Yes, even writers have hobbies. Mine (one of mine) is collecting very old beer cans.

Possibly you have some old cans yourself, and you’d like to get rid of them? I hope so, and if you do, perhaps you’ll consider selling them to me.

Yes, I buy old beer cans, including entire collections.

Yes, I also buy old soda cans, including entire collections.

Yes, I will buy related advertising: signs, trays, clocks, tap knobs, you name it.

To sum up:


What do I want to buy? Old cans in clean condition. By “old” I mean made before about 1970 (for U.S. cans) or before about 1978 for non-U.S. cans. By “clean” I mean not rusted, faded, scratched, dented, “doctored,” faked, or smashed flat. (That said, I will buy “flat sheets,” unrolled can blanks that never got rolled and lidded to make complete beer cans.)

I look especially for cone tops, punch tops (also called flat tops), zip tops, and other early versions of self-opening cans. Here are some prime examples:

The above photo shows two flat tops (the Tudor and the Old Milwaukee), two zip tops (the Burger and the Pony), one crowntainer (the Old Topper), and one cone top (the Peerless). Note that all are in pretty terrific condition -- except for the Peerless, which is so-so. Take a good look and you’ll see tarnish on the lids and on the label just below the crown. As with any antique or collectible, condition matters and has a big impact on the can’s cash value.

Below is a photo showing other early self-opening lids (plus one flat top, top right corner). Note that on those lids that have writing, the writing is indented -- it’s etched into the metal. Later can types, from 1970 onwards, had raised lettering instead. So this is a handy cheat sheet for dating beer cans. Everything shown below came out in the 1960s (the flat top is from the fifties), and these are examples of cans that I definitely want to acquire!

What do I collect?  I’m interested in all sorts of cans, but I specialize in any beer can from Ohio, plus steel cans from Canada, Sweden, and the U.K.––especially 9 2/3 oz. British cans. Below are a few photos of my collection shelves. Please pardon my abject failure to alphabetize.

Try clicking on the above photos to see additional photos of desirable old beer cans.

And remember, I BUY OLD BEER CANS, and I am always on the lookout for more. Perhaps you were remodeling and a host of flat tops fell out of your wall?  Perhaps Uncle Fred stashed cans in his attic and you just found them under the insulation?  If so, I want to hear from you.  No set of cans is too large or too small––it’s just a matter of age, condition, and relative rarity.

If you have any old beer or soda cans––cans that match the tops I’ve shown above, for example––and they are in good condition, I would very much like to hear from you.  You can easily email me at markrigney671@gmail.com. If you have photos you could attach of what you have, that would be ideal.


Beer cans, first released in 1934, suddenly became popular as a collectible in the seventies and early eighties, and cans made during those years tend to be worth zilch, zip, nada, nothing. Why? Supply and demand. Collectors bought those cans by the caseload.  Because of this, some supposedly valuable cans are essentially worthless. These include: Billy Beer, MASH 4077th, World’s Fair, all generic beers, and pretty much anything made of aluminum or crimped steel. (All of the cans pictured above are “SS,” or “straight steel,” where the edges of the can do not indent before meeting the top and bottom rims.) Beware also cans made especially for the collector’s market, such as Olde Frothingslosh, Andy’s, and the various flat top “brewery series” cans from Huber.

Therefore, the cash value of any collection is contained in the older cans: those made before 1970. There are exceptions, of course (there are always exceptions), but this is a good place to begin -- and to anchor your expectations.

So. Thanks for looking this over, and again, if you are selling old beer cans, I am buying.

Even if you’re not local, it’s easy. I will drive long distances for great cans, and if need be, cans are easy to ship. For long distance transactions, I cover shipping costs, and I usually pay up front via Paypal, check, or money order. I’ve purchased cans from nearly half of the fifty states plus three provinces, and I’d be more than pleased to work with you next.

More can photos below, but do please visit the rest of my site! 

After all, my real hobby is writing...

The world’s first self-opening beer can: Iron City! 1962, and very rare in this condition.

Most rusty cans aren’t worth much. Some are worth even less! But one of these two little eight ounce flat tops is worth hundreds. Care to guess which one? And why?

A find of cans I made a few years back, all sales samples from the 1950s and air-sealed. The pick of the litter? The DeSoto!

This lone A-1 and these Lucky Lagers were hiding inside the drywall of a building in Flagstaff -- until 2012. Nothing too rare here, but they sure were shiny and clean.

The very first Busch Bavarian can. Hard to find in clean condition. Head for the mountains!

Part of a collection I purchased in Iowa a few years back.

An old Blatz ad. Not exactly sure of the year, but probably late thirties. Times change.

Below, a few cans that came from a restaurant in Georgia. An odd group: the Drewrys, gold “eagle claw” Budweiser, and the Falls City are pre-WW II, as is the Old Milwaukee. Several others are late fifties. The American is from about 1967. How’d they all wind up together?