I've figured out---on my own---little of the information included on this website. For the most part I've learned it from other collectors, by asking questions, listening to the answers, and just listening to stories. I don't have the dogged pursuitedness of Bill Enes or the wealth of firsthand experience possessed by long-time collectors, but I have a high interest level and a good memory. Therefore you should consider this website a compilation of information I've gleened from others over the years. Some things I've observed firsthand and some I've figured out on my own, but most of this stuff is from others. I'm just a messenger.
I've learned things from too many collectors to name here, so I'll limit my acknowledgements to those who've contributed to this site, either by contributing material, by reviewing the accuracy of specific information, or by reviewing the overall content and structure of the website. First, though, I'd like to thank 2 collectors who, in their own way, taught me the most about the hobby.
The first is Dan Davids. When I first started collecting in the early 1990's, Dan gave me his phone number and told me to call anytime with questions. I abused that offer. I called Dan frequently with questions ranging from trivial to colossal (or so I thought at the time), and Dan was unfailingly gracious with his time and unselfish with his knowledge. The information and stories Dan passed along were probably a primary reason I became enamored with antique vending. His willingness to share his knowledge minimized my frustration over the lack of information available at the time, and fanned the spark that my first purchase ignited. Dan was my first mentor and continues to be a source of knowledge and inspiration. I'm grateful to him for everything he's done for me since I started. I'm tempted to now say that I could never repay him, but if I do then he may send me a list of several of my machines and say that sending them his way would be a good start---so I won't.
The second is Erick Johnson. If Dan fanned the spark, then Erick took a small bellows to it. Erick is also an experienced and knowledgable collector, and also took me under his wing for a time. All of the nice things I said about Dan also apply to Erick. Erick's specific 'contribution' to my education was to get me to set my sights higher. Erick sold me machines that I thought were out of my class and couldn't afford, but with his cooperation we were able to work out ways for me to acquire them. I say 'cooperation,' but it was more 'instigation.' Erick would tell me in various ways that I needed to buy a certain machine, and I'd resist---not because I didn't love the machine, but because I couldn't afford it---and then slowly, Erick would make me realize that I really should buy it and really could afford it. He could have simply said "okay" to my first hesitation and gone to the next person, but he invested the time and effort to change my way of thinking about collecting. In the end, Erick was right, and because of his persistence I bought some great stuff that I thought was over my head but in fact was within reach without my realizing it. Erick was---and still is---my second mentor, and I'm grateful to him for the time and effort he put into my education.
Having said that, I value highly my relationship with many other collectors, some of whom have become my best friends. In a sense we're all each others' mentors because we continue to learn from each other, which is how it should be. Some of them are listed below, along with others who've contributed to this site. The information contained in the pages of this website is more extensive and more accurate as a result of their contributions. I thank them all.
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