Beginners Guide to Collecting Bottle Caps

beer bottle caps in a pile with a variety in the collection

Beginners Guide to Collecting Bottle Caps

Bottle Cap collecting is not a new hobby. In fact, collecting and displaying bottle caps has been around as long as bottle caps have! And caps weren’t just for display; many nineties kids are familiar with pogs–the fun collectable discs that were all the rage on playgrounds.

But did you know that pogs were originally bottlecaps? That’s actually where the name comes from– a popular brand of juice, passion fruit, orange and guava, had caps that were perfect for playing with, and soon they shortened the name of the game to the name on the caps– POG. 

Interest in pogs may have waned over time, but bottle cap collecting is alive and well! This relatively inexpensive hobby is extremely popular because bottle caps are small and easy to store, but often display fun and nostalgic art or are associated with an event (such as the Olympics or a Superbowl.)

A quick search online and you will find hundreds of message boards on the subject of bottle cap collecting. People collect, trade, make crafts and even sell rare and vintage bottle caps from beer and soft drinks.

Read on to learn more about Bottle Cap Collecting and why it might be fun for you! 

Why Do People Collect Bottle Caps?

When bottle caps as we know them (also called crown caps) were first used by beer and soft drink companies, they were a type of advertising for the drink. Vintage bottle caps featured interesting and unique art, and because they were small and portable they were easy to keep and collect.

As time went on more beverage companies used their bottle caps to promote or celebrate events and anniversaries of the beverage, and bottle cap collecting became more and more popular. 

Bottle cap collectors are like any other collectors, seeking out the rarest and most interesting bottle caps to add to their collection. A popular type of collection is vintage soda caps, such as Coca-Cola.

Bottle cap collecting is also popular among beer afficianadios, who collect the caps of the various brews they have sampled over the years. The Guinness book of world records states that the largest collection of bottle caps in the world belongs to a Denmark man named Poul Høegh Poulson. Since he began collecting in 1956, he has amassed over 101,733 bottle caps! 

When Was the Bottle Cap Invented? 

The crown cap was invented in 1891 by Irish-born inventor William Painter. At the time soda had just become popular, and people were looking for a way to enjoy the fizzy beverage at home.

Originally most caps were made of cork or even sealed wax, but that did not work for soda and brewers also found that these caps did not keep their product suitably fresh. When WIlliam Painter invented the crown bottle cap it quickly became industry standard, and beverage companies started to decorate their crown caps, which people began collecting as momentos. 

Where To Find Collectable Bottle Caps

The best part of bottle cap collecting is how easy and inexpensive it is. If you want to start bottle cap collecting, consider what you are looking for. Some people collect the caps of rare or antique sodas and other beverages.

If that is your thing, consider checking out candy shops, specialty soda shops or even a soda fountain. There is a large community of people who collect beer caps, taking one for every brew they have sampled over the years.

If that is more your speed visit local breweries and taverns to start your collection. Whatever caps you decide to collect, enlist friends and family to help you and you will have a collection in no time! 

How Do You Open Bottles Without Denting Caps?

Crown caps are often opened with bottle openers that work by bending the cap back. This leaves a large dent in the cap, making it less ideal for collecting. For home use consider buying a specialty bottle opener designed for cap collecting.

Wine openers with bottle openers on top are also good for cap collections, because they tend to have a wide flat fulcrum point that puts less pressure on the center of the cap, which is what causes it to dent. To open bottles on the go without denting the cap use this simple trick: place a quarter on top of the cap before using a bottle opener to open it.

The fulcrum of the opener will put pressure on the quarter and not the cap, opening the drink without denting the cap. 

Where Can I Find Collectible Bottle Caps?

The best way to find bottle caps is to get them from beverages you have purchased– enlist friends and family and even coworkers to collect their bottle caps for you, and you will find yourself a sizable collection in no time!

Those wanting to jump ahead can purchase full collections of bottle caps on resale sites like eBay. A quick search shows bottle cap collections ranging from a few dollars to thousands! But keep in mind– most of the fun of bottle cap collecting is finding them yourself. 

What Are the Most Valuable Bottle Caps?

The going rate for collectible bottle caps depends on the market. Bottle Cap collecting is not as trade heavy as many other collections and is primarily used for the personal satisfaction of seeing how many different caps you can collect, as well as the advertising art.

That being said, the car brand Lexus once released a Lexus bottle cap that came with the purchase of one of their luxury cars. The resale value of this Lexus bottle cap, when it hit the aftermarket, was about fifty- two hundred and fifty dollars.

Recently the full 1998 collection of Pokemon Gen 1 Fanta bottle caps was being sold on Ebay for almost three thousand dollars, and already has some bidders– so it’s possible that collections made today can earn you money down the line. 

Where Can I Learn About the Caps I Find?

Found a bottle cap but not sure where it is from? Check out the Bottle Cap Index, which is an online open-sourced index of bottle caps. There you can see the website’s descriptions and accompanying pictures to find out more about the bottle caps you found and their potential trading value.

You can also post a picture of the cap you found to a bottle cap collecting forum, of which there are many, and see if anyone recognizes it. If you think the cap you found might be worth something, check out what it is going for on eBay. The answer may surprise you! 

Where Can I Find a Bottle Cap Price Guide?

Searching the web for bottle caps can get confusing. There are sources all over and people selling bottle caps privately on sites such as eBay. To get a valuation, searching these sites will get you approximate costs but will take time. Collection Hero has a guide available online for viewing. Sites like CCSI have many bottle caps for sale and are a good guide for pricing your bottle caps.  

Are Crown Caps the Only Collectable Kind? 

Nope! Milk cap collecting, especially vintage cardboard milk caps, is very popular. In fact, the game of pogs originally was called “milk caps” and popularized by a Hawaiian schoolteacher in the late eighties.

The game was played with milk caps, usually collected from the local dairy–Haleakala Dairy of Hawaii. Haleakala Dairy also produced the popular juice blend of Passionfruit, Oranges and Guava, aka POG, whose caps were perfect for the game. This is where the name Pogs comes from!

Currently original milk caps from Haleakala Dairy are being sold on ebay for a few dollars. 

How To Display Bottle Caps 

One of the best things about bottle cap collections is how fun and easy they are to display. If you are a serious collector, consider preserving your caps by securing them onto a cork board or other firm surface, and hanging or storing them.

Those less concerned with preserving the condition of the cap can also use your bottle caps as decorations–there are thousands of easy and creative ways to display your caps that are also fun DIY projects! Read on for four popular ways to display your bottle cap collection.

Drink Coasters 

For a fun conversation piece at your home bar, pick some of your favorite matching sets of crown caps and glue them to cork backing to make a drink coaster. This project lets you display your caps in a useful way! 

Decorative Bunting 

Vintage caps often have beautiful and nostalgic artwork– why not show it off? Attach caps at regular intervals to twill tape for bunting, or thread them through colorful string to hang behind the bar or above the fireplace. 

Bottle Cap Backsplash

This takes more work, but the payoff is big. What better backing for your bar than your collection of bottle caps? The method is surprisingly simple– set your bottle caps using tape or glue, grout and seal. Guests will love this creative and interesting display! 


One of the most popular Bottle Cap crafts is also the easiest– all you need is a hot glue gun, some small magnets and your favorite bottle caps. Just glue the magnets onto the underside, allow the glue to set and viola! These bottle cap magnets are both fun to make and to give as gifts! 

Collecting Bottle Caps: A Great Hobby

Bottle cap collecting can be fun, creative, and worldly. You can collect bottle caps from all over the world or just your town, it’s all unique. Online forums bring bottle cap collectors together, and it can be fun to find somebody to trade with or discuss your collection.

From displaying your bottle caps to photographing them, every collector has their own story. Why not start your own?

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