The 1st Chicago Bottle Club is a not–for–profit fellowship organization of antique bottle collectors whose goal is to promote, foster, and encourage all activities toward the betterment of bottle collecting. It is open to people of all walks of life whose common bond is the sharing and appreciation of antique bottles.

In April 1969 an ad appeared in Old Bottle Magazine seeking persons in the Chicago area interested in the hobby of collecting antique bottles. At the same time, through the efforts of Wally Phillips, a popular Chicago radio disc jockey, a couple of Chicago area families joined together for the purpose of sharing their mutual interest in bottle collecting. These parties banded together and began to hold meetings in members' homes. In May 1969 a motto was adopted: “We're happiest when we're down in the dumps”, and in June 1969 the organization was officially named. At the same time a monthly newsletter began circulation, appropriately called The Midwest Bottled News. It is a widely respected publication in its field, famous for informative and well–researched articles on the history, origin and manufacture of antique bottles and its many related facets such as glass manufacturing, brewing, the socio–economic origins of products bottled in glass, the business history of local and state merchants and manufacturers such as soda and mineral water bottlers, and patent medicine manufacturers and retailers, etc.

The Club began to grow and in order to accommodate more people at the regular meetings it was decided to hold the meetings at the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church on Fullerton Avenue. The growth of the Chicago area club was not an isolated phenomenon, for as bottle collecting became more popular across the country, new clubs began to materialize. It was felt that it would be of beneficial and mutual interest to establish a supra-organization of bottle clubs, and so it was that The Federation of Historical Bottle Clubs(now known as The Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors) was established. The 1st Chicago Bottle Club recognized the value of such an organization and became one of its charter members in 1969.

1970 was the year of an occasion that has become an annual event in Chicago land: The first Bottle Show and Sale. It continues every year to be an effective way to convene bottle collectors not only from the Midwest, but from all areas of the country to display, trade, buy or sell antique bottles. It also is a means to educate and make the general public aware of the history of antique bottles and the advantages of being an antique bottle collector. The annual show and sales have been held at the Rand Park Fieldhouse in Des Plaines, the Holiday Inn in Hillside, the Holiday Inn in Harvey and the Sheraton Hotel in Oak Brook. The current location is at the Ramada Inn in Glendale Heights. At the 1974 show the Club gained widespread prominence and was acknowledged for its generous charitable efforts to raise funds for the American Cancer Society by presenting an old time medicine show, the proceeds of which were donated to fight cancer. The show and sale at the Sheraton Hotel in Oak Brook in 1976 was one of the largest in the country that year. It was preceded by a banquet at which George Herron, one of the deans of antique bottle collecting, gave a presentation on the discovery and excavation of the merchant ship Bertrand and its cargo of antique bottles and artifacts. One of the highlights of the show was the amount of the displays. 35 exhibitors proudly displayed their collections from every category of bottle collecting to make the show a memorable one.

The growth of the Club forced it to move and hold its meetings in a larger and more convenient location and so, from March 1971 to December 1975, meetings were held at the Irving Park and Montclare-Leyden YMCA's. Meetings were held for many years at St. Daniel the Prophet Church on Chicago's southwest side. Currently the meetings are held at the Hinsdale Covenant Church, 412 S. Garfield in Hinsdale, a convenient central location in Chicago land for all antique bottle collectors. More than 40 families representing over 80 individuals comprise the membership roster. Members come from the entire Chicago metropolitan area including Cook County, Lake County, Du Page County, McHenry County, Kane County, Will County, DeKalb County and Winnebago County as well as the states of Indiana, Florida and Wisconsin.

Meetings include programs at which films or slides or speakers are presented, dealing with a wide range of subjects that relate to the collecting of antique bottles. Programs have been given by representatives of glass manufacturers, distilleries, etc., at which members learn some of the past or modern methods of producing bottles. Club trips have been taken to the Art Institute of Chicago to witness actual glass-blowing and the Ball Brothers glass plant to see how modern jars are produced.

Varied and interesting group activities have always been a notable aspect of the 1st Chicago Bottle Club's past and will continue to be. Thus, Club picnics and digs have been held. The dumps at what was once Riverview Amusement Park and the town of Pullman were the sites of much digging and years of enjoyment until new construction on the sites began. The dredging of the Douglas Park lagoon and the Lincoln Park lagoon also provided many months of digging. The lure and excitement of finding new dump sites is and will always be one of the irresistible aspects of collecting antique bottles. Bus trips by the Club as a group have taken members to bottle shows in Belleville, Illinois, Akron, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky as well as the Antique Advertising Shows in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The annual Christmas party always provides the members and their families with a festive occasion to celebrate the season. Different types of auctions have been held at which members can auction off their bottles or obtain bottles for their collections. Club benefit auctions raised thousands of dollars for The Verbeck House, once the home of the Federation's National Bottle Museum.

Antique bottle collecting has become one of the most popular hobbies in the world. The 1st Chicago Bottle Club
has been an important force and factor in the organized growth of bottle collecting and will continue to be so in
the future.

To be continued...

Presidents of the 1st Chicago Bottle Club

Chuck Lorenz 1969
Ed Johannes 1970-71
Byron Hughes 1972
Jerry McCann 1973, 2000-2001
Joe Hertel 1974
Dan Cronin 1975
Lou Metzinger 1976, 1978, 1984, 2013
Paul Welko 1977, 1987
Carl Malik 1979, 2009-2012
Jim Hall 1980, 1990-1991
John Panek 1981-1982, 1994-1995, 2014-2018
Tom Hartwig 1983
Barbara Harms 1985, 1998-1999
Bob Harms 1986
Frank Bradbury 1988
John Slowiak 1989
Keith Leeders 1992-1993, 2002-2008
Russ Sineni 1996-1997