Antique Bottle, Believed Fake, Surprises Owner by Earning $23,000 at Auction

A good deed goes unpunished. Quite the opposite, actually.

By Ethan L. Johns
July 16, 2018

Images: BBR Auctions

This here is nothing like the bottle collection you kept your freshman year of college.

Steve Williams, an English antique collector, was visiting an antiques fair when he stumbled upon what was believed to be a fake glass wine bottle, stamped with a date of 1682. Earlier this month, he sold it at auction for an equivalent of $23,821—about 600 times its purchase price.

Quite the turnaround, eh?

Eager to remove the bottle from the market so that other collectors wouldn’t mistake it for a real bottle, Williams purchased it for £30 (about $40), thinking he was merely doing “a good deed.” After posting a photo of the find on Facebook, he was contacted by an auction house with a request to take a closer look.

Upon inspection, the auctioneer reported that the wear on the black glass bottle was consistent with the way it would have been sealed over 300 years ago, back before the Industrial Revolution. To Williams’ surprise, he had a veritable artifact in his possession.

The bottle was auctioned off on July 8th alongside old pot lids, clay pipes and inkwells. It was purchased for £18,000 ($23,821), before fees were added. The next-most expensive item—an undated olive green bottle—was sold for an equivalent hammer price of $4,630.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that good gestures can sometimes be rewarded. That and the fact that your empty bottle collection might actually be worth something after all.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns