An Australian magazine for bottle collectors has existed in some form or other for about 45 years. The original fifteen-page volume 1 number 1 was hand-made and issued in 1970 by Don & Melva Smart. It was called ‘The Bottle Collector’s Review’ and contained information about clubs, bottle age, tops and stoppers, avons, ginger beers and also some classifieds. This historical edition, which is very scarce and rarely seen for sale, makes a fantastic read.
The magazine format quickly evolved to B5 size with 2-colour covers and expanded to include roughly 30 pages each issue. Subscription costs were $3.00 for 6 issues (bi-monthly) and this included postage!! The contents began following a certain format: an editorial section including letters; information about newly released books on the subject; historical articles (often contributed by the well known Dennis O’Hoy, Karl Korju, amongst many others); a section where people could write in and ask questions about their bottles; digging stories; simple price guides; club news; show reports; and classifieds. Pictures were plentiful and it is amazing to think that all this was accomplished without the aid of computers. In one edition, a price guide was included (as an accompaniment to a book written by Stephen Proh). Prices back in the early 1970s include $80 for a black horse ale, $45 for a Shamrock beer (for an extra $5, one could buy a Coghlan & Tulloch beer), $10 for a Hobbs Kyneton Codd (stretching to a massive $20 for the amber-lip version), $8 for a Billson cordial (but $10 for an amber Pioneer), $15 for an Eckersleys Hot Punch, $48 for a Philadelphia Hop Bitters, $15 for the A. Palmer Ballarat pot lid, the list goes on. Imagine what you could buy with a single paycheck these days with those prices………. Anyway this magazine format continued until February 1974 when a new Volume 1 Number 1 began, with a name change to ‘The National Bottle Review’, but the appearance and content of the magazine stayed fairly consistent.
In February 1975, David Westcott took over the magazine, and quite a few changes took place. Volume 1 Number 1 started again, and the quality of the published magazine increased by at least 1 million percent. As David owned and operated a printing business, he was able to produce the magazine himself, on far higher quality paper with equipment that could reproduce photographs exceptionally well. The magazine name was changed to the ‘Australian Bottle Review’ and the format increased to almost A4 in early 1979. The excellent magazine quality was maintained and continually improved upon with each edition.
From early 1982, full-colour front covers were introduced, the content increased to about 40 pages per edition, the name was changed again to the ‘Australian Antique Bottle Collector’, and a new Volume 1 Number 1 was issued. Subscriptions by this time were $16 for 6 issues. David Westcott was the editor of the magazine for many years until handing over the reigns to Ken Arnold in 1986, and then most recently the Dunn family in the late 1990s. Travis Dunn is the current editor and producer of the magazine.
Over the past approx. 45 years there have been about 275 editions published.