Wicker Visit – Austin Healey’s and Elephants
18 July 2013 (R•043019)
As I work my way east to Manchester, New Hampshire for the FOHBC 2013 National Antique Bottle Show, I had the chance last night to run from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I was completing some business, up to the Kendallville area to visit long-time bitters collector Frank Wicker, his son Frank Wicker, Jr. and his charming wife, Cheryl. Many of you may know Frank from his Bottle Pickers web site.
The Wickers are also super passionate about restoring Austin Healey’s and had quite a few spectacular examples to look at in their restoration sheds. Every car was a different model, color and had a set of special details. Frank says his business is Austin Healey and his passion is bottles. Not a bad way to spend your time. Their Austin Healey web site is Wickerized Healey where you can really see some great classic car pictures in his gallery.
Finding their location was easy as Frank runs Wicker’s Body and Paint Shop and the sign out front tipped me off that I had arrived. Their property is really cool and the grounds were anchored visually with a cobalt blue bottle tree. I also liked some onions that were hanging on the porch drying. Kind of reminded me of Zulu Bitters and shrunken heads.
When I went in to their house, it was a bit overwhelming as the living room and adjoining rooms are full of glass bottle cabinets with cases and displays in every possible area. The light was coming from the west windows, and with the mirrors and reflections, it was quite a wow factor. I probable could have spent many more hours looking at all the cool bottles Frank has dug or ‘picked’ over the years.
Besides seeing some really nice labeled bitters like the Severa’s Stomach Bitters, Lincoln Bitters and King Solomon Stomach Bitters, and an unlisted Polo Bitters from Australia, I think I focused most on the Carl and Ferdinand Mampe bitters and liquor bottles with the prominant embossed elephant. The Mampe’s were primarily Frank Jr’s, and he had just about every possible shape, size and variant of the German bitters. Really quite fascinating to look at all these rather crude bottles and compare the embossings. It seemed that all of the elephants were slightly different. Frank has also written extensively on the Mampe subject.
The new listing for the forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:
M 23 L . . . Mampe’s Bitters
// b // (motif elephant enclosed in an oval) / CARL MAMPE / BERLIN // f // f // f //
8 1/4 x 4 3/8 (4) 3/8
Square, Green (various shades), LTC
Additional sizes of this square bottle are 2 3/16, 3 ¼, 4 ¼, 61/8, 7 ¼, 7 ½, 8 ½ and 9 inches tall. There are differences in the elephants placement and embossing. All are labeled bitters.
Read: The Carl Mampe Liquor Empire (Part 1)
Read: Ferdinand Johnann Mampe Liquor Empire (Part 2)
What I nice way to start this great bottle weekend meeting passinate collectors and enjoying some beautiful glass. The Wickers collect so many things that you can see they have fun and fit the bill as to what a collector is and how they share their passion. It was also nice to see Frank pass so much off to his son who is almost just as knowlegable and passionate. I thought it was ironic, when I had dinner later by myself at a Thai restaurant and ordered a beer, that my my Thai beer was a Chang emblazened with two facing elephants on the label. The Wicker’s allowed me to take a few pictures and share on the web site.