Home Forums Bows and Equipment Collecting into the 21st century

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    • droptine59
      Post count: 48

      Blanket trades, swap meets, blanket sales…any way you cut it, this is a supreme gathering amongst archery collectors. The Compton shoot, Denton Hill, Longbow Invitational, Cloverdale, you name it. These shoots/gatherings are where one can find either that one bow needed to complete a series of a certain bow manufacture, or pick up a couple 20 low priced average bows to get them swapped or sold later to increase the diversity or number of bows in ones collection.

      I started collecting back in around 1971-ish by putting ads in local small town papers seeking old archery equipment. With the help of several Bear Archery, Browning Archery, Robin Hood Archery, Kittredge Bow Hut and Anderson Archery catalogs, I was able to compile a hit list of bows I wanted.

      In no time I had over 30 bows within 2 weeks time all bought with paper route and grass cutting money. My bicycle tires where worn bald. Then I graduated to joining organizations like the Professional Bowhunters Society, and other archery clubs that had a newsletter further getting “my word” out to the public in my quest to have bows, bows and more bows.

      Then I got my driver’s license in 1976 and now, the Cat was out of the bag. I was on the road weekly searching for bows at archery shops up and down the mid-Atlantic. My mom’s phone bills where $300+ dollars monthly. It was sheer insanity. Better than sex at times. My part time pizzeria job had to pay for the phone bills. UPS was the shipper of choice in the day. I would come home to 3-4 boxes daily. USPS is now the hot lick.

      I met many other collectors throughout the US. Camaraderie was at a premium back then and throughout the early 90’s. I made many friends and some enemies as well. The nature of the business so to speak. Now with over 800 bows in the den, and a looming divorce, it was overwhelming to say the least.

      EBay hit the scene in the early/mid 90’s totally changing the archery collecting world. It literally morphed into big business really creating competition in the “brotherhood”.

      Now those bows we where once selling for $100 where now tripling and quadrupling in value. In some cases astronomically, as the worldwide market was wide open. It was, and still is whatever the market will bear. Those once scarce bows, are everywhere now. No longer are they rare or desirable. Bear Kodiak’s continue to come out of the woodwork at a frenzied pace. It was like having a rare trophy wife one day only to wake up the next to find her fat, swollen, with brassy hair, and wearing polyester knit.

      The swap meet can now for the most part be called a “swamp meet”. Anything and everything can be found in the sea of archery diversity. You will see $10 junk bows with $100 price tags on em, and in an opposite spectrum, you will once and a while find that one you gotta have for $50. Always very rewarding, emotionally speaking.

      EBay has created a virtual monster. Not to mention a vastly skewed pricing structure for old bows. But don’t get me wrong, I took advantage of this a few years ago. As you collectors should do sometime down the road. Watch the market. If you get that feeling…sell!

      By watching prices for a spell, you can pretty much get a feel for when it is time to sell. I made out well by selling a good many of my 1959 and 1960 Bear Kodiak’s back in 2002. It was like selling hot stock.

      From the small investments over the years, I was able to turn that profit into college tuition(s), pay for a divorce, home improvement, other collecting ventures, business investments and the purchase of hunting properties in the US. Today, one will have to work harder at getting premium bows at a bargain price. The old days are gone…big time!

      Yard sales, estate sales, networking in small towns still bring large dividends. Forget antique stores..they are all plugged into EBay. Join a local VFW or American legion..many of those old war hero’s where or are still bowhunters/archers,..some of the 60 something guys had fathers or grandfather’s who shot archery. You cannot be demur in your quest, be professional, kind, and courteous. No one likes hard assed negotiation. It is a turn off like diet food and burning farts.

      Start your pitch with a mention of liking certain sports. Then from there, the seed is planted. It will grow in a matter of minutes. Old widows have lots of junk in their attics and or basements that once belonged to a passed loved one…..nah… pass on that thought, too creepy.

      Anyway, get out there; get the family involved, family members afar, friends, and neighbors. If you have to pay a finder’s fee, do it. Initially,$10 per bow $2 for every bow thereafter. Hey it’s gas money for them with little or no effort on their part.

      tune in with me soon when I tackle other alternative ways to find archery stuff of the past, present and future.

    • lee c
      Post count: 25

      Hey Droptine…all this is some great info! I can’t beleive you started collecting back in the 70’s! Wow! All that awesome Bear stuff was brand new! (Well,I was born in 71′ so,I do remeber SOME of all that Bear glory!) Heck,when ol’ Fred passed in 88′,I was 17…all I knew was Bear tackle! I kick myself almost daily when I see on the “Big Aution Site” some of the tackle I passed up or lost or whatever,drawing some CRAZY, at times, prices! Holy cow! I can only imagine what some of the older guys around are saying!
      I do think however,maybe it’s just me wishing or imagining here, that alot of stuff is in fact,coming down. What do you think? My focus is rabidly on Bear tackle..I know,I know…there’s alot of other makers out there too.. It’s just me though.. Take care,Lee

    • droptine59
      Post count: 48

      Thanks Lee. It was awesome 20-30 years ago. Now it is one big competition. Not so romantic anymore.

    • db22
      Post count: 24

      Yes, good older bows are becoming more expensive. But I must say that I have been pretty lucky in the last two years. I went from zero old recurves to six good shooters, without breaking the bank. I stumbled upon a highly collectible Bear that belonged to an elderly neighbor, and managed to buy it at a good but fair price. The rest have been acquired from eBay and other forums online.
      Collectibility takes second place to good shooting characteristics for me, and left-handedness trumps everything. Manufacturers seem to have made most of their bows in most draw weights for southpaws, in years past. I bet the fact that Fred Bear was left-handed had a little something to do with it. . .

    • LucasK
      Post count: 10

      Great post Rich, I hope it pushes lots of people to go out and look for that next collecter bow…

    • droptine59
      Post count: 48

      Right on. It is an enjoyable “illness”:wink:

    • clinglish
      Post count: 16

      Mate that was inspirational, I wish we had the access to old bows in australia like you guys over there but alas it isn’t the case. The internet was the best thing ever happened here , as it has opened us up to a world of bowyers we would never of heard of. Thanks again for a great read.

    • droptine59
      Post count: 48

      Click on my avatar.. you’ll see my website. Love to hear from down under.

    • SteveMcD
      Post count: 870

      Hi, Rich… I agree. As a broadhead collector I have faired far better with blanket trades, flea markets, gargage sales, local advertisement, etc. the old fashioned route. @BAY has really killed the art of collecting some of the prices for broadheads border on ridiculous! I hae seen the same broadhead on @BAY go for 10 dollars one week and 50 dollars at another week.

      I don’t normally buy broadheads off @Bay but it is a good place to see what broadheads are circxulating, and even find a new vintage head not seen before. But that’s about it.

    • gwm
      Post count: 5

      First of all, my apologies for bumping an old(er) thread.

      I’ve been searching for answers to some questions I have about cleaning up (not a full-blown refinish) a Wing Falcon I recently acquired. I kept running across the name “droptine” in the responses in the myriad forums and threads from previous similarly asked questions: “Call droptine,” “ask droptine,” “droptine will know for sure.” Everything seemed to point to this droptine guy. Lo-and-behold, he does exist! (I tease a bit; I did find your website, droptine.) 😀

      Anyhow, instead of starting a thread where my questions might have already been addressed, I started working my way backwards in the pages of this forum. When I read the title of this thread, I found it interesting at first glance, but then I noticed it was authored by droptine. That made it a must read, and now a must comment.

      Droptine, I read your post like I used to listen to my dad talk about his old cars. I guess there really was a day when old Bear bows where as common as ’64 Impalas. What I wouldn’t give to have anyone of the old man’s ’64 1/2, ’65, or ’66 Mustangs today. Some of those old cars are probably stashed in garages today like we find Bear or Wing bows in closets or attics: some in pristine shape, others way beyond repair, and some–the lucky few–that were gently used and just waiting to be polished up and returned to glory. And it is those few that have kept you collecting “into the 21st century” and me just beginning.

      I can’t remember at the moment if it was Steve Sr. or David Petersen (my apologies to the original author if it was neither; I’m afraid to click away to track down the original post) who mentioned Shunryu Suzuki’s “beginner’s mind” the other day. I thought about that as I read this post. You, and others, can remember the golden days of collecting. Bows and accoutrements where there for the finding at reasonable prices. Those days are, for the most part, gone thanks to the internet and auction sites. I read your words like I read stories from 50 and 60 years ago about tiger hunts I’ll never go on and before states had bow seasons. (Is that really the case? There was a time before archery deer seasons??) I read them with the beginner’s mind. I can’t know such times, but I know they existed. I live vicariously through the words of those who did know them. I say I can’t know them, but maybe I can just a little bit. I don’t think I’ll ever acquire 800 bows, at least not for the same monetary investment as you, but maybe it is knowing that the bows we consider jewels are fewer and farther between that make the 21st century hunt just that much sweeter. There’s no denying that I wish I could pick up two or three or more sweet recurves for less than the price of one custom bow today, but that thrill of success is still present when even one “trophy” is harvested at a summer garage sale.

      Not being a player at the final table of bow collecting due to a low stack of chips, I’ve started on what I considered a reasonable quest. The first recurve I acquired was an AMF Red Wing Hunter, originally meant to help me rehab my shoulders after two surgeries. This plan failed because pulling even a 40# recurve proved too difficult until recently. But now that I can, I enjoy the RWH and want more! 😈

      Just last week I picked up a Head Ski Falcon. This bow is in good shape, but does have a mark here and there and a little crackle(?) in the finish in one spot. Now I’m faced with what no doubt comes with the sickness of an aspiring collector: the desire to make an old bow shine, which led to this longer than I anticipated post and my questions, which are, btw, for anyone who may care to shed some light on the subject (and thank you in advance).

      On a laminated bow like the Wing Falcon, how does the layering of bow construction work? If I were to take a piece of sandpaper to the bow, would I be sanding fiberglass right way or some polyurethane finish? Are decals and serial numbers under glass? I realize just now that a picture is in order, but I don’t have the camera handy. If I get a response (again, by anyone…please join in) I’ll go ahead and post some pics.

      If anyone has read this far, I hope my comments have given you pause to think about your own start in collecting. No matter if you began in the golden age or the post-modern present, I think there is much to be said for the beginner’s mind perspective. In fact, I think all collectors must have a beginner’s mind because in this mind the possibilities are endless, and that is what keeps us going, I think. Maybe one day, in an old shaded garage, I’ll find a green ’66 Mustang with a factory 289 under the hood and an old Texas-era Red Wing Hunter long since forgotten in the back seat. Until then, I’ll just work on getting this Falcon polished up. 8)

      Regards and thanks,

    • gwm
      Post count: 5

      This is the “crackle” I was talking about.

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