The Second Time Around.
There's only a finite number of rare beer items out there and a large number of collectors looking to acquire the same pieces. It pays to be an early bird at shows or be the first in a room or to a table. But one can't be everywhere at one time. That being said, a great deal of time, the better stuff never makes it to the trade floor. A lot of these pieces are already spoken for and put away out of view until the new owner arrives. Why? Because even though it's not out in the open and may be sitting in a box under the table , collectors have eagle eyes and will spot it and want to buy it then and there, only to be disappointed when told it's on hold for someone else. There are times someone has shown me an item they picked up and I'm like, �where was that? I never saw it?! Oh , so and so was holding for you, Yikes!
Well that happened to me 2 consecutive years at the Blue Gray show in Fredericksburg, Virginia. You can't get everything you want and sometimes you are the second person to see a desirable item for sale, secretly hoping that the person pondering whether to buy it or not will put it down so you can snatch it back up. Most times they will buy it, especially if they see someone waiting in the wings to buy it, just human nature. It has to be really valuable if that guy doesn't have it! They may not even want it that bad but if you want it, they want it more! I missed out on a rare Chevy ale J-Spout cone top, it was in rough shape but being a Chevy guy, I had to have it. But I was the second guy in the room. A buddy of mine bought it for a ridiculously cheap price (salt in the wound) and picked it up for another buddy, not me (double salt in the wound). He said, I didn't realize that would be something you collect! Oh well you can't win them all. I don't get mad, I just go out and look for more stuff. Well fast forward a couple years later and I see the same can in another buddy's look what I picked up box! What, not again?!! Yep the same can showed up a few years later and I missed it again. Although this time I was able to trade my buddy something out of my tote that he liked more than the Chevy ale (even though he didn't have that can) He was happy and I was happier!
Another example was a year after the first Chevy ale encounter another buddy of mine shows me one of my Holy Grail cans. A can not in books and vaguely documented. Let me explain, I collect post WW2 Internal Revenue Tax Paid (IRTP) cans, that is, flat top US beer cans from 1947 to March 30 of 1950. I have over 160 of these cans (not counting post war IRTP California flat tops in my other collection). I'm down to dozen cans that I know of to complete this set. The can I'm talking about is Stoekle beer from Diamond State brewing company of Wilmington, Delaware. The non-irtp version is in the USBC #137-1. It's an attractive graphic can with King Gambrinus on it, the Patron saint of beer. I've been looking for this IRTP variant of that can for over 20 years when I believe someone whispered of its existence but I couldn't remember if that was true or I was dreaming. You search for so long you doubt its real or urban beer can legend. Stoekle cans in general are very different to find and very rarely show up at shows and if they do, they command a lot of money. But I never ever seen an IRTP version. Well guess what , another buddy of mine shows me this can in a box in his trunk....I freak , and start offering him all kinds of money I don't have.but guess what? it's on hold for another buddy of his...Oh Gezzzzz ( Archie Bunker voice). Well he at least let me take pictures of it so I know it's real and I now have proof. So fast forward to early spring of last year the same can shows up on eBaY. Yes the same can. I looked at the pictures I took of the can a year ago and its identical, has all the same imperfections. Holy Cow! , How am I going to pull this one off. Every beer can collector in the world will now have the same opportunity as I to buy this ultra-rare can. My only saving grace was that it wasn't listed as an IRTP variant although the pictures clearly show it. Now I have to wait the agonizing seven days for the auction to end. In the meantime, I build my war chest and prepared to go all in to win this can. Go Large or Go Home. The ending was anti-climactic, I got the can for a few hundred bucks WOW, I was ready to go four figures. I must be living right!
So the moral of this story is, don�t fret if you miss out on something you coveted for a long time. If the Beer Can Gods smile upon you, it may come your way another time if they don't, then it gets locked up in an advanced collection only to be buried with its current owner. The second moral of this story is maybe I need some new buddies!!