Transcript - Brian Lynch on collecting
Museum: When did you start collecting?
Brian: In the 1950s I had a lovely collection of movie posters. I wish I still had them but when I grew up and fell in love they just disappeared from where we were living at the time, it was just one of those things. But, oh wish I had a few of them now. Whoo-hoo-hoo, Nelly.
Museum: How did your current passion for collecting start?
Brian: Twenty-five years ago with Charlie and Di's wedding I thought I'll buy a nice piece, a commemorative piece for their wedding and that's what started me, but my wife and daughter had started a little bit earlier by collecting and going to a few auctions and getting some nice dolls. But that's my side of starting to collect. Twenty-five year ago all I had was one old packet of cigarettes; that was the oldest thing that I had.
Museum: Have you still got that packet?
Brian: Yeah, it's in there somewhere.
Museum: That's almost a silly question, isn't it?
Brian: It is.
Museum: Where did you get that packet of cigarettes?
Brian: I don't know. I just had it over the years, an old packet of 3.3.3 cigarettes.
Museum: So tell us about the royal memorabilia, what piece started that particular collection?
Brian: I bought a lovely urn, Royal Worcester, $1400 I paid for it 25 years ago. That was the start to my passion.
Museum: Now you've obviously come a long way since then. Can you describe your main collections?
Brian: We'll there's shaving mugs, enamel signs, barber shop material, grocery material and the good stuff as well, like Clarice Cliff and Mary Gregory, and it just goes on and on. There must be 20 other things I can mention but I can't think of them.
Museum: Why did the collection keep growing?
Brian: Well, as time went by I just liked it all. Just branched off from there, not like a lot of collectors: a lot of collectors collect one particular thing, they only seem to want to keep it for a few years and they get rid of it and go on to something else. But us, we just sort of kept everything.
Museum: And you certainly have the room to keep everything. Tell us about your shed.
Brian: Well there's not enough room. When I built that shed I just wish that I had of built it bigger but that's the way it goes, and as you can see the ceiling's just about full and that's the only place we've got any room left. It's a 12 foot ceiling, but I wish it was 16. Even the house is full.
Museum: What do your children and grandchildren think about the collection?
Brian: Oh, they appreciate it but they're not passionate like Barbara and myself. Not as passionate. But what happens when we move on I don't know.
Museum: How far have you travelled to build your collection?
Brian: Well we've been from Queensland to Tasmania and right through Victoria: auctions, clearing sales, garage sales, antique shops and what have you, but all that good stuff is gone – which is a pity.
Museum: Why do you say that?
Brian: Back in the 1920s and 30s sort of thing, when you were young and got married, a lot of the time you moved in with mum and dad and then mum and dad would die and then all that sort of stuff would stay in that particular house where you were living. But today, the young ones want to be out on their own by the time they're 18. Then, when mum and dad die all they want to do is come in and clean up the house and all that good stuff just gets thrown out. The tips of the country are full of the good stuff, all the collectable stuff. And you're not allowed to take anything from the tips today.
Museum: What about the one that got away? Is there anything you've seen in a shop or at a sale and kicked yourself 20 years later that you didn't buy it?
Brian: Oh, very much so. Lots of pieces like that. Of course at the time I thought they were too dear but today – whew. You know, it's dear today but cheap tomorrow is my motto with the collectable stuff. If you see it, you like it, you buy it. Because, you know, in my 25 years of collecting I've never seen prices go down. They might fluctuate a bit but overall the prices never go down, not that we're in it for the monetary sort of side of it, we're just in it for the love of it.
Museum: Money aside, what is the value of your collection? Why do you do it?
Brian: Because I love it. Barb and I both love it. Every bit's got a story to it and at one time I could tell you every single piece: where I got it from, how much we paid for it, but, but as time goes by and the old Alzheimer's is setting in it makes it a bit hard.
Museum: I imagine the sheer volume doesn't help?
Brian: Well that's true too of course. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean to say that we get rid of it – and vice versa. We might like one particular thing, but then again we like it all: anything old and interesting. It's fabulous.
Museum: What sort of comments do you get from people when they walk into your shed?
Brian: Well I love to see people when they first walk in the door. Their mouths generally drop open and they look around in amazement at it, which I get a kick out of, to see people that do enjoy it. It's nice to have things that are 200 or 150 or 100 year old but what does it mean to you particularly? The stuff that you can relate to I find more interesting. People come in and they see things and say 'well I can remember Grandma having that in her pantry' or 'Oh, there's something else I've seen there that Mum used to have'. That makes it more interesting if you can relate to it but you must appreciate the stuff that's 100, 200 year old.
Museum: Tell us about your passion for old grocery items.
Brian: We have a lot of throw-away items: mostly grocery and advertising stuff from the 1900s to the 1950s. It's hard to pinpoint, but we like it all.
Museum: What's the appeal of the advertising and the packaging?
Brian: Of course back in the days before television as people approached the counter to buy something, the nice colourful advertising sort of caught their eye and they'd say, 'Well, I'll have a packet of this or a tin of that'. Today the big companies spend all their money on advertising which means they've got nothing left to make their products pretty. Go into any supermarket today and you've got plain packaging; it's just not as nice as the old, colourful packaging.
Museum: Tell us about your favourite piece from the collection.
Brian: It's a little Peter's ice cream novelty piece which shows a boy licking an ice cream.
Museum: Where did you pick it up from?
Brian: A friend of mine here in Wagga got a couple of them off an old chap and he gave me one, which I appreciated and which I thought was very nice. They must have been left over or something and that's why I suppose it's in pristine condition. Otherwise, if it had of been played with over the years would probably have been broken by now, no doubt.
Museum: Do you think it was part of a series?
Brian: No, I don't think so. Probably a one-off thing in a sample bag or something originally.
Museum: Why do you find this particular piece so charming?
Brian: By the style I'd say it's from the 1930s or 1940s. It's very simple, just a very simple little advertising piece, and I do like it.
Museum: What do you think of the groundswell of people becoming interested in history again?
Brian: There's always been collectors I suppose virtually since time begun, but today there's a big upsurge into it. It doesn't matter what it is, people will collect anything and everything. I know we try to collect anything and everything that's old and interesting.
Museum: What prompted you to enter the Collector Cam competition?
Brian: I was a bit reluctant at first but then a friend of mine kept pushing me and pushing me. He'd come and do a video of it and that's how we got into it.
Museum: Are you a regular viewer?
Brian: I am and I like the show very much. They cater for everybody. It is a very good show and I do hope that it keeps going. If they could extend it to an hour it'd be very good but then I suppose people could get sick of it, but I still think it would be good for an hour. I think the ABC is definitely onto a winner with it.
Museum: What was your reaction when host Andy Muirhead showed up on your doorstep to tell you that you'd won?
Brian: It surprised the life out of me. He was the last person I expected to see at my front door.
Museum: What was Andy's reaction to your shed?
Brian: Well he was gobsmacked too. He wandered around for the first ten minutes with his mouth open – which I appreciated.
Museum: Do you have any tips for people who are starting out?
Brian: Well unless they've got bottomless pockets today I don't think there's too much left out there today to collect. It's still out there but you need plenty of money to buy the things today that you can enjoy. As far as the collectables and advertising and the likes go, it's just virtually impossible to find.
Museum: Do you find word of mouth has played a big part in some of your acquisitions?
Brian: In the earlier part, yes; in the earlier days, but not so now. You just can't find it anymore.
Museum: What about local history? Do you consider yourself a custodian of history relating to Wagga?
Brian: Yeah, I like Wagga's history, Wagga and it's history and all its names and businesses and clubs. And the Wagga-made stuff, which we had a lot of back then but we don't seem to have too much now. And all the little give-away things that, you know, service stations used to give away – glasses, and key rings and pencils and the like with their names on it – but no more. No more of those, no more freebies. The party's over.
Museum: Do you ever sell or trade your stuff?
Brian: I'll trade but I don't like selling. We don't 'sell'. If I happen to have two of something, I will swap with someone for something of equal value.
Museum: So if you had bottomless pockets, is there something else you would collect?
Brian: More enamel signs!
Museum: Are there any more recent things you've just started collecting?
Brian: Well some of the later things I don't mind trucks or cars or tins put out by a chocolate manufacturer or lolly manufacturer. And some of the M&M products grab me a bit, not that I put them on display with the older stuff, but I don't mind them.
Museum: Is it the novelty value that you find appealing?
Brian: Yeah, I guess it is. A lot of commemorative tins, a lot of the companies put out commemorative tins for different things like Olympic games and cricket games.
Museum: Are you seeing these pieces with a collector's eye, thinking these products will be of great value in 20 or 50 years time?
Brian: I collect them because they grab my eye and they probably will be collectable, but I don't think they're going to have the same value or collectability as the older stuff because there's so much plastic in them. I don't think they'll see the distance, especially with plastic. I suppose they'll deteriorate in time – not like the steel and the tins of 50, 80, 100 year ago.
Museum: Is there anything you've got your eye out for at the moment?
Brian: Not really, no. When it comes along in front of me I know what I'm looking for yeah.