A Guide to Investing in Liquor Flasks

If you’ve spent any time poking around antique stores, estate sales, or online, you already know that liquor flasks are not hard to find. That must be because in years past, many “gentlemen” and “gentlewomen” carried them on their persons, along with pocket watches, pocket knives, silver toothpicks, combs and other accessories that have gone out of vogue today.

How much are old flasks worth? It depends on what they are made of. It can be a bit confusing, because the vast majority of old flasks are made of silver-toned metal. But that’s where the similarities end…

Sterling silver worth hundreds of dollars, silver-plated, pewter or just plain old stainless? Credit: ungorf/iStock.

Sterling silver worth hundreds of dollars, silver-plated, pewter or just plain old stainless? Credit: ungorf/iStock.

  • Solid silver flasks, stamped with markings indicating that they are sterling silver, are the most valuable. A nice example – especially one that is ornately engraved or decorated – can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In many cases, their collectible value far exceeds the value of the silver that they contain. How can you know? Start by calling us at 800-426-2344 and tell us what you are looking at.
  • Silver plated flasks, also stamped, come a little lower on the list of valuable items. It is not unusual to find silver plated flasks for sale for as little as $20. The problem is, they may not contain enough silver to be worth recycling. But as is the case with sterling flasks, their collectable value may be greater than that of the silver they contain. Again, give us a call and tell us what you have.
  • Pewter flasks, which are quite common, come next on our list. In many cases you can snag them for as little at $10.00 at antique stores. Pewter, as you know, is a gray alloy that is made of tin (between 85% and 99%) and copper and other metals. In olden times, pewter sometimes contained lead, which is poisonous. Chances are slim that you will find a pewter flask that contains lead. But if you do find an old flask, please do not make the mistake of drinking from it. The value of the metals in pewter flasks is quite low. Just bear in mind that because they do not contain precious metals, they cannot be profitably recycled.
  • Stainless steel flasks, perhaps the most common of all, are still being made today. You can find lots of them online, often decorated with the logos of popular companies like Harley-Davidson. They aren’t worth much and there is no point in trying to recycle them. The only point of owning one is to carry around some whiskey or another potable safely – if that is something that you would like to do.
  • Platinum flasks are so rare that you will probably never come across one. (Oddly enough, it is more likely that you will find a platinum cigarette case in an antique store.) But look for markings and if you do find one, it is literally worth its weight in… platinum. Be sure to phone us at 800-426-2399, tell us about your discovery, and have us test it for you.

Other Liquor Flask Variants…

It is not unusual to find old flasks that are essentially glass bottles that have been embellished with silver. You can also find flasks that are lined with glass, to help protect liquor from becoming contaminated by contact with metal. It is also not unusual to discover “traveling bars” that contain several flasks and maybe also a small funnel, stirring sticks, and shot glasses that are made of silver or stainless steel or even aluminum.

Keep looking and give us a call when you find something interesting. If you can find a sterling flask and snap it up for only a few dollars, your efforts will prove to be worthwhile.

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