The Next Generation

by Linda Adams
Issue No. 400 - October 2006

Many of us in glass collection and glass sales have begun to wonder where we are going to find our next generation of collectors. We certainly don't see many younger collectors at the shows. And it is a rarity when we find a youngster who is a collector.

This year, the National Depression Glass Association invited kids to display their glass collections at the Convention in Texas. We had seven young collectors proudly displaying collections of glass animals, Cody and his collection demitasse sets, purple glass, yellow Block Optic, Crackle glass and, well, you get the idea. It was hoped that other kids coming to the show would be inspired to begin collecting.

The NCC has been fortunate to have Cindy Arent and her fellow teachers in Cambridge schools introduce kids to glass through lessons. And glass collecting is something kids can get excited about while learning math, history and English.

I want to tell you about a special collector that we met last fall at the Heart of America glass show in Independence, MO. He is now in the third grade, plays football and baseball, is charming and well spoken and he collects Swanky Swigs. (For those not in the know, Swanky Swigs are those little decorated tumblers that once contained cheese or jelly.) His name is Cody and he has been collecting for about two years.

When we met Cody, he was so enthusiastic. He had his own Swanky Swig reference book and he spent several minutes showing us pictures of the ones in his collection, which at the time amounted to about 40 pieces. Cody proudly showed me his latest acquisition, purchased at the show, of course.

The interesting part of the story is how he got started. His parents are Cambridge collectors and they brought him with them to the show in Independence. One of the club members or a dealer (not sure which) took him around the show and introduced him to Swanky Swigs. He started out thinking one was "neat" and he caught the collecting bug.

Now, many dealers do not welcome children into their booths. A few years ago, some shows even asked for "no strollers on Saturday." What kind of message does that send? We do not agree with their philosophy, as we believe a bad experience can turn a child (or a young mother) away from collecting. Because someone took an interest in Cody, and spent time talking to him, we now have an enthusiastic young glass collector.

Oh, by the way, Cody has purchased about 90% of his collection with his own money from his allowance. Swanky Swigs were an outstanding choice to introduce a child to collecting, as they are plentiful and relatively inexpensive, with most at $5 and under.

This story just goes to show what can happen when an adult takes an interest in a kid. So, take an interest in a kid, introduce him or her to a variety of things. Find out what is of interest to him or her and help a new collector get started.