Introduction to Collectors

GEORGE & ANA LISENKO

"carlopeto" with the Lisenkos and the Spaids in California, June 2004

 

George and Ana Lisenko are well known collectors and friends of many people.

Their popularity goes beyond international borders, due to their natural sympathy, down-to-earth style,

friendly demeanor, and an impressive website.

 

The story of George's collection is pretty interesting. Now you can read it from his own words:

 

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How long have you been collecting miniature liqueur bottles?

George: I started collecting straight glass miniature liqueur bottles in California, in 1971;

then stopped in the late 70's.... and re-started in 1982.

All along, that makes it about 35 years with a short 7 year interruption.

Was it the "7th year itch" that made me retake it?

 

 

Ha - tell me more about the beginning and the "re-birth" of your collection

George: Well, like everyone else, I started collecting straight glass mini liquor bottles.

I did not discriminate a lot, but managed to build a nice whisky and vodka collection among others.

Then I quit -believe it or not- and got rid of all my bottles.

 

I still remember when I sold my entire minivodka collection to a guy in Canada.

He had about 400 mini vodka bottles, and I gave him the 600 that I had,

including some nice Russian minis.

 

The rest I just gave away. That included some pre-prohibition whiskies....

Come to think about it, in the 70's I had a lot more bottles than today!

 

Then, in 1982, I met Ana <my current wife>

We used to hang around everyday and everywhere. One day, she told me she was going

to travel to San Francisco to meet with her visiting mother from Peru.

Part joke part seriously, I asked her to get me a few miniature liqueur bottles at

Fisherman's Wharf. She brought back 18 mini vodkas!

 

That was it. That is how I started over.

Fortunately, this time I just focused on the mini vodkas. I managed to rebuild my entire

old collection, except for one bottle: the "Turkish State" Vodka, which I am still missing today.

 

Then the collection grew into other specific categories.

 

 

What are those categories?

George: Apart from the mini vodkas, I also collect Schafer & Vater flasks, blown glass, and

nice porcelain and ceramic figurals.

 

I am the guy behind the vodkas.

My wife Ana initially got into the blown glass (she got her first one as a gift from Linus Earl).

She also liked the figurals, and then I got hooked in the Schafer & Vater giveaways.

 

 

   

"carlopeto" with Ana Lisenko, next to the figurals display, and with George Lisenko next to the Schafer & Vater display

 

 

How many bottles do you have today?

 I have over 3,600 miniature vodkas, guaranteed. Perhaps 100 more...

As for the blown glass, we have about 300 pieces

The S&V don't go by quantity, as you know. It's about having the best pieces you like.

Same thing for the figurals.

We also have a decent number of mini tequila bottles, which I keep in my shop.

 

 

 

Which are your favorite bottles, and why?

George:  In a specific order:

1) Schafer & Vater (among them, the blue flasks and the dancers)

2) Blown glass

3) Russian and Ukrainian Vodkas (I have a soft spot for those)

 

Why?

1) S&V: unique pieces, outstanding quality

2) Blown Glass and figurals: they are beautiful, like Ana

3) Vodkas: because of my Russian/Ukrainian heritage (Lisenko)

 

 

 

   

click above: Ana's impressive blown glass display                             A few of the Lisenko's Schafer & Vater pieces       

 

How would you describe yourself as a collector?

George: Well, it runs in your blood.

I not only collect miniature liquor bottles. I also have a large collection of

Silver Strikes, gold coins, guns, and Hard-Rock Café pins.

 

 

Wow... tell me more about the Silver Strikes.

George: The Casinos started issuing them in 1992.

About 2,000 different pieces have been made since.

I am fortunate enough to have about 97% of them all.

I am only missing 13 or 14 units.

 

 

What advice would you give to new collectors?

George:

To any newcomers, I urge you:

Do NOT collect random liqueur, wine or glass junk.

Don't go for quantity, just to "up the numbers".

Nothing beats quality!

There are too many bottles out there: specialize!

 

 

 

I have known George and Ana for 3 years now. I treasure their friendship. George is the one who made

me start collecting Schafer & Vater and blown glass bottles. I influenced Ana with the Drioli.

We seem to have the same taste for things!

 

George Lisenko is the owner of the most visited website among all miniature bottle collectors.

Their Guestbook is the best of the best. Enormous entertainment values, worth visiting 1,000 times:

http://www.justminivodkas.com

 

 

   

 

 

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