Collectors reveal origins of hobbies

By Katie Anderson

The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald

Published: Monday, June 27 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

In a photo taken June 15, 2011, McHenry, Ill. County Clerk Kathie Schultz shows off her elephant collection in her office in Woodstock, Ill. Schultz says the collection started when she was elected to office.

Northwest Herald, Hollyn Johnson, Associated Press

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — The reasons people collect vary almost as widely as the objects they gather.

Some collections start accidentally, with a trinket purchased at a souvenir shop, others with a gift. Some grow out of a fascination with a specific topic, maybe a superhero, movie or barnyard animal.

For some, the hobby is about the thrill of the hunt, the search for the piece that will make the collection complete. With others, each piece is a portal to another time or place, which can be visited again and again.

McHenry County is full of collectors, a fact that could be seen in travels around Cary, McHenry and Woodstock this month.

The following is an introduction to just a few resident collectors and a peek at the objects of their fancy:

David Green collects Hot Wheels, die cast cars, model car kits and NASCAR memorabilia. In the basement of his McHenry home, Green estimates he has 400,000 toy and model cars.

He began picking up Hot Wheels in 1968, the year the toys debuted, and in 1971 started a collection for his nephew.

When his own children came along, Green started collections for them, too, ballooning his personal treasure trove along the way.

A true collector in the obsessive sense, when it comes to the Hot Wheels, Green must have every model made every year in as many of the variant paint colors and wheel treatments as possible.

He searches out special editions, too, and sometimes buys multiples of the same car if they are particularly "cool."

"That way I can open one up and play with it," Green said with a boyish gleam in his blue eyes.

Green's fascination with everything automotive, however, predates Hot Wheels.

"My mom told me the story of when I was real little," he said. "I was 2 years old and I wandered out of our apartment in Detroit and walked a mile to this toy store."

Green's family had been at the shop the day before to buy a gift for a friend, he said. That's when he saw a model car in the window and became fixated.

The next day, at the first opportunity, Green toddled himself back to the toy shop, alone.

Fortunately, he made it safely and the shop owner remembered where little David Green belonged.

Every birthday and Christmas since has come with toy and model cars.

Today, Green's collection is massive and fascinating, not only for its size but for its variety.

The collection includes more than a dozen dealer promotion cars from the 1950s. These are small replicas of the vehicles dealerships sold and were used to help customers choose which color car to order.

And on shelves stacked to the ceiling rest more model car kits than one could easily count - in every style, model and variation.

The most valuable, Green said, is a never-assembled 1?16-scale 1955 Thunderbird created by "amt." It alone is worth more than $1,500 because the mold used to make it was ruined when it was modified in1957 to make that year's model.

There also is a small grocery store worth of NASCAR-themed products, including cereal and cracker boxes, mayonnaise and beer bottles, and even a Tylenol race car promotion.

Lisa Forbes loves pigs. In her Cary home, she keeps a collection of about 500 figurines, stuffed animals and other swine themed-items.

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