|My wife Pat (of 53 years) and I have decided the best way to share our collection with others that have a similar addiction to Coleman collectables is to do this website documenting our obsession! I feel as though every lamp and lantern has a story and I would like to share some of them with you.|
We started our collection in the 1960s. I had been set up as a Coleman trailer dealer in Madison, WI. also had a retail store in which I sold Coleman outdoor products. We were very impressed with the Coleman product line and even more so, the people representing these lines. We fast made friends with the people in the Coleman Company. Coleman offered yearly trips where we fostered many lifelong friendships. Our first trip was offered through the Coleman snowmobile line called Skiroule. Coleman was always family focused on these trips and gatherings. I even got four of my children involved in the company, sending them to Wichita, KS to study Coleman warranty under the supervision of Jerry Koontz and Herb Ebendorf. I would like to think some of my knowledge has rubbed off on them! They still bring up the fact that we named our family dog after Sheldon Coleman, they think I have a Coleman problem!
The first piece of my collection was brought in by a customer, which has become quite a common way for me to obtain items. His mother had just passed away and he found a Quick-Lite table lamp that was in her attic. It still had the original shade, a 319 Rosebud. This lamp had been a wedding present to them in 1920s. This is when I realized every lamp had a story.
My collection has grown quite a lot over the years. Beside customers bringing in their stories, I have a few select pickers who attend flea markets and auctions for me. Thankfully with the help of cell phones, I find it much easier not to buy duplicates, triplicates, quadruplicates and these fellas have filled in quite a few holes in my collection.
One of my favorite Coleman picking stories happened while waiting for T Marsh, D Defraties and D Schrow in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The boys were in the antique store finishing up their purchases. I had decided to go out to the car. Just then, an elderly lady with one of those walkers with the tennis balls on the bottom came strolling by. I asked her if she needed a hand and she said no. She was on the way to the grocery to store to get a quart of milk to bake a cake. Her son was on his way over to celebrate her 91st birthday! As any luck would have it, as she was returning from the grocery store, the guys were coming out of the antique store. Right there in the middle of the street in Saskatoon, we sang "Happy Birthday" to her. It made everyone's day - not just the birthday girl's!
The Coleman Collectors Club is in its 20th year. I have attended meets all 20 years! When Pat retired, she began to join me at these meets. She has become an avid Coleman Iron collector. I have greatly enjoyed sharing this time with her and glad I can share the excitement of collecting with her. It has made it all worthwhile. The Coleman Collectors Club has led to some amazing friendships for us. I have done trips to the East Coast and Canada in search of Coleman treasures with fellow collectors. The yearly meets are always something we look forward to. We've even hosted one!
I have been often asked what my favorite Coleman collectable pieces. I have had several, including the Japanese Saipan Lantern, the E20 Poultry Lamp ("The hens that lay are the hens that pay"), the CPR 247 lantern, the IL323, Pat's red 4A iron, which was my present to her for our 40th anniversary, and my custom A Christmas Story leg lamp and Coleman keychain dollhouse. They go on the shelf and I start the next hunt, the search for the next great story. Other than a few lamp shades and lanterns, we consider our collection mostly complete. I guess we will know its complete when the last item goes up and there is no new hunt.