Many people collect items for many reasons. I collect Lebanon and surrounding county bottles because I enjoy the history. I have worked at a local dairy for many years and have seen many changes. On this page I will give tips on collecting and buying and selling bottles. When buying bottles their value is very important as no one wants to pay more than what its worth. Rarity is a big factor in how much a bottle is worth. It is easy to understand that a bottle that is hard to find is worth more than a common bottle. Popularity is also a big factor. A certain bottle may not be really scarce but holds good value because it is so desirable. Sometimes a really rare bottle can be had for a good price because it is unknown or not popular. I consider condition to be very important to a bottles value. A good bottle may be worth 200.00 in excellent condition and very little or nothing in poor condition. Things like chips , scratches , stain and cracks will all hurt a bottles value. Age in itself has little to do with a bottles value. There are many old milk bottles that are worth very little because they are so common. When starting a collection buy in the best condition you can afford. This will build a collection that is pleasing to view and one that will have good value. When starting a collection you may want to buy local bottles or even types of bottles. Bottle types would be pyroglazed , embossed , baby tops , cop tops , war slogans , college milk bottles , creamers etc. Other dairy collectibles include milk caps , calendars , milk cases etc. Most dairies also had many give away items that are collectable. Start slow at first. You can find milk bottles at flea markets and yard sales but the days of lots of bargains are over. Auctions can be a good place to buy and learn about milk bottles. Sometimes bottles go higher than what they should at auctions because 2 people really want a bottle or relatives of the dairy want the bottles. Also sometimes you get a bargain. The best thing you can do is get to know a milk bottle collector and you will learn alot about values and bottles. There are many reputable dealers and collectors that you can buy sell and trade with. Some milk bottles are now being reproduced. War bottles and creamers are reproduced to market to unsuspecting buyers. Many half pint war bottles should be suspect. Half pint war bottles with SUNBROKERS on the bottom are fake. Many names of dairies on fake war bottles and creamers did not even exist. I believe that repros only hurt the hobby. There are always some fake war bottles or creamers on ebay lately. The main thing is to enjoy your collecting. If you have a question maybe I can help or refer you to help. Below I will post some pictures of milk bottle types. As stated above fake milk bottles are a real problem. Ebay sellers post lots of fakes for sale and ebay does nothing to stop it. When looking at war slogans , Borden's , Hopalong , Annie Oakley and other bottles that might be suspect here are a few tips to spot fakes. 1. If one seller has a lot of these type bottles or creamers and they all are listed in new or like new condition. 2. If a seller has a cheap or too good to be true "buy it now" price. 3. A seller has more than 1 of a certain item. You will see 5 or 10 available near "BUY IT NOW" button. 4. You do an advanced search in completed listings on ebay and find many have been sold or been for sale. 5. Seller states that these are barn or warehouse finds of new old stock.
Below are different types of milk bottles.
Click on the thumbnails for full size pictures.
PENN STATE COLLEGE CREAMERY MILK BOTTLES
MOST BABY FACE MILK BOTTLES ARE VERY COLLECTIBLE
WAR SLOGAN MILK BOTTLES ARE ALSO VERY POPULAR
THE BOTTLES PICTURED ABOVE ARE REAL BEWARE OF REPRODUCTIONS!
MANY BOTTLES COLLECTORS ALSO COLLECT MILK CAPS
A MILK BOTTLE IS MORE APPEALING WHEN TOPPED WITH A SAME DAIRY CAP
COP TOP MILK BOTTLES GOT MILK !
SOME MILK CONTAINERS ARE ODD SHAPED ICE CREAM CONTAINERS
I personally like bottle variations while for some it is good enough to have an embossed quart from a certain dairy and they dont care or do not know there may a variation of this bottle. When I speak of variations I mean differences in similar bottles and not different bottle types like cream tops , pyroglazed , square , embossed round etc. The variations listed in this text are Lebanon County Pa milk bottles but wherever You collect there will be similar variations. Many embossed milk bottles had misspellings in the dairy's name or town etc. I find these bottles very interesting while some may not. The variations shown below will give a collector anywhere an idea of what to look for when seeking variations.
The first is a L laudermilich quart bottle from lebanon.
At first glance the bottles appear to be the same. But the
bottle on the left is shorter and the cap size is greater
than the normal 56mm cap. This bottle is a called a
common sense bottle. This a very early milk bottle as
they where first produced in 1889. the bottle on the right
is a little taller and has the normal 56mm caps size. The bottle on the
right is dated 1917 so the common sense is earlier although not dated.
(klick on pictures to enlarge)
Next are 2 Avon Sanitary Dairy milk bottles. Embossed bottles are very common from this dairy. The difference between
these bottles is very easy to see when side by side. The
bottle on the right is the common version. The bottle on
the left is exactlly the same except the large S is not on
the bottle. I believe that both of these bottles are early
Avon dairy bottles. It could be that the bottle without
the S is a first run and later changed to the more common style. The
bottle without the S seems to be scarce.
Now we have another variation of a very common Lebanon county bottle. It is the very common embossed pint from Lebanon
Sanitary Dairy. The difference between these bottles is
not so easily seen. The bottle on the right has smaller
lettering in the slug and the L in center is larger than the
bottle on the left. The bottle with the larger print has very
little or no extra space between the words. I believe the
bottle with the small print is harder to find although I am not 100% sure.
Next is Wengert's Dairy cream top quart. The 8 sided bottle as I call it is not a hard bottle to find in the pyroglazed version. The
difference between these bottles is very easy to see as
one has orange pyro while the other is embossed. The
embossed bottles were the early run of the 8 sided
bottle. The embossed bottle is dated 44 while the pyro
bottles were made from 1945 to 49. Although the
embossed bottle is not scarce it is much harder to find than the pyro.
Hershey Chocolate Corp. milks are very popular in both embossed and pyro versions. The round pyro bottles are very popular
with collectors. There is a red pyro and an orange pyro
versions. The orange version had the same frontside
graphics , HERSHEY CHOC CORP LEBANON PA.
The backsides had variations that are shown in the
picture. The lady holding the bottle of milk is the most
common. I believe the lady variation is more common than all the others combined. Many daries used this practice of the same fronts and different backsides. The picture on the right is a
picture of the common Wengert Dairy square quarts
made during the 50's and 60's. The bottle in the middle
is the frontside while the others just a few different
backsides. Many other variations include different color
pyro or 2 color instead of a single color. Many older
embossed bottles do not list the size of the bottle or have it on the back of the bottle while the newer bottles have the size above the slug. Also many older bottles have WASH AND RETURN on the back of the bottles while a newer bottle from the same dairy may not. I guess you could say that a bottle with a different date is a variation (not me). Variations can apply to many other dairy collectibles like milk caps , porch boxes etc.
There are many more variations of Lebanon County bottles. Any dairy that bottled milk for a few years is likely to have variations in milk bottles. Next time you see a milk bottle that you already have give it a close look or compare it to a bottle you already have or check your doubles. Some collectors do not collect variations but for me it makes collecting more interesting.
Milk bottles like many other collectibles are often found very dirty or stained. Bottles are often dug up in old dumps or other areas where they were exposed to the elements. In this section I will give you some tips I have learned over the years while cleaning bottles. If you are not sure how to clean a bottle you must be very careful not hurt the value of a bottle. This is especially true of pyroglazed bottles. Experienced collectors can often tell how well a dirty bottle will clean up just by looking at it. With a good bottle brush dirt and dust should not be a problem. You can soak a bottle in warm soapy water and they should clean up nicely.
Bottles that were underground or had water or other liquids in them are often stained. It is the water that stains a bottle with mineral deposits. You can often look at a bottle and see where the water line was in the bottle. A bottle that was underground bottom up is often not stained inside because there was no water in the bottle. I have tried many things to clean stain and the best thing I have found is hydrochloric acid. It is found in many toilet bowl cleaners. It is often listed as hydrogen chloride in active ingredients. It is often found in cheaper cleaners like "THE WORKS' or other inexpensive bowl cleaners. You must be very careful when using hydrochloric acid. It is very corrosive to skin and metal. Rubber gloves and goggles are a must. I often cut pieces of green scrubbing pads and work them along the inside of the bottle with something I can get in the bottle. Be very careful NOT to get this on the PYROGLAZE of a milk bottle as it will eat it away. You can also soak embossed bottles in this solution. Sometimes a bottle will not clean or look good wet but when it dries the stain comes back. There are some things you can do to help this problem but if you wash the bottle it will come back again. Getting the bottle tumbled is another option. This is costly and there is a chance your bottle will get broken.
Rust is often found on bottles. I found that SOS pads work very good for getting rust spots. They can also be used to go over pyro very lightly to clean it up. Avon "skin so soft" can be rubbed on pyro that is faded. It helps to bring the color back. If you have questions with cleaning or need help email me and I will try to help.
Milk bottles with no location
Often milk bottles with no location are found. It can be sometimes very hard or impossible to find the town or location of these bottles. Your best bet is to get a dairy listing of your county or area. Ralph Riovo make excellent books listing the dairies of Pa by county and region. Go to CONTACTS page to contact him or for information. There are some clues to finding the location of unmarked bottles. During the 30's and 40's all milk bottles from Pa had to have the PA seal on the bottle. It is in a small slug on the neck of the bottle or along the base. Earlier bottles will not have this marking. Sometimes the towns name will be in the dairies name on the bottle an example would be Millbach Springs Dairy or the town name may be on the bottle without the state marking. Often dairies were sold over the years but kept the same name. An example would be PINE CREST DAIRY H.R. BALSBAUCH (no town name) and PINE CREST DAIRY H.B. BRUBAKER NEWMANSTOWN PA. The earlier dairy with no name was most likely sold to later owner so the location is likely the same. A dairy would often name the dairy for the surrounding area. Sometimes the dairy name will give a clue to its location as often the dairy is named for a site or the surroundings of the dairy. Some dairy farms today are still named like the bottles used years ago , MEADOW WOOD and FERNDALE FARMS are examples in Lebanon county. I have some bottles that I believe are from the local area but may never find out if this is the case. Older people can very helpful and asking an older person about a suspect dairy in the area has worked for me. Just because you find a bottle with a local dairy name on it does not mean it is from the area. I saw a green pyro Ferndale bottle (with a hefty price) for sale that was stated as being from lebanon Pa. This bottle was really from N.Y. state. The orange pyro bottle that is pictured below is from lebanon. Dairy names like HILLSIDE are very common and could be from as many as 30 locations across the state. The value of some of these bottles may be low because of no location or they may be unknown to collectors even though they may be very rare. Below are a few examples of Lebanon county dairies without locations on the bottle , although some give clues.
Ferndale Dairy S.T. Yost Cornwall Pike Midway Dairy Horsticks Dairy
Lebanon Myerstown S. Lebanon Co. Lebanon * Palmyra
* Midway is now part of Lebanon pa
At the bottom of this page I will picture some of the fake bottles that have been selling lately. Check them out. I will add fake bottles as I find them. Fakes only hurt the collecting hobby. They create confusion and after while hurt the value of the real bottles. These sellers are at the very least dishonest and do not care what they sell. CHECK THESE OUT
Annie Oakley Hopalong Cassidy
FAKE BOTTLES PICTURED BELOW
Athens Dairy Natoma Farms plane backside
Midwest Dairy plane Winfield Dairy plane
Cloverleaf Dairy Miller's Dairy
I will post pictures of fake bottles as I find them