An impressive collection made up of hundreds of bottles of spirits amassed by a businessman has sold for £61,000 following his death.
Clarence West (79) started collecting bottles after building a bar in his living room.
In the following 50 years, the Kent father-of-4 grew his collection from around 600 bottles to include whisky and cognac as well vodka and brandy.
Following his death last year, Mr West’s family have sold 400 of the bottles for £61,000 via the drinks auctioneers Whisky Auction.
Clarence West pictured in the 1970s with his impressive collection of spirits, which recently sold for £61,000 at auction
Although Mr West might have been thrilled with the result, Rita, Rita’s wife, says that he never intended to make any money from his bottles.
Mrs West stated that in 1970, an extension was built to make a bar. The first bottle Mr West bought was 1971. From there, it just grew.
“I’m not sure why he began really. It was our idea to build a bar in the corner. But, I thought it would be a good idea.
“He was a smoker and he also liked matchboxes. It was just nice.
After deciding to set up a small bar in his living room in 1971, Mr West started collecting bottles. He rarely drank and began collecting them.
He kept meticulous records of which bottles he had and was missing.
His wife said, “He did not drink.” This was his passion. His customers would always bring back something when they traveled abroad. His possessions were listed in a book. He bought something back from abroad when he was not able to get it.
“He also labelled them all. His hobbies were not important and the rooms looked nice.
“He loved it. A visitors’ book was kept by him that would be signed by people. Although none of his collection was ever touched, people still came to have a glass of wine if they had a party many years ago.
In the 50 years that followed, West’s collection grew to 600 bottles. This included whisky, cognac and rum as well as vodka, brandy, gin and vodka.
In a small notebook, Mr West maintained a detailed list of all his drink collection. This included when they were purchased and what he spent on them.
The bottles had been kept unopened, so they were in perfect condition. This is how the family was able to get them sold.
All of them were kept track in small notebooks that included the original price and date they were purchased.
Although selling the collection of Mr West was difficult, West and his family were delighted with it.
The most valuable bottles include a Laphroaig 10 Year Old whisky bottled in the 1970s, which sold for £2,000.
A 1957 Macallan also went for £1,900 and a Caroni 90 Proof Extra Strength Navy Rum which sold for £1,800.
Mr West’s family contacted drinks auctioneers Whisky Auction after he sadly died last year at the age of 79
The majority of West’s collection was sold to Singaporean museums, which will display it with Mr West’s photograph.
Mrs West described her husband as an ‘excellent character’ and said that everyone loved him. He was an amazing father to his four sons, Tony (Stephen), Richard (Richard) and Jason. He was a great guy and helped lots of people.
His career began as a coal merchant, then he became a Calor gas dealer and opened a shop called EKP on Northfleet High Street selling accessories for caravans and power tools.
After moving the shop to Parrock Street, he and his son took a break from the business. However, despite never having retired, he continued his bookkeeping until his passing six weeks later.
Rita added that Mrs West stated, “He was always a businessman.” His business interests were never in stalemate. He said, “He never could not do any thing – he loves to keep his mind busy.”
Part of the collection, around 400 bottles, has now sold for £61,000, much to the family’s surprise
However, she stated that the drink collection was not a part of her man’s daily life.
“He was aware of what he bought for it, and he expected it to increase in value. But we weren’t expecting it to go that high,” she stated. He didn’t get it as a profession. It was purely a hobby.
“When my father passed away, we knew it was time for the item to go. The lock was on, so it was impossible to get in touch.
“It was quite shocking to find out how much it cost. It was unbelievable. He’s given us more than we could have ever imagined.
He would be in his element, if only he’d known.
According to Mrs West, her family has not decided yet what she will do with the collections’ proceeds. However, they intend on enjoying it.
She said, “He lived a happy life.” He was a great person and we all shared a happy life together.