The Kentucky Derby is a horse race filled with history. Before we get to the uncommon value of Kentucky Derby memorabilia, I thought you might like to check out a quick Kentucky Derby infographic related to the history of the race!
Grab Up Those Glasses When You See Them!
Kentucky Derby mint julep glasses have been a tradition at Churchill Downs since way back in 1938. Many people have started collecting these official mint julep glasses and some of the early ones are not only rare, they are quite valuable. I didn’t realize how valuable and collectible these glasses were at first. I have to admit that when I started researching them, I was a bit surprised to see that there are actually price guides written specifically for Kentucky Derby glasses.
So how much is a Kentucky Derby glass worth? Well, it can vary, but some are pretty pricey. I’m not talking about ten or twenty dollars a glass. I’m talking very valuable as in hundreds of dollars for one vintage Kentucky Derby glass in some instances. If you have some old ones sitting on a shelf in your house, it might be worth your time to do a little bit of investigative work. A couple of the factors that can make these vintage glasses more valuable include scarcity (of course) and any kind of special features they may have (see the bakelite “glass” in the video below). Like so many other collectibles that are popular today, World War II shortages forced changes in production methods. That is another reason why some of the commemorative Kentucky Derby glasses from that decade are so valuable to collectors.
In most cases, when I find any kind of commemorative glasses, I’m hesitant to spend too much on them. These are a definite exception for me. Even glasses from the 1990s have accumulated some value. Older Kentucky Derby souvenir glasses dating back to the first 20 years or so of production can be very valuable. An individual Kentucky Derby mint julep glass (that is ONE GLASS) from 1945 recently sold for $800. That was an exception, as two others from the same year also sold for less than $300 but I think the first one went for more because is was a rare “short” glass. The most recent “book” value I found for a 1940s Kentucky Derby glass was about $500, so two of those three folks did made out OK. You know what though, I would not be surprised if they all just keep on appreciating in value. Collectors at that serious about these and early ones are that hard to come by. I’ve found that purchasing glassware can be kind of a gamble unless you really know what you are doing, but I’d scoop these up in a heartbeat if I found them selling somewhere.
Of course that is the problem. You can find some of the more recent glasses at flea markets and yard sales, but it is very unlikely that you will ever find Kentucky Derby glasses from the 1940s through the 1960s being sold anywhere but a collectibles shop or an eBay auction. If you do happen to come across one of these vintage Derby glasses being sold at a rummage sale or flea market, be sure to grab it up before someone else spots it!