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If you managed to drag yourself away from the last page or have continued this far, here are some idea for focusing a collection.

The most common way of  placing limits on a collection is to restrict yourself to collecting states.  Assuming that your favorite state produced shot glasses (some didn't since they went dry before technology caught up with demands for mass marketing: click here to see when prohibition took effect in your state),  you may still have your hands full.  CA, IL, KY, MD, MN, MO, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA and WI all produced glasses by the bushel.  Restricting your focus to a city within one of the states listed above will yield a collection with considerably variety, and if you still live in that city, trawling the surrounds should provide the most cost-effective and rewarding way of increasing the size of your collection. 

Another popular way of narrowing a collection's focus is to pick a distiller and then only collect glasses issued by the distiller or its distributors. Some distillers are more popular than others.  If you select the Ferdinand Westheimer & sons Distillery of OH, you may find yourself up against a lot of competition because they produced "Red Top Rye".  Any advertising item carrying the Red Top brand name is highly sought after.  Another such example is the McHenry distillery of Benton, PA.  It burned to the ground and then rose like a phoenix before shot from the skies by prohibition.  The distillery somehow attained mythical status during its flight and hence any McHenry shot glass will cost you at least $60.  

The advantage to focusing on a Distiller is that your collection need not be restricted to shot glasses.  Although there were legal limits on what kinds of items could be branded and given away as inducements to buy, the selection of "go-withs" might include tokens, calendars, trade cards, playing cards, bottle openers, corkscrews, tip-trays, serving trays, mirrors, lithographs, thermometers and more.  Also of interest are letterheads, bills, whiskey warehouse receipts, bottle labels, bottles, miniature bottles, bar-back bottles, decanters, and crates.  Start planning on finishing that basement and adding a full bar and bar-back before you begin down this path!

Restricting your focus to shot  glasses with a picture on them or to enamel or label-under-glass "fancies" probably produces the most rewarding collection, but it  

 Click here to see the different types of label used on pre-pro shot glasses

comes at a high price. These are the glasses that are most prized by collectors and hence they typically sell in the range of $50-$500.  

Putting together a visually interesting shot glass collection doesn't have to be so prohibitively expensive however.  There are many very attractive but less sought-after pre-pro glasses that can be had for $30-$40 that can still hold their head high in any crystal crowd.

last updated: October 16, 2009                  

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