ERIC White has bottles so rare they are one of a kind and would bring thousands of dollars at auction, but he is unlikely to part with them.
The Kangaroo Flat retiree values his rare treasures, but he is also interested in bottles because they are part of a complete collection, several of which he has displayed on glass shelves in his bottle room.
Old soft drink bottles, and pottery demijohns that once contained ginger beer, make up the bulk of his collection, but Mr White also has pharmaceutical and food bottles, and some of the best examples of Bendigo Pottery’s early work.
Soft drink paraphernalia also dots the shelves, including stencils once used to sandblast company names on bottles.
Mr White said he loved the cut and thrust of finding items he wanted and trading pieces he owned to get them.
There are only about three items that he really still wanted for his collection although he was never sure what he might find in the process.
Diving in rivers on which paddle steamers once travelled typically yielded unbroken bottles and once a small cannon. The glass bottles, most over a century-old, were refilled at the soft drink factory of purchase, but many of those consumed aboard the paddle steamers were thrown overboard.
Mr White’s entire collection attracted the attention of the Australian collectables industry and was featured last year in an edition of the Australian Bottles and Collectables Review.
He was credited with having one of the most complete collections of Bendigo bottles the review’s author had ever seen.