The Skipper Kent Collection

We trade in and sell shrunken heads, Tapa cloth, Hula skirts, Bangkok jewelry, India glass from Benares, wood carvings, native weapons, rumpus room decorations, tropical food, etc. Also Hawaiian shirts!

          Most people have heard of a Pagan Love even though they’ve never had one! Pagan Love was only one of the many accomplishments of a man named Frank “Skipper” Kent, who started out with nothing and built a memorable life around yachting, traveling, restaurants, and art collecting.

          Frank Kent was born in San Francisco one month after the 1906 earthquake, in which his family lost everything. They eventually moved to a farm in Hayward, but because there were five children in the family, Kent went to work early as a salesman for Continental Baking Company. Soon after he began building the first of his yachts, a 38-foot double-ended ketch named “Magic Carpet.”  It took him three years to complete the ketch and when he was done, he and his wife Lucille sailed around the world, in what would be the first of many such trips in which they began collecting folk art, crafts, and jewelry from places such as Indonesia, Mexico, and Japan.

Skipper Kent and the Zombie Village

         Upon their return to the Bay Area, Kent founded Skipper Kent’s Zombie Village in Oakland and then a self-named restaurant in San Francisco.  They were both Polynesian-themed and provided inspiration for Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber’s, which soon followed. The restaurants featured nautical and South Seas décor, with such details as tiki-shaped glasses and salt-and-pepper shakers.  Skipper described the Zombie Village in a letter written in 1953:

...through massive driftwood doors, with huge Easter Island idols on either side, with a pause to inspect the unusual gifts from all corners of the earth which are for sale at the curio corner, then the beauty of the tropical dining room unfolds before you.  Palm trees, Philodendrons, Marantas, Calatheas, and everywhere colorful Anthuriums and overhead the exotic orchid.


...In the Malayan, African, and Garden Rooms, the dining tables are made of selected Koa and Monkey Pod woods. Spears, shields, and Kris, from Africa to Malaya and the South Seas, all collected by the skipper on his many voyages, explorations, and travels, adorn the walls.....

Skipper Kent’s was considered by one magazine to have “A rum bar where the world’s greatest collection of rums and liqueurs are stocked” and it was said of Kent that “He [was] considered a foremost authority on rum and has visited practically all the West Indies and other islands, where rum is the national drink.”  A review From the October 26, 1953 Dining Out section of Fortnight Magazine describes the restaurant as follows:

 "Skipper Kent, wearing a white duck suit, greets you, and contrives to overlook the unsuitability of your attire in an environment that recalls the Raffles in Singapore.  He is a nimble, cordial man, as much at home on a yacht as in a restaurant, who has traveled all over the world in search of good food and drink."  His grog bar is decorated with Japanese fishing floats, carved wooden heads, and native spears and shields.  Drinks with such exciting titles as Planter's Punch, South Sea Cooler, and Pagan Love come to your table with miniature Japanese Parasol stuck in the glass..."

A lifetime of significant collecting

          Aside from being an accomplished yachtsman and a successful restaurateur and businessman, Skipper was also an avid collector of antiques and fine art.  He had a good eye and bought for the right reasons; beauty, ethnographic interest, and cultural significance.  His collection included a significant group of aboriginal weapons from Indonesia, Africa, and New Guinea, beautiful pieces of Native American and Mexican jewelry, Pre-Columbian antiquities, and jade carvings from China.  

         All told, Frank "Skipper" Kent  was a colorful character in California history.  He was a self-made man, adventurer, and entrepreneur.  He rubbed elbows with politicians and movie stars, yachted with Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn, and won second place twice in the Trans-Pacific Yacht Race. He was an orchid collector and art lover, and showed a sincere interest in cultures around the world.  It is apparent that he was a man with a vision, and a romantic soul who lived life as a great adventure.


So, make yourself a Pagan Love, sit back and dream of South Sea Islands, sailing ships, and drinks that come with little parasols. Skipper would want it that way.

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