The Ford Motor Company has produced a lot of things over the years. Beyond the obvious automobiles, the business has made the Trimotor aircraft, tractors, and semi trucks. We were unaware that the Blue Oval ever made tomato juice, though, until this RM Sotheby’s auction listing. It would be a must-have for completionist Ford collectors.
The story behind this odd bottle is fascinating. According to the book Henry’s Attic: Some Fascinating Gifts to Henry Ford and His Museum, Ford made this tomato juice for a mere three weeks in September 1938. It happened on the 80-acre (32.37-hectare) plot of land in Dearborn, Michigan, which is now the site of the automaker’s world headquarters.
Henry Ford apparently owned hundreds of acres of land for growing vegetables that he gave to charities for free. The site in Dearborn grew tomatoes, and he had a two-room schoolhouse there converted into a cannery. During those three weeks in 1938, 30 boys and 6 men made a staggering 52,505 cases of Ford-brand tomato juice.
Unfortunately, the book doesn’t say why this bottling was a short-term, one-time effort.
Judging by online auction listings, these bottles don’t come up for sale too often. After all, how many people are going to keep a bottle of tomato juice for 83 years? This one is even more special because the juice is still inside.
RM Sotheby’s expects the bottle to sell for $150 to $300 at its sale in Auburn, Indiana, on September 4. To put that estimate into perspective, we found an empty bottle that sold for $408 on eBay in February 2019. Morphy Auctions got $150 for one in 2013.
Henry Ford saw the importance of farming. For example, he dedicated 1,500 acres of land between Birmingham and Flat Rock, Michigan, during the Great Depression, according to The Henry Ford. The automaker’s workers were able to sign up for a plot of this land for a garden. They were able to keep whatever they grew.