Dear Doug: I have a cone-top Blackhawk Beer can that is well over 60 years old and in very good condition. Some sources say it could be worth over $100, but what could I realistically expect to get for it?
Guess what? The Blackhawk Beer can you have is one of the most attractive and sought-after cone-tops ever made. Of course, Black Hawk was the English translation of the tribal leader's given American Indian name, which, in my opinion, is what they should have used. Who could have resisted the smooth taste of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak Beer?
As I'm sure you know, the beer was brewed in Davenport at the Blackhawk Brewing Co. (1801 W. 3rd St.) Previous to being the Blackhawk Brewery, it was the Independent Malting Co., operated by Ernst Zoller, president, and August Zoller, vice president. In 1935, it became the Zoller Brewery, which started the Blackhawk brand, but manufactured beer only in bottles.
Zoller's was bought out and became the Blackhawk Brewery in 1944. That is the company that produced your beer can and all of the other Blackhawk cone-tops. In 1952, the company was sold again and became the Uchtorff Brewery, which continued manufacturing Blackhawk Beer, but only in the more familiar flat-top cans. It also produced other brands such as Uchtorff, Brew 82 and Iowa Beer.
Those old flat-top cans were made before the handy pull-ring openers of the aluminum era and needed a "church key" opener to "release the spirits." There actually were several cone-top can designs for Blackhawk Beer as well as two variations of the flat-top or punch-top can. The punch-tops feature a larger cameo bust outline of an American Indian on the front. Your can is by far the easiest variation to find, but it is also the most attractive.
Keep in mind that the value of a collectible is directly related to supply and demand. Something does not need to be rare at all to be valuable. There just needs to be at least one more buyer out there than there are products to go around. In this case, there would be hundreds of prospective buyers for the can. In fact, of all the collectibles I see throughout my travels and circles, this item would be among the easiest to sell.
The condition of your can is VG, very good, or what can collectors probably would grade at 2+. That's not awful, but it's not top-drawer, either. A near-mint can is extremely rare and would bring $300-$500 without a doubt. An imperfect lesser-grade can like you have would allow a more casual collector to own one for $100-$150. The rarest Blackhawk Beer cans in near-mint shape might bring $2,000 or more. And you thought empties were only worth a nickel!
Where might you find these treasures? More often than not, they are found when a house or building is either being torn down or remodeled. Can you imagine finding a couple dozen of these buried in your house walls? Where did I put that pick ax? Interestingly enough, the American Indian image on the can isn't even Black Hawk.
No Linked Objects
Ask the Times appears on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can call 563-333-2632, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write Ask the Times, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801.