Building a Beer Can Collection
Collecting old beer cans is a great hobby! There are an endless amount of cans and ways to collect them. Over the past 25+ years I have traveled across the U.S. attending beer can and breweriana shows. There's great times to be had and lifelong friends to be made.
Below is information to help you build a beer can collection.
Step # 1 - Join a Beer Can Club
There are (4) major U.S. beer can and breweriana clubs. By far the largest specialized beer can collecting club is the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA). I have been a member of this club since 1984 and there is no better way to build your beer can collection than joining this club. The BCCA offers a bi-monthly pucblication as well as publishing the (2) most comprehensive beer can reference guides in the hobby. The books , as well as other BCCA items, are only available to members.
The BCCA has over 4000 members with over 100 local chapters located throughout the U.S.. Each of these local chapters runs its own shows and publishes a newsletter. I guarantee you there is a local BCCA chapter near you!
Visit the BCCA website by clicking here or review all (4) national clubs by clicking here.
Step # 2 - Decide What Beer Cans to Collect
This step may seem trivial, but believe me it is very important. When you first start collecting you need every beer can out there. It's fun to collect all of them but you will soon run out of room and have a collection that has little focus. It's happened to all of us.
You just can't collect every kind of beer can.
Here is a little help to point you in right direction.
- U.S. Cans vs. Foreign Cans- there were over 10,000 different beer cans produced in the U.S. up until 1970. No one can possibly know how many have been produced in throughout the world.
- Specific States or Countries- many collectors concentrate on a particular state or region. I collect NYC myself.
- Current vs. Obsolete- older cans are harder to come by and rarer cans are quite expensive. New cans can be bought full and extras used for trading.
- 12 oz. only or All Sizes / Specialty Size- 12 oz. cans display uniformly and many of the beer can products made are for 12 oz. cans only. Some older odd sizes (7 oz., 8 oz., 32 oz., gallon, etc.) can be challenging to acquire.
- Specific Brewery or Brand- Anheuser Busch has produced 100's of beer cans over the years. Some smaller breweries may not have many cans.
- Specific Beer Type- Maybe you like Sports cans like the Iron City series. Some collectors specialize in types of beer like Bock beer cans.
- Specific Can Type - There are cone tops, flat tops, zip tabs, pulltabs, steel and aluminum beer cans. Some people specialize in one particular type.
- Mint or all grades- Mint beer cans will always be the most valuable. The problem is many cans are quite expensive. Will you collect cans in all conditions?
Step # 3 - Buy Some Beer Can Reference Books
There have been a total of (6) major beer can reference guides published since the 1970's. I still use all of them, with the most emphasis on the (3) books published most recently. The older books are no longer being published but by searching the interent or local beer shows used copies can be found. Each book not only lists beer can photos and values but also has an introduction chocked full of great information.
Most Recent Beer Can Reference Books
1) Beer Cans Unlimited by Art & Pete Ressel (1976) (175 pages)- View Ordering Information for Beer Cans Unlimited Vol. I
The original full color hardcover reference guide. Over 5,100 U.S. cans listed with prices (now outdated). Features cone tops, flat tops, pull tabs and gallon cans.
2) Beer Can Collectors Bible by Jack Martells (1979) (124 pages)
Soft Cover reference guide featuring over 5400 U.S. cans in full color. Features cone tops, flat tops, pull tabs and gallon cans.
3) Class Book of U.S. Beer Cans by Jeffrey C. Cameron (1982) (128 pages)
Soft cover reference guide featuring over 2300 U.S. cans. Many rare cans pictured for the first time. Also attempted some current cans. Half color and half black & white photos.
4) U.S. Beer Cans with Opening Instructions by Kevin C. Lilek (1998) (889 pages)
Over 875 opening instruction beer cans are featured in this master work. Full color pictures of the front and both sides of each can. All minor variations of every opening instruction beer can ever produced. Contains a rarity rating scale instead of prices.
View Ordering Information for U.S. Beer Cans with Opening Instructions
5) U.S. Beer Cans Vol. I by the Beer Can Collectors of America (2000) (247 pages)
This is by far the most comprehensive and up to date beer can reference in the hobby. It features over 8,000 U.S. cone top and flat top cans in full color with relative prices.
View Ordering Information for U.S. Beer Cans Vol. I
6) U.S. Beer Cans Vol. II by the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (2007)
This is the 2nd volume to the BCCA's successful cone top and flat top reference guide. This full color book features photos and prices for over 7,300 pull tab beer cans produced from 1962 to 1980.The book can be ordered directly from the BCCA.
View Ordering Information for U.S. Beer Cans Vol. II
MORE INFO - COMING SOON!