"Anybody can brew beer, but only God can make rust!"

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Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get via email.

Q: How Much is my Billy Beer/MASH/World’s Fair/Iron City Steelers/JR Ewing/Bicentennial Ca/large Fosters can, etc. worth?

A: Maybe 50 cents at most, IF you can find a collector who wants it. In the late 1970s there were about 10,000 members of the Beer Can Collectors of America. Now there are 4,000. There are thousands and thousands of collections from the 1970s and the early 1980s still out there in attics and basements across the US, and every one of them has most or all these cans in it. I’m sorry, but those cans you put away in 1979 because you thought they’d be worth something someday simply are too common and you can pick them up for free at most beer can collector shows. If it is an aluminum can from the US that dates between 1975-1990 you can probably recycle it.

Q: What about my foreign cans?

A:  The big Fosters Lager cans are really common, as are a lot of Canadian pull tabs and those Canadian cans with the two button holes on top.  But other cans are rare, especially older (pre 1970) ones.  Check the One-Can, One-Country chapter for more details.


Q: I have some older cans that my Dad/Granddad saved. How much are they worth?

A: That depends. Cans made before about 1960 are sometimes common and sometimes very rare and valuable. If you find some flat tops and cone tops email me and I’ll try to at least make a guesstimate. I’ve gotten emails from people who found a can they were certain was rare, only to find it was common. BUT, I’ve also gotten emails from folks who were about to toss a can they found into the trash before I told them it was worth hundreds of dollars. WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK! If not me, then another collector.


Q: Do you buy cans/collections?

A: If you’re in the general DC/Northern Virginia area I’ll be happy to take a look, even if it’s mostly 70s cans. You might have a gem in there you didn’t realize you had. For those outside of my area, I’d be happy to find a local collector for you. Just email me.


Q: What good is an old rusty can? Aren't they all rusted away by now?

A: You'd be surprised how much rust will clean off of an old painted can. The early cans were made of thick metal (to withstand the pressure of the beer inside) and they often had thick paint. Rust will cover over the paint and will often come off in a mild citric acid bath, leaving the paint and metal clean. I've seen cans that had no label visible come out very clean. And while a can on the surface will rust away, cans that are buried will last for decades. Some buried cans come out looking like new after washing with normal soap and water.


Q: How do I clean my cans?

A: Please see my “can cleaning” page.


Q: Is my full can worth more? How can I empty it?

A: Probably not, unless it's a really old one. Most collectors don't want full cans as they often spring leaks. To empty an old full can you can use a churchkey or even (carefully) punch a couple of hole in the bottom with a hammer and nail. Wear old clothes and do it outside or someplace where you don't mind decades old rotten beer spraying around. It mostly likely WILL spray unless most of the beer has evaporated over the years. Then rinse the can out and gently dry it with a soft cloth. Putting a very, very light coat of WD 40 on the can may help prevent rusting. Be very sparing with the WD 40 though, no one wants a greasy can!


Q: What’s your favorite beer?

A: I don’t drink. But I do like St. Pauli Girl NA.


Q: How much is this bottle/sign/tray/neon worth?

A: I am sorry, but since I collect mostly cans, I’m not very knowledgeable about other types of breweriana. You might check eBay and see if a similar item sold recently.


Q: Is there a price list for cans?

A: Not a real good one. It isn’t like stamps or coins where you have a nice catalog. There is a great book published by the BCCA with flats and conetops in it, but the prices are not that reliable, unfortunately. Checking eBay often helps.


Q: If this site isn't for profit, why the Google ads on the side?

A: They cover, roughly, the cost of running the site. BTW, I have no control over which ads run. Google automatically picks them.


Have a suggestion for another FAQ? Email me!

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