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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 20, May 15, 2005, Article 13

PETROLEUM AS A COLLECTING TOPIC

Dick Johnson writes: "Roger de Wardt Laneís item in last
weekís E-Sylum on petroleum brought memories flooding
my mind. He is to be thanked for bringing that fantastic
petroleum topic website to notice.

When I first started collecting numismatic books, I visited a
lot of used bookstores in my native Kansas City. I noted
every one of them had a shelf or so reserved for "cattle" or
similar topic. "They appeal to big ticket buyers," said one of
the booksellers when questioned. Of course! Kansas City
was a hub of the beef industry. A lot of locals became
wealthy in the cattle industry. And what do they collect?
They collect what they know. Ergo. A thousand dollar
pamphlet published in 1880s on cattle raising!

I never forgot that observation. Later, when I became a
medal dealer, I couldnít find much on cattle raising, but my
second thought was oil. There are a lot of wealthy oil men.
Perhaps I could find a market for petroleum medals and
tokens. So I began setting aside any such petroleum item
that came through our medal dealing.

Perhaps Harry Bass came to my mind first as a prospect.
He had been a house guest for three days once when he
wanted to examine my numismatic library. Later my partner,
Chris Jensen, and I assembled a complete set of medals
issued by the American Numismatic Society. Harry had
recently been named president of ANS. We dragged that
collection to a Houston ANA convention one year with
the intent to show it to Harry. My best sales pitch "As
President of ANS you should have a complete collection
of every medal they made."

Harry looked at perhaps two medals. "Ship it to my office
with an invoice." Two sentences for a gigantic sale.
Contrast that with a half hour discussion with a hesitant
collector for a $10 purchase. Harry was accustomed to
buying early U.S. gold. I did not see him buying a Sunoco
token. However a well-built, ready-made collection of
medals and other numismatic items of petroleum topic
might have appealed to him. Or, if not him, perhaps
someone else in the oil business.

My hoarded collection of petroleum items never grew
large. So we never placed it on the market. (It resides,
probably, in a never-opened wooden box of unsold items
from my medal dealing days. If I donít get around to
selling these in the next couple of decades, watch for
my estate sale.) Anyway, thanks Roger. You brought
back a lot of fond memories. And thatís a great website!"

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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