People start collecting Kentucky Derby glasses for a variety of reasons; maybe they ride horses, their mother may have had one, they could be from Kentucky, or simply enjoy the thrill of a race (not to mention a good Mint Julep!). No matter the reason, Kentucky Derby glasses are a hot collectible.
Kentucky Derby glasses were made for sipping mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby. The official glasses hold 12 ounces, and were introduced in 1938. (There are some collectors who disagree that the 1938 glass is “official” because it was meant to serve water instead of the cocktail.) Most of the glasses are made of clear glass and frosted. During World War II, when glass was being used in the war effort, the derby glasses were made of early plastic, or Bakelite, by Beetleware Corp. of New York. These plastic glasses vary in color, and are extremely desirable now. (A 1942 glass recently sold on Ebay for $1,625.00.)
Another uncommon material that was used was aluminum. These bring anywhere from $800- 2,500 depending on year and condition. There was no design on the glasses in 1946-1947. This causes a break in the continuity of some collections, as it is impossible to authenticate these glasses.
Dating the glasses produced after 1948 is rather easy, just add one year to the date of the last winner on the back of the glass. The value of most glasses produced after 1980 is under $30.00, although the rare one can fetch upward of $3,000.
There is an amazing online price guide that is complete with pictures and high and low values at Equillector
There is also an excellent book Kentucky Derby Glasses Price Guide by Blood Horse Publications for $16.95. (This book also includes values for Preakness, Belmont, and Breeder’s Cup.)
As with most antiques and collectibles, there are certain things that affect value. They are: availability, materials used, scarcity, condition, demographics, and design.
While you research these whimsical glasses here is a recipe:
1 part Kentucky bourbon
1 part simple syrup
Place mint leaves and simple syrup in a chilled julep cup. Gently press leaves against the back of a spoon to release flavors. Pack cup tightly with crushed ice; pour bourbon over ice. Insert straw, place mint sprig directly next to straw, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Audra is a WorthPoint Worthologist.