Collectors collect old books and paper while the best dealers and auctioneers collect clients. In the fullness of time, attitudes, opportunities and circumstances change. When those relationships last there’s often something deeply special about them. Fred Holabird’s Holabird Western Americana Collections LLC [www.holabirdamericana.com] has developed many of those relationships and recently lost three collector friends. A few days ago he sent a message to his community imparting this news. I share it with you.
By Fred Holabird
Friends have slipped away.
December was quite a month, and January is proving yet another wild month with snow, ice and excessively low temperatures all over America.
The last part of 2023 left us without a number of key collectors who passed into the great collecting Heaven. I wanted to take a minute to recognize a few who were all personal friends.
In memory of
Bob Werner, Pioche, Nevada (c1937-2023)
Bob was an inveterate collector of all things mining. Afterall, he lived in the middle of a major silver mining region in eastern Nevada and looked at mining history every day. As a career with the Lincoln County Power Company, Bob made the cover of the local magazine last fall, which “did him proud.” He was a die-hard collector, with an amazing memory, whose ultimate goal was to catalog every piece in his collection. We weren’t sure if we met back in the early 1980s when I was in charge of feeding the Castleton mill with gold-silver ores. Back then, I worked on perhaps twenty or more mines that had potential for immediate mining of relatively small tonnages of higher grade gold-silver ores. We had a handshake deal with a group of mine owners (Bob was not one of them), so I got to meet most everybody in town over time. The Company sent a crew who spent the better part of a year refurbishing the Kerr-Magee mill getting it ready to roll. But … all of a sudden, the mine owners played “hardball” and wanted a big upfront cash payment, something out of the question in all previous negotiations and the handshake deal. We had been slated for a start of production the next day – I’m not kidding. The company president got on the phone with them that night, and with the mine owners not budging, I was ordered to tell the mill superintendent to put the entire operation in mothballs. Over the next forty years, It never ran another ton. Bob and I recounted this episode, and we both still felt the company posture was correct. A deal is a deal. Of course, he knew the locals better than I did. Meanwhile, Bob collected high grade mineral specimens from all the surrounding mines and the collection kept growing. In later years his hearing went from bad to worse, and we communicated through email and with his loving wife Carole. It was particularly enjoyable to sit in the living room and watch the deer and elk in the back yard. Bob was special. I didn’t get to spend enough time with him.
Rex Stark, Massachusetts (1947-2023)
Rex was known to virtually every major dealer/collector of Americana, especially political Americana. A profoundly knowledgeable man with a booming deep masculine voice, Rex was a main-stay in the Americana business. Rex was always present at the major shows, particularly in the late 1970s and 1980s when I first met him. As I recall, hopefully correctly, he had attended Stanford, then had a major change of heart on what he wanted to do in life. Rex was one of many who would always be available for questions involving his expertise, and we often spoke in this regard, particularly because I was in the center of the Americana business in the West, and he in the East, which offered a completely different insight and experience. His depth of knowledge was fantastic, and I’m afraid is unduplicated today. His catalogs always carried something of interest to everyone. The trick was calling the second you spotted it in the catalog, or it would be “sold.” RIP Rex.
Ron Reed, Colorado (1959-2023)
As a Colorado Native, Ron had a passion for Colorado History. Growing up in Thornton, Ron was fascinated with metal detecting and treasure hunting. He and his brother met a bottle digger who was pulling bottles out of an old outhouse in Denver in 1977, and the life-long addiction for historical bottles began. Ron loved Colorado embossed bottles and the history they represented. He visited more Colorado ghost town sites than most people knew existed.
Ron was an active member of the Antique Bottle Collectors Club of Colorado for over 46 years, amassing an impressive collection of antique bottles, all originating from Colorado, with most dating before 1900. His dedication to collecting took him from digging for bottles in old mountain towns to participating in auctions. Ron was always eager to discuss bottles with anyone interested. He shared his knowledge of Colorado history and antique bottles, including their origins and the saloons and shops the bottles came from. Ron educated people of all ages on Colorado history and Colorado Bottles. He loved exploring ghost towns and immersing himself in all the incredible Colorado History.
His family is keeping his memory alive by redistributing his wonderful collection to passionate and serious collectors all over America.
3555 Airway Drive Suites #308 & 309
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