“Everybody collects something,” said Ed Detwiler, treasurer of the Delmarva Antique Bottle Club.
Detwiler has been collecting antique glass bottles since he was young, growing up in Pennsylvania.
“We lived right by the gardens. My dad grew up there and I grew up there,” said Detwiler’s wife, Joyce, who is also a collector. “We would go out sometimes in the fields and in the woods and we’d dig them up.”
The Detwilers now have a beautiful collection of glass, with Ed collecting mostly Warner’s Safe bottles, although he also has bitter bottles, poison bottles and more.
“People collect all different things. I collect Warner’s Safe. Other people maybe collect Delaware sodas, Delaware medicines, tri-state medicines,” he said.
This weekend, fellow antique bottle lovers have the opportunity to attend the club’s antique bottle show and sale at American Legion Post #28.
The show will be held on Sunday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Approximately 20 tables will have glassware for sale for those interested in purchasing, or those simply looking to admire.
“When we have a show, there are people who come from all over and set up a table,” explained Joyce Detwiler.
People will find bottles at the show to meet every budget — ranging from just $1 and up.
“Anybody that’s interested in bottles [should attend],” he said.
The club has held 18 bottle shows in the past and even hosted one at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center.
“We had over 1,000 people come in to that show,” he said. “We want to get back into the big shows like we had.”
The Detwilers joined the Delmarva Antique Bottle Club when it was formed by Ferdinand Meyer IV in 1992.
“Fred Meyers was involved with the Baltimore Club. Essex College has a show in March, and it’s one of the biggest in the world. It’s amazing some of the bottles that are there — I’m talking bottles from $1 to $85,000,” he said. “The high-priced bottles … they’re one-of-a-kind or maybe one of five.”
Collecting antique bottles is all about finding what you like, according to the Detwilers.
“A lot of people are interested in milk bottles. Oh, my goodness — some of those milk bottles sell for $300 a bottle or more. It’s the bottles from old Delaware farms,” said Joyce Detwiler.
“One of the things a lot of people try to do is find things with their name on it,” added Ed Detwiler, noting that he started collecting Warner’s Safe because “I found one one day and liked it.”
Detwiler’s collection includes bottles from Poland and Germany, as well as a bottle with his name on it — just spelled differently. One of his prized possessions is a 1867 brown Indian bitters bottle.
“Anybody that collects bottles wanted an Indian Queen,” he said.
The club meets once a month, either at a member’s home or at the Long Neck Diner. Becoming a member of the club costs $12 per year per family.
Currently, the club has approximately 30 members. The purpose of the club is to be educational and charitable and to “encourage, foster and promote all activities toward the improvement of bottle collections, to better facilitate the exhibiting, displaying, promoting and researching of bottles, glass and related items.”
“We’re looking for more young members,” said Ed Detwiler.
To focus on its charitable mission, each year the club awards a scholarship to an area high school student.
“Every year, our club, with the help of a lady in the club, awards a scholarship. This past year we were little — it was only $500. Most of the time, we hope to have $1,000.”
Aside from collecting one-of-a-kind pieces of glass, ranging from Indian medicines to clam-shaped bottles, the Detwilers said the club is really all about the people.
“What do I like about the club? Meeting with my friends, seeing what somebody comes up with on finds, just socializing with the group.
“It’s about the people — people make up the club.”
American Legion Post #28 is located at 31768 Legion Road, off Route 24, west of Millsboro. For more information about the show or to become a member, contact Peter Beaman at (302) 684-5055 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. Detwiler may also be contacted, at (302) 381-5354.