When someone refers to a “golden age,” there has to be a solid reason.
We often hear about the Golden Age of Hollywood and we immediately think mid-1930s to mid-1940s, because of the “feel good” stories during the Depression and World War II. Great actors such as Gable, Davis Hepburn, Garland, Temple – and we could name dozens more that told those stories. The stories linger on in our memory banks.
Collecting has been a hobby for many years, but met its peak beginning in 1975, leading up to the national Bicentennial and continuing on through 1989. The economy was strong and President Ronald Reagan made most of us feel good.
Coincidentally, he came from the aforementioned Golden Age of Hollywood.
The younger generation, ages 30 to 45, caught on to collecting and generated great attendance to shows, street fairs, flea markets and even garage sales. There was “new blood,” creating good sales and reducing available collectibles.
This demand brought out warehouse finds, with older people selling off many of their possessions, not realizing the collectibility of such items.
Confirming this upsurge in interest were publications such as the Antique Trader, a weekly 300- to 350-page newspaper with offerings and show announcements. A high quality monthly magazine called Collector’s Showcase highlighted collectors and encouraged new interest in various categories.
Teddy bears were the craze, and every month there were three magazines with nothing but teddy bears.
Advertising and toy shows would have hundreds standing in line at opening time, and one show in New Jersey at the Meadowlands Sports Complex would draw 25,000 in one day. I know this to be true because my wife and I were exhibitors three times a year.
Today, no more teddy bear magazines or Collector’s Showcase. The monster publication Antique Trader is a mere newsletter. Why?
As many collections go up and down, the past 20 to 25 years are in a down cycle. The internet and video games have gained favor and interest in collecting among the younger generation has waned.
There are still millions of collectors, but it seems they are more secretive. It’s a sign of the times.
Now, let’s rejoice! The pandemic we all have been experiencing has generated a new beginning of collectors because we all hace time on our hands. It will, however, be difficult to recapture the Golden Age.
Watch for Part 2 on this subject next month for the definition of one word – whose meaning we did not know –nand how it changed our collecting world.
In the meantime, take care of your treasures.
Jerry Glenn, former owner of Legends and Reminisce gift shop, currently is appraising trading card collections.