In search of history: a Waterloo native is an expert in antiquities | Republic Times
If someone is looking for a piece of Monroe County history, chances are Randy Huetsch has it or knows where it can be found.
Huetsch, a Waterloo native who, coincidentally, worked part-time for the Republic Times during his high school and college years, is now known in collector circles as “the antique advertising expert”.
He earned the title through years of experience collecting historical memorabilia from various companies, national and local. His reputation has also made him a sought-after appraiser of advertising relics.
It has items from all over the country, but much of Huetsch’s collection consists of early 20th-century pieces from Monroe County and nearby locations such as Millstadt, Dupo, and New Athens.
“My initial interest was just Monroe County, but quickly expanded to smaller towns around our area, including Randolph and southern St Clair County,” Huetsch said. “I’ve never been a big collector of cities like Belleville, East St. Louis, etc., because there are only so many items you can keep. However, I have a bunch of articles from those cities, and hundreds from St. Louis as well.
A small sample of some of Huetsch’s local rarities include a circa 1915 pewter serving tray for Foster’s Ice Cream-Waterloo, a bottle of Valmeyer Bottling Works advising customers of “Drink Cheney’s Beverages”, a 1920s metal sign for
“Delicious Red Bud Soda Water” by Fred Husemann, a paper fan “compliments of J. Maeys Store No. 2” and an advertisement for Fountain Creamery Butter.
Huetsch’s journey into the world of collecting historical treasures began about 40 years ago when he found a soda bottle in a creek bed near his Waterloo home.
He describes the bottle as “the first version of Henry Schroeder soda bottles”.
According to Huetsch, Schroeder started his Waterloo business in 1912 when he bought out Charles Boeke, then remained in business until 1959 when he sold to Carl Bode.
The business was located at the back of the now vacant land just south of the Sunset Motel in Waterloo.
Since his first discovery, Huetsch has amassed over 100 different bottles of approximately 30 different design types originating from Monroe County.
Its first bottle dates from around 1850 and comes from a Waterloo company once owned by George DePuyt. It also has bottles from the late 1800s and early 1900s from local bottlers including Henry Schuell, Henry Boeke, Charles Boeke, Henry Petri, John Gundlach and John Ruf, among others. He also owns bottles of milk from the Waterloo Milk Company and the Glendell Farms Dairy in Waterloo.
While Huetsch’s interest in collecting began with bottles, he credits postcards with an increased fascination with local history.
“I’ve always loved history, but I’m still interested in one person: the late Gloria Bundy. Gloria told me about postcards from the area after I showed her a group of store advertisement cards from the 1880s that I bought at an auction in the area with old general stores, mills (and other businesses) advertised on them,” Huetsch recalled.
“She asked me if I had any local postcards, and the rest was history. to go to places I normally wouldn’t be able to see or buy.
Huetsch is drawn to how postcards of the past offered a way to share local landmarks and events outside of an area before the advent of modern mass communication.
In addition to his many business-related postcards, one of his unique non-advertising cards features a photograph of the 1918 Waterloo High School women’s basketball team.
Besides bottles and postcards, Huetsch also collects commercial signs and promotional material, old wooden and metal thermometers, posters and other advertisements of local businesses that no longer exist.
“Most of my early collection was purchased at local auctions. Eventually the internet began to allow me to collect items across the country,” Huetsch explained.
As his collection grew and he became known to other enthusiasts, Huetsch said he could rely on “just word of mouth these days” to put him in touch with people who might be interested. have objects of interest.
However, not all of the pieces in his custody were acquired through mere financial transactions.
Huetsch told the Republic Times it took him five years to procure a significant article on the history of Waterloo.
He discovered the sign by chance while he was with another collector in Belleville.
The sign simply reads “Drs. Wetmore and Adelsberger’, and originally stood on the practice building of the two prominent Waterloo doctors who shared an office in the 1890s.
Huetsch said his collector friend found it by accident while looking for bottles commonly found in an area downriver from a former Waterloo bottling company.
The sign was found in a muddy bank near the current location of the Monroe County Annex Building in Waterloo. Huetsch said the doctors’ office was nearby and the sign was likely just thrown away, remaining in the ground until discovered.
Huetsch said he made several offers to the collector over the past five years until he finally struck a mutually acceptable trade.
Although he also occasionally sells pieces, Huetsch is not an antique dealer, he is a collector.
Huetsch explained that sometimes the items he wants are only sold as part of collections. He then finds buyers interested in the other artefacts. Additionally, in order to keep his collection manageable, he will sell an item if he finds an “improvement” to an existing item.
Currently, Huetsch has found himself collecting “breweriana”, or items containing the name of a brewery or brand of beer.
“Postcards remain a favorite, as do old lithograph posters from former businesses in the area,” Huetsch said. “However, I seriously got into the St. Louis metro area’s early pre-Prohibition brewery collectibles, and I consider that to be my primary interest today.”
Whether it’s bottles, postcards, signs or other miscellaneous advertisements, Huetsch explained that a collector’s job is never done, regardless of their area of interest.
“There are literally collectors for everything, and once you’re a collector, most of us will die as collectors,” he said. “The interest in hunting for the next item never ends for a true collector.”
Huetsch and his wife currently reside near the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, but he finds reason to visit Monroe County often.
As well as being from Waterloo, he says the area is unique in many ways and there is always something new to discover, which is a collector’s dream.
For more information about Huetsch and his collection, including photos of historic Monroe County artifacts, visit antiqueadvertisingexpert.com.