Collecting the Great Outdoors
by Maxine Carter-Lome
Anyone who has ever gone camping or camps regularly knows that being in the “Great Outdoors” requires a lot of “stuff” – from the basics such as tents, bug repellent, and sleeping bags to, for the less adventurous, all the other comforts of home that can be transported and carried. Today, what used to be known as “autogypsying” in the early 1900s is now referred to as “glamping.” Google the word and you will find it loosely defined at the crossroads of experiential travel and modern luxury. Glamping leaves camping in the dust, along with a trail of collectible items that while still useful have been discarded in favor of a new generation of more user-friendly, technologically-advanced and comfort-focused alternatives.
Most of us had our first camping experience when we were young and in camp or the Scouts. My husband, who made it all the way to Eagle Scout, credits his handiness-from building a fire to tying a knot-to his years as a Boy Scout. He, like generations of young men in this country, wore their uniforms and merit badges with pride, and lived by the tenets of the Scout Handbook. Twenty-eighteen is an important year for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as this 118-year old institution opens a new museum in New Mexico dedicated to its history, and simultaneously moves forward as a more inclusive organization, open in 2019 to both boys and girls, and to be renamed Scouts BSA. We learn more about the Boy Scouts of America, the new museum, and its collection of scouting memorabilia dating back to its origins and founding fathers in my interview with Museum Director David Werhane for this month’s Great Collections column.
The Great Outdoors is a topic that covers a broad array of collectibles – some that might come readily to mind, others not so much such as animal traps. Traps are devices used to remotely catch an animal. Animals may be trapped for a variety of purposes, including food, the fur trade, hunting, pest control, and wildlife management. In the 18th century blacksmiths manually built leg hold traps but by the mid-19th century traps were being manufactured by such companies as the Oneida Community – a company and brand more readily associated today with flatware but in the 19th century, a Goliath in trap manufacturing. You can learn more about the history of trap manufacturing and the collectability of traps in an article written by Scot Dahms on behalf of the North American Trap Collectors Association (NATCA).
When it comes to the Great Outdoors, fishing remains one of the most popular forms of outdoor recreational activities. More than 45 million Americans take at least one fishing trip a year; only exceeded by running and biking activities. America’s love for fishing is also reflected in the tackle box of collectibles that make up this segment of the collectibles market. In this issue we collaborated with Hunting & Fishing Collecting Magazine to bring you an interesting and comprehensive look at fishing lures, and why this creative and practical implement is now being viewed as American folk art and commanding big bucks at auction.
For over a century when the sun went down, Coleman lanterns lit up the Great Outdoors. A household name in gas lighting, heating, and cooking in the second half of the 19th century, Coleman shifted its business focus in the first decades of the 20th century to capitalize on a growing “autocamping” movement that had Americans excited to travel the roads and experience the Great Outdoors. For this market, the company focused on high quality portable camping stoves and lanterns that today form a bond among collectors of Coleman branded outdoor products.
While some live to experience the Great Outdoors, others look to capture its beauty and realism through an artistic lens. One such artist is Philip R. Goodwin, whose work illustrated what would become one of the most iconic books about the wilderness: Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, among other notable books and magazines of the first half of the 20th century. Dubbed “the most famous western illustrator no one ever heard of,” Goodwin’s illustrations were reproduced on calendars, in advertisements, on the pages of many popular magazines, and tied to such iconic names as Winchester, Remington, and Marlin. His work has been seen by millions and today is highly collectible, often exceeding auction estimates.
Whether you enjoy being in the Great Outdoors or just hunting for the collectible remnants of outdoor hobbies and sports, we think you will find this issue of interest.
Collecting the Great Outdoors