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.
Well said Jeff
This is a great write up on Ken. You hit the nail right on the head with it. Ken was a one of a kind guy and will truly be missed.
So sorry to hear of the passing of such an accomplished and legendary fellow collector. Though my passion is ACL soda bottles, with my goal being to amass the most complete collection of it’s type, I can certainly relate and sympathize with the drive and research that it takes to become a serious collector of anything valuable. If Ken’s goal was to amass the greatet collection of it’s kind, I believe he was successful in his endeavor. Hopefully, he and his family have made plans so that future enthusiasts may continue to view and be motivated by the ollection. I didn’t know Ken, but will miss him nonetheless. Sincerely, Roger Carpenter of Central California
Such a fine gentleman! And, truly no better way to describe him – a man of class, a man of honesty and honor, a man who always had time to share – a gentleman! I will miss our chats, the enthusiasm he always displayed in showing his latest find and his kind manner.
My deepest sympathy to his family.
Ken was a good friend. He set the standard for collecting Western Whiskies. His collection is the ultimate and nonparell which means the best and none equaled.
We send our condolences to his wife and family.
Thank You Ken…………Your inspriation is embedded within my vary sole, you have watched after many piece’s dear to me, as with all of mine we are just the custodians of wounderful things. I’ll see soon enough………Nice Run!………..Rocky Becker
Being an old time collector of bottles, glass blowing tools and advertising, it is sad indeed to see a legend of the hobby pass on.
It appears he legacy in life will equal his legacy in the bottle hobby.
We all need to strive to be a mentor and example for those who do not understand our hobby and to honestly guide the younger ones and maybe, just maybe there is another Ken out there in the wings.
Rest in Peace……R. Howell
THIS IS A GREAT HOBBY, I HAVE BEEN DOING SINCE 1970, MET A LOT OF NICE PEOPLE AND A GREAT AUCTION RUN BY JEFF WICHMANN.
GOD BLESS THE KEN SCHWARTZ FAMILY AT THIS TIME. JACK
Even before I met Ken I had heard about his amazing whiskey collection and in particular about how it was displayed. After knowing him several years, he would always issue a special invitation to come see his collection. When I did I was impessed beyond words and immediately knew that I was seeing a collection that would never again be assembled and arranged in such a tasteful manner. Thanks Ken for what you shared wiyh many of us collectors.
I only talked with Ken a few times over the years at some of the select bottle shows that I would attend and found that he had as much of a passion for collecting bottles as I do. And now with sorrow, I have come to realize that he had a greater passion, and one beyond anything I ever thought possible. In the time that I knew of Ken, I learned of his legendary collection, one in which he had extended to me an invitation to view if I ever made it up to Anderson. Now, with deep regret, I will have to say that I will never have that chance. But, one thing that I want to say in his tribute, and that is, that in his love and passion for collecting, he put together a collection that goes well beyond legendary – it is trruly a remarkable and stunning masterpiece — a work of art in its own right. And in my opinion, the splendor and beauty of that collection could be described as nothing less than astonishing, and you can tell that just from the photos. To see and experience that collection must have been an extraordinary and breathtaking experience.
Knowing Ken for many years, I greatly appreciated visiting him and enjoyed seeing his collection, but more than that, Ken had a fine sense of humor that made knowing him a pleasure.
All of us collectors will miss him.
I hope, like others, that his collection will find its way into a major museum for all to appreciate.
Many years ago we were Blessed to be invited to Ken’s house for the “after party” after the Anderson show. There are really no words to express the amazing collection he had put together. We had never seen anything like it and frankly probably never will in our lifetime. But more important beyond words was Ken’s openness to share it with so many. His kindness and grace speaks volumes as to the type of man he was. Heartfelt condolences to his whole family. RIP Ken.
An eloquent tribute to a great gentleman. It has been an honor to know Ken and Teenie. Thank you for sharing your immense wealth of knowledge, and for the priviledge of seeing your fantastic collections. No one has done it better! We will remember Ken ..always at the shows..with his notebook under his arm..his reference material at hand. Our deepest sympathy to Teenie and family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Bob and Arlene Hansen
The hobby has lost a Great man and collector.I will nevetr forget being able to see Ken’s collection.His knowlegde of his field and the way he had his collection displayed was unequaled.I send my sympathy to his family.
Jeff Thank you for caring so much about our hobby and the people who make it up,.
Nice tribute Jeff. My sincerest condolences to Ken’s wife, Teenie, his daughters and the rest his family. Our hobby has truely lost a great asset and collector. During my discussions with Ken he has always been willing to offer his knowlegde and open up his home with an invite to a one of a kind collection even though we hardly knew each other. I quickly saw that Ken and I shared a coomon bond in our extreme appreciation of bottles. I have never personally seen the collection, now if I’m ever lucky enough to see his collection, the most inportant part of it, will not be there to guide me through with his knowledge and passion. Thank you Ken for you kindness, may you rest in peace and always be remembered.
So very sorry to hear of Ken’s passing. Our deepest sympathies to Teenie and the rest of the family.
Ken had a wealth of knowledge about Western Whiskies and we loved to stop and visit him and Teenie in “The Room”. We spent time listening, learning and sharing, too. They were the perfect collecting couple, full of fun, zest for life and obviously meant for each other. Teenie, again, we are sorry for your loss; know that our prayers are with you and your girls.
All of the above comments are true. Ken was always willing to open his home and heart with his passion for the hobby, specifically western whiskey bottles. I remember first meeting Ken when I was a teenager and over the years I grew to respect him as a true authority and a true collector. Not a “flash in the pan” collector, but a life long steward of knowledge as well as King of the “Temple of Glass”.
So long Ken, you have left your mark in an area of collecting which will likely never be equaled.
Ken wrote in my copy of Whiskey Bottles of the Old West and thanked me for helping with his collection. I think I was really helping with everyone’s collection. I have visited Ken several times and he assured me that he was collecting for everyone. Everyone did have a chance to see the collection and it is hoped that some of the bottles eventually can be shared digitally in the F.O.H.B.C. Virtual Museum.
Ken was more than just a collector. He was consumed to the point of generating electrical excitement through his hobby he so dearly loved. Going there was like taking in the universe, only with bottles. So many bright stars, a million galaxies all in one room. He was an astonishing man with an astonishing collection.