Once I reached seventeen or so, the beer-can collecting I had begun at age 12 became less of a priority in my life. The cans were still on shelves in my room but were there more for the sake of decoration and nostalgia. I had moved on to other interests, like girls and music.
My family moved when I was twenty and the cans went into boxes and down to the basement. God love my parents. Many would have thrown them out during a spring cleaning over the years, but mine did not.
In 2000, my wife and I bought a townhome and I made the basement into my “man cave”. The first thing I did was retrieve my old cans from my parent’s basement and put them on display. They looked fine but the room seemed empty. I needed some stuff for the walls.
A perfect storm was brewing in respect to collecting breweriana. I now had a space of my own to display a collection properly and I had a decent paying job to finance it. Most importantly, I had discovered the mother of all flea markets: Ebay. (www.ebay.ca/sch/Brewiana-Beer-/562/i.html)
I couldn’t believe the variety of breweriana that was available for a price. I was so excited! I felt like I did when I went to the flea market as a kid. My passion for collecting had been rekindled.
I started off with the best of intentions. I picked up a couple of old trays and had an old magazine ad framed to fill some wall space. Next was a lighted sign and clock to give the place some ambiance (and much needed light). Here is a link to a great tray site: www.trayman.net
Noticing that the shelves weren’t quite full, I picked up some cans that I had desired to fill the space.
Everything looked fine but I was missing a “wow” factor. I thought specializing in cans from California would be the thing. I loved the graphics they used and thought no place was cooler than California in the 1950-60s.
The plan went well, and I assembled a nice collection of California cans that became the centerpiece of the larger collection. However, in my search, I also found non-can breweriana from California that I had to have. This included bottles, matchbooks and even an old menu from a restaurant from back in the day.
That’s the trouble with collecting. Even if you try to collect something specific, you are constantly tempted to go outside that realm and this leads to both monetary and space issues. For me, it’s tough to stay focused because if its old and beer related, it catches my eye.