http://blog.pennlive.com/go/2013/03/...lectibles.html
Bottle cap, beer can love brings fans to brewery collectibles show in New Cumberland
By Chris Mautner | cmautner@pennlive.com

For most people, old bottle caps and rusty beer cans are things you throw away, not hold onto.

For the people at the 33rd Annual Spring Thaw Brewery Collectibles and Antique Advertising Show, those and other beer and soda-related piece of memorabilia are valuable pieces of Americana.

The annual event, held Saturday at the Clarion Hotel Conference Center in New Cumberland, drew a crowd of both devoted collectors and curious onlookers. Some attendees came from as far away as Germany and Canada for the chance to find that elusive item on their must-have list.

"I'm surprised to see a lot of people here today," said James Lawley of Leesport, who was selling a table stocked with brewery signs form the 1930s and '40s "We've had a good walk-in crowd."

Depending on the rarity of the item, you could spend anywhere from couple bucks to several hundred dollars.

Dealer Ron Small of Hartford, Conn., for example, had a beer can he was selling for $1,100.

He said he first became interested in collecting as a child living in Shaker Heights in the 1970s.

"You couldn't swing a dead cat [at the time] without hitting a collector," he said.

As for what attracts him to his hobby, "Each [bottle cap] is like a little work of art," he said. "It's advertising from when it was a little more innocent than it is now."

Dealer Linda Roberts, who came with her husband from Albion, New York, has been attending the Spring Thaw show for 15 years now. When she first found out about her husband's hobby, "I could not believe anyone collected bottle caps. I thought either get rid of him or find a little niche."

Now Roberts, who also collects antiques, has about 15,000 bottle caps in her home, including some from as far away as Russia.

And if bottle caps seem like a strange thing to hoard, Roberts noted that every object, no matter how insignificant, is a collectable for someone.

"If there's three of them, someone's out there collecting them," she said.

But not everyone at the show was a hardcore collector. Some were just looking for a nice decoration for their home. Brian and Kim Group of York Haven nabbed a relatively-new Yuengling sign for $45.

"We're just decorating the basement," Brian said.

Both were surprised by the scope and size of the show.

"I didn't think all this stuff was collectable." Kim said, looking around the room.