Getting From Here To There
by: Stan Van Etten
Our May-June issue went to the printer in mid-April prior to the "North American Vintage Decoy & Sporting Collectibles Show" at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois. It was quite a show; it always is! You can read all about the many excellent and compelling features of this year's show in the "President's Report" elsewhere in this issue.
But here, in this column, we need to talk... about the present and future of this particular show and the club that sponsors it. This magazine is a national publication, international, really, with many subscribers in Canada; and while it supports local and regional clubs and shows in a number of ways, it would seem appropriate, even mandatory, for it to participate in the present discussion now taking place with regard to the future of what many call our "National" show and the club that sponsors it.
In recent years the St. Charles show has billed itself as the "North American" show, which is appropriate enough since many collectors and dealers from both the United States and Canada participate in it. So, in fact, based on attendance and participation, there is some real justification for calling the event "North American" or "National."
Yet, in a number of ways, the St. Charles show, for all of its size and strength, is a reality not fully formed, sponsored by a regional club that has national and international membership, but whose name is still regional - the Midwest Decoy Collectors Association. No doubt there are some who would say, "Oh, what's in a name? It's the reality that counts!" But there is a strong argument to be made that the name and the reality should match: National Show - National Club.
For a long time there have been many members of the MDCA whose residence is far from the Midwest. Equally true is the fact that for many years attendees at the St. Charles event have come from "coast to coast" in the U.S. and Canada.
On the other hand, however, there are many serious collectors of decoys and other hunting and fishing collectibles who do not attend the St. Charles show. Why not? Several different reasons, no doubt. Chief among them, the fact that even though St. Charles (think Chicago area) is in the center of the country, it is still a long way from San Francisco and Portland (Oregon or Maine or ?), and Miami and Dallas. But beyond the geography factor, there are still many who do not recognize the St. Charles show as being "National" or "North American" since it is not sponsored by a national club.
And so there remains the ticklish issue of the lack of a "National" club. It has long been common practice for individuals to hold membership in more than one club. Some individuals may belong to several clubs, perhaps because they are geographically convenient, or perhaps because they simply want to support the activities of the clubs. But, to date, at least, no club has ventured to rename itself the "National" or "North American" club.
By contrast, the NFLCC - National Fishing Lure Collectors Club - has a strong national organization with 10 geographical Regions, each with its own Vice President. I will not digress to discuss that organization in this space at this time, but interested persons can visit the club's Internet web site at: www.nflcc.org.
In an interesting sort of way the "Decoy World" has reached a kind of historic junction point. "To be or not to be..." more effectively and efficiently organized, more balanced in representation, more successful in promoting and marketing itself.
Finally.... There is the matter of a name for a show that might call itself "National" or "North American." As we have already stated, the present St. Charles event sponsored by the
MDCA is called "The North American Vintage Decoy & Sporting Collectibles Show." There are both positive and negative judgments to be made about this title. "North American" is good; it's descriptive and inclusive. It's the "big umbrella" that is needed. "Vintage" is good and bad. Good, in that it suggests "old, rare, valuable." Bad, in that it excludes "contemporary" artifacts of significant value. "Decoy" is narrow and limiting, but some will argue that it is absolutely essential since "That's the main thing that everybody collects." But...it is certainly not the only thing that members collect. "Sporting Collectibles" is too broad, much too inclusive. It could encompass everything from baseball cards to croquet mallets, from tennis racquets to trotting horse trophies.
OK, so where do we go from here, in terms of a name, I mean. Well, I certainly would not presume to have the only right answer. We need widespread and carefully considered input from as many individuals as possible within our vast hobby/business. And somebody should "take notes."
Yet, if I had to throw up a name against the screen right now, it would be - North American Vintage and Contemporary Hunting & Fishing Artifacts & Art. Or, if that is really just too much of a mouthful, then just drop out "Vintage & Contemporary" and go with - North American Hunting & Fishing Artifacts & Art.
Happy collecting, everybody!