Soda Bottle Collecting

I have a dirty little secret. Very dirty and very secret. It has been going on since I was about 10 years old. As a child growing up in what was once the farming area Dranesville (now Great Falls, VA), my buddies and I would go to old farm dump sites and dig for hidden treasures. What could possibly be better than rummaging through 50-year-old trash, finding all sorts of curious and unidentifiable tractor parts and used cans of Spam. Without a doubt, I would end up going to the medical center for a tetanus shot as a result of some piercing metal object. Man, do I miss doing that stuff.

The result was my interest in soda bottle collecting. Specifically, I collect painted label, or ACL (applied color label) soda bottles. A lot of them date from the 40’s through the 60’s. I like the period look the bottle labels and shapes took on. I like the weird marketing they were trying to create. It takes on a very Norman Rockwell feeling. It’s just cool to me.

Last year, I built a home office/display cabinet for myself. Now that the collection is in full view, I have been buying additional bottles on eBay. While I have enjoyed this to a point, it really is just not the same as digging for them myself. Half the fun of collecting the bottles is the stories and scrapes and bruises that go along with the collection. A collection is not about what you own, but rather about the experience of acquiring, sort of like the process of buying Hardwood Artisans furniture. I think a lot of people come back because of the positive, engaging experience they have with us.

I have decided that I want to spend the time to go treasure hunting on my own. I live on an old piece of land that has a few trash pits on it. I’m thinking I need to go and get a metal detector and a shovel and just have at it. My neighbor has one as well that I already dug on, but I think not deep enough. Also, I have been doing some other research, and there is a lot of talk and YouTube videos on privy digging… My wife has told me in no uncertain terms that she has no interest in joining me in the pit. Like I said, I have a very dirty secret.

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