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A small sample of Richard Opala’s cruet bottle collection.

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However, age has caught up with me and I stood at my last fair (Newark Showground) three years ago. It is so tempting to just go on and on but at 72 I thought I had better call it a day.

There were five fellow dealers in cruets about 25 years ago, but I am apparently the last man standing. As the others retired or passed on, I ended up buying their cruet bottle collections. I have now got in my garage about 6000 bottles. I need my garage back to use for other things including putting the car in overnight.

What to do with them all?

The whole collection is for disposal at a knock-down price or can be split up as necessary to any potential buyers.

It is a ready-made business for someone to put in a little bit of effort. It is very easy to go around antique fairs and centres and spot cruets with a damaged or missing bottle, which can be picked up for very little money.

The required missing bottle(s) or something almost identical can usually be found among the 6000 I have in stock. Then you have a full and complete cruet worth considerably more money.

It is also easy and pretty lucrative to operate a cruet bottle matching service, just supplying the correct replacement bottle to someone who has broken one.

A bottle can be made to order but the cost can be £100 plus, whereas I can quite happily supply one for in the region of £20.

Odd bottles can be used as posy vases, toilet water bottles or simply as standalone mustard and oil and vinegar bottles. A fair proportion were made in late Georgian times, but the majority are late Victorian and mostly cut glass and of good design and quality.

There are many possibilities, but I now don’t have the inclination, patience or time to do this any more. I just want to dispose of the bottles, prismatic stoppers and myriad of spares. It’s a shame for them just to be sitting on shelves, doing nothing except gathering dust.

Richard Opala, Nottingham

ATG note: if anyone can help, please contact Richard direct at cruetking@ntlworld.com