The search for obsolescence as a basis to collect

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Part of Jack's collection of 789 bottle and can openers. CHANDLER HUMMELL

Last month's column on Wheaties, baseball cards and English tobacco cards elicited several comments, along with calls from individuals desiring to divest of their collections.

Now, here's an update on the collection of Sun City's "Jack" and "Jill," owners of the above card collection. While sorting through more boxes at their home, I came upon a sealed box approximately 16 by 16 by 16 inches. The box was so heavy I couldn't lift it to examine the contents.

I asked Jack, "What in the world is in this box?" He replied, "Oh, that's my collection of advertising bottle and can openers."

I told Jack that in all my 31,000 days, I never heard of these as a basis for a collection, and asked, "Why?"

Jack's quick response was actually a lesson for all collectors. Back in the 1950s, all bottlers and producers of drinks in cans were converting to twist caps and-or pull rings, thus making openers obsolete.

Of course, we know when something becomes obsolete it becomes collectible. The trick is to act as soon as possible to purchase at low prices.

Now, Jack went one step further - that being, the opener had to have advertising of a company or brand, or be very unusual. In his collection of 789 openers with very few duplicates, I asked him why he had 13 Ballantine beer openers. He quickly responded "Look closely and you'll see all were slightly different - and any collector wants all versions."

Of real interest was the pancake flipper and the pipe tobacco tamper opener, both early 1900s.

Needless to say, this excursion into the past has been very exciting for Jack, Jill and Jerry.

By now, readers of this column are probably wondering who would want to buy 789 bottle and can openers? Possibly, our friend in Peoria who has 14,000 advertising pocket mirrors, or an acquaintance in Kansas City who has 1,200 beer cans.

We have found these true collectors are very interesting people who crave discussing their "things."

My wife, a former school teacher during the time all desks had an ink well, thought ink wells would be a fun collection. All of a sudden, her collection grew to 16 different attractive desk wells from all over the world. Once more, obsolescence comes into play.

At the beginning of this New Year, I leave you with this challenge: Try to seek an object that is recently obsolete and begin your journey of collection. The search is exciting and, most of all, educational.

Happy New Year!

Jerry Glenn is co-owner of Reminisce in Bluffton, where sports collectibles are bought and sold.

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