After being roommates in college, Jeff and Mark continued to live together for four years in Chicago. Being single dudes without much money, their apartment was full of purely utilitarian amenities — their silverware stolen from the dorm’s dining hall eight years prior, their plates and bowls mismatched donations from their parents and their drinking glasses from, as Jeff recalls, “a garbage bag full of assorted pint glasses that Mark’s older brother was going to throw away.”
“Mark didn’t want to see them go, so he lumped them into all the pint glasses he’d already accumulated, which resulted in this huge bag of pint glasses that sat in the corner of our kitchen for like a year,” explains Jeff, now a 30-year-old living with his girlfriend. “I think we used two glasses out of the whole thing, but for some reason, Mark refused to throw the rest out.”
Honestly, I’m in the same boat as Mark. It wasn’t until I recently became the owner of a very nice set of crisp, round glasses from Crate & Barrel via my wedding registry that I boxed up and sent off to storage all of the old, stolen or found pint glasses that helped me through my single-and-living-alone days.
Not that it was easy — for me or Mark. For Mark in particular, his pint glasses held a sentimental value similar to that of old T-shirts. Case in point: The pint glass with a Chicago Bears logo on one side and a Bud Light logo on the other originated from his first Bears game; a souvenir Chicago White Sox glass was boosted from his favorite college bar; and the glass “with a big University of Illinois ‘I’ on it and the name Andrew” has always made him laugh because, well, his name isn’t Andrew.
The list goes on for nearly every pint glass in the garbage bag. Like me, the 32-year-old only relinquished his collection once wedding bells started ringing and the gifts therein included what some might call “adult” glassware — no logos, no chips, no scratches, but most of all, no backstories. “When we moved, they were all packed up and donated to my wife’s younger cousin who is out of college and had just moved into the city,” Mark says.
Getting rid of the glasses felt like the end of an era, but also like an appropriate amount of personal growth. “I didn’t really care to keep them, and we just don’t have the space for them to sit unused in a cabinet somewhere,” Mark tells me. “But it feels a little better knowing they were kept in the family and not thrown out or donated.”
On the flip side, Danae, a 23-year-old in Ohio who began collecting pint glasses when she moved into an apartment with her now-husband back in college, continues her collection to this day. “They don’t sit around collecting dust like the keychains I collected as a kid,” she tells me. “They’re actually useful.”
That said, she and her husband decided to trim back their collection when they moved and didn’t have enough shelf space in their new home to store them. “Trying to fit everything in a U-Haul puts things in perspective,” she explains. “I really didn’t want to part with my glasses, but we wanted to cut down on our total belongings and my husband didn’t want to take them all with us.” And so, she donated all the generic, duplicate and less-memorable glasses to a thrift store and moved her favorite 50 into a special cupboard, where she can take them out whenever she wants and reminisce of her days as a bartender and traveling to different breweries.
“I have a story for each one,” Danae says. “But the red ‘Municipal Brew Works’ logo glass is from a fantastic brewery in Hamilton, Ohio. My husband and I won it playing SINGO, which is bingo but with music clips.”
Notably, some pint glass collectors never cull their collection. They’ve got the storage space and are simply in too deep to quit now. “I started my collection four years ago, and have approximately 100 glasses total,” Joe, a 45-year-old in Washington D.C., tells me. “Most came direct from breweries, beer festivals or special events at bars. Others were given as gifts once people knew I was a collector.”
“I don’t hunt for glasses — a glass from a brewery is typically $5 to $7,” he continues. “I know there are glass hunters out there and that there are more expensive glasses, but I’m not as into the collecting part as some people.”
Interestingly, they’re as much for display as they are a vessel. “The glasses that we use we keep in a kitchen cabinet, which the dishwasher can scratch up and fade the logo. The rest are kept in my basement bar.”
Danae will definitely toast to that: “It’s more fun to drink out of a glass with sentimental value than a boring, clear glass from a department store.”