Most collectors love the hunt, finding unusual pieces and seeing their collection grow. Some appreciate the elegance, the story, the history and the function of the piece. Most collectors are passionate and go a bit over-board. To that, I plead guilty. At least I don’t place machines in the kitchen, bedrooms, or bathrooms. That’s why I built a 2,000 square foot arcade addition with 13 feet high ceilings and other areas to “present” pieces. How exciting is it to acquire that amazing piece that has alluded you for years. There are few things as fun as putting together a great collection- as well as the adventures, relationships, and tales of the hunt. But, at the end of the day, it is “stuff”, and hopefully we balance the acquisition of things with quality of life, health, family and relationships!
Sports has been an extremely important part of my life and competing nationally in table tennis championships has become a passion, yet I still enjoy the “art” of collecting. In addition, staying fit has given me more energy to chase unfindable finds. I have been a collector for most of my life and became hooked on penny arcade, automatons, Baranger Motions, Jukeboxes and 1920’s orchestrions about 25 years ago.
The collecting bug hit me when I was about 6 -finding cool items from trash cans. I graduated to American coins (mostly Lincoln pennies), stamps, matchbook covers, Superman comic books, Brill creme boxes and geodes. Through high school and college, I was focused on gymnastics, girls, and school. My lack of financial resources put collecting on the distant backburner for many years. I started my first executive search firm in 1976 (50+ recruiters) and in 1991 started and grew one of the top attorney placement organizations in California. Success there and prudent investments gave me the wherewithal to focus on that forth leg of the stool. At age 50, I became a collector on steroids! While the dreaded disease “out-of-space-itis” hits all collectors, I make room for something terrific, although something has to move out to make space.
Clearly, sharing the passion with other collectors adds a lot of enjoyment. Attending national and regional conventions, outstanding auctions, and visiting great collectors throughout the U.S adds enjoyment, knowledge, and contacts. In the last several years, my wife and I have attended functions in London, and all over the U.S.- from New York to Phoenix to Princeton to Seattle to South Dakota, San Francisco, Atlanta, Georgia, North Carolina and on. I am primarily known as a collector of 1900- 1960’s penny arcade coin-op machines, mechanical advertising window displays, Baranger Motions, and automatic music devices (e.g. Ramey Banjo Orchestra, Mills Violano Virtuoso and 1920 Wurlitzer LX), I also like Polk figure slot machines, neon’s and elegant devices of motion.
If anyone has an unusual tales of the hunt to share, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve squirreled away a cool old coin-op cigar machines or multi-motion automaton or built your own Baranger Motions collection, we should compare notes.