Random Writings: Beer Can Collecting

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Random Writings is a series of assorted web content assignments originally authored for and previously published on now-defunct websites. These pieces were additionally republished a second time with an added first-person introduction in hopes of making them interesting. The subjects are varied and random. While your randy writer has been previously paid for his artistic efforts, as anyone on this website must admit, it’s nice to have one’s writing read. Hence, this series.

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Beer Can Collecting

Beer Can Collecting: The Literature

Collecting beer cans has existed since the first can was produced in 1935.  Collectors once consisted largely of people who were in some way connected to beer breweries, can companies or beer distributors.  There were also those who liked the look of cans and college students who would save every can they ever personally emptied. 

In fact, at one point, one of the largest collections belonged to a Yale alumnus.  Today, beer can collecting remains a popular and commercial hobby.  In fact, there are even specific guide books written about the hobby.

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One of the first, more significant publications is Lew Cady’s Beer Can Collecting.  This 1976 paperback discusses beer can collecting.  It features personal accounts, photos and a history of the BCCA (Brewery Collectibles Club of America) and was considered by beer can aficionados to be required reading during the height of the hobby in the mid to late 1970s.  It was updated in 1981 with new material and a few corrections included.

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There is also The Beer Can Collector’s Bible.  Written by Jack Martells (and first published in 1976) The Bible features numerous noteworthy photos of both pull tab and flattop cans from the US.  It concentrates only on cans that are 12 oz. and smaller.  

While it doesn’t include monetary values it does list appropriate reference numbers, dates the cans were first marketed as well as additional information on the different types of cans, the can dating process and more.  It is considered to still be of value to the novice collector to this day.  

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Another book worth mentioning —also by Martells—is the Cone Top Collector’s Bible.  While this particular book is not often referenced due to its being difficult to find, online sources indicate that the book contains a lot of useful and interesting information relevant to the hobby.

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