Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Remember the "Dayze"

I was futsin' around looking for a particular bottle book when I stumbled on John Thomas's original 1969 book and found this 1970s sales list of the old Top 25 Western Whiskeys. I'd sure like to be able to grab a few at those long gone prices.


  1. Mike,
    Interesting list along with pretty decent prices for 1970. The only possible 1860's whiskey among the list is the Evans & O'Brien, which I believe is a P.G.W. manufactured bottle.

  2. I dunno some of those prices were pretty steep for me back in the early seventies, what with bein a maintenance mechanic, and raisin two children. The whiskies that I dug back then were in the thirty five dollar range, for sure. good flashback though......Andy

  3. I also notice that the number 20 S.T.Suits didnt have a price listed...........Andy

  4. Its interesting that J Moores sold for more than Whiskey Merchants or Laurel Crowns ! When compared to investing the same amount of money in the stock market in 1975, only the Laurel Palace would have provided a greater return. Take the Clubhouse for example, $1000 invested in the market of 1975 would have returned roughly $33,000. A $400 Gold Dust would have returned roughly $13,000, and a $150 Teakettle roughly $5,000. Now when you factor in taxes, or lack thereof with most bottle transactions, the gap tightens a bit, but the market still would have been a better investment vehicle. Clearly we are not obsessed with bottles for monetary gain, but I thought it would be interesting to make the comparison after constantly hearing that “bottles are a great investment.” Now if the past thirty five years have seen the absolute greatest possible appreciation of western whiskies that at best mirrored the stock market, how good could the next thirty five years possibly be……………..?

    Does anyone have any 1970s prices for bitters ?

  5. Well Andrew, your analysis of the potential return in the market vs. the same money invested in purchasing glass is interesting. Being in the financial services industry, I see almost nobody that stays put in any investment for 35- 40 years. People are constantly moving their assets, and re investing to ride waves, and follow the herd.Bottle collectors do this as well. I have paper investments that have done very well in this economy, and have also lost some. I do know that my "can't lose" victorian that I live in is worth over $100k less than I bought it for 5 years ago. As you know, enjoying a beautiful bottle for many years is a pretty valuable experience and to have it not be a losing proposition in the long run financially does not hurt. I know of collectors who sold their entire collections,Gardner, Smith, Ring,and others over the years who made 7 figures or close to it. Can you imaging the proceeds from some of the current top Western collectors when they eventually convert glass to cash? Scary good! To me money is a boring necessity, and glass is much more attractive. If I can break even or better someday when I retire or buy muscle cars, that is a good thing.I suppose I am trying to justify my addiction...is it working? Dale M.

  6. Unless you know the "ins and outs" of estate planning, it would be far more practical to put your bottles in your will. Converting to cash after deciding to sell, you will be left with paper "money" backed by absolutely nothing - "worth" less every day that passes. The inheritance taxes will kill whoever inherits your "auction proceeds" if you don't have something to waste the cash on in the meantime. Good quality collectibles are worth more than our federal reserve "notes" any day. All my opinion. The few bottles/collectibles I've sold I will never be able to afford to replace. Never again will I sell anything vintage and handmade out of my collection.

  7. Great post!

    Looking at bottles as an investment is something I frequently think about, mostly to justify all my glass purchases if I'm really honest about it. Bottles to me have different layers of worth in that they have aesthetic value, historic value, collectible value, and monetary value. It's a combination of all of these reasons why I tend to favor bottles over excess cash, beanie-babies, other expensive habits, and even mores than my stock portfolio. I tend to know more about buying a good western bottle than I do about what penny stock is going to gain or lose 200%. I've been burned a few times with bottle purchases, seen them break, and bought a few that aren't worth what I paid for them; but the majority of the time I've made out well and learned a great wealth of information along the way. At the end of the day, I sure like being able to look at the bottles I own, realize I'm just a custodian of them while I'm alive, and be able to hold a part of history in my hand while imagining who drank it's contents 100-160 years ago.
    Primarily has to do with knowing much more about bottles than I ever will about the predictability of stocks.

  8. Someone please remind me not to write a post with my I-Phone in the future...that way it won't look like a 3rd grader hacked into my computer and wrote a bunch of unintelligible gibberish about old bottles.

  9. Heh there JF, don't burn yourself at the stake over grammar. We all understand where you're coming from. I've been around the block with the western whiskey thing since meeting John Howe back in the mid sixties. Like Dale said, it's an addiction. Funny thing though; I've never had buyers remorse over the purchase of a bottle. Sure, you make a little here, loose a little there. But you are the legal guardian over a piece of irreplaceable history when you own a western whiskey. Try that mindset on a stock certificate or worse yet, a limit order on a Dow Jones gamble that isn't even backed by a piece of paper.

    Nope, call me sentimental, a poor investor or whatever. Just the same, I'd rather tuck the few spare nickels I've got into a western whiskey any day. After all, we can't take it with us. And whatever we leave behind the IRS will claim...

  10. Interesting commentary. I just wanted to comment to Andy on the S.T. Suits not having a price on this early list.
    I think this Thomas list was from around 1969/1970. The first S.T. Suits that was sold went from Blackie Owen to Stan Sanders in 1971 for 1k. It had a small lip chip if I remember, it is still in the collection of Stan's son.
    I finally saved enough to purchase another one from Blackie in 1972. It had two potstones but I didn't let that bother me. 875.00 in 1972 dollars! Wow.. probably could have done better with baseball cards but hindsight is 20x20.
    You know, if I could step back to 1972 with 875, I'd buy it again... that Suits made me a bottle collector for life!

  11. I can remember going to shows in the early 70s and not even having 25 bucks to spend. Ralph H, Ken S. and I were discussing the "old days" at the Anderson Show. Somewhere around here I have some photos from the first Redding Show. Gawd, we were just kids.

    Around '74-75 I was working and digging around Eureka, CA, and was fortunate to dig several good fifths. We sold a Super nice Pride Of Kentucky to Doc for the HUGE sum of $500. A yellow Sole Agents Gilt Edge went for $225 and a skinny "Rooster" brought similar. Circle Cutters? For years we were lucky to get $25 for those.

    I don't agree with the baseball cards analogy. Bottles have remained strong while the bottom has dropped out from under some cards. The one collectable category that has risen constantly and quite dramatically are Winchester rifles. With that, I'm still spending weak US dollars on good glass, but with the rapid increase in fuel prices that may also be pared back.

  12. Also noticed the "Two Name Bear" has no price listed...
    Interesting to see the relationship of prices to each other which is a reflection of demand and is somewhat inconsistent with the rankings. It is still amazing that of the other collectibles mentioned; cars, baseball cards, etc. Bottles were never manufactured to be collected or coveted. They are utilitarian and disposable garbage. What else is so desired today by collectors other than maybe civil war relics, or arrowheads which were intended to be used, and had little or no value other than their intended purpose. We are all a strange bunch :)

  13. Exotic engined musclecars, such as the 426 Hemi, Boss 429 and 454 LS6 Rat were very expensive options when new, hence the rare-ness of these models even when new; let alone their attrition rate 40 plus years later.

    The 1971 LS6 Corvette engine option added a whopping total of $1220.70 to the base price of a coupe of $5533.15. Adding run of the mill options such as pwr brakes, pwr steering, pwr windows pushed these cars over $7K which was 50% or more of the median household income in the US.

    Currently these LS6 Corvettes are selling at auctions for close to $500K; which is more than a 675% increase in 40 yrs.

    Recently a California Clubhouse whiskey auctioned for approximatley $31K; which is more than a 3,000% increase from its 41 year price in 1970.

  14. My baseball card analogy was just a joke about viewing investments in the rear view mirror. I'm sure I tore up a million bucks worth of rare baseball cards in the spokes of my first bike.
    I have saved stamps, coins, bottles, and have financially profited in different degrees from each. Bottles have been the most fun by far.


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