Antique & Vintage Bottle Openers



2015-06-26 11:18:19

Antique & Vintage Bottle Openers are collectible bottle openers produced from the 18th to the 20th century.


History and Description

The bottle opener was invented in 1738. To this day, its inventor remains a mystery. It was only in 1894, as a consequence of William Painter's invention of the crown cap for glass bottle, that an official patent for the bottle opener was granted. Naturally, Painter got the patent. Since then, bottle openers have been constantly in demand, not only for their functionality but also for their aesthetic appeal.

As Painter was only after the usage, that is the removal of the bottle's metallic cap, his was a minimalist cast-iron opener. It had a simple solid handle on one end and a circular or rectangular opening at the other. Over the years, thousands of different styles have come out, designed accordingly for specific caps.

The flat figural style was common from 1910 -1920. Figurals are openers with human or animal figures for designs and may either be flat or three-dimensional. They served as advertising mechanisms for beverage companies.

There were bottle openers with knives and other implements such as nail clippers and cutters which were called “multi-tools”. These 1920s innovations, were brought about by a competition regarding who could come up with the most number of tools into one piece. They were also after the patent recognition.

The different types of bottle openers may be categorized as (1) wall mount (bottle openers attached to the wall), (2) bar blade (flat steel blade with hole for inserting the thumb at one end), and (3) ring bottle opener.

Guide for Collectors

Bottle opener collections vary widely depending on rarity, age, designs and styles. Collectors usually go for figural bottle openers, specifically those which were made between 1910 to 1920.

Antique or vintage bottle openers were commonly stamped with the names of the companies that made them. Those made by Anheuser-Busch, commonly known as the Budweiser collections, is one of the most sought by collectors. Another preferred by collectors is Vaughan of Chicago. They have been in the business of producing bottle openers since 1984 and are credited for a lot of different styles. Another favorite is the Williamson Company in Newark, New Jersey. Brown Mfg. Co. has been making cast iron wall mounted bottle openers since 1925 and their famous STARR and STARR X openers are another collectors favorite.

Damaged or dented openers are poor investments since restoration is a hard task. This usually results in the reduction of value.

Just For Openers is one of the most notable bottle opener collectors' organizations. It has over 250 members mainly in Canada and the United States. It was founded by Don Bull in 1979.

Several guide books, written on collecting bottle openers, are available on the open market to help and educate the collector.

Notable Auction Sales

A bottle opener made by Cartier of New York dating from 1876 was sold for $900 on June 26, 2011. The 14-carat yellow gold bottle opener was offered by Bruce Kodner Galleries.

An antique sterling Welsch bottle opener was sold for $250 on March 9, 2008 through the Point Pleasant Galleries.

Two Dr. Pepper Bottle Openers sold for $350 on July 26, 2008. The openers were sold through the Burley Auction Group. One of the openers was designed as a lion's head and made by Crown T.R.O. Co. of Chicago, Illinois. The other opener was marked “Dr. Pepper” in script lettering.

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