Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Who would have thought it

Posted by DNW on 2012/06/16


Despite not being a “collector” type myself, a number of years ago I decided to make a collection of something that I thought would be both useful,  and potentially one day, have some modest economic value or interest .

Some people collect stamps. Others, collect coins. Well-heeled or highly motivated types often collect motorcycles or automobiles.

My notion, was not to make a “gun collection” in the usual sense of the word, but merely to obtain a representative selection of off the shelf, lever action rifles, of a bore suitable for big game on the order of deer and bear and possibly elk.

At the time there seemed to be an unusually broad selection of available models, some of which, the Winchester Model 1895 for example, had been reintroduced, after years of suspended production.

Other models, like the Savage Model 99 were rumored as destined for discontinuation. Minimal investment, maximal utility (for a hunter) and substantial technological interest from an historical point of view, made it all  seem like a good idea.

I never followed through.

But the idea of relatively inexpensive collectible items, representing a particular or modest niche, is not an uncommon one it turns out. People do collect almost anything, and almost every child has the start of his own collecting hobby in his or her toy train or race car set, or barbie or other dolls, or comic books …

The problem with these kinds of items is that their value as a collectible depends in part on the fact that they are not treated as such from the start.  If every comic book every kid bought was saved in a wrapper, if no ungrateful boy deliberately drove his train set off the ping pong table just to watch it crash over a “cliff”, then these things would be anything but rare.  And while landfills would be considerably less full our dwellings would be considerably more so.

Grown-ups are aware of this process of natural and necessary attrition, and this realization may be part of what is behind parents or grandparents starting kids off with stamps, or pennies, or as my mother did with my much younger kid sisters, a series of expensive but probably now worthless American Something or Other dolls bestowed upon them every Christmas for years. That latter example kind of defeats the purpose of the whole exercise though. What’s the point of buying an expensive “collectible” when every example issued is stored away on a closet shelf for two decades in the wan hope that it will represent a small fortune someday?

Anyone want a set of Franklin Mint commemorative “coins”?

So if the average man is going to collect he might as well do so for pleasure. And adult people experience harmless fun in collecting all kinds of things – even obsolete business machines or manual typewriters, for example. There are of course the better known farm tractor collectors, and lawn mower collectors, and 1930’s dinnerware collectors.

I don’t know if there are collectors of those 8mm formatted films of 1930’s cartoons which were used to demonstrate home movie projectors to potential buyers in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but I would not be surprised if there were.

Now guitars are of course, are something that we would expect people to collect. The best of them are beautiful, functional, and in many cases economically valuable from the time of their creation; only to grow more so with time.  Check out the going price of a 1954 Les Paul Gold Top, or a 1962 Fender Stratocaster in pristine condition if you need convincing.

But what about those “other” guitars? What about those  economical, second-tier, private labeled, entry level player kinds which were advertised in the department store catalogs right up through the 1980s? Would anyone really want, say, a 1965 Danelectro?

Or how about a Sears Silvertone hollow body made by some company like Harmony or Kay? [These are sold but you can still look] It turns out they do and the answer is yes.

People do collect these items with some obvious enthusiasm and even whimsical reverence.

And if you think about it, there are many worse hobbies, than that.

Here’s a fellow that put his interest in guitars to a good use.  I don’t think he is playing an Harmony or a Kay, but I think he is doing rather well all the same even though I don’t care for this tune by and large. The old guy on the fiddle is someone famous from years ago. An Italian aristocrat who took up with some Belgian Gypsy guitar player and with whom he had some success before WWII.

I don’t know. There’s probably something worth investigating there too.

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7 Responses to “Who would have thought it”

  1. AOTC said

    there are many things i wished i had ‘saved or collected’ over the years. i am not a collector by any means. if you dont see it i dont have it. i wish i had had more fondness for clutter over the years as i would have likely saved more stuff. i would never make it for an episode of hoarders. heh

    i do have several interesting items i have saved over the years. i kept the small stash of mr AOTC’s childhood toys, hotwheels, gumby and pokey. a tiny silver spoon pin that my mom got for graduation and gave to me. a tiny carving of a monkey made from a beechnut, two paintings made by my dad (he was not a painter,lol) dads ball cap. i actually have a mammoth living awesome christmas cactus that was my great grandmothers, its nearly 100 years old and so heavy i cannot move it myself.

    we have various mementos in the china hutch from our travels, vacations and memories.

    one thing i do save are the anniversary and birthday cards mr aotc has given me for the past 30 years. for a guy that is not all that symbolic or romantically inclined, he knows how to pick a card.

    if i had to claim one, my favorite collection is memories. the best collection of all.

    by the way, happy fathers day to everyone.

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  2. by the way, happy fathers day to everyone.

    Bah, humbug. I got off work at 8 this morning. I return to work at 8 this evening. Bah, humbug.

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  3. DNW said

    “Bah, humbug. I got off work at 8 this morning. I return to work at 8 this evening. Bah, humbug.”

    increase in both virtue and wealth …

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  4. DNW said

    AOTC said
    2012/06/17 at 13:28 e

    ” there are many things i wished i had ‘saved or collected’ over the years. i am not a collector by any means. if you dont see it i dont have it. i wish i had had more fondness for clutter over the years as i would have likely saved more stuff. i would never make it for an episode of hoarders. heh ”

    That’s the best way to be. My kid sister keeps a house like that; unlike apparently, a lot of her fellow academics and medical types. Very minimalist. It’s a relaxing pleasure to visit her. I’ve listened to her colleagues almost giddy as they nearly bubble with enthusiasm over her place. They must live surrounded by stacks of coffee stained journals and cat damaged furniture …

    ” i do have several interesting items i have saved over the years. i kept the small stash of mr AOTC’s childhood toys, hotwheels, gumby and pokey. ”

    Gumby! Geez … I remember hotwheels. Never got into them – though my younger brother did a little. I guess since they didn’t explode I couldn’t figure out the attraction.

    That reminds me of something I think I have mentioned before. When I was a small kid my mother returned home from a visit to her elderly mother with a car trunk and back seat loaded with like-new 1950’s (maybe even late 40’s) era toys. They were given to her by a next-door neighbor lady who had wanted to clear them out. They had been her kid’s, and she was right in saying that most were virtually unused. I guess her adult children didn’t want them for whatever reason

    They literally formed a small wall of toys and boxes when we laid it all out. Tin wind-up cars and boats, pump action bazookas that shot ping pong balls, spaceman guns with those friction wheel sparking devices… all kinds of things both familiar and odd. One I recall was some kind of game played with marbles. The “board” was enameled stamped steel with a – probably – star pattern of nesting holes for the marbles. To this day I don’t know what it was.

    Anyway, ungrateful little bastards that we were, we made short order of this bonanza, wrecking everything by the end of the summer, and ensuring that samples of the kind still surviving became still more interesting and collectible.

    I guess I was a liberal as a child.

    ” a tiny silver spoon pin that my mom got for graduation and gave to me. a tiny carving of a monkey made from a beechnut, two paintings made by my dad (he was not a painter,lol) dads ball cap. i actually have a mammoth living awesome christmas cactus that was my great grandmothers, its nearly 100 years old and so heavy i cannot move it myself.

    we have various mementos in the china hutch from our travels, vacations and memories. ”

    Yours is probably the best path. You can actually see where you are going …

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  5. AOTC said

    DNW said
    2012/06/18 at 12:18 “The “board” was enameled stamped steel with a – probably – star pattern of nesting holes for the marbles. To this day I don’t know what it was.”

    i tell you truly, as kids we had one of those, my aunt got one at a garage sale and it ended up at our house. not one of us 6 kids knew what it was for or how to play it. i called my mom today and asked her about it.. she said, ‘oh, that’s chinese checkers’. ..

    so i still have no idea what it was. LOL

    —-

    “I guess I was a liberal as a child.”

    i have a theory. i think we are all born liberals but are supposed to grow, learn and mature out of it.

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  6. Yeah, that’s Chinese Checkers. The goal is to get all your marbles out of your triangle and into the opposite triangle first, setting up a series of jumps across the board, where you jump your own and any other marbles set up on the board. Nothing is ever removed from the board itself. And, yes, it is a 6-point star pattern so 6 people can play at once.

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  7. AOTC said

    “The goal is to get all your marbles out of your triangle”

    john, all my marbles have been out of my triangle for quite some time….

    LOL

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