Antique Treasure Hunt: The Most Valuable Old Brown Glass Clorox Bottles

For many antique collectors, there‘s something magical about unearthing a vintage gem from the past. And for those passionate about the history of household products, old brown glass Clorox bottles are a prized find. Produced from the early 1900s through the 1960s, these amber containers tell the story of a classic American brand.

Some rare Clorox bottles from the early 20th century can fetch up to $150 or more on the collector‘s market. But what makes an old bleach jar so valuable? As a collector and antique expert, I‘m here to spill the secrets. Join me on a deep dive into the most sought-after Clorox bottles and learn how you can start treasure hunting for these beautiful pieces of the past.

A Brief History of Clorox Glass Bottles

The Clorox Company got its start in 1913 making industrial-strength bleach in Oakland, California. In the early days, the bleach was stored and transported in five-gallon stoneware jugs. But as the company grew, they needed a more practical and portable container for household use.

In 1928, Clorox introduced their now-iconic amber glass bottles. The dark brown color protected the bleach from degrading in sunlight. A young in-house designer created the diamond-shaped logo with "Clorox" emblazoned across the front. The earliest bottles had rubber stoppers and held around 15 fluid ounces.

Over the decades, as Clorox expanded nationally, the bottle designs evolved. In the 1940s, they switched to a more squared-off shape and added embossed lettering. Screw-on caps replaced the old rubber stoppers. After World War II, the company added ribbed texturing to the bottle‘s shoulders and base for a better grip.

The 1950s saw the introduction of a one-gallon jug with a handle for bulk buyers. But by 1962, glass was on its way out, as Clorox transitioned to cheaper and shatter-resistant white plastic jugs. Those old glass bottles, once ubiquitous, soon became coveted collectibles.

What Makes an Old Clorox Bottle Valuable?

Not every vintage Clorox bottle is worth big bucks. As with any antique appraisal, value depends on a combination of factors, including:

Rarity: Uncommon designs that were only produced for a short time tend to be the most valuable. For example, the "bulb-shaped" bottles briefly used in the early 1960s are hard to come by.

Age: Generally, the older the bottle, the more it‘s worth, as fewer have survived over time. Clorox bottles from before 1940 are the most sought-after.

Condition: As you might expect, bottles in pristine shape with no chips, cracks, or scratches will fetch the highest price tags. Collectors want that like-new look.

Size: Larger bottles, like the half-gallon and gallon jugs, are less common than the pint-sized containers, giving them a boost in value.

Lid: Having the original cap or stopper is a must for serious collectors. Bottles with unusual lid designs, like the metal screw caps briefly used in the late 1930s, are especially prized.

The 10 Most Valuable Old Clorox Bottles

So which Clorox bottles should you keep an eye out for? Here are ten of the most valuable, based on their age, rarity, and distinguishing features:

1. 1920s 15-Ounce Amber Glass Bottle

Years Produced: 1928-1933
Estimated Value: $75-150

Clorox‘s very first glass bottles are among the most valuable and hardest to find. Produced for only a few years, these 15-ounce containers have a unique shape, with a short neck and bulbous base. The words "Clorox Bleach" are embossed directly onto the glass. Most have a faint blue tint from the copper oxide used to make the amber color. With their hand-applied rubber stoppers and crude craftsmanship, these nearly century-old bottles are a throwback to a bygone era.

2. 1930s 32-Ounce "Poison" Bottle

Years Produced: 1933-1938
Estimated Value: $50-100

In the early 1930s, Clorox more than doubled the size of its standard bottle and began marketing the bleach as a heavy-duty "poison" for serious cleaning jobs. These larger 32-ounce bottles have a unique logo with a skull and crossbones underscored by the words "MUST NOT BE TAKEN." Collectors love these so-called "poison bottles" for their dramatic flair. The rubber stoppers were soon replaced by metal screw caps, making the stopper versions extra valuable.

3. 1940s Wartime Quart Bottle

Years Produced: 1942-1945
Estimated Value: $30-60

During World War II, Clorox scaled back its bottle production and focused on supplying bleach to the U.S. military for sanitation and water treatment. The quart-sized bottles from this period have a distinctive ribbed texture on the shoulders and base. While the glass color became more of a yellowish amber due to scrap metal shortages, the bottles kept the company‘s signature diamond logo. Today these "wartime" bottles are a favorite of collectors who appreciate their connection to history.

4. 1950s Half-Gallon Jug With Applied Handle

Years Produced: 1948-1957
Estimated Value: $20-40

After years of offering only pint and quart sizes, Clorox supersized its lineup with a hefty half-gallon jug for families that did a lot of laundry. These squat, bulbous bottles have a thick glass handle applied to the neck. The first jugs hit the market in clear glass in 1947 but soon transitioned to the classic amber hue. With a screw-on cap and minimalist logo, this mid-century design bridges the gap between vintage charm and modern convenience.

5. 1960s 1-Gallon Amber Jug

Years Produced: 1957-1962
Estimated Value: $10-30

As the 1960s arrived, Clorox upped the ante again with a massive one-gallon bottle targeted at the commercial laundry industry. Standing over a foot tall, these imposing jugs have an angular shape, with a wide mouth and thick base. The embossed diamond logo is sharper and more stylized than on earlier bottles. While not as rare as some older designs, these big bottles still make a statement on any collector‘s shelf.

6. 1920s Sample Size Bottle

Years Produced: 1929-1933
Estimated Value: $100+

Among the rarest and most valuable Clorox bottles are tiny 2-ounce sample sizes distributed in the late 1920s and early ‘30s. Designed as giveaways to lure new customers, these pint-sized versions of the classic 15-ounce amber bottle held just enough bleach to tackle a small job or two. Few of these adorable mini-bottles have survived over the decades, so they‘re a real score for serious collectors.

7. 1940s Amber Glass Stopper Bottle

Years Produced: 1945-1948
Estimated Value: $40-80

In the mid-1940s, Clorox briefly revived its old rubber stopper lid, updated with the company name embossed on top. These transitional bottles meld the squat shape of the wartime bottles with the screw-top style that was becoming standard. With their bold diamond logo and neat stoppers, these post-war bottles hit the sweet spot for many collectors.

8. 1950s Clear Glass Pint Bottle

Years Produced: 1954-1957
Estimated Value: $15-40

While amber glass is synonymous with vintage Clorox, the company did produce some clear bottles in the 1950s as a test market. Made of thick, chunky glass with ridged sides, these bottles were supposedly designed to show off the purity of the bleach inside. The see-through bottles didn‘t catch on, as customers preferred the familiar brown color. That makes these clear oddballs a collector‘s item today.

9. Early 1960s "Bulb-Shaped" Bottle

Years Produced: 1960-1962
Estimated Value: $25-50

Just before Clorox made the switch to plastic in 1962, they experimented with an unusual pinched-in bottle shape, like an hourglass corseted at the waist. This short-lived design was intended to be easier to grip and pour one-handed. While it didn‘t prove popular with consumers, the so-called "bulb bottle" stands out in a sea of straight-sided containers. Today it‘s one of the most sought-after bottles from Clorox‘s glass era.

10. 1930s Amber Quart With Full Paper Label

Years Produced: 1933-1938
Estimated Value: $40-70

While most vintage Clorox bottles are identified by their embossed logos, a few rare examples still bear their original paper labels. These quart bottles from the mid-1930s were screen printed with the diamond logo and product details. The labels featured bright orange and blue inks that popped against the amber glass. Since the paper was easily damaged or removed over time, bottles with fully intact labels are a rare find. For collectors, they offer a colorful glimpse of Clorox‘s early branding.

Tips for Identifying and Dating Old Clorox Bottles

Now that you know some of the most valuable Clorox bottles, how can you tell if that brown jug at the thrift store is a genuine treasure? While the exact year of production is rarely printed on the bottle, you can use certain clues to narrow down the timeframe:

  • Bottle Shape: Clorox went through several major redesigns over the decades, from bulbous, bottom-heavy bottles in the 1920s to straight-sided, cylindrical shapes in the 1940s and ‘50s.

  • Logo and Lettering: The famous diamond logo saw subtle changes over time, becoming more angular and stylized from the 1940s onward. Bottles from the ‘20s and ‘30s tend to have a more rounded diamond shape.

  • Lid Type: The earliest bottles used plug-like rubber stoppers, which transitioned to metal screw caps in the mid-1930s. Clorox briefly revived the stoppers in the ‘40s before standardizing screw-tops.

  • Texture and Embossing: During the 1940s and ‘50s, Clorox added textured ridges to the shoulders and base of their bottles for easier gripping. Older bottles tend to have smooth, plain sides.

While these guidelines can point you in the right direction, the best way to determine a bottle‘s age and value is to consult an expert. Antique appraisers and seasoned collectors have handled hundreds of vintage bottles and know the subtle differences that set rare examples apart.

Buying and Selling Vintage Clorox Bottles

Whether you‘re looking to start a Clorox bottle collection or cash in on one you‘ve inherited, there are plenty of places to buy and sell these vintage beauties. Here are a few to check out:

  • Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon have made it easier than ever to find antique bottles from the comfort of home. You can compare prices, read seller reviews, and have your purchase shipped right to your door.

  • Antique Shops and Flea Markets: For a more hands-on shopping experience, try browsing local antique stores, flea markets, and garage sales. You never know when you might stumble upon a rare Clorox find. Plus, you can inspect the bottle up close for any chips or imperfections.

  • Specialty Bottle Collectors: There are clubs and online forums dedicated to antique bottle collecting, like the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors. These groups often host sales, swaps, and auctions where you can mingle with other enthusiasts and learn more about your Clorox treasures.

When buying old bottles online, be sure to examine photos carefully and ask the seller questions about the bottle‘s condition and history. And if a price seems too good to be true, be wary—reproductions and fakes do crop up from time to time.

If you‘re ready to sell your Clorox bottles, consider getting them professionally appraised first so you know what they‘re worth. You can search for a certified appraiser through organizations like the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.

Once you‘ve set a fair price, decide where you‘ll list your bottles for sale. Online marketplaces make it easy to reach a wide audience of potential buyers. You can also work with an antique dealer to sell your bottles on consignment, or set up a booth at a collectors‘ show to sell directly to other enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

As you start your search for the perfect vintage Clorox bottle, you‘re bound to have a few questions. Here are answers to some of the most common queries:

Q: How can I tell if my Clorox bottle is authentic?
A: Look for embossed logos, textured glass, and other design details consistent with bottles from the era. Examine the base of the bottle for a maker‘s mark, which can help date the piece. If you‘re unsure, consult an expert or compare your bottle to verified examples.

Q: What if my bottle is chipped or cracked?
A: While condition is key to value, even damaged bottles can be worth something to the right collector. Rare bottles with minor imperfections may still fetch a decent price. Just be sure to disclose any flaws when selling.

Q: How should I clean my vintage Clorox bottles?
A: With care! Don‘t use harsh detergents or scrub the glass, as this can damage the finish. Instead, gently hand wash with mild dish soap and dry thoroughly. Use a soft brush to remove dirt from crevices.

Q: What if I can‘t find any information on my bottle?
A: Some Clorox bottle variations are so rare, they may not show up in online price guides or collector‘s manuals. If you‘ve searched high and low with no luck, consider reaching out to an antique bottle specialist for help identifying your unique piece.

Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or a newbie treasure hunter, the world of vintage Clorox bottles is full of surprises. With a keen eye and a little luck, you might just unearth a rare amber gem that shines a light on a fascinating chapter of American history. Happy hunting!

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