web page consultants:
TWO || PREVIOUS STORIES ]
|10-24-02: If one of them would
happen to fall
|Then Oliver Wendel of Coldwater will collect them again
By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
COLDWATER - Nine thousand cans of beer on the wall, nine thousand cans
of beer ....
If Oliver Wendel doesn't have the largest beer can collection in Mercer
County, it's not from want of trying.
Wendel has been steady at it for the past three decades and has a
staggering 9,000 cans in the finished basement of his Coldwater home. Not just in the
basement, but in a special room with custom floor-to-ceiling shelving to display his vast
collection of suds cans.
"Actually I have 5,500 in my collection and then there's another
or so stored for selling or trading," Wendel, 66, told The Daily Standard earlier
The Mercer County native began his hobby in 1971 almost on a whim.
"We took a trip to the West Coast and I thought I should bring
back something from the places we visited, something I could collect and add to if I
wanted," he said.
Wendel decided on beer cans and brought home 24 different brands and
his now giant collection was born.
"I buy new cans in six packs, add one to my collection and store
the rest for selling or trading at beer can shows. That's how I have that extra 4,000
cans. Of course, when I first started I didn't even think about there
being other collectors out there, so I didnšt think to keep those first cans˛ he said,
adding that Beer Can Collectors of America, an organization to which he now belongs, has
more than 4,000 active national and international members.
Wendel has his favorites although they don't get special treatment. All
collection cans are cataloged and displayed in their appropriate spaces in
the beer can room.
"I suppose the cone tops are my favorites. I've got some from the
former Wooden Shoe Brewery in Minster and one from Koch in Wapakoneta," he said
quickly retrieving the cone tops in question from their shelf spot.
Cone tops, with their funnel-type tops, came on the market in 1935 and
were marketed by G. Heilemann Brewing company in LaCrosse, Wisc.
"The cone tops were popular with the brewers because they could be
filled on the bottle line with the same equipment," Wendel explained.
But, he noted, the last one was made in the 1950s. Because of their top
shape, they were hard to store and the heavy flat-top cans retained their pride of place
until the mid 1960s when the pop top cans took over the market.
Wendel's cans are empty although the tops of the cans are intact.
"I puncture them at the bottom and drain the beer out. Then I
write a number on the bottom and then make up a card describing the can, where I got it
and so forth," Wendel said.
As his collection swelled in number, the Coldwater collector had to
arrange the cans in classifications such as antique, international and small breweries.
"There are very few small or local breweries any more. The big
nationals have pretty much taken over. But the nationals put out several different cans
each year, so I add the new ones when I find them," he said.
The nationals also put out cans customized to certain events. The Super
Bowl is one, but there is at least one closer to home.
Wendel has two cans of Old Milwaukee customized for the Country Concert
2002 in Fort Loramie that he may take to the Wooden Shoe Chapter of Beer Can Collectors of
America annual fall show at the Minster Knights of Columbus Hall on Sunday from 9 a.m. to
"The shows are great times to meet other collectors and see if you
find a certain can you're looking for," he said noting he's always looking for the
SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY STANDARD
(419)586-2371, Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2002
The Standard Printing
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH