UPDATE: Hi. I've received MANY questions about the values of specific bottles from a variety of states. I've tried to answer as best as I can through email, but I would like to recommend that you check out the guides shown in the sidebar to learn more about specific vintage milk bottles in a more timely manner. Some of these are hard to find, so you may or may not happen to hit it lucky for your particular local area when you check. I'm still happy to get messages from readers, but these guides might be able to help a few of you out.
I'd like to introduce my site by explaining how I came to get interested in old bottles (see below). If you are looking for the old bottles themselves, you'll want to visit the vintage bottles page.
My mother was a great proponent of saving old items. Of course, she did not think that one day those old items might be worth a considerable amount of money.
For years she held onto some old milk bottles that she had found in her own mother's storage shed. My mother now used them to start new water plants. She had about twenty of these tall and narrow necked, old vintage bottles stacked in a plastic crate in the hothouse. One day, while I was helping her clean out her hothouse, she proposed that we, "get rid of them, they're no use for anything now!" On impulse, I decided to see if these vintage glass milk bottles were worth anything.
My research turned up a wealth of information. Our round shaped vintage bottles with their embossed lettering on the side were worth quite a bit more than when they were first made. Apparently, this style of vintage milk bottle was replaced by a different style around the 1930's! In the 1940's the round shaped antique milk bottles were replaced by square shaped vintage milk bottles and embossing gave way to pyroglazed, or painted labels that are heat set. Some dairies used a long bottle with a large rounded section at the top. It is thought that this bottle was made so that the cream could easily collect at the top of the bottle, and be skimmed off to use.
The embossing or the painted label usually identified the dairy, the town and the state. Some embossed antique milk bottles also have an embossed pattern around the neck of the bottle that is thought to have helped the milkman safely hold onto the bottle. Most bottles were made from clear glass, so a customer could see at a glance that the milk was still good. Colored vintage milk bottles were hardly ever used, and as such are quite rare.
Antique milk bottle collecting is a favorite pastime for many and there is a high turnover of sales for vintage bottles. Most vintage bottles are specific to a certain location as milk production and local dairies up until the mid 1950’s handled all sales.
Milk bottles were first used in the late 1800's, when milk was delivered by horse drawn cart to homes four times a day. At the close of the 19th century, the process of pasteurization was discovered and consequently milk deliveries switched to once per day. The New York Dairy Company is supposedly the first company to make glass milk bottles, although many other companies soon followed them. One of the more sought after antique milk bottles is the Original Thatcher vintage milk bottle, which was patented in 1886. Local collectors usually prefer to collect vintage milk bottles from their own area or state, with some enthusiasts seeking to find every bottle made by a specific local dairy.
As with collecting any antique or vintage items, many factors come into play when determining the value of the antique or vintage milk bottle. One of the first considerations is the actual condition of the vintage bottle. It should, as much as possible, be free from chips or cracks, and if the label has been painted on, it should be in good condition or at least legible. There is often some scuffing seen on the outside of the bottle, which results from the bottle being carried and stored in old milk bottle carriers while being stored and transported. A word of caution though, a bottle that looks too perfect may be a reproduction and not an original vintage milk bottle.
Other things that determine how much a vintage milk bottle is worth are the age of the bottle, whether it is made from colored glass or transparent glass, how common it is, and the designs on the bottle. In addition, what may fetch a very good price in one state may not be worth as much in another state. Now, however, with many antique milk bottles being auctioned online, even vintage milk bottles from the other end of the country may fetch a good price if someone is specifically seeking to build up a collection of bottles from one particular area.
Not only do collectors search for antique milk bottles, but any antique items from the milk industry are also collected. For example, it is quite common to find antique milk bottle carriers for sale on eBay or on other auction sites. Other popular items that are commonly collected, along with antique milk bottles, include antique milk bottle caps, antique milk bottle crates, antique cream bottles which are smaller than the old milk bottles and were used for cream only, and antique milk cans which were used to store larger quantities of milk or cream at the dairy.
It is not uncommon for an antique milk bottle to fetch as much as $300 or more when sold via auction, particularly if it is old, in good condition and sought after. More commonly, however, they are sold for between $20 to $50.
Antique or vintage milk bottles are great fun to collect, if you are interested in old collectibles. They can often be found in second hand stores, at antique or collector's stores, and they can often turn up at county or town fairs or bazaars. Many have also been found buried in back yards or laying around in old storage sheds and barns. Rural areas are great places to look for old milk bottles, especially around places where a dairy may have been located at some time.
If you are interested in collecting old milk bottles or if you are wondering how much an antique milk bottle you have may be worth, there is a wealth of information available on this topic online. You can also check out different antique milk bottle collector's websites for information specific to any vintage milk bottle you may have. If the vintage glass milk bottle you have comes from your area, it would be most beneficial for you to try to contact antique glass milk bottle collectors from your own area as they will be able to give you the most accurate estimate and information on your old milk bottle.