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HOW I GOT STARTED
I have been collecting shot glasses for more than ten years. I started by buying souvenir glasses from places that I had visisted, maybe one or two a year. Then I saw an episode of M*A*S*H where the guys in the swamp were playing a game of checkers, but instead of using normal checkers, the men were shotglasses filled with alcohol. I thought that this would be something fun to try -- all I needed was a few more shotglasses.
It took me a few years until I had enough glasses, since I was still only purchasing one or two a year, and getting a few from friends and family. Once I had enough glasses, I made a board and brought it out the next time I had some friends over. My first game was difficult, since I could not remember the rules -- all I did was mirror the moves of my opponent. (For those of you who, like me, do not remember the rules and strategies required for checkers, this is one of the worst strategies; you eventually get to a point where you lose at least one man with every move!)
There are two versions of the game: version 1) If your man gets captured, you drink it. version 2) If you capture a man, you have to drink it. The second version is a way of equalizing the game: give the better player a handicap by making them drink more. Unfortunately, in my first game, we were playing with the first set of rules :) I have played the game with shots of whiskey and vodka, or shots of mixed drinks or even beer.
Having enough glasses to play checkers was my original goal, but I did not stop collecting when I got there. I still purchased a few glasses a year, mainly from places that I had visited. Even though most of the places that I visited were selling shotglasses, I still felt as if I was the only person collecting them. Most people that I met had one or two glasses in a cabinet or on a shelf, but nobody had a collection. Then I went to an estate sale with a friend, and they had a bunch of glasses for sale. Many of them were older glasses with designs that were very different than most of the glasses that I have. They were not glasses advertising some product, nor were they souveniers from someplace someone had visited. They had designs that were cute or humorous. They had cartoons on them, and funny sayings, and I wanted more of them. Somebody had collected these in the past, so I needed to start visiting places with things from the past.
I started visiting antique stores and flea markets. Although many antique stores will not carry shotglasses because they are relatively new and relatively inexpensive, quite a few shops have them. I have had the greatest success at Antique Malls -- places where many smaller dealers rent out "booths" under the same roof. Although some of my friends have had luck finding glasses at garage sales, I have not.
As the internet grew, I communicated with a few other collectors via e-mail, and heard about the Shotglass Club of America. I joined the club and purchased two books written by Mark Pickvet who also ran the club. The club had a monthly newsletter, which consisted primarily of drawings of shotglasses sent in by the members. The club no longer exists.
The books written by Pickvet are the only books that I have found on the topic of shotglass collecting.
I have found two other books on "Spirit Glasses" which are thin-sided advertising glasses from the pre-prohibition era. Although "spirit glasses" or "sample glasses" occasionally show up with shotglasses, they are usually much more expensive: $10-20 for a spirit glass versus $3-5 for a shotglass.