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I have been collecting shotglasses for almost half of my life, and for the longest time, I felt like I was the only one who collected these things. Over the years, I have searched for information on shotglasses and shotglass collecting. There is not much information available, so I decided to create this site to share what I have learned.
Nipple Caps or Nipple CoversAnother item that often shows up in collections of older glasses are "nipple caps" or "nipple covers" for glass baby bottles (also known as "nursing bottles"). Many older baby bottles had much narrower openings than modern bottles, which have a wider opening (making them easier to clean). These older bottles had a rubber nipple that stretched over the opening, and the nipple cover was held on by just a pressure fit over the rubber.
Many if these caps have a flat top, such as this example so if you stand them up, they look like a small glass. They are also about the same height as a shotglass, and are made from fairly thick glass, so I can see why someone might add one to their collection. Two problems that I have with caps being included in a collection is that since these bottles had fairly small openings, these covers are fairly narrow (much narrower than your average shotglass). These covers also usually have some name embossed on them, and with names such as "Steri-Seal", "Stork " and "Tuffy-Kap" it seems obvious that they are something other than shotglasses.
But having said that, here are three examples that are in my collection. I obtained them as parts of collections that I have purchased, and keep them as examples of what might be, or might not be, a shotglass.
Toy TumblersAs a collection grows, especially a collection that includes older glasses, or glasses obtained from family and friends, items that were not originally produced as "shot glasses" may enter the collection. One of the more obscure types of these items is a "toy tumbler."
A "toy tumbler" is a small glass that was sold as a child's toy -- a glass made for playing "house" with a doll or teddy bear, made to serve water or lemonade. In the days before toys were made out of plastic, children were allowed to play with things that were made out of glass. These glasses usually came in a set that included a tiny pitcher. The sets are regularly seen as children's toys and sold that way. As with most breakable objects, the entire set often does not survive, and the remaining glasses make their way onto shelves marked as shotglasses.
Many of these "toy tumblers" come from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, so the style of the glass often mimics a fancy cut glass pattern. Because they are so old, and were "played with" they often have small chips missing from their base or their rim. Also, since they were made as toys, the workmanship may not be as good as it would be on an "adult" glass of the period.
As you can see from the photograph, they are usually smaller than a "standard" American shotglass, but about the same same size as a "Slightly Barrel Shaped - small" glass which is quite common in Europe which hold 20 ml or 2 cl of liquid. Most of the "toy tumblers" that I was able to find online are being sold as sets, with the price of over $10 per glass (even as a set missing the pitcher). I do not know if you can get the same price for a single glass if you correctly identify it as a children's toy, but most of the ones that I have purchased as "shotglasses" were priced much lower. The "toy tumblers" in the database can be found (along with a few others) by searching for the keyword "toy"
Tomorrow Never DiesSomebody has provided me with information about the shotglasses from the movie "Tomorrow Never Dies." The glass appears to be a "Vodka glass" from the Boris collection of a UK glass maker called LSA International. They can be purchased Here. Thanks Dmitrii!
More Shotglass Origin InfoIn my research into the origin of the shotglass I looked into when the word "shot" started to be used in association with drinking alcohol (or distilled spirits). I was hoping that it would be a rather recent connection, but I was wrong. I found a story from the 1830's that talked about the first drink from a bottle to be the deadliest -- I assume because without a first drink you would never have a second... But in the story they talk about taking a shot from the bottle (but no mention of using a glass).
The shotglass has its origin at the beginning of the 20th century. Manufacturing processes that made glassware inexpensive probably played a part. Prohibition helped kill the thin-sided "pre-prohibition sample glass." Soon after these stopped being made, the more sturdy, thick-walled shotglass appears. Perhaps bartenders and/or owner of places that served alcohol had been using the free glasses and liked them. When the free ones were no longer available they had to pay for a similar glass, and since they were spending their own money on them, they wanted something that would last, and started using thicker glasses.
The research continues...
More Disney ShotglassesI have been collecting Disney shotglasses for years, and have noticed that they call them "toothpick holders." On a recent trip I noticed that the receipt listed an item as a "shotglass". It looks like they are called "toothpick holders" at parks where alcohol is not served (such as the Magic Kingdom) and are called "shot glasses" at parks where alcohol is served (such as Epcot).
More Epcot ShotglassesIt is time for me to again write about one of the topics that I write about quite often: Shotglasses from Epcot at Walt Disney World. There is a new group of shotglasses for the countries of the world showcase. These new glasses are a tall pilsner shape, with a white design. The last Epcot glasses were tall, flared glasses with a slight foot and were not something that appealed to many collectors, so it is nice to see a return to a more mainstream design.
One of the odd things about the new glasses is that the Norway glass, while similar in design to the rest of the countries, is at least twice as large as the other glasses. Also, while in the past you could purchase a glass for Sweden and Denmark at the Norway pavillion, there are no other countries represented with the new design. Both the China and Japan pavillions did not have glasses in the previous, flared design, and they do not have the latest design either. They both still have an older "standard" shaped glass.
Buying Shotglass CollectionsMany people post on the message board that they are selling their collection, and I was wondering if anybody has purchased any, and would like to share their experiences. I have purchased a number of collections, and most of my experiences have been less than good. A while back I wrote about how to pack and ship shotglasses, and most of the sellers did not follow these simple rules, resulting in lots of broken glasses. Please post your stories on the message board.
Shotglass SizePeople love to argue about is the size of a "shot." The main reason for the arguments (at least here in the United States) is that there is no federal definition for the size of a shot. This leaves it up to the states to define the size of a drink, but most states do not have laws or regulations that address the minimum size, or amount of alcohol, in a drink. Most of the states that have regulations only address the maximum amount of alcohol that can be served to, or in the possession of a patron.
While researching this I had found one attempt at creating an "official" definition for a shot in a State (the state of New York tried to legislate the minimum size of a shot in 1947), but the bill was not passed. The next closest thing was a law in South Carolina that required the use of mini bottles (at first 1.5 ounces, and later 1.7 ounces) -- no shotglasses or free pours allowed. This was repealed a few years ago. In March of this year, the state of Utah changed their definition of a shot from one ounce to one and one half ounces. As far as I can tell, Utah is the only state with a current law.
Bejing Olympics Shotglass SetOne of my favorite places to go on vacation is Walt Disney World. One of the places to get shotglasses at Disney World is the World Showcase at Epcot. For those who do not know what the World Showcase is, it is an area of the park where parts of various countries are reproduced, and staffed by residents of the respective countries. You can shop, eat and drink in eleven different countries.
Over the years, there have been a couple of different sets of glasses available at Epcot. These sets usually have the flag of the country along with the name of the country. There are often more than eleven glasses in the set, as glasses from Finland and Sweden are available in Norway, while Nothern Ireland, Scotland and Wales glasses are available at the United Kingdom pavillion. These sets are specific to Epcot.
There are occasionally other shotglasses available at the pavillions, usually representing some part of the host country. This year there was a set at the China pavillion that I just had to buy. They have created a set of 38 shotglasses to commemorate the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. There is one glass for each of the sports. I have many Olympic shotglasses, but I have never seen a set with this many glasses. For those of you who are interested, I have found a place online where you can Buy This Set.
Doc Holliday's cup from the movie TombstoneI often get questions about shotglasses from the movies. One of the most asked about "glasses" is the small metal cup (with a handle) that was used by Val Kilmer in his role as Doc Holliday in the 1993 movie Tombstone.
My usual answer to this question is that metal cups are easy to make on a small scale, and they often have no maker's mark on them, so their origin is difficult to determine. So even if I had the item in front of me, I might not be able to determine where (or when) it was made. Trying to identify an object from a movie is almost impossible.
Well, I decided to use some of my knowledge of the theater and movie making, and see if I could find out more. Asking somebody to remember a small prop from a movie made over a dozen years ago is quite a longshot, but as it turns out, I was able to contact someone from the the production who remembers the cup. If a prop comes from the property department (props) they will have more than one, just in case one gets lost or damaged. This cup stood out because there were no replacements, so when it went missing, it HAD to be found. Most likely this cup was picked up in Santa Fe by Val Kilmer himself, and he brought it to the set.
Anybody in Santa Fe want to start checking out the local metalsmiths?
Shipping ShotglassesI have purchased hundreds shotglasses on-line, and I have traded many glasses with other collectors. I have received packages where the glasses were well protected, and glasses that were just dropped into an empty box with no padding, or just mailed in a padded envelope (a bad idea!). I have received many broken glasses, and while insurance can provide monetary reimbursement, it cannot replace a "one-of-a-kind" item or complete a boxed set where one glass was damaged, or repair an original box damaged in transit. Nothing can protect against everything that a package will encounter on its trip, but here are a few things that I have learned:
In the previous paragraph I mentioned insurance. In general, insurance for shotglasses is a waste of money (although some people think that a package marked as insured will get better treatment.) In order to make a claim, you need the small, green insurance receipt, and most shippers do not put it in the box. If you have the receipt, and wish to make a claim, you need an independent book or guide that identifies the glass and provides a value. Very few glasses can be identified this way.
ReviewsAnybody who visits this site on a regular basis will know that I occassionally do reviews of shotglasses or shotglass related items. If you have a new shotglass or shotglass related item and would like me to review it, Contact me via the feedback link. I won't guarantee a favorable review, just an honest one :)
I NEED YOUR HELP!
I am in the process of trying to come up with guidelines for dating a glass
based on the shape of the glass, and what the maker's mark on the base of the
glass looks like. I am trying to determine the earliest use of a particular
style of glass and the range of dates that a particular maker's mark was in use.
For example, the Libbey Glass Company recently changed the base of their glasses
-- The main mark is still a script upper-case L but the "mold numbers" are now
below the letter, while prior to 1998 they were to the left of the letter.