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Bottle collections on display in annual show at civic center

By Wayne Hinshaw
For the Salisbury Post
There’s a fine line between being a hoarder, a pack rat or a collector.
But according to John Patterson of Spencer, collectors move to the top of the list because they do research on their treasures and gain knowledge that they pass on to others. Patterson said everyone should have a hobby, and there is a hobby of collecting something that matches everyone.
Whether you enjoy digging in old trash dumps for treasures or you are hanging onto family heirlooms, collecting can be for all ages, young and old.
Some collectors are “general” collectors while others, like Patterson, are “speciality” collectors who pick a field dear to them such as dairy bottles or soft drink bottles. Even more of a speciality for soft drink bottle collectors is picking either Cheerwine, Coke or Pepsi bottles.
Patterson’s speciality is his collection of 2,000 North Carolina dairy bottles. Jimmy Wood of Denver collects Cheerwine bottles. He has one of every Cheerwine bottle that was ever used, including the “prize of all Cheerwine bottles,” a 1920s bottle with three cherries embossed in the neck. Eddie Tatum of Winston-Salem favors old pottery whiskey jugs with cork stoppers. John Primore has an extensive collection of full soft drink bottles of all brands, meaning the unopened bottles contain the original product.
Recently, the Piedmont Bottle Club held its sixth annual show at the Salisbury Civic Center. The last three shows have been in Salisbury, which organizers say is convenient to people all over the state.
This year’s show, according to Patterson, “was the best show that we have presented.” Thirty-five dealers filled 53 table with bottles. One dealer from New Mexico was traveling through the Carolinas and chose to display his goods.
Prices can be as low as 50 cents or a dollar and go as high as you want to pay for a unique bottle. Clyde, of Salisbury, showed a collection of inexpensive bottles. Some dealers give kids free bottles in an effort to get them interested in starting a collection. Eleven-year-old Christian Morgan of Charlotte started his collection of soft drink bottle caps while at the show. He was excited, saying it was his first “really big show” with his grandfather.
Danielle Taylor of Concord was shopping for antique glass canning jars. She started collecting a few months ago, hoping to use the jars as flower vases in her summer wedding. For her viewing, there were blue and green tinted jars at the show and a rare amber jar priced at $175.
Of special interest locally were three whiskey jugs displayed by Eddie Tatum. Two of the jugs were from the George A. Jackson Distillery and the other was from the P.W. Brown Distillery, both in Salisbury. Brown ran a distillery and saloon on North Main Street in the years before 1909. The Brown Distillery jug had a price tag of $2,400. Tatum said he would take $800 for the jug. Reportedly, he sold it for $900.
Dealers explained the value of a bottle depends on how much someone wants it. What might be of little value to one collector may have a tremendous value to the next person.
“Money is no object if someone really wants the bottle,” Patterson said.
He tells the story of a man paying $6,000 for a dairy bottle at one show. To Patterson, the bottle was not that valuable. The man explained the bottle was for his wife, who had worked for the dairy earlier in her life and had always wanted one of its bottles. The husband hoped to make his wife very happy with the bottle. Patterson ended the story by saying that “ appraisal values are a game.”

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