Rare ginger beer bottle sells at auction for $17,500

A RARE 90-year-old ginger beer bottle has sold at a Toowoomba auction for a staggering $17,500.

Not only were the owners and auctioneer shocked at the hammer price of the stoneware Doneley and Butler bottle, it also broke the world record for the sale of this type of crown sealed stone ginger beer bottle.

The bottle was made for a Warwick soft drink company in the 1930s and auctioneer Graham Lancaster said it was an "insanely popular collectable."

Mr Lancaster of Graham Lancaster Auctions in Toowoomba said this particular bottle was so rare because there were only a few left in perfect condition.

This ginger beer bottle sold for $17,500 at a Graham Lancaster Auction in Toowoomba.
This ginger beer bottle sold for $17,500 at a Graham Lancaster Auction in Toowoomba.

"Bottle collecting is a very, very strong hobby in Australia, and many people collect ginger beer bottles," he said.

"What makes a bottle so valuable to collectors are a few factors which include rarity, condition, quality and desirability.

"This was the first time one of these bottles has been offered for sale via auction, so everyone was after it."

Due to COVID-19 the auction was held online and there were people bidding from every state in Australia as well as from countries around the world.

"The higher the price got, the more people dropped out and when it hit $10,000 it was a two-horse race," Mr Lancaster said.

"I originally thought it might fetch $5000, but after initial interest I was thinking around $10,000 but the final price was crazy.

"With premium and commission on top of the hammer price the buyer, who is a private Queensland collector and investor, actually paid over $20,000 for it in the end."

Mr Lancaster said the bottle was part of a larger collection he was auctioning off for clients.

"The owners were absolutely over the moon. They paid $1500 for the bottle 20 years ago and the value has multiplied by over 10 times since then," he said.

"It was actually owned by my dad 35 years ago, but he sold it all those years ago and now with me selling it at auction it's come full circle."

Since COVID-19 Mr Lancaster has been holding online auctions, and to his surprise they have been going far better than he expected.

"When we found out we could no longer have live auctions with bidders at our Railway St location we thought we'd get nobody at our online auctions but it's been the compete opposite, and they have attracted crazy interest," he said.

The next online bottle auction is Sunday, August 2.

The catalogue and gallery can be found at www.gldauctions.com.au.