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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can you?

A conversation the other night with Sir William of Keglers, Sir Cock of the Walk and Sir Norman of William Nottingham Court led me down memory lane:

Sir Cock of the Walk: “Did anyone here collect beer cans?”
Sir Bowie: “Hell yes – we had a room full of them. My dad even built special wall shelves that fit cans perfectly.”

It’s true, my brothers and I had hundreds of cans. But, that’s nothing compared to a couple of collections that follow.
First up: The Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising in Millersville, Tennessee. Many years ago Lady Suzanne and our young daughters give me a father’s day gift of allowing me to travel way, way out of our way to The Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising. They still roll their eyes at the mention of it; I want to go back!.

The Museum – the collection of basically of one family -- Museum contains over 36,000 different beer & soda cans, 9,000 different bottles, and all types of advertising.

The complete story can be read at

Second: The Beer Can Hall of Fame (and Museum) near Boston.

I love how a local paper described the museum: “Arrayed in a kaleidoscopic precision, a sea of painted, weathered steel, these little steel and aluminum vessels are a wonder to behold”

What is it about collecting stuff?

Over the years I’ve collected baseball cards, Pez candy dispensers, root beer mugs, MAD magazines (just to name a few).

Stephanie Simon (in a L.A. Times story) has an interesting insight:

"No one is quite sure how many of these oddball exhibits exist, because many are set up in private homes, open by appointment only. Officially, the Institute of Museums and Library Services in Washington classifies them as "collections of curiosities," not educational enough to gain true museum status. But some academics are not so quick to dismiss them as random junk."

"There's something about bringing [ordinary objects] together as a collection that lets you see a phenomenon in a way you wouldn't otherwise.... And there's something about the relentless focus of really hard-core collectors that's impressive and intriguing in its own right," said Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a professor at New York University who has written extensively about the interplay between food and culture.

"What the Museum of Modern Art does in classifying paintings by genre and period--that's the same thing that the Mustard Museum or The Beer Can Museum or the nut museum is doing," Steiner said. "Only, unlike modern minimalist art, these museums are dealing with something that everyone can relate to."

An enterprising beer can collector created this portrait of one of the Queen’s corgis from flattened duplicates.

So, fellow Knights, what do you collect?

FYI: The world's largest beer can collection and is now at 75,000 - a third of all the types of beer cans ever made!

Sir Bowie “who has closets, attic, shelves full of junk” of Greenbriar


  1. Well, at one time or another I've collected:

    Beer cans ~ full, because everyone collected empty ones. (At routine stop at Mexican boarder I was asked about the can of beer, but allowed to take full beer can across though really not allowed.)
    Baseball cards
    Football cards
    Cards they hand out on the street in Vegas
    Pinup, retro memorabilia
    Books on various subjects
    Animal bones
    Apparently bullet blocks
    Article clippings
    Period garb
    A paycheck
    GI Joes
    Stereopticon cards
    Old Architectural photographs
    Small metal buildings
    Concert ticket stubs
    Web links
    Business cards
    Flamingos (forced on me)
    and let's not forget journals.

    I'm sure there are more and I'm beginning to think I have a serious problem. I AM trying to rid myself of many possessions however. Really, it's just ....

  2. As a kid, stamps, insects coins and Tea Cards ( similar to baseball cards etc but free in packs of loose tea. I collected pretty much every set of nature , wildlife, cars, etc ever printed )

    As a grown up. Typefaces and Fonts, i have a minimum of 30,000 named ones and the same again of un-named ones, and several hundred historical ones, and several hundred again of ancient and foreign alphabets.

    I also collect Symbols, motifs, logos, Signets, simple signs and historical graphic devices. I have a brain that is good at recognising patterns and shapes, but not one that is good at numbers and business.

    I once read a book that explained the Psychological reason men ( mainly ) get involved in collecting. I've forgotten most of it but i believe it involved the usual male suspects of Ownership and Control.

    Sir D of O

  3. It may be a coping mechanize. unable o control the order of outside things, can control the order of a given set of objects.

    You can add type faces to my collections as well. I think I have one CD with over 30,000. Trouble is I rarely find what I want. :-)

  4. stuffed animals - odd ones like a rooster, bedbug, and the usual - cats, dogs and lions

    frogs and snowmen fall into the category of "never mention you like'll end up with dozens as gifts"

    I had two eggcups as a little girl, one at home and one at Grandma's since I only liked boiled eggs. One time when we were at Sioux Narrows, Canada fishing I found another one I liked at the trading post. I also found one in Berlin...and now have a few dozen...see above note...

    The dollhouse collection came about since I only had one survive childhood and have two daughters - so of course, had to add another. Then another...dollhouse, not daughter! Then more houses and roomboxes...

    They represent a small world which I can research history, make clothing and bedding, make up stories about the families and pets that live in them, create, using many interests in one hobby.

    And I can control my own little corner of the world - very important!

    sure there's more, those are top of mind

    and we do have a house "with personality" as many visitors say!

    Lady Suz
    who actually listened to a song about ticks tonight

  5. middle night musing...we were on a three day trip back from Orlando if I remember correctly, when we stopped in the Can Museum for Father's Day...most people drive straight through from Disney...we go to Savannah, over to...
    luckily our girls are adventurous also!

    Willing to make another roadtrip - it's a cool place!

    Lady S,
    the Ticks song is by Brad Paisley, since I think Sir D of O will ask!