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Collecting on the WWW

By Devin D. O'Leary

OCTOBER 20, 1997:  Me, I don't have an addictive personality. Drinking, smoking, none of those things. I just don't have the patience to do something on a habitual basis. I do, however, have the personality of a collector. It seems that I'm always collecting something: comic books, movie posters, action figures, '50s furniture. Instead of support groups, though, collectors form clubs. They get together, exchange knowledge, trade crap and basically live in a little world of their own creation. Naturally, the Internet is perfect for them. Most sites, like Mr. Wigglehead's Lunchbox Gallery (www.cybermad.com/culture/wobble/wobble.html), are just a chance for proud collectors to show off their junk. Other sites, though, are loaded with collecting info, price guides and handy resources for the collector. I've tried to limit myself to such sites which may actually be of use to someone. But rest assured. Whether you collect corkscrews or aluminum foil balls, there are others out there like you.

Comics Archive (www.execpc.com/~icicle/main.html)--I was surprised at how hard it was to find a good comic collecting site on the Web. Most comic pages are just chat rooms for 13-year-old geeks to talk about how much the latest issue of Spawn "kicks ass." This site, though, is a nice site for the serious comic book collector. The archive concentrates specifically on Golden Age and Silver Age comics (the '50s and '60s to you neophytes). There are some great informational articles like "The Annotated History of the Justice Society" and a detailed checklist that allows you to pick your favorite character and hunt down each and every comic book appearance. Want to know if you've got every single comic with "The Hooded Avenger" in it? Here's the place to look. There's a "Buying and Selling" section, which shows off some of the sites on the Internet that specialize in selling old comics. Contributions to this site are encouraged.

E Pluribus Unum (www21.pair.com/caver/Coins/index2.html)--Coin collecting sites are everywhere. I guess it's a more socially acceptable habit. The creator of this impressive numismatic site had to move recently, so the address is only a temp. Still, if your looking for info on pocket change, this is the place to go. From here, you've got access to FAQ's, a "Virtual Marketplace," a collector's handbook, publications, software, and numismatic news and events. Although some sections (like the mintages and varieties of collectable coins) are still under construction, others (like the list of coin collecting articles) are jam packed. Want to know how to build your own electrolysis machine to clean coins? This place is your lucky penny.

8-Track Heaven (www.hickory.net/malco/8track)--The clever motto of this site is emblazoned right across the top: "We're digital on line, but we're analog at heart." Yes, there are people so obsessed with either the 1970s or obsolete technology that they actually horde these odious plastic cartridges. Actually, if you spend enough time on this groovy (in several senses of the word) site, you may just develop a hankerin' to dash to the nearest thrift store and snatch a handful of John Denver for your own damn self. This site was started by the warped minds behind 8-Track Mind, a popular zine for the 8-track collector. You can also access alt.collecting.8-track-tapes from here. Check out the FAQ, the sound files, the cover art gallery, the history of 8-track technology, the list of buy/sell/trade ads. These guys really know how to cater to the fanatics. You can even download 8-track wallpaper and little 8-track icons for your computer here. In an amusing little nod to their source material, this site is organized into four separate "programs" (each page is a "track" on one of the programs).

Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum (rampages.onramp.net/~stevebo/airsick.html)--OK, so I had to toss in one of the wacko collectors. Believe it or not there are dozens of people out there who collect air sickness bags (Yahoo lists at least nine collector's sites). The "curator" of this museum--one Steven J. Sickpicklehamburger, by name--proudly shows off the finest of his collection. This site has actually been written up by the Washington Post, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. Basically, you come here and you can download gifs of puke bags from Aer Lingus to Virgin Airlines (the Aer Lingus one is in Gaelic). Although there seems to be no formal price guide for "waterproof disposal bags," Steven admits that he once paid the premium price of $6 for a Newt Gingrich barf bag. There are links to other collectors (at least 25) just like Stevie. Sickpicklehamburger ends his page by proudly announcing that, "I also collect cruise bags and sanitary napkin disposal bags." Not on my browser, pal.

--Devin D. O'Leary

devin@alibi.com


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