Chuck Miller wrote a piece about collecting, which inspired this.
My actual stamp collecting was only for a year or two when I was eight or nine, but I have my great aunt’s book of stamps from around the globe. It’s a fascinating tome, mostly unfilled, but it tells an interesting story of the world from the period before World War II.
There were times, particularly in the 1980s and I was doing mail order when I would keep an interesting stamp that came in, but it was in no particularly organized way, and I have no idea where they are today.
I used to collect pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars. I knew about the mints in Philadelphia (P) (generally unmarked in the day) from Denver (D) and even San Francisco (S). But the theft of the half dollar coins in my childhood soured me.
I was getting the Presidential $1 coins, but they are so unpopular with the general public, they are only available to coin dealers. So last year, and again this year, I capitulated and spent $2.95 each for a P & a D for each $1 Presidential dollar, starting with Chester A. Arthur. Ticks me off that Americans haven’t taken to the dollar coins, because I love them.
If I see a wheat penny (1909-1958), I throw it into my Mickey Mouse bank that I’ve had for decades.
From about 1960 on, I was collecting baseball cards. Most of them were from a company called Topps, but I also had some that were on the back of boxes of Post cereals, e.g. I remember some gold and red cards, but no longer its provenance.
What I do remember is reading the backs of the cards to read each position player’s AB (at bats), number of H (hits), 2B (doubles), 3B (triples), HR (home runs) and the BA (batting average.) Pitchers were measured by W (wins), L (losses), K (strikeouts), BB (walks), IP (innings pitched and ERA (earned run average). Yes, sometimes, I would manually calculate BA and ERA, because it was fun.
Unfortunately, I had left my cards at my grandmother’s house when I went to college, and kept them in this olive green container, which was stolen in the great theft of 1972.
Subsequently, I bought a couple season sets of Topps cards in 1986 and 1987. Alas, they were in the damp basement of my current abode, and they’ve stuck together in a mass i just can’t bear to look at. Maybe a few are salvageable.
I described this collection here. Not much more to say except it remains on my annual Christmas list. My friend Mary still has some earlier ones I’ll buy when I can afford to.
I wrote about the origins of my collecting in this narrative for Trouble with Comics. In college, I was buying my new comics, first at an inconvenient convenience store in Highland (NY), then at the Crystal Cave, in New Paltz, one of the first true comic shops. But in addition to the store and mail order, you could buy comics at garage sales and the like.
In the 1980s, I was buying virtually all the Marvels, plus almost all the “independents”, such as Pacific, First, et al. Not so much DC, though the stories not so tied to the universe, such as Warlord, I’d get. Once I left FantaCo in 1988, and wasn’t getting a discount anymore, I cut back, getting most Marvels, but also the weirder stuff.
By the 1990s, it wasn’t that I hated comics, but I hated the comic market, with innumerable #1s and even #0s. So I sold my collection in 1994. It wasn’t until this past summer that I came across a cache of comics I bought in 1993 and 1994, unread. So maybe it WAS also that comics themselves had lost their luster for me. I also found, only this summer, a magazine box of Savage Sword of Conan, and the Hulk, and Marvel Preview, which I had meant to sell two decades ago, but somehow missed.
Almost every year the first Saturday in May, I go to Free Comics Day, and it’s like visiting a place I used to live. I pick up random items.
I do still have books of comic art: Elfquest, Groo, the original Dark Knight saga, Swamp Thing, and those Marvel Masterworks, among others.
Enough of this; next time out, books and music. A LOT of music.