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Subject: Ernie Oest 1976 letter - background on collectors mentioned - more information is around and is welcomed especially with confirming letters from the time, etc.

Summary: Letter from Ernie Oest with names of many earlier collectors he knew. As a practical matter, many of the rarer cans pictured in BCU and Will Anderson's various books, published in the 1970's time frame, originated with some of the collectors mentioned. For the most part they lived in the New York City area, and starting in the 1960's, probably were among the earliest group of beer can collectors in the country who got together to share interests.

1. In August, 1976, Bob Myers wrote Ernie Oest asking about some early collectors and on his collecting interests. In Ernie's August 31, 1976 response, a number of collectors are mentioned. Added to what Ernie wrote, more background is offered on collectors named in the order mentioned in letter:

Ernie Oest - 1st collector in BCCA Hall of Fame. Lived on Long Island and collected labels first; cans and breweriana 2nd. New York Times archives has two articles on Ernie in 1973 and 1974 focusing on his Breweriana Museum at 1530 Main St., Port Jefferson, NY. Unfortunately after less than two years, the museum closed, and Ernie sold his cans to David Stark around Sept. 1975. Per a post card from John Ahrens to Bob Myers in 8/75, Ernie was asking $20k for the cans, and his can collection is understood to have sold at a substantially lesser dollar amount.
C.R. Root - the Milwaukee woman who sold cans to Bob Myers that were originally from a 1940 era collector named Jung (there is a Milwaukee newspaper article on Jung from around 1940.) This group of cans included the Waldorf Golden Bock, Manhattan Bock, Fort Pitt Ale, Old Dutch LP cone among others. (but turned out Ernie didn't know about her or Jung.)
J. K. Schmidt of Cleveland, Ohio - an editor of Cleveland Plain Dealer and collected cans from 1940's to 1960's. Many of his cans had small paper labels on the seam that gave details about the can, tax paid, color variations, etc.
Paul Miller and Kim Martin - no info.
Paul Daniels - New Jersey collector in the 1940's?? to mid 1960's who Will Anderson said had one of the best collections of 1930's and early cans. Could be one of the key early sources for many top cans that later turned up in Joe Veselsky's and Will Anderson's collections.
Joe Allis - 157-42 25th Ave., Whiteside, NY who ran a New York City bar, maybe on 47th street and opportunistically accumulated a number of collections as an early dealer/collector selling out mostly to Will Anderson, but some to Ed Scott.
"Conrodt" - Ernie didn't recall the name, but E.K. Conradt of Walla Walla, WA, was an active NW beer can collector in '50's -'70's. He used Greyhound to send cans and in a trade sent a large box of cans to Bob Myers around 1972.
Wally Gilbert - California collector from late 1950's on who died in January, 2006; the BCU includes pictures of many rarer brands from Wally's collection after he had added the Joe Veselsky collection.
Joe Veselsky - 8 Marie Court, Hicksville, NY - another Long Island collector from 1956 to 1975 when he sold out to Wally Gilbert. NY Times archives has at least one l article on Joe Veselsky.

(Will Anderson - not mentioned in Ernie's letter, but Will was the collector who ended up with many of the better cans from the Joe Allis collection. Will wrote a number of books directly on beer cans starting in 1969 and coined the word: "Breweriana." Bob Myers and Will Anderson started collecting cans together when roommates at Cornell, and a high school friend of Will's gave him the lead on the Owls Head, NY railroad station at which Bob and Will found many pre-WWII cans in the attic but only took 2-4 of each can seen as no other collectors were known at the time. Will Anderson's 1969 book, Beers, Breweries, and Breweriana showed many beer cans among the breweriana items and in the back are listed collectors from around the country at the time. Based upon Will's general contacts, his impression early on was that there were more collectors of beer cans than any other single category of breweriana.)

2. Several connection sequences on sales of cans mentioned in letter:

Paul Daniels and Ernie Oest bought J.K. Schmidt's collection around the mid-1960's with Paul getting all the cans he needed and Ernie getting the duplicates and the labels - the latter were Ernie's main interest. Ernie says this was the first large purchase he made of cans. Ernie mostly had found his cans and other breweriana items the interesting way by visiting hundreds of breweries since the early 1930's and had many stories such as: attacked by a dog at Harvard Brewery; had at least two boxes of cans sent home lost by the post office: a group of Chester crowntainers; and many of the of the Pacific Brewing cans. When Ernie would go to an abandoned brewery, it was a team effort with his wife sitting in the car as a lookout.

"Sale of Paul Daniels collection": Ernie wrote he didn't know the entire story, except Ernie got all the labels and other collectors got the cans, including Joe Veselsky. From Will Anderson: Paul Daniels sold out in the mid 1960's to Joe Allis. (There may be a reference to Paul Daniels in an article in an early bcca news report.)

3. Background from other sources not mentioned in Ernie's letter to complete sequence of collections' sales:
Joe Allis not only bought many cans and breweriana from Paul Daniels in the mid 1960's, but also bought several other collections, such as the group assembled by Jim Bacon who lived in Defiance, Ohio, starting collecting cans around 1938 when he picked up a Highlander cone in Montana during one of his car vacations to the West. Later by the early 1960's he had moved to Sacramento.

Bob Myers met Jim Bacon in what was likely November, 1970 (on the Saturday of the USC-UCLA game), who by then had moved to Yankee Jims in the Sierra foothills, but had Jim had few cans left. Jim Bacon said he had about 15+ different OD cans he had gotten when working for the post office during WWII. As an example of can values at the time, Jim Bacon said he sold around 1000 cans for about 64 cents a can - a value he ended up remembering too well. He said Joe Allis was visiting Oakland at a token convention and took the bus to Sacramento to buy the cans. Jim wasn't up on prices and later learned he sold at a too low price - a risk for collectors back then when less information was around and the buyer was like Joe Allis.
Will Anderson said Joe Allis was more an opportunistic dealer than a collector and in 1968 Joe sold all the cans, c2000?, and breweriana he had accumulated to Will Anderson and Ed Scott. Cost was under $4000. Will had first choice and got most of the better cans, except any can from New Jersey and lesser others that went to Ed Scott.
To see the range of cans that Will bought, his books picture many of them: Beers, Breweries & Breweriana (1969), The Beer Book (1973), and Breweries of Brooklyn (1977) - hundreds of good to rare on-grade cans from Gibbons Bock, Rainier OD cones, and other olive drab cans along with Ruppert, Rheingold, Hornung bocks, etc.

4. The start of ECBA: Beginning in the 1960's, collectors in the New York City area gathered at homes on Long Island and included Ernie Oest, Joe Veselsky, Joe Allis, Will Anderson and others, with Paul Daniels early on. This informal group later started the ECBA in Sept 12, 1970 - East Coast Breweriana Asso. with Joe Veselky #1 and Will Anderson #2.

5. Not mentioned in 1976 letter is the sale by Joe Veselsky: Joe Veselsky sold his cans, signs and other breweriana to Wally Gilbert in Sept, 1975, which included the Clipper cone having 6@59c stamped on side, Eagle Beer by Albion Brewing, Class, two Poths, and other rarities along with over 400 cones, several thousand on-grade cans in total. Art Ressell spent the most time at Wally Gilberts for his BCU book and all of Joe's cans were pictured.
--For another example of can values at the time; in a late 1970's Wright Foundation news letter Joe Veselsky says he sold for $12,000. Even at the time, such a value was considered low and somehow (?) Wally Gilbert was able to work the deal.
Unfortunately, the provenance on most of the Joe Veselsky cans isn't known: Did the mint Clipper cone come from J.K. Schmidt of Ohio since he lived nearby the brewery? Since Paul Daniels was known to have many 1930's cans - did he find the Class originally? However, for one can, Dobler Bock, Joe Veselsky did say he got it in the Albany area during a trip to Niagara Falls. In contrast to collectors like Ernie Oest who searched out cans, Joe Veselsky is thought to have bought most of his cans as currents after 1956, writing breweries for cans, and collections formed by earlier collectors.

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