The Beer Can Man
When you walk into Richard Ng's home you may be tempted to ask him a very personal question, or even make a statement which could go something like this, "I see you like beer Richard!"
Richard will no doubt laugh at your observation and agree wholeheartedly and some because the first thing you will see on the walls of his home are beer cans, 1282 of them to be precise, arranged around a beautifully designed purpose built bar.
"I started collecting them in 1984 when I was in Canada studying," said the 57 year-old Seremban born architect, who says the collection consists of cans from 33 different countries.
" I bought back 6 cans from Canada with me I think, and then one day I went to the shops in Seremban and saw so many beautiful beer cans from Malaysia, so I started to collect."
At first he got help from his brothers and sisters when they travelled overseas as they would return with the cans, some of which were full and the others empty.
"Usually you drain the beer from the can by making a hole underneath it so you don't break the tab seal and it still looks useable,"he said. Draining the beer also cuts the cost of of the mail delivery as the weight is drastically reduced.
Richard has been a member of the Beer Can Collectors of America since 1999 and usually exchanges boxes of cans, drained and packed securely so they don't get damaged, with other members of beer clubs from all over the world.
"Americans are crazy about collecting beer. I know one guy has 75.000 beer cans and what he does is place everything underneath in a basement. (Cans when exposed to too much light will fade over time.) The US has more than 50,000 active collectors.
Richard glances towards a bare wall in the living room and ponders where to put all his yet to be shelved cans, "Maybe over there I can put another rack," he suggests.
His wife, on the other side of the room gives a 'don't even think about it look,' shakes her head as he smiles back.
Supping from a can of cold Anchor beer he shrugs the thought off and says that now days, he only collects special cans made for specific events or occasions.
As he explains the most expensive cans are usually flat top cans, which are known as OI, (or opening instructional). These cans were produced between 1935 and 1941, and are highly sought-after by serious collectors. They are very heavy in construction and have flat tops which required the use of a special opener, which was hooked under the rim of the can.
Beer cans were quite a novelty at the time as people were not accustomed to drinking out of cans but these days, pristine cans can cost collectors anything from 50 cents to US$50,000, it just depends on condition and rarity.
After 33 years of collecting and tasting beer Richard still prefers the flavour of Malaysian beer but admits an affection for Guinness, "especially draft from a tap."
"Who knows what will happen to my collection after I am gone, the family will have them and do what they want with them," he laughs.
If you want to know more and see how many beer varieties there are go to http://www.beercans.at/collect/ptm.php