“A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words” - Getting Accurate Answers To Your Questions...

So, you have a question or two about the age or value of your bottle, and you’ve come here looking for good solid accurate answers to your questions…. Great - You’ve come to just the right place for this!!! (Most of our Admins & Moderators are experienced collectors, historians & auctioneers, and have been doing this for several years!)

Now, how do you go about getting the most accurate answers to your bottle questions?

Well, it all starts out by providing the most accurate information about your bottle…


Remember that little axiom about a picture being worth 1,000 words?

Well it turns out to be true in more ways than you can imagine…and a single well-taken photo can tell an experienced appraiser more about your bottle than just about any “1,000 word description” you might choose to describe it.

As an example, let’s reverse the situation between us for a minute, and let me propose a similar question to you on an item that you might be familiar with: How about a house?

I have an old 3,000 square foot 3-bedroom/2-bath home that I inherited recently from my grandparents. How old is it & how much is this worth?”

Can you provide an accurate answer to the question based on the information given?

.....Would it have helped if I had provided you with some well-taken photos?


Here on DrinksPlanet, we are often being asked to help determine the dating/value of bottles that someone has in their possession…More often than not, these requests come with no photographs of the bottle in question, and not much more detail than the house I just described above!

(While many requests do often come with a written description of the bottle, the details given in the description often have little bearing on the answers being sought…and yet the key details that are the most critical to determining both Age & Value are often overlooked.)

To provide you with the most accurate information about your bottle, it’s always best to provide a few well-taken photos of your bottle along with your question!


So, let’s go over the basics of what an appraiser will look for in determining the date/age & value of a bottle, and how well-taken photos will help us to help you… and a few general rules of thumb for taking useful photos.

1) Always stand your bottle upright: Bottles laid flat or angled, don’t allow us to determine the content level accurately....Aside from the age of the bottle, this is perhaps the most important aspect in determining a bottle’s value !!!image-fj2rwsk7se.jpg

2) Consider your lighting & camera flash: Good general lighting helps to show details in the labels & glass-marks which are important for determining the age of the bottle, while ‘camera-flash’ can make this harder to see clearly.

Using a light background is also helpful, as this allows us to see the condition of the contents (both for the clarity of the spirit, and the content level), which is a very important part of the valuation process… this is especially important for the dark glass bottles.Bories-Brandy-i55d57fyss.jpg

3) The angle of your photos: Simple “straight forward” photos are usually the best, and most bottles can be completely reviewed for all dating & valuation aspects with just 2-4 photos.

The 1st & 2nd photos should be taken from the front, and should be “full length” (showing the entire bottle from cap to base):

Here I can see the clarity of the contents, the type of cap used (and authenticate its aging), as well as key distillery information that can be dated.1956-Ron-Jamaica-1--lb1ruvnzw9.jpg

In the 2nd photo, I can clearly see the content level (where labeling blocked this in the 1st photo)...I can also see retailer information that can be used to validate the bottle’s dating.1956-Ron-Jamaica-2--lywjifliyn.jpg

The 3rd photo should be a close-up of any Tax Strip/Stamp found on the bottle.

Here I can validate the “seal” of the bottle, as well as viewing details of the Tax Strip that can also be used for dating purposes.1956-Ron-Jamaica-3--gyazedju77.jpg

The 4th photo should show the underside of the bottle, as this is where much of the dating & manufacturing technique of the bottle is to be found.

This is where we find much information on the manufacture of the bottle itself; Including the company the produced it, whom it was produced for, and even when it was produced & on what machine...(Unmarked glass bottles also often have clues in their shaping & defects that give us important dating information as well.)1956-Ron-Jamaica-4--94mtplewxr.jpg

I hope that this short explanation will help you in understanding the importance of including well-taken photographs along with your questions, and that this will enable you to get faster & more accurate answers to your bottle questions!


Walter C Hurst


So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • easmits: Hear hear! Great post :)
  • Vale: Excellent post! This should help people post better questions in order to receive better answers :D From now on, if people don’t provide enough info, they should be sent a link to this blog!
  • wchurst:

    That was exactly what I was thinking when I wrote this...

    We all spend a lot of time asking for photos, and often have to explain why it’s better to take them a certain way (Standing upright, Include the cap, etc).

    I figure this would make it a bit less tedious to have all the information in a single clickable “copy & paste” link!


    Walter C Hurst

  • Vale: It’s a great idea :)

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