Vintage beer cans spanning generations makes for valuable treasures to local collectors
TAMPA, Fla. - From a classic Budweiser to a vintage Coors, Joe Older has an impressive collection of wall-to-wall beer cans spanning generations.
He shares his passion with enthusiasts from across the country as part of a Florida group called Gator Traders. It's the local chapter of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA).
"We host shows throughout the state of Florida," Older said. "We'll have 100 people or so come in, buy, sell trade anything related to beer, beer signs, trays, cans bottles."
He wasn't even old enough to drink when he started collecting empty cans.
"It was a very popular hobby back in the seventies for some reason and a lot of kids did it," Older said. "Fifty, sixty, seventy years ago, it was not uncommon for people working on a house or working in a building to have a beer with their lunch, and they would oftentimes stick the beer can in the wall and that's where we find a lot of cans is in old buildings that are being remodeled, torn down and old beer cans will come out of the walls or in the attic. Some of them have really gone up in value."
Dan Morean turned beer can collecting into a business, creating Morean Auctions for those looking for that rare find.
"Sometimes a new piece will be found and that's kind of exciting when you think you've seen everything," said Morean. "You can get a can for 50 cents or the most one has sold for that I know of is $150,000."
But it's not all about the value of the cans. Older said he loves the historical aspect, including reading about the brewing history, where the cans came from, what the brewery was like, who owned it and how it got started.
Older said the cans that are the most valuable are the ones you couldn't crush easily.
"The older cans are the better cans so what you're looking for is the older steel type of can, so they're not aluminum. Some aluminum cans have some value but very, very few of them do," said Older.
"If it's got a cone shaped spout on it that's also a good indicator," said Morean.
"Any can that shows instructions on how to open it those are the very earliest cans because actually the can opener was invented for the beer can, so they had to teach people how to get the beer out of the can when they didn't have a pull tab," said Older.
And Morean said don't be so quick to throw out the cans made today.
"I always say keep your cans. If you like them, and you have a place to display them why not? If there's not a lot of them made," said Morean. "Some of these craft brews issue small runs I think they could be collectible and valuable in the future."
For more information about Gator Traders, visit www.gatortraders.net. For more information about Morean Auctions, visit www.moreanauctions.com.