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"Found" Displays

I have seen collections displayed in many different ways. Most people start displaying (or just storing) their glasses in shelves they already have, which usually means bookshelves. This type of display causes the glasses to be six or eight glasses deep on a single shelf. This is not a very efficient method of displaying glasses since it only lets you see the glasses at the front of the shelf, and since the shelves are eight or ten inches apart, it wastes a large amount of vertical space. This vertical space can come in handy as the collection grows, because you can simply stack new glasses inside the older glasses. Some people who use these shelves will add plastic steps or risers that are sold to organize kitchen spices in an attempt to use some of the vertical space and display more glasses.

Another item that might be found around the house that works well as a shot glass display is an old "spice rack." The shelves of one of these racks are closer together than most other types of shelving, and they are only deep enough for one glass, so there is not much wasted space. Another type of shelf that I have seen used to display shotglasses were made to display plates -- they are only deep enough for one glass but they still waste quite a bit of vertical space.

One of my favorite types of "found" display cases is made from an old wooden coca-cola shipping crate. Just hang the crate on the wall, and you will have 24 spaces to hold standard sized shotglasses. I used it to hold my glasses from coke and other soda brands.

Purchased Displays

There are a number of places that sell display cases for collectors, and they have started making display cases for shotglasses. They vary from simple rows of wooden shelves to multiple shelves made of glass or brass, to cases that have multiple compartments of differing sizes for various styles of glass. Here are two web sites that I have found that sell display cases: Grandpa Jon's Woodworking and CustomDisplays.com. Also check out my Links page which may have more listings.

Build Your Own

One of the problems that I have with "found" displays or even "purchased" display cases is that they rarely fit my needs. I have an unusually large collection (over 9,000 glasses) and one of the things that has always been a concern for me was that whatever I used to display my glasses had to allow for growth in my collection. I started by building simple rectangular units consisting of multiple rows of shelves. When one unit was full, I could build another and simply mount it on the wall above, below or even next to the other(s).

I make my shelves out of 1x3 lumber (not 1x3 furring strips which are made from a lower quality of wood). Most large lumber yards or "home centers" sell pre-cut lengths of wood such as Poplar. They come in four foot lengths, so I decided that I could build a 4 foot wide shelf unit and only need to make one cut (to make the sides -- If they have 2 foot pieces, you do not even need to make one cut!). A 1x3 piece of lumber is 3/4 of an inch thick, and most "standard" shotglasses will fit on a shelf that is 2 1/4 inches high (if you do not like to measure, an audio cassette box can be used as a spacer). With 10 four foot sections of wood you can build a unit that has eight shelves, each of which is 49 1/2 inches wide and 24 inches high (If you only adjust the height of one shelf, it would have to be only 1 1/2 inches high which is very small -- it would be better to adjust two shelves, one to 2 inches and one to 1 and 3/4 inches) or with 9 boards you can get a unit with seven shelves, and one shelf would be 4 1/5 inches tall, which will hold Hard Rock and other tall glasses. To mount the unit on a wall, I put two large (10d) nails into wall studs and rest the second or third shelf from the top on those nails. Each shelf will hold about 25 glasses, so each unit will hold between 175 and 200 glasses.

I recently moved into a new house and decided that I was going to line the walls of my basement with shelves for my glasses. I modified the design to make a shelf that is 48 inches wide and make the whole unit 8 feet tall. I attach a standard sheet of light-colored paneling to the back, which both provides a bright background for the glasses and adds support to the whole unit. I also leave the lower 30 inches of the unit empty to keep the glasses away from small children and wagging dog tails. I would like to add doors, but have not figured out what style (sliding, hinged at the side, hinged at the top) I want to use. I make the top and bottom shelves tall enough to hold the Tall "shooter" type of glasses, and make all of the rest for "standard" glasses.

wall unit