Monday, July 16, 2012

Cop Car Cool

1987 Ford Brochure: Photo (c) Terri Lynn Coop

I like collecting advertising. The longer you read this blog and my car memorabilia collecting site you'll see that I talk about it quite a bit.

To me, advertising often captures the essence of both the item and the era. It also gives me clues about memorabilia and helps me identify mystery items (That came in blue? Who knew?) Often overlooked by collectors and pickers at auctions and estate sales, a patient and persistent shopper can come away with boxes or bags of ephemera full of surprises.

I became a collector of vintage police car advertising by accident. I was at an estate auction for a man who had been the police chief of a small town in the 1980s and 1990s and was, frankly, a hoarder. The sheer volume of boxes that came out of that small house was staggering. The entire front yard and back yard was covered in boxes of books, paper, model trains, and all manner of household goods.

Most of the buyers were there for the trains, so I was left virtually alone to pick through the boxes of paper. Before long, I started turning up all sorts of advertising and paperwork from his days as police chief. I found equipment catalogs, weapon catalogs, and an entire expanding file full of brochures for police cars, motorcycles, and ambulances.

The brochures are amazing, each a full-color capsule ofautomotive and law enforcement technology and history.

While bidding was hot for the trains, I stood by and quietly picked up most of the police paper for $1 - $2 per box. Also about a half pallet of vintage SEARS catalogs, but that is a story for another day. Auctions require feet of iron, nerves of steel, and a poker face worthy of Vegas. However, they are a great way to add to and expand a collection. 

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