Historian Jim Phillips collects and appraises bottles like this Coca-Cola “Hutchinson” bottle worth thousands of dollars.

Historian delivers unique stories, facts

Alabama historian Jim Phillips returned to the Russellville Public Library June 21 and delivered a presentation full of unique facts and entertaining stories.

Phillips is a treasure hunter, collector, appraiser and enthusiastic story teller. The individual items he presented each have their own story Phillips can recite from memory, and even more stories rolled off his tongue about items he has either sold or come in contact with through other collectors and buyers.

While Phillips gleans all kinds of knowledge about Alabama that most people don’t know, he also gains enjoyment from his pursuits.

“It’s the pursuit of history that’s the thrill,” Phillips said.

In this pursuit he has learned how medicines used to be made with ingredients that are now considered illegal. Through his passion for collecting bottles, Phillips has learned a great deal about the history of Coca-Cola and the evolution of its bottles – from the “Hutchinson” bottle, to the straight line bottle, to the now famous contoured bottle.

Even though Phillips hasn’t become rich through the treasure-hunting, history-seeking world, others have – because there are many people willing to pay big money for rare bottles, coins and other artifacts. It would be easy for Phillips to rip naïve sellers off – and he said he has seen it done – but Phillips said he strives to maintain his honesty and integrity in the business.

Phillips said that he is more than happy to appraise items at a person’s request steer people in the right direction.

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