In the late 1980’s I had a lady friend who enjoyed collecting antiques. She dragged me around to all sorts of places, picking through peoples old junk, hoping to find something of value that all the people before us had missed. Surprisingly, she found quite a few pieces which she considered worthy of her collection. However, I might mention that if you’re not into collecting something, these forays can very quickly become very boring.
Those journeys quickly became almost a punishment to me. Sometimes we would drive for several hours to get to an event and if it was a large event, we’d spend hours wandering through the maze, picking up pieces, studying them, replacing them and moving on to the next table. Boring,,,,,, I repeat, BORING!!! However, for the collector, it’s like being in Seventh Heaven. They so look forward to the next foray and the joy they get from finding a particularly sought after piece, especially if they “ pick it up for a song” as she often did. However for me, the primary joy to those journeys came from the fact that it’s “hungry” entertainment and invariably we’d stop for a meal at some new place where we had not eaten before.
She collected many types of antiques, but her most favored was “gray granite.” It is old cookware made out of tin or metal. There is “blue granite” which is rarer and much more expensive, as I was informed; however she didn’t collect that, only gray. It’s amazing how many different types of cookware there are: Scoops, ladles, teapots, pots, pans, kettles, strainers and on and on it goes, even spoons, knives and forks.
Once you have a fairly complete collection, you don’t stop “prospecting” or looking, you simply attempt to find duplicates which are in better condition than the one you already have, or as more likely is the case, by the time you’re close to completing your collection, you’ve already begun collecting something else.
Well, after a fashion it became clear that there was no end to this process. Once you get started collecting, you never stop. If your collection is complete, you begin collecting something else while you continue to try to improve your collection. In fact, avid collectors collect more than one particular type of item; many of them collect dozens of different things. It might be old tobacco tins, baseball caps, jack knives, old bottles, hell when it comes right down to it, old anything.
Soon enough, I realized that I was going to have to start collecting something or die of boredom. This was in the mid to late 80’s and I had been saving license plates. Not all plates, just the Michigan plate for 1976. It was a real patriotic looking red, white and blue plate depicting the US flag. I had several sets which I had kept when that plate was replaced by the next issue and over the years I had come into possession of several others. It was a start. So, I began collecting license plates. Well, they are all over. Every place we went, I found license plates. Not just Michigan plates but from all states and several foreign countries. I didn’t want to have to build another garage to have a place to store my collection, so I decided that I needed to start collecting something that wasn’t so easy to find.
I had received a bottle of Avon aftershave as a birthday gift from my son, some years earlier. It was shaped like an antique car and I had always treasured it, probably more because it was a gift from my son than because of its shape, but certainly not because of the contents. At any rate, one day when we were pawing through old junk, looking for treasure, I came across another Avon bottle shaped like a car. In fact, I found 2 or 3 of them in the same junk pile. Until that time, I hadn’t realized that there were more than the original I had received from my son. That day, a collector was born. Soon enough, I had 10 or 15 cars in my collection and was anxious to find out how many more of them there might be. I purchased a collectors book and soon determined that there were something in the neighborhood of 30 different types of Avon bottle cars. Well, not all of them were cars. There were pickup trucks, a mail truck, train engines and a motorcycle. Suffice it to say, there were enough of them to make it interesting to attempt to complete the collection of them all and yet they were scarce enough that I wouldn’t need a pole barn to house them all.
As time passed, I was no longer seeing the lady friend who had gotten me hooked on collecting, but that didn’t stop me from collecting. I no longer found myself seeking new venues as frequently, but still from time to time I came across another car to add to the collection. Eventually, I also began collecting eagles. All types of eagles, but preferably of a patriotic nature. They aren’t necessarily old or antique, but they are interesting and patriotic. Unfortunately, the old antique is now me.
Copyright © 2012 Richard Lee King. All Rights Reserved.