A Friend and Colleague Succumbs to Heart Disease
There are collectors and there are collectors. Ken Schwartz was the collector of all collectors and he did it with class and a sense of sharing that drew people to him and his incredible museum of bottles. His collection of bottles, advertising, shot glasses, back bars…the list goes on, is as legendary among the western whiskey collectors as the hobby itself.
It was with much heartfelt grief those of us on the West Coast learned of Ken’s passing while at the Morro Bay bottle show Friday March 22. He was 83 and had been battling heart disease for some time.
What set Ken apart from other collectors was his devotion to his hobby, collecting antique western whiskey bottles. It was more than collecting this and that, it was an all-out effort to find not just the best, but the best and the most. The time he invested into creating the collection and then his magnificent museum is a testament to the way he approached the hobby. I’m told there are only a fraction of the western whiskey bottles out there he didn’t have. His collection put his hometown of Anderson on the map. When we’d go to the Anderson bottle show, it was as much as going to Ken’s as it was the show. He and his wife, Teenie, were gracious custodians who enjoyed nothing more than to have collectors and friends come and view his amazing museum. There are collections that can get ones heart rate up pretty quickly, but Ken amassed a grouping and displayed it with an open heart and a special sense of sharing that is unequaled. To even try and explain in words what Ken had is impossible. Just think of any western whiskey and he most likely had it. At least one. If one were to imagine a collection of anything from old movie posters to Faberge eggs, in Ken’s world he had them all. If you knew Ken he shot from the hip and if you dealt with him you also knew no one was fairer in negotiating a deal. As one friend told me, “he collected for others as much as himself.” If he wanted it he paid the price and the only thing he was thinking is where in the heck he was going to find room for it. Ken knew his hobby as well as anyone alive. It was a special part of his life, both for himself and the many, many people he’d known for much of that life.
Ken is survived by his wife Teenie and his daughters Becky and Chrissie. There will be no service at the request of Ken. A collector, a gentleman, a friend to all and someone that will share a place in the hearts of everyone that knew him.