Londontoys…

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Pictured above is one of the most interesting pieces in my collection. Londontoy diecasts were produced in, where else, London Ontario between 1940 and 1949. During and immediately after World War Two these toy vehicles were manufactured with pressed paper wheels (due to the rubber shortage). I suspect this pick-up is a later model as it does have rubber wheels. That’s about as brief a history as I can pass along…the point is that this little truck is about as old as I am.

I found it sticking out of a pile of dirt beside a dumpster about fifteen years ago on one of my daily walks. After a quick clean-up (which included brushing out the bed of what appeared to be the same fowl residue we used to have on the floor of our chicken coop back when I lived on a farm) it took an honored space on my shelves. I had considered doing a repaint but there’s something about the wear-and-tear that says “don’t even think about it”. It has character and a story. The well-worn wheels lean and wobble and don’t roll much anymore. In that aspect they’re much like me. There are also what appear to be seven BB dents in the bed and cab but without a ballistics analysis I can’t be 100% certain what caused them.

As far as monetary value goes it isn’t worth much but, as some folks say, it ain’t about the money. In its own way this little beaten-up truck is a part of history. If not the history of a nation certainly the history of the individuals who have owned it since the 1940s.

I look at it and wonder where it has been and who has held it. Was it a cherished Christmas present when it was new and straight from the factory with that glistening bright orange paint? Odds are you only received one or two presents back then so this little truck would have been pretty special. Toys in those days were far more valued than they are today.

Was it handed down to a sibling or given to a friend? How many young lads have played with this truck? Where did they live? Where are they now? Do they ever wonder what happened to the little orange truck they had when they were a kid?

I sometimes wonder what happened to my old toys.

My dad was in the army and we lived in Warminster, England when I was about six or seven. I used to get the Dinky military vehicles for presents and I’d save my pocket money to buy any others that I could. The last time I saw them they were in a sandbox beside the path in our back yard. I’m managing to find some replacements for them now but it isn’t the same. How many pairs of hands have played with those toys since I had them? Did they look after them like I did? I like to think that they ended up on the shelves of an appreciative collector somewhere…much the same as this little orange truck.

ltoy05s.jpgMike Grant is the author of three novels. Visit his Amazon page to find out more.

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CLUTTER CLUTTER

I admit it…I’m a pack rat.  Everything I “pack” is themed, cataloged, and semi-organized (which takes me out of the hoarder category) and I am impressed with my collections as are most of the visitors to my little world. Over the last few months I have let that damned reality slip into my life and ask the question “when is too much too much?” The answer is…probably now.

A brief summary of some of my passions…221 Alien/Predator pieces, 2850 Hot Wheels, 399 Johnny Lightnings, 327 Matchbox toys, and 200 Richard Petty collectibles. This doesn’t take into account three shelves of wolf sculpts/toys, a kazillion books and videos, two massive shelf units of vinyl music, and…well you get the idea.

I’ve run out of room.

These last few months have been difficult for a rampant collector like me. I decided that I should cut back on purchases and specialize in a couple of areas rather than continually adding to each collection and to an extent it has worked. I’ve saved a lot of money but when I walk away from a Predator figure that would look great on the shelf the “saving” part doesn’t quite smooth over the “wanting” part.

WOLVES

In the last two days I have left a department store not buying a cool wolf blanket and departed a thrift shop leaving two wolf sculpts and a framed limited edition wolf print for someone else to buy. It’s been a rough two days of second guessing and fighting the urge to get back in the car and remedy the roughness.

Cutting back has done nothing to clear the clutter of course…the only way to accomplish that is to let go of some of it.

Some will be easy. I have five guitars. I play one regularly and another one quite often. The other three just gather dust so they could go. I have doubles (in some case triples) of some of the toys I mentioned so selling them is a no-pain option…but that’s as far as the “easy” part goes. I’ve spent years building these collections and deciding what stays and what doesn’t isn’t something I want to get wrapped up in right now.

I’m going to spend this winter organizing for a yard sale but a lot of it I wouldn’t sell at yard sale prices so I’m not sure how successful that would be or even how much I would put out. Online selling doesn’t appeal to me either although it may be the only option.

I know there are people who will say just sell them, they’re only things…yes, but they’re MY things. They’re also my kids’ things and I’m not sure how any of them would feel about me selling off their inheritance. On the other hand “Die Broke” seems to be the battle cry of my generation and there’s a lot to be said for reaping my own financial reward from a lifetime of collecting. I have a feeling I’m going to be wrestling with this a lot more before I decide what to do.

I also have a feeling that my final decision will be “maintain the status quo”.

**Upon rereading this I realize I have just summarized the entire plot of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and I now understand the agony that Andy Stitzer felt while watching his collection disappear into the mail boxes.

COLLECTIBLES & STUFF…

hobbsI like stuff. It doesn’t matter what kind of stuff, just stuff.

I collect stuff. I used to collect stamps when I was a kid. Only ‘squares’ collected stamps so I didn’t tell anyone about my hobby. I found out later that pretty well all my friends collected them but didn’t want to be ‘squares’ so…
People collect all kinds of stuff these days. ‘Investing in Collectibles’ they call it.
Problem is that most people don’t start collecting collectibles until somebody produces a television show or puts up a website telling them that the stuff is collectible.
By then it’s too late. Prices have already gone up.
So the best bet is to speculate. Find something that isn’t a collectible and corner the market.
Here’s the rub. What isn’t classified as collectible these days?
I remember looking in a store window display in Saskatoon years ago. There on a brightly lit green shelf sat dozens of pretty little woven baskets of deodorized and dried cow…er…residue.
I suppose when you really consider it, these are definitely one of a kind items. No two alike.
Kinda like snowflakes only heavier.
Each basket had it’s own name and certificate of authenticity. I wonder how the guy who signed the certificate verified that this was the real thing and not some cheap imported copy? Is this the handiwork of one of those ordinary black and white bovines or is it perhaps the product of the much prettier Jersey? Questions, questions.
Is there a quality control inspector at, or even near, the manufacturing plant? Who owns the copyright? Do collectors try to find some of Bossies earlier work…perhaps even that highly desired Rookie residue?
And of course the biggest question of all…who would plunk down good money plus tax for a bucket of cow residue?
Probably big city folks in apartment buildings. Maybe it’s an attempt to get back to the land without leaving the hot tub.
I think there’s a dairy farmer somewhere between Saskatoon and Prince Albert who’s still doubled over as he wobbles his way to the bank. Some city guy probably ran out of gas out there by the mailbox and in the middle of siphoning some of that farm fuel into the Mercedes the farmer made up this story about the next big art collectible. Driven by either visions of wealth or the gasoline vapors this city guy heads home with a trunk filled with only the finest examples of this new post-modern art phenomenon.
After cooking and cleaning his treasures, and detailing the Benz, he introduced the product to the marketplace.
I’m told they sold like hotcakes.
Dried and deodorized hotcakes mind you, but hotcakes nonetheless.
And what of the folks that put down good money for a mantelpiece centerpiece?
I figure it just proves the theory that if you package it nicely and call it ‘cool’ some folks will buy all kinds of residue.