Some of Our Members

Henry Hecker

I have been a collector since a young boy, fossils, insects, coins, stamps, baseball cards, you name it.  I have been collecting antique bottles and stoneware since 1970.  Started digging an old railroad dump near our family farm and I was hooked.  Soon after, I learned that old bottles and jugs actually had value and could be found at auctions, flea markets, just about anywhere if you looked hard enough.  Even stranger was the fact that there were a host of other folks with this same interest.  A great circle of friends developed that eventually became the MABAC in 1972.  I was also a member of the now long defunct Madison Bottle Club.  The clubs soon held annual shows.  Those were the days of  $100 “Chas. Schlitz German Wine Bitters” triangular log bottles, honey amber Barth flasks for $50, and even a Bird decorated Hermann churn for $200.  There was always something good to find at these events.  The aforementioned prices were “big money” in those days, but we just didn’t know how good some of those finds would be almost 50 years later.  Plus we discovered that bottles literally filled some lake and river spots where old amusement parks, hotels, and tour boats once existed. Finally we “graduated” to privy digging which remains the great almost unlimited source for future bottle finds.  In 1979, when Diane and I bought our first house I sold off much of my Milwaukee beer collection, a necessity at the time but a great regret now as it would be hard to duplicate today.


Flash forward to 2015, the MABAC is more vibrant and active than ever with exciting presentations, this new website, and the greatest show in the Midwest every February.  Many of the founders are still with us and are still great friends.  My collecting interests have not waned, if anything they have broadened.  (Something I have to learn to reign because of space and better focus.)  My main focus today are Milwaukee and Waukesha County pre-1900 beers, sodas, whiskeys, bitters, inks, medicines preferably attic mint but the super rare is tolerable in dug condition.  I must find every pontiled soda and mineral water, pottery beer, ale, mineral water ever used in this part of the state.  The more we learn, the more that we know are still out there or should I say down there.

Finally my other great passion is Wisconsin decorated and advertising stoneware jugs, crocks, jars and churns.


My Great Wants:

Blossoms Badger Ale

Stoneware Dickinson’s Ale, Meesow’s Detroit Ale

Pottery Wm. E. Root Beer, Milwaukee

Any strap sided flasks, bitters, whiskeys from Milwaukee

Enameled and label under glass Milwaukee Back bar bottles

Anything Wisconsin pontiled and any glass or stoneware item with Milwaukie and or W.T. (Wisconsin Territory)

Author: Henry Hecker
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