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This is in today's Wall St. Journal is  WELL worth reading.
 
Steve
 
     
February  25, 2006            PAGE  ONE       
Who's Going to Want
Grandma's  Hoard
Of Antique Gnomes? 
Since  Kids Aren't Connecting
With Collecting Today,
Answer May Be  Nobody
By JEFFREY  ZASLOW
February 25,  2006; Page A1

In Graytown, Ohio, 51-year-old Doug Martin has amassed a  collection of 5,000 
pencils, most of them never used. Some date back to  the 1800s. 
He sometimes wonders what will become of his prized  collection when he dies. 
Will his children stick them in a sharpener and  write with them? "It hurts 
to think about it," he says. 
Young people today have little interest in the stamp, coin  or knickknack 
collections of their elders, so an aging America can't help  but wonder: What's 
going to happen to all those boxes in the basement? 
Well, here's an idea for Mr. Martin: "His children can glue  his pencils 
together and make a coffin for him," says Harry Rinker,  sharply.  
A collectibles researcher in Vera Cruz, Pa., Mr. Rinker,  64, himself 
collects everything from jigsaw puzzles to antique toilet  paper. But he thinks 
sentimental "accumulators" need a reality check.  "Old-timers thought the next 
generation would love their stuff the way  they did," he says. "Well guess what -- 
it's not happening." He advises:  Enjoy your collections, die with them, and 
have no expectations about  anything after that.<REPRINT
Collecting things, once a big part of childhood, is now  pretty much passé 
with kids. Preoccupied with MP3 players and computer  games, they are rarely 
found sitting at the kitchen table putting postage  stamps into collectors' books 
or slipping old coins into plastic sleeves.  These days, baseball cards and 
comic books are collected by adults. Of the  estimated 37 million Americans who 
identified themselves as collectors in  2000, just 11% were under the age of 
36, according to a study by marketing  consultant Unity Marketing Inc. Most 
were over 50. 
Some collectors say they wouldn't mind if their heirs just  sold everything 
on eBay. The Internet keeps alive a market for many  objects by making it easy 
for far-flung collectors to find one another.  But people do fear that 
collections lovingly assembled will be mishandled  or trashed by their offspring. 
That's why collectors groups are now  organizing emergency efforts to keep things 
out of the wrong hands. 
The International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society, based  in London, gets 
in touch with families when it hears of a member's death,  so the machines can 
end up with someone who will treasure them. They're  often too late. One 
member recently died and his family sold his old  sewing machines to a junk dealer 
for $200. The machines, some dating to  the 1860s, were worth about $65,000, 
according to Graham Forsdyke,  secretary for the 800-member society. He adds: 
"I don't know of a single  collection that's been passed down after a death." 
Young people today amass hundreds of songs on their iPods  and, decades from 
now, may very well be collecting "vintage" cellphones or  other electronic 
devices, says Linda Kruger, editor of Collectors News,  based in Grundy Center, 
Iowa. Or it may just be so much junk. There's no  way to predict the future 
value of such things, she adds. 
In the meantime, most young people don't connect with their  elders' 
collections. In Goodyear, Ariz., Zita Wessa, 72, says her  grandchildren walk past her 
display cases of gnome figurines "and show no  interest at all." Her 
45-year-old son, Scott, says he'd be happy to  inherit one of the giant cabinets she 
stores them in, but the gnomes  "don't do much for me. If she begged me to take 
them, I would, because I  love my mother. But I don't know what I'd do with 
them." (His mom says she  paid $5,600 over the years for her 160 gnomes, but 
their current value is  uncertain.) 
William Adrian, 72, of Plainfield, Ill., collects miniature  guns. He says 
his three children "wouldn't give you a twenty-dollar bill  for any of it." 
"Collecting is about memory, and young people today have a  different memory 
base," explains Mr. Rinker, who is well known in  antiquing circles for his 
books and personal appearances. He lives in a  14,000-square-foot former 
elementary school in Vera Cruz, Pa. He uses the  classrooms as storage spaces for his 
250 different collections. He says he  doesn't care what becomes of it all 
once he's gone, and if his children  opt to use his rolls of century-old toilet 
paper, "that might be the  finest honor they can give me."    
Doug Martin with  part of his pencil collection.

Mr. Martin, the pencil collector, is unlikely to have his  collection stay in 
the family after he dies. His daughter, Elizabeth  Jefferson, 24, says if she 
inherits the pencils -- which her dad values at  $4,500 -- she'd donate them 
to other collectors or to a museum. 
If new generations of collectors don't materialize, the  value of items will 
plummet. That's why marble clubs, to generate  enthusiasm, send free marbles 
to schools. The U.S. Mint has a Web site  with cartoons and computer games to 
entertain kids about the thrills of  coin-collecting. Indeed, children have 
shown considerable interest in the  state quarters program. 
In West Chester, Pa., Judy Knauer, founder of the  700-member National 
Toothpick Holder Collectors' Society, gives away  toothpick holders to young people. 
She tells them, "Here's your start."  But few get hooked. 
Some collecting groups have created unstated policies. The  650-member 
National Milk Glass Collectors Society -- a group devoted to  opaque glass -- holds 
an annual auction. When the rare young person shows  up to bid on an item, 
older collectors lower their hands. "We back off and  let the young person buy 
it. We want them to add to their collections,"  says Bart Gardner, the group's 
past president. 
In Palo Alto, Calif., Tom Wyman, 78, has about 900 antique  slide rules. Mr. 
Wyman belongs to the 430-member Oughtred Society, named  for William Oughtred, 
who in the 1620s invented an early form of the slide  rule. The group hosts 
lectures to entice youngsters to embrace slide-rule  collecting. But Mr. Wyman 
says such "missionary work" is a hard sell.  "It's quite a challenge to give a 
talk that keeps everybody awake -- both  the 80-year-old collectors and the 
12-year-olds in the audience." 
Mr. Wyman's son, Tom, 41, who doesn't know how to use a  slide rule, admires 
his dad's devotion to preserving the instrument.  Still, he appreciates that 
his father has promised to eventually dispose  of the collection. "He has told 
me, 'I won't saddle you with this,' "  says the younger Mr. Wyman. Some of the 
slide rules are worth just  pennies, while others could sell for $2,000. 
George Beilke, 61, of Tulsa, Okla., has amassed 35,000 used  instant-lottery 
tickets. His daughter, Sarah, 23, says that when she tells  friends about the 
collection, "they look at me like I'm crazy. It's guilt  by association." 
During her childhood, her dad tried to get her involved.  He gave her tickets and 
assumed she was diligently putting them between  the sheet protectors he 
provided. But she just hid them in her room. 
Ms. Beilke is set to inherit the collection and says she'll  donate it to the 
200-member Global Lottery Collector's Society. She may  hold on to a handful 
of tickets as keepsakes. "It would keep the bond  between us," says her dad. 
"I just hope she puts them in the sheet  protectors." 
Some collectors now accept that younger people don't want  their stuff. 
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, 64, has  collected the last 
editions of 79 daily newspapers that closed down since  1963. His adult children 
don't want the old newspapers, which fill a  closet. "The only kind of paper my 
family wants is greenbacks and stock  certificates," he says. 
He hasn't been able to find a university to take his  collection, either. And 
now he's under the gun to get rid of it. He is  about to marry his third 
wife, who is 27 years old, and in the prenuptial  agreement, there's a clause that 
he must dispose of the collection by Dec.  31. She wants to store her shoes 
in that closet. 
"At least I can wear my shoes," says his fiancée, Jennifer  Graham. "He never 
reads those papers, and besides, he likes how I look in  my shoes." 
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