Forbes Visit, off the Pacific Coast of Big Sur


Forbes Visit, off the Pacific Coast of Big Sur

Light, Reflection & Shadow

11 April 2014

Apple-Touch-IconAMy last hurrah and setting sun from my magnificent and recent west coast bottle trip was saved for last when I visited my good friends, Jerry and Helen Forbes in Big Sur, California. As far as endurance and accessibility, we had to travel miles up winding dirt roads in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, into the mountains, and off the Pacific coast of Big Sur. Coming from Carmel, it was an exciting ride along US 101/Highway 1, with the steep, dark cliffs juxtaposing nicely with the crashing teal waves. Next it was passing thru a winding, thin road framed by towering redwood trees and rushing brooks. I felt like I was in some type of enchanted land that only occurs in my imagination and movies.


Bixby Creek Bridge, Big Sur, California

You see, Jerry and Helen work in Carmel, California and trek daily to their treehouse retreat home that they painstakingly and lovingly built, room by room, over the past thirty or so years. Way off the beaten path, I was able to visit with the Forbes after the Morro Bay bottle show put on by the San Luis Obispo Bottle Society. Read: 2014 Morro Bay Bottle Show. I was also able to look at some incredible bottles and see some amazing things. Their daily commute back and forth to work is breathtaking to say the least.


Sur Man keeps a watch over the property and approaching road.

You know when you are finally getting close to the Forbes compound when you are greated by this gigantic wood carving of Sur Man who greets you on the last leg of the drive to the concealed house. Anchored in stone, this sculpture was torn from the footing in a recent storm.


Forbes House, totally hidden by nature and perched on the side of a mountain.

The first bottle I touched was a local wine. We toasted on a deck that Jerry built overlooking the mountain passes and the Pacific ocean.


Jerry and Helen and their Min Pin, Cutter. The deck overhangs a hill and your view is the Pacific ocean.

Jerry is kind of a Renaissance Man. He knows just about everything, he has been everywhere, can fix and build things, loves music and has seen just about every great performer ever known, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd etc.; some numerous times. Jerry was actually a musician at one time and their son Aron, who is getting married within the month, is an accomplished, globe trotting musician based out of Los Angeles.


A younger Jerry Forbes. Guitar case open for bottle money I suppose.


Aron Forbes – chip off the ole’ block

Staying at the Forbes tree house for a few nights is like being at a jungle spa or mountain retreat. No cell service, intermittent internet, comfortable surroundings and the influx of nature dominate every setting and emotion. Even a simple plate of cheese and fruit is a play on light, reflection and shadow.


Wine and cheese, light and shadow

A rather nice Drakes Plantation Bitters takes on a special meaning when hit from a burst of Pacific setting, mountain sun.


A carefully handled Drake’s Plantation Bitters is rotated in late afternoon sun.

When I was led to my guest room on the second floor of the house, I unpacked and let my eyes rest on some incredible bottles. What a way to relax and be stunned at the same time.


Guest room window full of great historical flasks, bitters barrels and squares, whiskey barrels and spirit cylinders.


Four gorgeous National Bitters (figural ear of corns) and a legendary green Cassin’s Grape Brandy Bitters.


Three, pint, historical eagle flasks dance in the afternoon sun


Four Drake’s Plantation Bitters in stunning colors.


Whiskey cylinders and a Chalmer’s Catawba Wine Bitters


Variety of figural bitters barrels.


More bitters barrels compete for your attention.


My favorite, Old Sachem Bitters and Wig Wam Tonic barrels flanking an un-embossed blue barrel that Jerry got at the 2006 FOHBC Memphis National.


Two London Jockey Clubhouse Gins on the left and three Baker’s Orange Grove Bitters next to a green Hostetters Stomach Bitters.


Three Fish Bitters, a Binninger cannon and a Dr. Henley’s IXL Bitters


From left to right, the killer greenish I. Nelson’s Bourbon barrel from Maysville, Kentucky, Fitzpatrick whiskey corn, figural whiskey corn, two Roback’s Bitters and a cobalt U.S.A. Hospital bottle.


Looking up at some indian queen figurals, Dr. Wonser’s Indian Root Bitters, Ta Tsing (chinaman) Bitters and other classic bitters.


Cathedral Pickles compete with shadows and sunlight.


Cabinet of some great bottles. Shadows and reflections.


Dark rooms, bright light and bottles.

As exciting as the bottles were, I have to admit, I had just as much fun and enjoyed walking around the house and property taking pictures of little settings that were positioned to make you stop and admire. Again, the light play, nature and the surprise of finding objects in rooms and along pathways was an adventure. I even had time to take a long run with Cutter, my barking buddy.


Stained glass in breakfast nook.


Various varieties of moss growing on support trees for the house look like a miniature forest.


The details of an intricately carved knife blade catches some sun. According to Jerry, “The knife is from the Gold Rush era and was a gift to the Captain of the barge Helen from his crew”.


A small Mexican Mustang Liniment sitting lonely in some garden plants.


What?, a labeled Greeley’s Bourbon Whiskey Bitters barrel protected in a velvet lined case?


Stone bull with old beer bottle positioned along path leading to the house.


Probably the nicest Success to the Railroad historical flasks I have ever seen.


One of Aron’s childhood toys is left for memories next to a super carved Indian Mortar & Pestal.


Two wicked pontils on the bottoms of Dr. Townsend bottles.


The property had quite a number of tools that had seen better days. Left in their position of last use begs for a story.


The color on this handled flask is a blood red as it gets. What detail and embossing. The glass character is off the chart.


Just some old common bottles getting some sun.


Nice little Jade plant looking for some sun.


Nice memory bottles and glass on a dresser.


My toast to you Mr. & Mrs. Forbes. I’ll be back with Elizabeth and Coco.

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. He is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.
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2 Responses to Forbes Visit, off the Pacific Coast of Big Sur

  1. Bocabottle says:

    What a incredable view! Bottles & countryside. They look like an incredable couple. Loved the bottles everywhere. Thank you Jerry & Helen for sharing. Loved those Louisville flask. Best Regards, Gary Beatty

  2. Rick Simi says:

    Very nice article and fantastic pictures of the Forbes and their home.
    Thanks for keeping up the interest in our hobby

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