Truth Before Dishonor

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Archive for June 16th, 2012

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.

Posted in music, Real Life, society | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

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