Bottle Shows & Gun Shows

For the past year, I’ve been on the hunt for bottles from my 4x great-grandfather’s bottling business, so I’ve been to a few antique bottle shows. I had no idea antique bottle collecting was really even a thing until I discovered I am descended from one of the larger Philadelphia bottlers. Today we went to a show just north of Baltimore to see what we could find.

I’m generally surprised by how similar they are in look and feel to a gun show. Standard gun shows are a bit more of a commercial enterprise, but if you’ve ever been to a decent gun show that caters to collectors, an antique bottle show is more like that. There are people who specialize. I seek out bottle collectors who either specialize in Philadelphia bottles, or who have large numbers of them in their collection. One guy I saw specialized in poison bottles. I’ve discovered that it’s a local market. You wouldn’t generally expect to find a bottle collector from Georgia with a bottle from Philadelphia, though I do check. Most bottle collectors source new bottles by digging privies, which of course is different from how gun collectors find their guns. I doubt many people dropped their roscoe down the shit hole after squeezing off a fresh one, but they did that with bottles a lot.

Demographically, the shows are more similar than you would think, bottle shows also feature a plentiful percentage of middle aged and old white guys (racist!). Bottle shows seem to have more older women than gun shows, but gun shows seem to have more young women. I’d say there are also younger men and families at a typical standard gun show. Though, I can see why someone might not want to bring their kids to a place where there’s a lot of fragile valuable things.

I doubt I’ll ever be a true bottle collector, but I can see the appeal. I didn’t think at any time that the guy who collects poison bottles did so because he wants to poison people. It’s a shame there are some people on this planet who don’t give the same consideration to people who collect firearms.

5 Responses to “Bottle Shows & Gun Shows”

    • Sebastian says:

      I hadn’t checked that. Looks like they don’t have one, but that’s another source to keep an eye on. I’ve been told by collectors that they are not really that rare, but that they aren’t all that common either. They tend to pop up here and there.

      Thanks for the tip!

  1. Bitter says:

    Two significant differences between the two shows, though:

    1) No ATMs at a bottle show. I find this very odd. This is a largely cash transaction kind of event, so it seems like a reasonable expectation that they would bring one in to support their vendors.

    2) The aisles are kept wider at a bottle show. This makes total sense since bumping tables accidentally due to overcrowding would be a VERY bad thing.

    It’s not quite a significant difference, but the lower entry fee was nice. :)

  2. Cemetery's Gun Blob says:

    My mom’s hobby was bottle collecting back in the 70s….not sure what ever happened to the bottles she had….reckon I’ll give her a call about it today.

  3. Don says:

    Are you looking to buy old philly bottles? I have a boat load