‘Check your farm shed’: 90yo stone ginger beer bottle sells for $17,500

Antique bottles are often found in sheds and old farm dumps. (ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

A rare ginger beer bottle from the 1930s, made for a Warwick soft drink company, has sold for a record price in Toowoomba.

Key points:

  • Many Australian towns had a cordial company in the 1930s with unique bottles
  • The green glaze on the lip is what makes the Warwick bottle rare
  • People are still finding bottles on farms worth thousands of dollars

It has collectors encouraging people to check their sheds and old farm dumps for possible ‘buried treasure’.

“There are a lot of collectors who want that particular bottle on their shelf,” said Barry Walker, vice-president of the Queensland Historical Bottle Club.

“I guess the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s the only one I’ve seen with a green top like that.”

The hammer fell at $17,500 for the stoneware Doneley and Butler bottle.

The little green lip at the top is what set it apart from bottles worth a fraction of that price.

“These bottles are extremely rare, there have only been two or three found in perfect condition,” said auctioneer Graham Lancaster.

“That colour combination of glazes makes it unique worldwide.”

He said the Warwick bottle set a record price locally, and quite possible a world-record, for an antique crown-seal soft drink bottle of its type.

Three stone ginger bottles on a shelf

In the early 1900s each local soft drink company had its own bottle. (ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

‘Dug up years later’

Before the turn of the century, many towns in Australia had a local soft drink company.

“And they all had their own bottles,” Mr Lancaster said.

“They were made to be thrown away or recycled.

“Many of these things — including this bottle — were discarded, thrown into a rubbish tip or creek, and dug up years later.”

People are still finding bottles.

“Every farm has an old shed or a farm dump,” Mr Lancaster said.

“I know of a couple near Roma who were out on their horses on their farm, saw something sticking out from underneath a piece of tin, and found nine ginger beer bottles worth a thousand bucks each.

“The earliest rubbish tip in Toowoomba is in Queens Park, but you’ll probably go to jail if you try and dig that up.”

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