About the Editor


My name is Kenneth Wickham, and I am editor of FrankomaCollectors.org, founding member of the Frankoma Family Collector’s Association, and Frankoma enthusiast for more than 30 years. My story begins not with me, but with my late father-in-law and one of the pioneers of Frankoma Collectors, Al Malone.

Al Malone in his home shop, 1980's

Al Malone in his home shop, 1980’s

Al Malone is my father-in-law; he was also an antique dealer for nearly 30 years. Al had a knack for knowing what the next big thing in antiques and collectibles was going to be. For example, he collected Buffalo Pottery when pieces sold for $.50 and $1.00, and sold off his collection when prices later soared, with one quality piece going to the Smithsonian. So it was no surprise to friends and family when Al began buying and stashing away Frankoma on the cheap in the 1970’s & 80’s.

Al began as an antique dealer when it wasn’t unusual for buying, selling, and trading to take place right in one’s home, usually in the front room. He would occasionally show his wares at antique shows and flea markets. If a dealer was “full-time,” he might even open an antique shop in a storefront or mercantile building.

Antique “malls” came along later, when it was no longer safe to sell out of one’s home. Many pioneer Frankoma collectors found that first special piece right in the living room of the Malone home! The business came to be called The Malones; Al and Nell, his faithful wife of over 40 years and my mother-in-law, also did estate sales.

When it came to collecting and dealing Frankoma, Al was a pioneer, along with others too numerous to list. He was old school: for example, advertising was mostly local or regional at best, and accomplished by word-of-mouth, a well-placed stack of flyers, or an occasional ad in the local newspaper. The Antique Trader, a national bi-weekly publication, was contracted for those really rare and special pieces. Sometimes transactions were accomplished with a first class letter or postcard, or a long-distance telephone call, and items were always packed and shipped U.S. Mail; no such thing as internet or eBay, and Fed-X or UPS were too costly.

I married Diana Malone, Al and Nell’s only daughter, in 1984; she was and is the love of my life. Thus began our journey in life together; thus began also my journey in life with all things Frankoma. Having grown up in the Tulsa area, I, along with most everyone else in Oklahoma, took Frankoma pretty much for granted. That changed in 1984. It was sort of understood on the Malone side of the family that if I loved the daughter, I should also love the Frankoma. And so I did.

Ironically, the very first piece of Frankoma I bought in my whole life was not from The Malones; it was from a garage sale in south Oklahoma City: a miniature spiral pitcher in dusty rose that had been broken into two pieces and glued, for $5.00. One can easily see that I was a novice collector in need of information and wisdom. Al Malone became my ready source for both.

Al Malone Occupied Germany 1945

Al Malone Occupied Germany 1945

A World War II veteran who went in with General Patton to liberate Europe and occupy Germany, Al had the patience to mentor me and many others in the art and love of collecting Frankoma pottery. And most of my birthdays and Christmases thereafter were celebrated with a select piece or two of Frankoma from Al’s personal collection or The Malones store.

When I became part of the Malone family, I think Al tolerated me more than liked me: I was liberal, a Democrat, had long hair and a beard and dressed sometimes like a biker. That, however, was about to change. A few months into the Malone family experience, I ran across a Frankoma onyx buffalo in a local antique store and bought it for $4.50. I was so excited with the find that I took it straight to Al for his inspection, to make sure it was what I thought it was. I’d never seen him so excited: he was literally on the edge of his seat with excitement. You see, he had never had the Frankoma buffalo in his collection, so he was delighted that I had found one and that he would at least have one in the family!

Anna and Calvin Wickham got involved in Frankoma at a very young age.

Anna and Calvin Wickham got involved in Frankoma at a very young age.

The only thing that got my Frankoma mentor worked up more than Frankoma was grandchildren. Our children, Anna (1988) and Calvin (1990), were the third and fourth grandchildren in the family respectively, but Calvin’s birth came at a time when Al’s love for all things Frankoma almost outshined the arrival of our little bundle of joy. Here’s what happened:

Because Al Malone was an early Frankoma collector and dealer on a national scale and because some considered him an “expert”, The Antique Trader invited him to write an article, with pictures, about Frankoma for their national publication. Unfortunately for Baby Calvin, the article debuted about the same time he did! Although Al was distracted for a moment, the arrival of Al’s namesake (Al/Cal) won his attention, and the day. However, the Frankoma article with pictures was so good, Trader divided it and ran it in two consecutive issues on the centerfold, something they hardly ever did before or since.

“The Frankoma Man”, as he became known to many, passed away July 11, 1994, just weeks before the organizational meeting in September for what would become Frankoma Family Collectors Association. He so wanted to be there. In September, 2001, FFCA awarded posthumously to James Alvin “Al” Malone, Honorary Membership. The plaque, adorned with the attached large and beautiful Pot and Puma Frankoma stylized trademark in prairie green glaze and pink clay, reads:

In Recognition of probably the earliest of all the promoters of Frankoma Pottery as a collectible. For decades he passionately shared his knowledge and love of Frankoma, becoming mentor to many whom we now call our experts.It was his dream to see the founding of a club of Frankoma collectors, which did not come to fruition until just two months after his passing in 1994. We shall forever miss our Frankoma friend and supporter.

Over the years following Al’s death, Nell passed along to Diana and me his entire collection in exchange for a mere token of its actual worth. She wanted to keep his love for Frankoma alive and in the family, and saw that possibility in us and our children. Nell died in 2008.

Franks and Wickhams at the Oklahoma University Art Exhibition April, 2012

Franks and Wickhams at the Oklahoma University Art Exhibition April, 2012

The greatest moment in my Frankoma experience besides my love and respect for my Frankoma mentor and father-in-law, Al Malone, was the invitation from University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art to include six pieces from the newly formed Wickham-Malone Collection, in an exhibition of Frankoma Pottery, which ran from April 20 through October of 2012. The pinnacle piece in that exhibition was Al’s multi-colored with red base glaze, John Frank, OU Teepee, large vase, dated 1928 and initialed J.F. Al would have liked that.