Bottle cap collecting is a fun and interesting hobby that anyone can enjoy. Popular in part because of the ease with which bottle caps can be acquired and added to a collection, bottle cap collecting is also a great activity for children looking for a hobby. Even with the range of consumer products produced today, bottle caps can be found anywhere and are often more visible than you think. It is common to find them in places where people frequent such as beaches, parks, fairs, and many other locations.
One of the most interesting aspects of bottle cap collecting is investigating the history associated with every bottle cap. Collecting bottle caps is a hobby almost as old as bottle caps themselves, but in the past few decades the hobby has become quite popular as more and more companies use colorful designs on bottle caps to market their brands. Some companies even release limited edition bottle caps that are unique and thus have some value associated with them. A very common and increasingly popular way to utilize bottle caps is by constructing new pieces of art or jewelry with them.
Bottle Cap Collecting Hobby History
The first bottle caps were introduced in the early 1800’s. The first modern bottle cap was a screw-on cap invented in 1856. There was also a re-closeable wire-and-cap type of bottle cap invented in the same year, still used today on some high-end beers. The modern “crown cap” bottle cap was invented in 1890, modernized to the “pilfer proof” cap in 1936, and twist-off bottle caps in 1966.
Today, producing bottle caps has become so easy with the invention and implementation of twist-off bottle caps. The twist-off bottle cap has only been around since about the 1960s after looking for new and improved ways to allow customers to have easier access to the contents of the bottle. These twist-off bottle caps are so easy to install that many consumers can now bottle their own products at home with a simple capping machine and cap blanks.
Bottle Cap Fun Facts
- Bottle caps are often referred to as crowns, and the sharp edges on the caps are called teeth or tines.
- Original bottle caps were made with a small piece of cork inside and had 24 teeth, but modern bottle caps have only 21 teeth and very rarely contain cork.
- There are tens of thousands of varieties of bottle caps in existence today.
- Most bottle caps can be removed with either a bottle opener or by twisting them off, but new methods are being developed every day for easier consumer access.
Getting Started With Bottle Cap Collecting
Bottle cap collecting is an easy hobby to begin and is fun to maintain. There is a very minimal start up cost involved with the hobby of bottle cap collecting, and no prior training is required. Bottle cap collections take up very little space and can be displayed carefully in storage containers, or uniquely and creatively in a variety of ways.
There are a few items needed to begin a bottle cap collection. Storage for the bottle caps is a must. Beginning collectors often use large glass or plastic jars and containers to store their caps. Care should be used when storing caps in large jars, as the design and tines can easily become damaged or scratched.
An easy and affordable way to offset the potential for damage to the caps during storage and transport is the use of felt or quilt batting. These soft and durable materials cushion the caps yet are lightweight so that the display or storage case does not get too heavy to move if needed. Another option for storage and transport is a tackle-box style organizer that can also be lined with a lightweight padded material. This type of carrier is readily found at any hardware or sporting goods store and should not cost more than 15-25 dollars.
A bottle opener is another important tool for a bottle cap collector. Toothpicks also often come in handy to help thoroughly clean and scrape residue off of the inside of bottle caps. Non-abrasive cleaning agents should be used to ensure that the color or material of the caps is not damaged or corroded in any way.
Many collectors choose to display their collections in creative ways such as on corkboards, picture frames or by turning the caps into refrigerator magnets or jewelry. The options for creatively displaying bottle cap collections are endless. If you will be taking a crafty or creative direction with your collection, it would be a good idea to invest in a starting set of materials for your particular endeavor. If you will be making jewelry or magnets, for example, it would be wise to have such goods as a hot glue gun or wire on hand for your projects.
Steps For Bottle Cap Collecting
One way to collect bottle caps is by utilizing the available beverage caps around you. You can simply find a beverage with a bottle cap, preferably the twist off variety, and carefully remove the cap. If the bottle cap must be removed with a bottle opener, great care should be taken to avoid bending and damaging the cap’s teeth. A napkin can be used between the opener and bottle cap to avoid scratching the cap as it is gently opened and removed from the bottle.
Why all the extra effort you ask? Keeping the bottle cap intact is crucial to having a full and useful collection. Moving the bottle opener slowly and methodically around the entire cap as it is lifted off ensures that the cap will maintain its proper shape.
Another way to collect bottle caps is by trying to access as many different beverages as possible. Part of the fun of collecting caps is sampling the many unique drinks purchased for their bottle caps. If you are of age, breweries often provide tasting at the end of a brewery tour, not to mention all of the bottled beverages you receive at restaurants.
Another possible way to amass a nice bottle cap collection is the search and discovery method. Take family trips to the park, the beach, and even camping spots to boost your chances of finding a spare bottle cap. One great tool that will help is a metal detector which can alert you to hidden bottle caps well below the surface of the ground. Many collectors will let their family and friends know that they have started a collection, and ask them to pass along any spare bottle caps. This is a fantastic way to grow a bottle cap collection and helps to ensure a wide variety of designs and caps.
Although finding bottle caps may seem like the majority of the activity, you want to make sure you spend some serious time and attention to your collected bottle caps so they will last a long time. Once a cap is removed, wash the cap carefully with warm water and mild soap before adding it to the collection. This is especially true of “found” caps that may have spent considerable time buried in dirt and grime.
Tips And Tricks
The following tips and tricks can help you get the most out of your bottle cap collecting hobby…
- Many collectors use bottle caps to create art by arranging the caps to form colorful pictures and words.
- If a bottle cap becomes rusted, soak it in lemon juice for several hours and then rinse with soap and water. Allow the bottle cap to dry completely before storing it.
- Bottle caps should always be washed before adding them to a collection because unwashed bottle caps are unsanitary and can start to emit a strong odor in a short amount of time.
- Empty jewelry cases work great for bottle cap storage.
Ways To Grow The Hobby
Bottle cap collecting can quickly grow into a serious hobby as many find the search for bottle caps addicting. A serious bottle cap collector will take great care to organize the bottle caps as well as to maintain and preserve their original look and shape. Serious collectors store bottle caps in flat, clear containers and often times will line them between a soft to cloth to prevent possible damage to the cap tines and designs on top. Once you have your collection and your hobby under way, there are several ways to grow and expand your hobby.
Online auction sites, such as eBay, and flea markets are great places to locate rare or vintage bottle caps for the experienced collector. A collector that is willing to take time to search around can find and purchase extremely rare bottle caps at a low cost.
There are bottle cap groups and societies where experienced bottle cap collectors can join to display their collections and find information on rare bottle caps that have been found.
If you are using your hobby as a way to craft jewelry or other items, you can sell your hand-made items at local flea markets or farmer’s markets.
Check out the following online resources for more help enjoying your bottle cap collecting hobby…
The Bottle Cap Man – Information on one man’s personal collection of thousands of caps, as well as links to many valuable bottle cap resources.
DMOZ Bottle Cap Directory – A directory of many bottle cap websites, from personal sites to cap databases that are organized by brand or country or origin.
Personal Cap Database – A bottle cap database that shows which caps belong to which country and vice versa.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.