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          Home > News > Industry News > Collector’s rare bottles now worth more than $80,000

          Collector’s rare bottles now worth more than $80,000

          Post Time:Apr 26,2022Classify:Industry NewsView:964

          One man’s rubbish has turned out to be another man’s fortune.

           

          Twenty years of digging, hours of research and a keen eye for the uniqueness of an old glass bottle has ensured a comfortable retirement fund for Josh Svensson.

          What started as a competition among young brothers to find the best glass bottle turned into a collection of over a thousand glass bottles, a lot of which were found in Lyttelton.

          Svensson is an antique glass bottle collector who specialises in bottles from Lyttelton.

          “Some one called me a hoarder,” said Svensson.

          But with a collection worth more than $80,000, most would agree it’s a hobby worth having.

          “My brother-in-law used to collect them in the 80s. One day when I was 12 he took me and my brothers out fossicking. We crawled under an old house and found some old bottles,”  Svensson SAID.

          From then, he was hooked.

          “It became a competition between my brothers and myself of who can find the coolest bottles,” he said.

           

          A selection of New Zealand fizzy drink bottles, known as the torpedo bottle, from the 1850s-1900....

          A selection of New Zealand fizzy drink bottles, known as the torpedo bottle, from the 1850s-1900. Photo: Supplied

          The competition went on for years. One of Svensson’s brothers decided to sell up a few years ago and used the money made from selling his collection to put towards a deposit on a house.

           

          Svensson is in the lower age demographic of bottle collectors in New Zealand, he said there is about 200-300 across the country, 30 or so in Christchurch.

          Before recycling and bottle collection was a thing, people used to dig holes in their backyards to dispose of rubbish they could not burn, like glass bottles.

          “People used to just throw them away, out of sight out of mind if they were too lazy to dig a hole,” said Svensson.

          Lyttelton was once home to multiple different soft drink manufacturers including brands such as JF Wyatt, NC Schumacher, and R Milsom.

          The glass bottles were made in England and filled in New Zealand.

          Svensson has spent hours online researching old newspapers and old maps and spent time down at the museum.

          He previously lived in Charteris Bay where he would jump in the water at low tide and hunt for his treasure.

          “Often when the boats used to come in back in the day they would empty their bottles off the side into the water, some stuck around in the mud flats,” he said.

          Svensson has a metal probe that he uses to poke into the ground and determine if there is clay or dirt that’s never been touched.

          “If it goes down easy and hits a glass item you know someone has dug a hole there before,” he said.

           

          Stoneware ginger beer bottles from 1890 to 1930. Photo: Supplied

          Stoneware ginger beer bottles from 1890 to 1930. Photo: Supplied

          But it’s not just glass bottles Svensson has found while digging – he has come across bones, old false teeth and even a toilet seat.

           

          “Once we were digging a hole then eventually realised it might have been an old long drop, but thankfully after a hundred odd years there wasn’t a lot of crap left there,” said Svensson.

          Fossicking for glass bottles was a popular thing to do back in the 70s Svensson said, but there are now strict rules around it.

          “Anything pre-1900s is no go, it’s an archaeologist’s domain.”

          “Often if there’s a new building site and when diggers are in they might come across a dumping site, then you’ve got a limited opportunity, they’ll give you a call and they’re often happy to get a box of beers in return for some empties,” said Svensson.

          There are Facebook groups where collectors share their prized collection. Kiwi Auction has online auctions every year, and there’s a national bottle show.

          It takes more than just a keen eye to figure out what bottles are of value. Some are worth $5, some $15,000.

          “You have to know about it so it takes years of experience to figure out what’s what,” Svensson said.

           

          Josh Svensson's selection of Lyttelton bottles from brands JF Wyatt, NC Schumacher and R Milsom....

          Josh Svensson's selection of Lyttelton bottles from brands JF Wyatt, NC Schumacher and R Milsom. Photo: Supplied

          Svensson has about 1000 bottles in his collection now. He has found half of them and the other half he has bought.

           

          During the 20 years he has been collecting, Svensson added up he’d spent about 40k on the collection, the most expensive being $1000 for a single bottle.

          “I see it as an investment. I enjoy collecting the bottles but just the history behind it as well, I’m just a fan of history in general.”

          Svensson worked out last year his collection is valued at more than 80k.

          “Not bad for a bit of rubbish aye," he said.

          Source: https://www.odt.co.nz/Author: shangyi

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