You Like Collecting? Join the Club
Collecting planes or just about anything else, can be frustrating, irritating and just downright impossible if you are looking for stuff that other people want too. I found early on in my collecting career or er hobby, that trying to go it alone, depending on eBay, proxibid, flea markets or other potential outlets doesn't make it much easier unless you live in an area that has a lot of them and you know which ones are productive for your specialty. I live in the Pacific Northwest, beautiful country, unless you collect planes. I guess most of them never made it much past the Mississippi River back in the days after the Civil War. What we did get I'm guessing now, were those brought out by the few settlers and craftsmen who came west to find a new life for themselves during the great migrations. As far as I know there was only one or two plane manufacturing companies that happened to get started and neither had much of a life. I guess that's why their planes are so cherished today (and expensive).
Flea markets in the Pacific Northwest are something of a rarity. Yes, we have them, some are good, most are not, that is if you are looking for planes. I figure most folks would rather have a yard or garage sale to get rid of grampa's old collection of Baileys and all the rest of his 100 year old tools. No wait, grampa got rid of that stuff before he left upper New York and moved to Portland, OR. in 1977
If you live in the Northeast, New England, Mid Atlanitc, upper mid-west etc. where these tools were made it's likely that they show up quite often, even the good ones. Just to prove my point, a friend, living in the Chicago area told me that this past weekend he was checking out one of his old standby fleas and stumbled across a Bedrock 602 in excellent condition for ...........six bucks. Are you kidding me? Six bucks? He's also gotten a No 1 several No 2s and a couple other similar at the same place. My great deal for the week was a 5 1/2 Bailey type 12, no japanning to speak of and a knob that lost is legs in WWII, all for $33 and some change.
OK, enough of my whining about my lucky friend who lives in the promised land of flea markets.
So, what does a collector like me, who lives in the PNW, or someone who lives in Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Arizona or other places that don't seem to have the plethora of tools available north of the Mason Dixon line and west of the Mississippi. Well, one way is to make connections. Couple ways to do that. 1. Scour the internet and look for folks selling what you are looking for, like planes. You can buy a bunch of stuff that you maybe hadn't intended to just to develop that connection and then, hopefully, you'll have a friend for life who will email you when your "ship arrives". It works and you meet a lot of great folks but it can be expensive if you buy too much stuff that isn't on your list. It also makes you list a LOT bigger just because you get sidetracked in to other interesting stuff. 2. Continue to make the CEO at eBay a trillionaire by buying stuff over his bandwidth as he carves out his 10 percent of the sale and shipping. You might get a good buy, you might get burned by an unscrupulous seller, (I have). But I've also gotten some great stuff to help build my collection.
My last suggestion is the reason for this diatribe and it has multiple benefits. Join a club of people who share your interests and passion. I am a card carrying member of the Pacific Northwest Tool Collectors and there are other groups covering every state in the country. The biggest and most represented would probably be the Mid-west Tool Collectors Association with chapters just about everywhere. There has GOT to be one of these groups where you live or close by.
So why join up? Well for me it was a combination of the first two suggestions. We meet every month but the meeting is only part of the fun. We learn about what we collect. We learn about what we don't collect but might be interested in. We meet great people who have great stuff and are selling a lot of it. We have an auction, a table sale, off table sales and eat lunch. It's a great way to spend a Saturday, pick up some good collectable's and talk with people who know waaay more about planes than I ever hope to. Every June there's a flea market table sale that's not limited to tools and every other year the groupl sponsors BEST IN THE WEST, which is a BIG freakin deal, like a huge tool sale, parking lot sale, multiple auctions, scholarship awards and all kinds of good stuff.
So, how do you join? Easy peasy. Google it. I'll bet you find a dozen. If you can't do that here's a list of the ones I found:
The Richmond Antique Tool Society (Virginia)
See how easy that was? I'll bet you too can find one for your own area. Good luck and good hunting.