Is the UK National Bottle Show ……

Is the UK National Bottle Show …….

……A National Disgrace ??

TRUE National Bottle Shows are held in the USA, Australia and I believe in New Zealand. In both Australia and the USA, the shows are organised by bottle clubs who tender for the rights to hold such a prestigious event in their home state. The events are a true celebration of our great hobby, with the shows lasting several days, and with displays to take your breath away. The social aspect is well catered for and naturally such events attract collectors from around the world. The shows are located in carefully chosen venues with good accommodation nearby The US Expo is held only once every four years, so the anticipation and excitement can build up to what must be the world's biggest and arguably best bottle show. The involvement of different clubs and personalities plus the moving of the show around the country means it is kept fresh and exciting, with no two events in Australia or the USA being too similar. ALL monies raised go straight back into the hobby, rather than lining the inside pockets of greedy individuals who would seek to make some financial gain.

What a dreadful contrast our frankly pathetic UK National makes. It has been held in the same poor quality venue for the past 14 years. It is staged by an individual who makes a full time living out of buying and selling old bottles. It would not be so bad if the organiser was a pleasant , welcoming felllow. Sadly, people including myself have found him to be the most arrogant, pig-headed know-it-all you could ever wish to meet. As the event is privately run, there is no true benefit to the hobby - but the organiser's family certainly make money out of the event. Without exception, they are all employed over the weekend, mostly relieving collectors of their cash. They are not giving up their time for nothing as do stewards at other "true" National shows around the world ! The security is a joke. NO security firm is engaged -( well they are expensive!!). No, its the organiser's eldest son and his mates on the "main gate" ably assisted by small schoolchildren armed with walkie-talkies. Poor security, especially for those people who have displayed collections worth thousands of pounds, Social events ? The highlight would appear to be a "football match", a couple of burnt burgers from the barbecue, and the organiser singing on the Karaoke. Well, its either that or risking a walk down into "scenic" Wath on Dearne. Hotel accommodation ? There isn't a true hotel within miles and local pubs offer a few rooms but they are quickly booked up. In short, if this is the best the UK can offer, the best venue, the best accommodation, the best organised show, then frankly I am ashamed to be called British.

The event was originally going to follow the US example and be held every four years. PITY IT DIDN'T STAY THAT WAY. Next it went to being held bi-yearly and again most recently became an annual event. Presumably the organiser was not making enough money ? He shamelessly uses what should be a set-piece UK event to sell collectors HIS books, HIS magazines, HIS auction catalogues. He gathers all those assembled as a ready made audience for HIS auctions ( several of these over the weekend so maybe he should call it the UK AUCTIONAL ??) Naturally he takes money off all those who attend - either in admissions or for table/pitch hire or in auction commissions. There is some excuse made about "donations" to the UK National Bottle Museum . And who might be the founder, leading light and operator of the said museum, and who uses the premises to store his auction items, books and magazines - and promotes his auctions and bottle shows from there ? Yes you got it ! He has even received donations from gullible collectors and clubs to enable him to run his bottle business right from the very heart of the UK National Bottle Museum !!

Well, far be it for me to try to influence your choice about whether you attend this event. In case you do go, here are a few tips.

  1. You MUST be there for at least 4.00 on the Friday afternoon. This is when people are let on site, and trading begins IMMEDIATELY. As the bargains go straight away, you simply have to be there by that time, which is tough on those who work shifts or whose hours of work are strictly regimented.
  2. Don't even bother thinking about going off to bed. Trading will continue until darkness falls.. You will have chance to grab a few hours sleep before trading re-starts at dawn - usually four in the morning .Pitch-holders will arrive in a steady stream from 4.00 until 8.00 and at 9.00 the "main hall" will be open, where you will find no more than around 50-60 stalls inside. Inside will be the established dealers, with few bargains but plenty of high prices.
  3. If you are buying you will have competition from the UK dealers, who have the advantage of knowing who will likely have the right kind of stuff for sale. So be quick on your feet, fast with your hands and grab anything you fancy - and be prepared to make an instant decision if you wish to buy it. In other words keep movin !!
  4. If you speak with an "American" accent, watch out !! The price on any bottle is likely to increase by a factor of two ! Don't be afraid to haggle, just assuming you find something to haggle about !
  5. Take your own food and drink and do not risk the "grease specials" or the "donkeyburgers".
  6. You may as well leave the event at dinnertime on the Saturday - most of the Brits do anyway. You may have a few new faces on the Sunday morning but even if you do stay, you will have little chance in the siege that will surround any newcomers who brave a Sunday morning set-up.

By now you might be wondering if this event is worth the trouble and expense of attending , especially if making long journeys overseas. Well, there have been a number of overseas visitors, but very few have returned a second time - "once bitten, twice shy" ?

Let me sum up.

The venue is a joke. Nice modern building with good flat loading ? No its an old English secondary school, NO public telephones, disgraceful toilet facilities, POOR communications. NO large hotels nearby. Haute Cuisine ?? I don't think so unless you count fish and chips from the shop across the road !

The trading hours are completely non-regulated on the outside pitches . This may well be a breach of local authority trading laws and must be UNFAIR as not all those attending have an equal chance of getting to the pitches with such silly hours of trading - unless of course you happen to be an insomniac.

The main object seems to be to get as many collectors to the event and to relieve them of as much money as possible. Whether or not they will derive any benefit from attending seems to be a long way down the list of priorities.

The social aspect revolves a round poky little room - "the bar" and if you do not enjoy swigging cheap beer, karaoke sessions or the organiser giving out prizes to members of his "fan-club", then you will be far better off by leaving early.

There is NO tangible benefit to the hobby, in fact the reverse may be true. This awful event must convey a very bad impression to overseas visitors, who could likely conclude that all Brit collectors must be mad or sad to want to repeat this event, at this venue, year on year.

In short, in my very humble opinion, this event IS a NATIONAL DISGRACE. Apathetic UK collectors have simply stood by and allowed one individual to hijack an event that should NEVER be in private hands, and one which he exploits to the full. Yes please do START PLANNING NOW - Plan NOT to attend this event and you will be in very good company. And if you do still go ahead and visit, well…………… I did try to warn you !!


REAL comments from those who have attended this joke event

Some funny stories and anecdotes

And a competition to find an ALTERNATIVE venue which is WORSE than the present one !!