list is a place I have seen bottles for sale and there are some groups on facebook that people post bottles they have available for sale or trade. There are also a couple of bottle shows every year and joining a bottle club (or two) will help you find other collectors that will be more than happy to help you find bottles for your collection.
Where can I find info on a paricular bottle?
The Mini Bottle Library ( www.minibottlelibrary.com ) is a collabrative project spearheaded by a member of the New Zealand Bottle Club. There you will find pictures of both figural and straight bottles. It is the most comprehensive mini bottle website there is. Also by contacting mini bottle clubs, you can get info on bottles.
Size of the collection
Generally speaking, the more bottles you have in the collection, the less per bottle you will get. You can choose to sell the collection as a whole or break it up into smaller pieces. If you are looking to maximize the amount of money you can get for the collection selling bottles individually is the way to go. The upside is you will get more for the "good bottles" in your collection, the downside is this takes longer to do, is more work, and you will end up with bottles that you will have a hard time getting rid of (in some cases it may be hard to even give them away). A rule of thumb that has been in effect for a while on larger collections (1000 bottles or more) is $1 per bottle. Depending on what is in the collection, and who you are selling to will determine that price. I have seen large collections sell for as little as $.25 per bottle and also for a few dolars per bottle. The other thing to remember there are fewer people willing to put out $1000 for a collection of bottles than there is willing to put out $15 for an individual bottle.
Location of Collection
Where you are located may determine how easy it is to sell your collection. If there is a collector near you that may be interested then that eliminates the hastle of having to box and ship the collection. And about shipping, technically it is illegal to ship bottles via the Post Office (although it is the cheapest method and is done every day) to give you an idea of shipping costs 10-15 bottles can be shipped in a medium flat rat box for around $16 shipping fed ex or UPS can double or even triple that cost. (Fed ex and UPS will legally ship the bottles).
Who are you selling to
Who you sell to will also determine how much you get for bottles. Our club will sometimes buy collections to use in our bottle raffles. We are most interested in price when we buy and less interested (to a certain extent) in what bottles are in the collection (although we currently have an overabundance of liqueurs and are not interested in adding these). There are people that want to buy the collection to resell it, again you will not get top dollar from them (but when selling a collection as a whole this is generally who you will be dealing with) Ideally for a collector if you buy a collection you can take out the bottles you want for your collection and sell the rest for what you paid for the collection or possibly a little more. Selling bottles to individual collectors is where you will get the most money for the collection. Finding the collector that wants the bottle (or bottles) you have is the key.
Where to Sell
I have seen (and in some cases purchased) bottles from ads in the newspaper or on craigs list. You might get lucky if someone sees your ad, the advantage is you MIGHT get a little bit more than the collection is worth if you find an interested party that is new to collecting and does not know what the value is. E-bay used to be a great place to sell bottles but since putting on restrictions (you are not suppose to sell full bottles) it has dried up a bit (although some other countries e-bay websites still allow selling full bottles, but now you may be dealing with international shipping). There are currently many mini bottle collecting pages on facebook that collectors sell and trade with each other on. And there are mini bottle clubs. Most (if not all) mini bottle clubs have newsletters and that is a good place to advertise bottle collections (since the readers are mini bottle collectors) some clubs require that you become a member to place an ad, whle others may not (Dues for most clubs run $15-$25 per year, you'd pay that for a newspaper ad). Also many of the mini bottle clubs put on bottle shows, if you are near one of the shows that is alos a good place to sell bottles.
Now What do I do?
Contact me and let me know what you have. As I said earlier pictures are nice and your location helps (just need a general idea of where you are, not your street address). It also helps if I have an idea of what you are looking to do (get rich selling the bottles, just want to give them a good home). I can then either get you in touch with a collector near you or do what I can to help get the word out to collectors (did I mention that I am also the newsletter editor for the club and a member of 4 additional clubs?)
Northwest Mini Bottle Club
5412 South K St
Tacoma, WA 98408
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