First Things

Luck of the Irish

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For many collectors - no matter what they collect - a big part of the fun is the hunt. A collector can spend months or even years in pursuit of the elusive piece that would complete his collection. Some carry nearly transparent scraps of paper in their purse or wallet listing characteristics of the missing item in case they should ever happen on to the prize. (I've even see collectors hand out printed business cards listing precisely the items they need to complete a collection.) Others design display layouts around that one piece they're holding out for.

Once found, though, a treasure is likely to change ever so slightly. It's no less cherished, no less valuable - but it's no longer the focus of the hunt … and something else is. Following a brief honeymoon period, during which the sought-after item is the unrivalled center of attention, the collector generally moves to the next item on his list. It is the hunt, when all is said and done, that provides the entertainment and sustains the passion.

If a collector relishes the hunt, he's plum goofy over good luck. It's good luck to get into a hobby early, before all the good stuff is either snapped up or becomes too spendy. It's good luck to happen on to the person who has precisely the rare part you've spent months looking for. It's good luck to get to the antique mall before the other collectors do, to hit the right auction, to snap up a rare piece for a song, to discover hidden mechanical flaws sooner rather than later, to uncover a new source of parts or pieces or raw materials, to find a missing serial number tag.

The funny thing about luck is that, much of the time, it's a tale that holds our attention, whether it's a story of good luck, or bad. A collector's story about bad luck is no less compelling than a report of an unexpected triumph. Bad luck stories, in particular, carry their own warnings, and we pay close heed. "Watch out when you're gittin' all you want," the farm hand notes. "Fattenin' hogs ain't in luck." Whether you're building a collection or restoring a special piece, happy hunting, and good luck!

Leslie McManus, Editor
lmcmanus@ogdenpubs.com