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All Shook Up - Cocktail Shaker Passion Grows For Collectors!
An Excerpt from an article by Warren Kalbacker printed in the Summer 2000 issue of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Magazine
When Stephen Visakay readies his nightly martini he has his choice of a different cocktail shaker for every evening of the year. Visakay, author of Vintage Bar Ware Identification and Value Guide (Collector Books, Paducah, Kentucky), has acquired over 1,600 shakers, about 100 of which made up a recent exhibition titled, not surprisingly, Shaken, Not Stirred, which traveled to museums throughout North America.
Visakay is perhaps the most prominent of a new category of collector, those with a shaker passion. Credit the millennium cocktail culture, even the exhibitions of Visakays prized pieces, for stirring up a fascination with vintage shakers among all kinds of collectors: those who want authentic shakers from the 20s and 30s, the original heydey of the cocktail; design aficionados, lured by sleek modernist themes and shapes; and those with nostalgic yearnings for the social pastimes of the era just after World War II, when cocktail parties were at their most glamorous, cocktail dresses the chicest of raiment, and the cocktail lounge the place for a sophisticated rendezvous.
In their design, of course, cocktail shakers often reflected style and sophistication. Of all his shakers, Visakay prefers a 1936 Norman Bel Geddes Manhattan model, manufactured in chrome plate over brass by Revere of Rom, New York, the renowned maker of pots and pans, which during the Depression added cocktail shakers to its repertory as a way to maximize revenue. Bel Geddes, a world-famous stage and industrial designer known for his futuristic General Motors pavilion at the 1939 Worlds Fair, came up with 13 shaker designs, according to Visakay. But the Manhattan was the only one ever produced. Legend hast it that Bel Geddes was inspired by the New York skyline, says Visakay, who also likes the Manhattan shaker because it has a good wide mouth, so it pours easily.
Visakay, who occasionally sells shakers, disposed of one of his Manhattan models, together with rare matching cups and tray. The price was $6,000, versus just $5 for the shaker itself in 1936, $15 for the set.