Beer Can Collecting: It’s What’s on the Outside that Counts

Over the last few weeks I’ve used snippets of free time to sort through the antique beer can collection. I’ve looked at each of the 600 or more cans, seeing what I have, picking out favorites, and trying to identify the ones that are valuable to collectors.

I have cone tops, flat tops, zip tops, and pull tops. Many were opened from the bottom, so the top is still intact. Some were never opened at all. Most are steel cans. I’ve sorted out the aluminum cans and put them in big boxes; my first thought was to recycle the aluminum ones, but I can’t bring myself to. Someone went to the trouble to collect them, and even though they aren’t as old as the others, they are still forty years old.

Who collects beer cans? Apparently, a small group of mostly older men across the U.S. Beer can collecting was big in the 70’s. The Brewery Collectibles Club of America and the World-Wide Beer Can Collectors were popular, and there were local swap meets at malls and other places. Since then, few new people have started collecting. Last week I joined the Lonestar Chapter (Texas, of course) of the BCAA, which has less than 100 members.

I’m starting to have an idea of which of my cans are more valuable, but I’m still often wrong. Some of my favorites are only worth $1-$3 each, but I like them anyway. Among those are my Old Frothingslosh cans in multiple colors. I’ve picked all of mine out, washed them, and put them on display. (Yes, I wash old beer cans.) These are also usually the ones my friends notice the quickest. But it seems that every collector has five or ten of these cans which keeps the value lower. I also like my Schmidt cans with various wildlife scenes from the West, but again these are common.

When I find a can in decent condition but have no others like it, that’s a clue that it might be valuable. Also, the more unusual tops (zip tops, juice tops) are more valuable. And sometimes it seems that the more plain the can, the more valuable it is. The more decorated cans were often marketed as collectibles, so more collectors have them. According to a man who has been helping me with values, my two most valuable cans, worth over $100 each, are a solid color with little more than a logo.

A smarter man would turn this inheritance into quick cash. Instead, I’ve gotten too interested to let the collection go. I’ve even bought an old Shiner Beer can that I saw on a collectors group website. The cans I want to collect the most right now are any from Shiner brewery in Shiner, Texas, anything from Lonestar or Pearl (also Texas), and any of the Tennent’s Girls cans (because I like women).

Luckily, our new home has plenty space for me to have this annoying collection without my wife having to see it. Had this been in our old house, it would have been a definite no. And I’m also helping to justify my new hobby by selling some; I sold a Green River soda can for $10. I’ll be shipping it to Arizona later today. I have a steel, pop-top Coke can that’s never been opened that I’ll also list later today. As long as my sales exceed my expenses, I think I can get away with my new, strange hobby.

About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.


32 thoughts on “Beer Can Collecting: It’s What’s on the Outside that Counts

  1. How fun is that! And to think you inherited it all.
    I do warn you though, collections have a way of growing to unmanageable proportions. First it’s beer cans… then bottles, then vintage taps, and before you know it you’re rolling oak barrels into the living room.
    My advice?
    Build a barn. Now!

    Posted by Rivergirl | January 8, 2020, 12:43 pm
  2. There’s a brewery (Caldera in Southern Oregon) that has 4,500+ different beer bottles displayed in its dining room (which is 3 stories tall because of the adjacent brewery). So 600 cans is a good start toward having to build that barn. 😉

    Posted by Boots on the Trail | January 8, 2020, 12:51 pm
  3. Nice collection. I was wondering why the Coke can was in there…till the end. ☺️

    Posted by Darnell Cureton | January 8, 2020, 12:57 pm
  4. I see you have a whole shelf dedicated to animal beer. It’s pretty good beer after a few shots…

    Posted by jim- | January 8, 2020, 1:14 pm
    • Ha! Seriously, if Schmidt still came in cans like that, I’d drink it.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | January 8, 2020, 1:15 pm
      • It must have a good shelf life or the marketers weren’t hunters. Fish on the can during hunting season and deer or elk on the can during fishing. I was so confused.

        Posted by jim- | January 8, 2020, 1:22 pm
  5. I think that you need to also develop an appreciation for polka music.

    Posted by Jason Frels | January 8, 2020, 1:41 pm
  6. I’m glad you’re enjoying your newfound treasure! How funny that the Frothingslosh is so popular. As for new collectors, I’d think some people might be collecting some of these new craft beers and IPA cans with their very creative labels and logos. Also hard cider and seltzer.

    Posted by pkadams | January 8, 2020, 8:50 pm
    • There are some very neat new designs out there for sure. As for Frothingslosh, I think it’s the big lady in the bikini that made the cans popular.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | January 9, 2020, 8:33 am
  7. Some people have wine cellars. Looks like you have a beer cellar. I don’t drink beer, myself, but if I did it would definitely be Old Frothingslosh.

    Posted by Tippy Gnu | January 8, 2020, 9:05 pm
  8. I think it’s a wonderful hobby, but be careful it might turn into an obsession…..and a barn….then another barn….then maybe a warehouse….lol

    Posted by thehuntress915 | January 9, 2020, 8:39 am
  9. This is so cool! I’m curious, did you move into an old movie house… or? And what’s the new biz? Inquiring minds wanna know.

    Posted by Clever Girl | January 9, 2020, 1:22 pm
  10. Love the beer can collection – I remember when people used to collect beer mats.

    Posted by Michelle Le G | January 9, 2020, 2:17 pm
  11. It’s cool to have a unique collection! And being in Texas, well it’s perfectly appropriate 😁 I have my own odd collection and try to limit my shopping to add to it…usually one item or so a year. Glad you’re settled into the new place

    Posted by Sassyfitnesschick | January 9, 2020, 9:24 pm
  12. This is so interesting! I had no idea that there were so many varieties of can and that people have been collecting them for decades. It seems like a really fun thing to have found yourself involved in!

    Posted by Hannah Louise | January 12, 2020, 2:23 am
  13. It’s a really neat collection! And collecting is usually a lot of fun! As long as everyone is happy, I think it’s all just good fun, right? I hope you’re doing well!

    Posted by Jay | January 21, 2020, 10:19 am


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