Buying old dusty bottles of whiskey
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    Auction Finds

    We love our booze – but we’re not the only ones

    The bottle was beautifully shaped – a seated island man, the yellow coloring of his hat and shirt contrasting against his coffee-brown body. I wasn’t sure what he was selling as he sat there on a shelf at the auction house until I spied the label – Trinidad rum.

    It’s amazing how alcohol-makers create containers that entice us just as much as the products. Who could resist this little man?

    As I picked him up off the shelf, I remembered that bottles of whiskey come up pretty often at practically every auction I attend. Some are unopened and some opened, just like this one whose contents I could barely see through the dark glass. And it’s not only the bottles. Beer trays, bar lamps, salt and pepper shakers or other paraphernalia join them. We seem to enjoy buying stuff to go along with those bottles of spirits.

    Bottles of whiskey waiting to be auctioned.

    We love to imbibe the grape, hops and anything else that might give us a buzz. Drinking is something that most of us do for sport both in this country and around the world. But there are those who can’t help themselves and overdo it. It’s very hard to get through a day without seeing a billboard or TV ad, reading a newspaper ad or hearing a radio ad for the products.

    Although we drink plenty of the stuff, we’re not the world’s heaviest drinkers. That distinction belongs to Europeans. Here’s what else I found out about us as drinkers:

    Two very nice bottles: Trinidad rum (left) and a Bols Ballerina liquor bottle.

    Beer is our favorite beverage, followed by wine and then liquor, according to a 2010 Gallup poll. Women and older people prefer wine, and beer is most popular in the Midwest.

    67 percent of us drink alcohol, the highest amount recorded since 1985, according to the same poll, and the percentage has been stable over the company’s 71 years of tracking us. The highest years were 1976-1978, the lowest was 1958. In 1939, during the last days of the Great Depression, 58 percent of adults said they drank.

    A vintage whiskey jug and a beer tray.

    Drinking fell when Prohibition got started in 1920 but picked up after several years. A decade after Prohibition (the period ended in 1933), it was back to where it was before alcohol was outlawed.

    Frequent church-goers tend to drink less than those who attend sporadically or never.

    Heavy drinking costs the country billions of dollars in lost workplace productivity and family income , as well as in health care and insurance costs.

    Light fixtures and lamps with beer and whiskey company labels.

    Americans have the lowest rates of drinking compared to other parts of the world, and we have the highest number of people who don’t drink – 35 percent, according to the World Health Organization. We average 470 pints of mild beer and 31 glasses of wine. In Britain, that’s 1,100 pints of beer, and in Russia, 1,350 pints of beer and 90 bottles of vodka. The French drink an average 500 glasses of wine a year.

    Moldavans, natives of a small impoverished Russian country, are the world’s heaviest drinkers, and their spirit of choice is bootleg whiskey or moonshine. The country produces wine, but most of its people seem to prefer the cheap homemade kind.

    Salt and pepper shakers.

    Wine is also my choice of drink but I rarely touch it. I’ll have a glass with dinner when I’m out with friends, and it’s usually only a glass because wine makes me sleepy.

    At auction, though, all the spirits are very popular. I’ve seen bidders clamor for tables full of dusty bottles of opened vodka and scotch and rum – Seagram seems to always be among the mix. Since many of these bidders are vendors, I’m sure they’re buying most to sell – and maybe a few for themselves.

    A box of whiskey under a table at auction.


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