Collectors choose categories that often fit in with their interests or events that impressed them, e.g., trips, Worlds Fair, theater, and such. Another basis for a collection is the challenge and hunt for items that have become obsolete.
Recently at the shop, we had two such occasions with collectors of two different American institutions that have become obsolete. One category in particular brought a smile to both Lori and me, as it is one of our shop’s features. The Brooklyn Dodgers have a great following – because, once a Dodger fan, always a Dodger fan, but it much be Brooklyn.
The “bums of Brooklyn” mystique lives on, no doubt because of their 1958 departure from Flatbush to the greener pastures of Los Angeles, Calif. Many fans blamed management and, truth be known, it was city manager Robert Moses that would not allow Walter O’Malley to build a new park in Brooklyn. Moses wanted the park built in – heaven forbid – Flushing, where the Mets reside, next to LaGuardia airport.
Los Angeles city management offered the Dodgers free land to come west. Result: No more Brooklyn!
Today, anything Brooklyn Dodgers is very collectible, such as programs, pennants, trading cards, stadium artifacts, autographs, and the like.
At this writing, very few original Dodgers are living. Sandy Koufax (83), Roger Craig (89), Tommy Lasorda (age 92), and Carl “Oisk” Erskine (93) are still with us and love to relive memories of Hilda’s Cowbell, the Dodgers Symphony Band and Ebbets Field’s Happy Felton.
Auction houses crave Dodger memorabilia, as it fetches premium prices.
The other very collectible category is ephemera from the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, better known as the A&P. This food giant boasted close to 16,000 stores in the 1930s and ’40s and into the ’50s.
Packaging is almost impossible to come by and original ads are also hard to find. Thus, the “chase” that encourages collectors to search shops, flea markets and antiques shows.
A&P had great house brand names for product lines that were household fixtures. The major competitor at that time was Kroger, whose stores were dominated by the bland Kroger label.
A&P had Jane Parker baked goods, Iona, Sultana, Ann Page canned goods, Sunnyfield cereals and butter, and White House canned milk.
Only one brand name remains today, and it’s not connected at all to A&P, who owned the brand from 1859 to 2003. The brand was so strong that it is featured regularly by all supermarkets. That brand is Eight O’Clock coffee.
It is ironic that A&P is gone and Kroger is king nationally. For readers age 60 and up, A&P was likely an important part of your lives and to see any artifacts will warm your heart and spur memories.
That’s why these obsolete brands – Brooklyn Dodgers and A&P – and others are so collectible.
Jerry Glenn is co-owner of Reminisce in Bluffton, where sports collectibles are bought and sold.