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Collector with more than 2,000 bottles still hunts for rare finds

When he was only 16, Frank Bishop picked up a hobby that would stick with him the rest of his life.

Bishop began collecting bottles on the side of the road and taking what he collected to Ridgeway Grocery in South Boston, earning a penny apiece. He didn’t think much of the hobby until one day one bottle brought him $8. After that he began looking for them everywhere all the time.

He collected all kinds of bottles, ranging from drink bottles to old medicine bottles.

In his early 60s now, Bishop is retired from the telephone company where he said he “had it made in the shade.” 

He currently resides in Wake Forest, N.C., with his wife, Angie, spending much of his time collecting bottles, coins, sports cards, signs, pocket watches and bubble clocks.

“My favorite is bottles. It’s where my expertise is,” said Bishop.

According to Bishop, his oldest bottle he has collected from South Boston is from the 1890s, however from his overall collection it is probably from the 1720-50s. The youngest bottle in his collection is more than likely 40 years old. He has a collection of more than 2,000 bottles.

“The South Boston bottles are mostly drink bottles and old medicine bottles,” said Bishop.

The bottle collector loves finding anything related to the history of South Boston. Most of his bottles are from South Boston, Richmond and the Durham, N.C., area. 

Although he spent most of his life working and living in North Carolina and currently resides in Wake Forest, N.C., he grew up in South Boston.

He is a member of the Raleigh Bottle Club and attends several bottle shows throughout the year. 

On Feb. 15-16 he will travel to Columbia, S.C., for a bottle show. During the bottle shows, participants can buy, sell and trade bottles. 

During bottle club meetings, Bishop said participants sometimes share presentations and have “show and tell.”

Bishop’s wife is an interior decorator and sometimes isn’t very fond of his hobby, but she has found ways to decorate with the many bottles around the house. 

The avid collector has a special case, shelves and cabinets in the garage to keep his most valued bottles stored away.

“The most valuable bottle I own is probably worth $1,200,” said Bishop.

He is still actively collecting and is currently looking for Virgilina bottles from the Virgilina area. His favorite bottle is the Virginia Hutch drink bottle he found from South Boston, because he said they are so hard to find these days.

Bottle collecting is a “fast dying hobby,” according to Bishop. In the bottle club, collectors range in age from as old as 80 to as young as 20, but the membership isn’t growing as it once was.

For more information on bottle collecting, contact Frank Bishop at 919-556-4006, email him at bottle
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for find him on Facebook at Antiques Bottles.