The greatest joy I get from it is the people I meet and the memories created.
I have been gathering items that interest me for most of my life. The first remembrance I have of serious collecting was at about the age of seven. It was the beginning of the dirty thirties and jobs were very scarce, so my father, who was a carpenter, worked at odd jobs, such as repairing barns, granaries etc. on farms in the area. Dad did not own a car, so he walked or caught a ride with one or another of our neighbours. He would be away all week and on Saturday night he would catch a ride back to our corner on the highway and walk the last mile to our home. My brother and I would run to meet him because he usually stopped in town and bought licorice, jawbreakers, or some other treat for us.
One Saturday night he didn't stop in town. So, when we met him, he reached in his pocket and gave us each two large pennies. When we got home, I looked mine over and found I had both a 1900 penny and a 1901 penny. I declared then that I would save all the pennies from 1900 up to the current date. And so began my collecting passion.
Eventually, I reached my goal, and had one for each year, except 1907, which I bought for 10 cents in 1948. However, I discovered that the collection was still not complete because there were varieties of the 1907 penny and I was missing a 1907H.
I moved to Calgary in 1970. Many years later my wife and I took a trip to Regina for the weekend. En route we stopped at Waldeck, Saskatchewan, which had a good antique store where I liked to look for lighters. As I walked into the store, I spotted an open book of coins lying on a table. Practically jumping out at me was a 1907H penny priced at $12. I snapped it up to complete my set and fulfill my childhood dream. I now have all the pennies from 1858, except for one of the four variations of the 1859 penny.
I started gathering stamps at about the same time as I began the penny collection. One weekend, my aunt and uncle came to visit and looked at my stamps. The asked me to send them some in the fall so that they could also start collecting. What a thrill it was for a seven-year-old to be able to help an aunt and uncle begin a collection. Eventually, they developed a fabulous one.
I have a good collectoin of Canadian and U.S.A. stamps, as well as several from foreign countries. I have accumulated many duplicates over the years, so that now, whenever I hear of a child beginning a stamp collection, I send him or her a package which includes some from the 1930s and 1940s.
My wife was responsible for my interest in lighters. About 15 years ago, she was reading a piece about collecting in an American magazine. The article stated that if you were interested in collecting, you should start buying smokers' supplies because they would soon become extinct. She now says she wished she had not read it out loud, because I then began to gather all manner of smokers' supplies.
Today, I concentrate on cigarette lighters and have accumulated over 2,000 different ones. My most prized items are those that were given to me by friends or acquaintances. They were usually personal keepsakes of the donors and were given to me because they would be treasured.
Another joy I get from collecting is belonging to a collectors' club. These people are all genuinely interested in the accumulations of others and help whenever they can with questions or problems concerning a particular item.
For example, a friend of mine gave me a lighter which a member of the R.A.F. had given to him during the Second World War. It was made from two R.A.F. buttons, but one button was missing. I took it to the next collectors' club meeting and asked one of the members, who I knew was an aficionado of military items, if he knew where I could find a button like the one mising. He said he would take it and see what he could find. He brought it back to the following meeting with the matching button in place, polished and looking like new.
I wear a pin in the shape of a lighter on my jacket which attracts a lot of attention. It was given to me by a member of the collectors' club who told me that when he saw it at a garage sale, he thought of me and had to buy it. Several of the members buy lighters at garage sales and then either sell them to me at cost of just give them to me.
Over the years I have received calls from the United States, Switzerland, Europe, London, England, and other parts of Canada in reference to lighters. Once, I received a letter from a man in England who was planning a trip to Banff with his family. They stopped in Calgary for two days and I spent a day with them browsing through the antique shops in the city.
In my retirement, I spend several hours a week with my collections. I get a lot of enjoyment from collecting and am never bored. I also believe collecting contributes to my good health.
Some of My Lighters