|I'm often asked how much a can
is worth. Somebody once told me that the value of a can is "the most that
a fool is willing to pay for it." In the case of eBay, it takes just two fools
to make the price sky rocket.
Beer cans are like other
collectibles. For the most part, the value is determined by the item's
condition, its rarity / scarcity, and personal appeal. To determine
condition, most beer can collectors use a grading scale
from 1 to 5 with further refinements within each level.
Grade 1+ (mint)
imperfections. An overused term since most cans receive small scratches and
dents in their trip from the can company to the brewery and from the brewery
to the store. Perhaps the term "Store Condition" would more accurately
describe the extremely top grade cans.
Almost 1+ (A1+)
condition. Upon close inspection the can has a few minor imperfections
but nothing distracting.
condition. Can has several small imperfections that may be slightly
More noticeable signs of aging. Top quality with no dents, rust spots or
easily noticeable imperfections. Slight scratches that are noted may keep a
can in this grade.
||A can with some
obvious imperfections but still displays very well.
||A fair quality
display can, but may have small scratches, dents or rust spots. An unpainted
top (or spout) and bottom may be rusty. The sides must be in good, clean
display can, but it has easily seen scratches, dents, faded, or rusty areas.
However, it still retains a good degree of it original appearance on all
sides. One side looks fairly nice.
||This is a "dumper"
can that is a poor display can with major flaws such as large faded or rusty
areas, dents, or many scratches. All areas must be readable.
condition with major imperfections on all sides making it difficult to read
or see the original colors and design. Generally, these are not saved.
|Book values for cans are base
upon good condition cans. Defects such as scratches, slight fading, or minor
dings can greatly depreciate its value. Outdoor cans with a lot of rust usually fetch only maybe 10% of its book value, simply because top
collectors seek clean indoor cans.
The next major factor
determining the value of a collectible is rarity or scarcity. Yes, the law of supply
and demand applies here. Crowntainers were used by small breweries that
did not can nearly as much beer as the national breweries. Some brands of
crowntainer survived with many cases of cans in good condition. These
"easy" crowntainers may sell for about $50 in good condition. On the other
hand, there are some crowntainer brands where only a handful of cans are
known to exist in good condition. The "extremely tough" cans typically
sell for over $1000 in good condition.
The last factor is personal appeal. Some
collectors specialize in cans from a particular brewery, a particular state, or
a particular style. Since their collections are specialized and limited in
scope, there is more appeal and desirability for them. One of the highest known prices
ever paid for a beer can was $20,000 for a Budweiser prototype crowntainer.
This can had everything going for it: it was in excellent condition; it was one
of only two cans known to exist; and it appealed to Budweiser collectors.
Again, the value is determined
by whatever a fool is willing to pay for it. If you have a good clean
crowntainer that I don't have, please contact me...I'm
the fool you're looking for!