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The Abingdon Collection

A Walk In The Past

50 Years Collecting

50 Years Collecting

It is a very strange thought that you can measure the various stages of life through something as simple as collecting, and many reading this will not have a clue what I am talking about. I have written before about how some people are collectors while others cannot bear the thought of cluttering up their lives with objects from ‘past lives’.

We live in a world of a throw away existence, where a mobile phone is more important than actually speaking to the person beside you. Walk down any street and count the number of people engrossed in mobile conversations but actually having nothing to say. Yes, you are correct I am a ‘grumpy old man’, a fact my wife keeps reminding me about, but going back in time, even twenty-five years, we seemed to be in a much simpler and happier place.

In my age group of going on sixty-four I can reflect that we had radio, black and white television, with three channels if you were lucky, record players and tape decks. Life is now so rushed and if you wanted, you could flick through a few hundred TV channels just to see something that you have already seen before.

In the collection I have quite a few items which reflect this time period and often children are lost in naming particular objects. The typewriter, for example, has vanished from our vocabulary and the audio cassette is also a distant memory to most. You wonder what you can do with a couple of hundred VHS tapes stored in the attic and will they ever make a comeback like the rejuvenated vinyl record, I doubt it.

Having said that just spend some time researching the future of VHS tapes on the internet and while it may be ‘Fake News’, there seems to be a hype being generated by the sale of early Disney tapes and , believe it or not really bad Horror films that never made it to DVD.

It has been suggested that this hype is being generated by those people who have the tapes and do not know what to do with them, but there is a market for everything. I must be one of the few that still has two VCR systems plugged into my televisions just in case we ever need to see the ‘Terminator’ in his original form.

How many remember the bubble gum trading cards of the 1960’s when a trip to the sweet shop robbed you of a few pence and procured you a full set of ‘Mars Attacks’, ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’, ‘Civil War’, ‘Batman’ and a host of other cards.

It is just a pity that we did not keep them in mint condition as a full pristine set of ‘Mars Attacks’ now sells for tens of thousands of pounds. I have a set but in played with condition and worth only a few hundred. For boys, of course the Commando comics of the 1960’s gave us a weekly helping of pure escapism as we fought the ‘Nazi’ hoards or the Japanese in Burma.

I still have over two hundred early copies upstairs and in a book shop the other day I noticed the new reprints were selling for two pounds. Early copies, again, do make good money but condition is everything and some people on ebay do try to perhaps elevate the actual value of this Comic. So nostalgia and your age plays a big part in what people collect and are interested in and, providing your parents did not dump your precious possessions or give them to a Charity shop, it is amazing what can still lurk in attics.

Recently a gentleman brought me a couple of Commando daggers and World War Two knuckleduster for valuation. These had belonged to his father while serving with 1/5 Commando in Burma and had only recently been discovered. He had no idea of the monetary value and also the historical importance of the items.

Over the years I have been lucky to have seen and handled many rare treasures which ultimately may have been destroyed. I once rescued the World War One peaked cap of a Major General which had been deposited in the black refuse bin and was awaiting collection the next day but you just wonder what else had made it to landfill in advance of my visit to the property.

I am sometimes asked by young collectors ‘what should I collect’ and the answer has to be whatever interests you the most. Some are lucky to inherit an interest in a subject from a parent or to be given an item from a relative or friend. It may just take that one spark of interest to motivate a lifetime of collecting.

In recent years however it has become more and more noticeable that the younger generation is not holding on to the past and, as tastes change and items come in and out of favour, we can lose valuable items of our past. No one wanted G Plan furniture, egg chairs, large chrome lamps and record players but now just check out the prices they can achieve and ‘mid- century collectables’ are now very hot.

So fifty years of collecting has taught me a few home truths. Firstly, when it reaches this level then it is too late to do much about it. Secondly, buy with your head but also your heart, as if you see an item today, the chances are that it will be gone tomorrow. Thirdly, try to pick an area of collecting that is readily available and within your price range. An enamel sign may seem expensive but available now and will go up in value in the future while an ‘Old Master’ may always be outside your limited budget.

So, ‘good collecting’ and never tell anyone what you actually paid for the item.



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