Treasure hunters flock to 2nd Annual Collector’s Fair

By Allison Miller
Carrboro Commons Co-Editor

The vendors brought their comic books, action figures, dolls, trading cards and even some glass telephone pole insulators.

miller_collectorsfairbestfinal.jpg Becky Stern and her 8-year-old son Caleb McElreath, both from Carrboro, look at a car during the 2nd Annual Collector’s Fair, held in the Carrboro Century Center. “I had a hunch that someone would have old cars,” says Stern. “My son loves cars.”
Staff photo by Allison Miller

The 2nd Annual Collector’s Fair, held at the Carrboro Century Center on Saturday, Feb. 28, drew 10 vendors and 140 customers.

“I am a lifetime coin collector and really enjoy it as a hobby,” says Brendan Moore, event organizer and facilities administrator for the town of Carrboro. “My thought was that it would be a good event to introduce kids to all the things they could collect.”

Inside a big room in the Century Center, sellers sit behind their collectible-covered tables as people trickle in and out. J.C. Phillips Jr. of Chapel Hill sells and trades baseball and basketball cards.

“I first started when I was 7 or 8 years old,” he says. “I just had a friend who collected them, and I had never seen them before. It was about the time I discovered baseball on TV.”

After attending UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1970s, he started collecting basketball cards featuring former UNC-CH players. Now Phillips also looks for cards with former North Carolina State University and Duke University players.

At the fair, Chapel Hill resident Ian Hagans picks up a clear plastic sheet with basketball cards from Phillips’ table.

“I don’t really care about sports, but my mom is a huge UNC fan, so I got the cards for her,” he says a few minutes later.

Hagans, a self-described nerd, also bought comic books at the fair. He says he is glad the fair is local but would like to see more vendors.

Across the room, wearing a black T-shirt with the word “marvel” outlined in neon green, stands Rick Williams, a comic-book seller from Goldsboro.

“I’ve been collecting books since I was 5. I’m 41 now,” he says.

miller_collectorsfair1final.jpg Ian Hagans of Chapel Hill examines a sheet of UNC-CH basketball cards during the 2nd Annual Collector’s Fair at the Carrboro Century Center. He attended the fair to look for additions to his comic book and toy collections.
Staff photo by Allison Miller

Williams says he has about 8,000 books. The books in the long cardboard boxes sitting on the table and on the floor are only a part of his collection; the rest wouldn’t fit in his car. Collecting comic books is popular, especially with recently released superhero movies, such as “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man,” Williams says.

“This isn’t like the stock market,” he says. “If you get a valuable book, it ain’t going down.”

At another booth, vendor Amy Tanz of Chapel Hill displays coins, magazines and stationery from her dad’s company, formerly housed in the World Trade Center. Eddie Cupps of Sanford stops by her table and looks at some $2 bills. He buys three along with some coins. Cupps already has two plastic bags filled with comic books.

“I spent probably about $130,” he says. Most of it is just for reading material, but a few are collector’s items, he adds. Cupps says the prices at the fair are reasonable.

A few minutes later, a group of young boys is crowding around Tanz’s table. She offers them shiny pennies in exchange for walking around the fair and asking questions.

“I’m here to try to get kids interested in collecting,” she says. “I think they would find it fun.”

On a nearby, lighted table sit two rows of green, blue, purple and clear-glass, bell-shaped telephone pole insulators. The vendor, Ed Holland of Durham, says they once sat atop telephone poles where they insulated electrical wires.

“I grew up near a railroad track, so I always collected them when I was a kid,” he says. Glass insulators haven’t been used in about 50 years, he says, but some ceramic insulators are still in use.

Near the end of the event, organizer Brendan Moore says this year’s fair drew about 100 fewer people than last year’s event. He attributes the decrease to the rain and conflicting UNC-CH basketball game. But overall he says is happy with the fair.

“It’s been nice,” Moore says. “There’s definitely some unique collectibles.”

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