Identifying Old Beer Cans Worth Money (Expert Value Guide)

We all love beer! It’s been one of people’s most popular beverages for years. But about 50-60 years ago, beer was sold in unique tin-plated cans, unlike today’s aluminum cans. And you’d be surprised to know those old beer cans are highly sought after, even more than the beer itself!

Being a collectors’ attraction, vintage beer cans can fetch up to $10,000! But not every old can, of course! For an old beer to be valuable, it must have vintage features! And this value guide will help you identify all those features to estimate the right value for old beer cans!

Key Takeaways

  • Old and stamped details like the patents, IRTP numbers, and brand marks will help you identify and value your old beer can.
  • Old beer cans have many motifs – floral, geometric, music, and pop culture. But, the most valuable and pricey ones have women or girl illustrations and graffiti.
  • Antique beer cans usually cost 30 – 800 unless branded by Krueger, Falstaff, or Globe Brewing Co.
  • Want rare and collectible beer cans? Look no further than a branded Apache Export Can, Tally-Ho Ale can, or a Rheingold Pale Double Block worth up to $20,000.

Key Features of Collectible Old Beer Cans?

If you want to spot and appraise valuable beer cans, the following features will help you:

  • Flattened, tinplate sides with ornate pull tabs
  • Hand-painted or printed graphics – black or metallic animals, portraits & landmarks
  • Visible mold lines and rims
  • Women or girl drawings as a symbol of beauty & attraction
  • Cone or bottle caps with black and golden patterns
  • Original gold or silver-finished spouts
  • Printed or stamped labels – each with original permits and patents

Brief History of Old Beer Cans

You all might know the bold and graffiti-like beer cans from old vending machines. But did you know that makers used beer kegs and casks before that? But those were large and heavy.

So, in the 1930s, the American Can Company and the Gottfried Brewing Company worked to find a durable, portable solution; the first beer can! Sleek and tin-plated, it had simple flat tops and pull tabs.

Then in the 1950s, makers improved the cans’ aesthetics by adding printed graphics, logos, abstract designs, characters, landscapes, and whatnot! And some cans also had cone tops or ring pulls for better sealing.

Finally, by the 1970s, companies had moved to aluminum cans. These offered better colors, light protection, and walls but weren’t valued much because of their thin, machine-made profiles.

5 Types of Old Beer Cans & Their Resale Value Guide

Confused about the hundreds of old beer cans out there? Let’s sort them into these five types to learn their features and estimated values:

Old Beer Can TypesYearsIdentifying FeaturesEstimated Value
Flat Top Cans1935 – 1960Look for flat & cylindrical cans with an external ‘church key’ for opening$30 – 1,000
Cone Top Cans1935 – 1960Cylindrical beer cans with cone-shaped tops, bottle caps, and spouts$200 – 3,000
Pull-Tab or Pop-Top Cans1960 – 1975Work on a built-in tab that pops up to open the can and generate more fizz$30 – 800
Stay Tab Cans1975 & aboveUse a similar pop-up mechanism, but the tabs remain attached to the lid for better grip$10 – 500
Crowntainers1940 – 1950Simple, two-piece beer cans with light steel walls, a seamless body, and a cone-top $70 – 1,200

6 Main Factors to Value an Old Beer (With Steps)

Now let’s see how different factors like age, brand, and IRTP numbers help you evaluate an old beer can’s worth!

1. Track the Can’s Age (Using Marks & Patents)

Want to know if your old beer can is antique and worth collecting? First, rotate it and check if it has any of the following patent numbers on its base, seams, or labels:

  • Patent Pending: 1935 – 1937
  • 1625229 – 2064537: 1938 – 1940
  • 2064537, 2259498 – 2,178,618: 1947 – 1950 (stamped on a full-length, vertical panel)
  • 2064537, 2259498 – 2178618: 1950s (stamped near the seam in small font)

But if the patent marks are faded or rubbed, move on to these visual features to learn the years and values:

Old Beer Can YearsAgeUnique FeaturesIdentification MarksAverage Cost
1935 – 194083 – 88 yearsMolded steel cans with extra church keys or spouts to reduce spillage. Flat/conical topsSimple X mark, bow-tie mark, or a bow-tie with two dots on each side$500 – 3,000, depending on the condition
1940s (War era)74 – 83 yearsSimple black print cans with patriotic themes, messages, and olive-drab wallsSingle backslash, diamond marks, or a diamond with a dot on the top-left$300 – 2,000
1950s64 – 73 yearsCylindrical cans with pyramid-shaped tops, intricate logos, and landscape printsA ‘7’ number or Greek-pi symbol with two legs$100 – 1,200, as per the brand
1960s54 – 63 yearsThin, stainless steel cans with ad campaign or TV show prints & built-in tabsA Greek-pi symbol with three legs$50 – 800
1970s44 – 53 yearsLightweight steel or aluminum cans, each with superior stay-in tabs, graffiti prints & movie designsN.A$10 – 500

Beer cans with special silk-screened, holographic, or painted finishes are generally older.

2. Analyze the Lining Materials

One of the easiest ways to verify and appraise an old beer can is its lining! So, slide your hand inside the can and feel the lining. If it feels soft and smooth, it might have an old tin plate or aluminum lining worth up to $600 today. If not, it might be a coarse, unlined can.

Alternatively, take some water and put a drop inside the can. If the water beads up, it might have an internal steel lining. And if it settles to the bottom, it might be a new 1970s can.

Let’s check how each lining material affects a beer can’s value below:

Antique Beer Can Lining MaterialsYearsEstimated Value
Tinplate Steel1930 – 1970$500 – 3,000
Aluminum1960 – 1970$30 – 800
Stainless SteelSpecial-edition cans in the 1950s$200 – 1,000
Vinyl or Water-based lining1930s – 1950s$500 – 2,000
BPA (Bisphenol A) lining1960s – 1970s$10 – 500

Avoid buying old beer cans with visible seam lines, as those might be new, unlined, and cheaper.

3. Check the Can’s Brand

Out of hundreds of vintage beer cans in the antique market, only the branded ones fetch the highest value. So, check the can’s top, sides, and base to spot any logos, stamp marks, and signs. Who knows, you might be holding a precious Kreuger can worth $1,000 or more!

Want to know more about such branded beer cans? Here’s a list:

Old Beer Can BrandsYearsIdentifying FeaturesAverage Price
Krueger1930 – 1960Signe Krueger name and logo$100 – 2,500
Globe Brewing Co.1930 – 1950Cone-shaped tops with signed caps and logos$100 – 2,000
PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon)1930sClassic blue ribbon logo and PBR logo$90 – 1,500
Falstaff1930 – 1970Uses a simple logo with a medieval knight illustration in between$70 – 2,500
Ballantine1960sUses a three-ringed logo with a signed brand name in between$30 – 500
Olde Frothingslosh1950sFunky & quirky prints, often with a fictional overweight queen illustration on top$50 – 600
Budweiser1960sLook for a simple Anheuser-Busch eagle or Budweiser logo$10 – 200

4. Find the IRTP Numbers

The IRTP or ‘Internal Revenue Tax Paid’ number is a small mark that tells the beer tank’s plant number, content, and design. Usually, such calibrated and marked beer cans value up to $500. But if you want to know the exact years and costs, check the table below:

IRTP Number TypePlant CodesTop FeaturesEstimated Value

ACC codes
17 – AUses a treated aluminum lining to prevent the beer from tasting metallic$100 – 600
23 – ASimple stay tab cans with pop-up openers$10 – 500
38 – A‘Easy-Open’ lids with bold, colorful graffiti designs$30 – 300

RMC codes
2803Simple, pull-tab openings for more fizz$30 – 800
3903Twisted openings with a crooked spout to reduce spillage$30 – 500

Look for old beer cans with misprinted or faulty IRTP numbers, which are rare and cost $100 – 200 more than others.

5. Observe the Can Designs

Most old 1930s beer cans had war, maritime and military designs. But then, by the 1950s, makers added sports, music, or pop-culture designs for more visual appeal. So, let’s see how each of them changes an old beer can’s value below:

Vintage Beer Can DesignsAverage Cost
Basic Label Design (1930 – 1940)$500 – 3000
Celebrations & Sporting Events$100 – 2000, as per the theme
Animals – Bears, Dogs & Horses$20 – 1200
Cars – Sporting or Muscle Cars$70 – 300
Pop culture or Character designs$10 – 3000
Wartime & Military designs$50 – 2000, as per the age

6. Observe the Colors

If your old beer can has classic metallic or brass-colored hues, it might be old, from the 1930s. But, if it has bold or pastel-colored walls, it might be a cheaper 1950s model. Let’s check the details in the table below:

Antique Beer Can ColorsAverage Cost
Metallic Gold & Silver$500 – 2000
Bold Colors – Red, Green & Yellow$50 – 800
Pastel Blues, Whites & Pinks$30 – 500
Neon & Fuchsia$10 – 300
Natural Colors – Tan, Beige & Brown$50 – 1000

6 Rare & Most Expensive Old Beer Cans Worth Money

Do you know some rare and branded beer cans sell for over $10,000? That’s even more than hand-brewed, aged bourbon beer, right? Well, that’s because all such cans have unique limited-edition or celebration-themed make that you don’t find today!

Here’s a list of all such rare and expensive beer cans with their values and collectible features:

Sr No.Collectible Beer Can NameRare & Collectible FeaturesLast Resale Value
1.Gunther’s Beer CanAlleged prototype of the Jim plant collection with an original permit, label, and instruction manual$5,000 – 10,000
2.New Yorker BeerComes with superior vanity lids, canvas branding, and unique city-skyline graphics$10,000
3.Rheingold Pale Double BlockLimited-edition cans with metallic & golden finishes, goat mascot logos & instruction manual$20,000
4.Tally-Ho Ale, Cone top cansCone-shaped, pop-like cans with a carriage logo, bold color walls & New York City trademarksUp to $25,000
5.Apache Export CanUses unique Native American Apache designs, Indian graphics, and a banded, gold-black metallic design$30,000
6.Milwaukee Flat-Top Beer CanComes with single, crimped metal lids, date codes, and branded Milwaukee Beer logos$19,000

How Much Does a James Bond 007 Beer Can Cost?

A James Bond 007 beer can usually costs $500 – 600 because of its fancy women portraits, London backdrops, and original ‘National Brewing Company’ marks.

How Many Old Beer Aluminum Cans Does It Take for $100?

Old common aluminum beer cans sell for 5 cents in the USA. So, you’ll need about 5000 cans to make $100.

How Do You Clean Old Beer Cans?

Prepare a solid paste of baking soda and water, and stick it to all the damp, rusty areas of your can. Wait for 5 minutes, scrub it off with steel wool, and have a spick-and-span beer can in no time!

We hope you can easily value your old beer cans yourself with my easy visual tips and dating clues. So, just get a magnifying glass, observe those marks, and compare the features from the tables above!

Also, if you want to identify and value other alcohol-related antiques, you MUST read our detailed guides on ‘antique drinking glasses,’ ‘glass decanters,’ and ‘liquor bottles.’

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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