A definition: From a mythical new and revised "Devil's Dictionary." "70s Cans" (noun) seven-dees cans. 1. Cans put out by brewers between 1975 and 1985, often commemorating some local festival or figure, designed to be purchased by beer can collectors in order to boost the breweries' sales. May come in different colored series. 2. A worthless can. 3. A common can often sold on E-Bay as "rare" in order to separate a new collector from his money. 4. Cans found in attics and storage rooms across North America in the homes of those who were teenagers or parents of teenagers in the 1970s and early 1980s.
A lot of collectors look down on 1970s cans. Why? Partly it's because so many brewers put out "special" cans specifically in order to sell them to beer can collectors. One infamous example is the "Bean and Bacon Days" cans. Bean and Bacon Days? What was that? Apparently it was some local festival in Iowa and a small brewery put out a very ugly can commemorating it. This begs the question, "What are Bean and Bacon Days and why do I care?" Other such sets included "Andy's Beer" which was produced by a very prolific brewery in the Mid-West around 1979-1980, again hoping to sell cans to collectors. Andy's Beer came out in several different designs and colors, none of which were particularly attractive, striking, or unique. Pittsburgh Brewing was especially prolific, issuing cans for almost every Pittsburgh professional sporting event. The magazine published by the Beer Can Collector's of America was filled during the late 1970s and early 1980s with letters complaining that there were too many new sets, most of which were obviously cynically designed to be bought by collectors. It's probably no coincidence that the BCCA's membership during this same time dropped for over 10,000 to about 4,000 members by the late 1980s. A lot of collectors burned out in part from so many new sets of junk cans.
With sets like B&B Days, World's Fair Beer, and Andy's Beer, it's no wonder such cans are now commonly called "70s s--t." Nonetheless, they still hold a fond place in some collector's collections, if not as a group, then as individual cans. Confession time, I do collect some 1970s cans. I am especially fond of Bicentennial cans which were just coming out when I started collecting as a teenager. I saved most of my collection over the years, but I only kept a few of my 70's cans. Some sets still hold a place in my collecting heart, including some of the Old Frothingslosh cans, and the multi-colored Bob's Beer set. Some sports cans, such as the Hudepohl Cincinnati Reds or Bengals cans, or the many Iron City cans celebrating the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates and Penguins are very common but are still popular with fans of those respective teams.
Fatima Yechburgh, the (fictional) Miss Old Frothingslosh. The woman who portrayed Fatima passed away in 2000.
The Bob's Set. I think it's cool, I guess because I like the old biplane.
Misinformation about cans like Billy Beer and M*A*S*H Beer doesn't help the reputation among collectors that 1970s cans are junk. Too often I've seen these common cans advertised as "rare" on E-Bay. My Billy Beer page goes into more detail, as does my fakes page, but the short answer is, they are worth maybe 25 cents each, if you can find a collector who still wants one. At the aforementioned beer can show people were giving away Billy Beer cans for free. Recently I saw a dusty six-pack of Billy Beers for sale in a flea market in North Carolina for $120. Yes, that's one hundred dollars. No wonder the cans are still waiting for a buyer.
I often get questions about specific cans from the 1970s and 1980s, so here are some note on specific cans.
Billy: Worthless, even full, no matter the brewer. May sell on eBay for a couple bucks if you are very lucky! No, the gold top can is NOT worth more. Signed cans are worth a couple of dollars, but Billy Carter signed a LOT of cans.
- World's Fair: Worthless. May sell on EBay for a couple bucks if you are very lucky!
- J.R. Ewing: Worthless. May sell on EBay for a couple bucks if you are very lucky!
- MASH: Worthless. May sell on EBay for a couple bucks if you are very lucky!
- Schmidt's Scenes: The 1970s and 80s cans are VERY common. May be able to sell a complete set on EBay for a couple bucks if you are lucky! This is true only of the 1970s and 80s pull tabs. The early pull tab and flat tops are still desirable for collectors and a few are actually rare.
- Bicentennial Cans (ALL): VERY common. May be able to sell a complete set on EBay for a couple bucks if you are lucky!
- Primo: VERY common in a pull tab or poptop. May be able to sell on EBay for a couple bucks if you are very lucky! The 1958 flat top sells for $100.00 and up.
- Bob's Beer: VERY common. May be able to sell a complete set on EBay for a couple bucks if you are lucky!
- Harley: Popular with Harley fans more than beer can collectors. Can probably sell on EBay.
- "Error" soda and beer cans: VERY common. May be able to sell on EBay for a couple bucks!
- Iron City Sports Cans: Most are VERY common. (Pirates, Penguins, Steelers) May be able to sell a complete set on EBay for a couple bucks to a sports fan. Some from the early 1970s are harder to find but none are rare.
- Hudepohl Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals "HuDey" or "Hu-dey" cans: VERY common. May be able to sell a complete set on EBay for a couple bucks to a sports fan.