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The Accidental Collectable
A Pack-Rat's Disneyland Collection
All collectors are - way down deep in their stuff-filled hearts - pack-rats - unwilling or unable to throw away anything of perceived value. What's worse - in my case - is that I'm a sentimental pack-rat - I keep stuff that has no perceived value at all other than an emotional attachment I have to it all. One look at my collection (non-essential portions of which are kept in air-tight bins locked safely in a storage unit a couple blocks from my house as I can't stand to be very far from my stuff) - and you can see the influences off both of my Grandmothers and my Mom - I'm a third-generation sentimental pack-rat - you see - and I began my Disney collection in-utero as my first Mickey was bought for me before I was - actually - me.
Add this genetic predisposition to my love of all things Disney and there should be a wing at the Betty Ford or a 12-step program I could look into. But, I am not alone. Am I? Come on - â€˜fess up kids - there are thousands of us with hot-dog wrappers and napkins and ticket stubs and sugar packs and coffee cups and burger boxes and locker tokens and any number of well-chosen items in our collections. Mostly paper collectors - like my Mom - who finds it difficult to part with the receipt from a dinner with friends at the Monorail Cafe in 1994 or the Today at Disneyland from her 60th birthday in 1997 - we tend to keep the things that mean something to us - even if they're trash for others they're treasure to those of us who can connect memories to them.
That's what most "Accidentalâ€? collectables are - items that were not produced or marketed specifically for the Disneyana collectables marketplace - but rather - those items that were produced by the company to serve a purpose - tickets - brochures - receipts - maps - cups - shopping bags - tokens - napkins - every item with a logo or artwork or park or character or image. Items produced as a by-product of running the park or to facilitate running the park. And, as the park has changed so has the design and content of its support items. What's really cool about 90% of these items is that they're free - given to you as you enter the park or order food or ask for information. Paper collectors will almost always pay more for an item than the seller paid for it - it's almost like free money.
So - is everything collectable? Yeah - but not in the classic sense - not in the "it's valuable so I have to own itâ€? sense. Every collection is as different as is every collector - and every item has its place in every collection. Me - I collect just about anything - if I like it - if it has meaning to me - I don't care what it is - it's incorporated into the menage that is my own bunch of stuff. But - I've been around the Disneyana marketplace long enough to see a pressed penny sell for more than an Armani sculpture and a post card that originally sold for a mere 15 ¢ sell for $500.00. When the true scope and depth of the Disney collector's base is unknown - then there is no neat-clean-academic-mathematic way to determine what will or won't find a niche. It's a guess - a gut feeling - a hunch.
I've seen framed napkins hanging next to Boyer lithographs and coffee cups in curio cabinets full of Ron Lee sculptures. We all find something to make a part of ourselves - which is what - I believe - our collections are - extensions of ourselves. Makes you wonder why you have that really old Mickey corn chip on your shelf - huh? But - a large part of what we all collect is memories. I have the ticket stub from Disneyland's 30th Anniversary not for any intrinsic monetary value it may have - but because I remember the friends I spent the day with and the fun we had - it's the memories that make the thing important to me - that have kept it in my possession for nearly 20 years now and will have it for many more years to come.
Of these support items the old A through E tickets are probably the most sought after items. Sure - you had to buy them but their emotional connection to the Disneyland of our memories - the park with a Sky Way, a PeopleMover, a Submarine Voyage and Country Bears - is beyond price. There is an American addiction to nostalgia that pervades most paper and document collections and Disneyana paper is no exception. These pieces bring back a simpler time - $5.00 was a whole lot of money and 85 ¢ would get you a ride on a pack mule or a submarine ride under the polar ice or a bobsled ride through the icy Matterhorn. I still call something really cool an "E-Ticket rideâ€? and there haven't been E-tickets since the mid-1970's.