No matter what you collect and however obscure you might think it to be, there is probably a club of like-minded people out there which is keen to attract new members.
Would you like some help with identifying and valuing your collection of Depression Glass? Would you welcome the chance to compare experiences of restoring
Hornsby trains? Are you longing to meet up with other collectors of novelty salt and pepper shakers? Would you like to swap postcards with other enthusiasts, read about the latest finds in the bottle-collecting world, or enjoy a chat with fellow cochlearists - better known perhaps, as spoon collectors?
The answer could be to join a collectors club (CC). No matter how unusual your collection, the chances are that a club has been formed by others who will welcome you.
COLLECTOR CLUBS WORLDWIDE
Collectors' clubs are usually founded and run by amateur enthusiasts, financed by subscriptions, and operated for the benefit of members by a
voluntary committee on a non-profit making basis. Membership is usually payable by annual subscription and is inexpensive, with reductions for senior citizens, families or couples.
There are collectors' clubs all over the world; the main English-speaking ones are in Australia, the USA, Canada and Britain. All clubs welcome overseas members at a slightly higher subscription to cover postage. Many will also be able to give you the addresses of similar clubs in, say, Australia. The number of members varies from around 100 upwards. A larger club such as the Goss C C has 11 regional groups in Britain, enabling members to meet fellow collectors in their area.
One of the main benefits of membership is the regular free magazine or newsletter. The British Bottle C C, for example, publishes an attractive quarterly magazine called
British Bottle Review. It contains readers' letters, trade ads, small ads, informative feature articles, a calendar of shows, auctions and collectors' fairs, the latest news and a photo quiz.
Collecting Commemorabilia, the journal of the Commemorative Collectors' Society, is a useful reference work. It catalogues all new commemorative pieces as they are issued, including, for example, three mugs to mark 'The Great Fire of Windsor Castle' in 1992 and one to record the Princess Royal's divorce.
OTHER BENEFITS OF JOINING A
Many clubs organize exhibitions, and the catalogues issued for these become useful works for future reference. Some clubs feature a range of specialist books for loan or sale to members, which may be out of print and difficult to obtain elsewhere. Membership of some clubs - the Corgi Collectors' Club, for instance - entitles members to discounts with some retailers.
Promoting research is an important function of the collectors' club. The Carnival Glass Society is devoted to the accurate documentation of this glassware, and issues pattern sheets to enable members to identify pieces. Members can meet up at talks and visits to factories and museums.
The Susie Cooper Collectors' Group organizes 'study weekends' for members. By interviewing former employees they have recorded valuable information on Susie Cooper designs and production methods.
Collectors of ceramics are well catered for - clubs include the Carlton Ware C C, and the Friends of Blue, who collect all kinds of English blue and white
transfer printed earthenware.
POSTAL AND ONLINE
Many clubs offer members a chance to sell unwanted items or to add to their collections. Postal auctions are a popular feature of the Cigarette Packet C C of Great Britain, the English Playing Card Society, and the Goss C C. Prices realized are published later which gives members an idea of current market values.
The Postcard Club of Great Britain offers a 'Treasure Chest' service to members, who send in unwanted cards and receive cards on their favourite subject in return.
An unusual benefit offered to members of the Hornby Railway Collectors' Association is model insurance tailored to members' needs and at advantageous rates.
Finally if you can't find a club speciaIizing in your collecting hobby, you could join The Collectors' Club - open to Collectors of just about anything, from plastic carrier bags to old sugar-wrappers and valve radios.