February
2004 Issue

Compiled by
Mike McLeod

 This month Mike McLeod takes a look at a soda museum, a collectibles megasite, a comprehensive railroad site, and a site dedicated to all things out of fashion.  Mike, who lives with his family near Atlanta, has written about a broad range of antiques and collectibles – from Sumida pottery to Gutenburg Bible pages. Readers who would like to share interesting websites with Mike may contact him via email at mikemcl@mindspring.com



 

What A Collection

http://www.whatacollection.com

         Whatacollection.com, or “WAC” as the site owners call it, is a place where collectors can display their treasures free of charge.  You can search for a collection or browse all the listings. And there are quite a few — porcelain veilleuses, RCA Nippers, slag glass lamps, teapots, telephones, puzzles, first day covers, and much more.

            You can also build your own site, and WAC will post a photo of your collection for you, if you like. All free of charge. If you have wanted to share your collection with the world, but do not have the computer skills to do so, WAC is the place to go.


 

Railroadiana

http://www.railroadcollectors.org/index.php

           This is one of the most in-depth and all-encompassing sites of any collectible. The RCAI (Railroad Collectors Association Incorporated) has done a superb job of exhibiting an representative items of “railroadiana.” The RCAI was founded in 1971 to promote “fellowship and scholarship among collectors of the artifacts of railroad history.” And it is fulfilling this mission well.

            The website features wonderful articles and photos about almost all aspects of railroad collecting: china, hollow ware, lanterns, badges, keys, locks, and ephemera. As explained on the website, “At one time, railroads were connected to most aspects of community and economic life, and almost everyone had the experience of taking the train to some distant destination. Today, railroads are still a vital part of the nation’s commerce, but they have largely evolved into less publicly visible movers of freight. For the most part, the romance and glory of the great age of railroads has passed from the scene.” I vaguely remember riding on a train as a child, and it was an exciting event. Collecting these examples of a by-gone era is also exciting to many collectors today.

            Whatever your interest level is in this area of collecting, the articles are especially informative. For instance, badges were used in two ways: to designate authority and to indicate an employee’s job. Because of the great number of jobs and the great geographic area that a railroad covered, the badge quickly communicated to the public and to other employees when a person held a position of authority.

            Lanterns are another interesting area. On the website, you can learn the difference between a lamp and a lantern and about the five categories of lanterns (fixed globe, tall globe, short globe, conductor’s lantern and inspector’s lantern). For the novice, this website has much of the good, basic information needed to make some knowledgeable purchases. For everyone else, it is a fun and interesting read.

 



Soda Museum

http://www.sodamuseum.bigstep.com/

          The Soda Museum has a couple of supposedly well-kept secrets — the formulas for both Coke and Pepsi. The Coke recipe is said to be one of the world’s most closely guarded secrets, yet here it is. The story on the website of how the recipe was found by author Mark Pendergrast while researching his book, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola, includes a reference to a mysterious “celery cola” that provides authenticity to the recipe. As for the Pepsi recipe, you’ll have to make 1,200 gallons to see if it is authentic.

            Even so, this site provides a great deal of historical information about Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Royal Crow Cola, Faygo, 7-Up, Hires and A&W. The photos of the old Coke machines are good reference material. The site is still under construction is some areas, but there is much there already that is worth a visit. And don’t forget to pick up a six-pack of that celery cola the next time you go to the store.

 

Bad Fads

www.badfads.com

 

          And just for fun, visit badfads.com. As the site says, “From 8-track tapes to Pet Rocks, these are the collectible items which went from being the centerpiece of the living room to a throw-in at the local flea market.”

            The website divides fads into four categories: collectibles, fashions, events, and activities. Collectibles include pet rocks, virtual pets, mood rings, pogs, slinkies, frisbees and hula hoops. Despite the website’s name, it seems to list all fads, not just the bad ones. But then, “bad” is a relative term.

            Anyway, there is a good write-up about every one of the dozens of fads in every category — and trust me, you will find a fad you somehow missed out on. (For instance, do you know what an Op-Yop is?) In the activity category, there are things like talking to plants and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In events, there are flagpole sitting, toga parties, streaking, and flappers.

            But the best category of bad fads has to be fashion (and the photos are great): bellbottoms, bouffants, Farrah Fawcett hair, go-go boots, leisure suits, Nehru jackets, poodle skirts, platform shoes, and on and on.

            So chill out and take a look at this groovy site. (How long before fad slang terms will show up as a category?)

            FYI: As the site says, an Op-Yop was “made of two plastic, multicolored discs with a string running through and between them. When the string was pulled together, the discs moved apart and then clapped together with a loud noise.” Two million were sold in 1968.

 

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