December 02, 2009
SPECTACULAR S.S. ADAMS COLLECTION
Throughout my years as a collector and advocate of S.S. Adams novelty items I've encountered a number of fellow enthusiasts, and I've noticed that most of them focus on the magic side of the product line. This stands to reason considering the thriving magic community made up of professionals and hobbyists alike.
To the contrary, a society of pranksters is difficult to achieve; too many trust issues, and meetings would be constantly interrupted. Plus it's nearly impossible to be a pro jokester, unless you've got your own TV or radio show.
So when longtime Adams connoisseur Randy Garner shared photos of his vast collection with me I was delighted to find that it is decidedly prank-centric. It's also one of the largest and most exhaustive assemblages of Adams goods that I have ever seen. There are some pieces that I was previously unaware of that I wish I would have known about when I was putting together the Life of the Party book.
Behold a world class Adams spread... (for added pleasure all the photos get very large when you click them.)
Regarding the origin of his obsession Randy says, "I'm one of the many folks who got started with Adams ala Johnson Smith Company, with an order around 1967 for a plastic hot dog and a rubber chocolate, which, including the 25 cent postage fee, cost a whopping 60 cents."
As he got older he started buying in bulk which eventually blossomed into the Garner Novelty Company that he and his wife ran for ten years in the 1990s. (I actually recall ordering a shipment from Garner soon after I got hooked up to the internet.)
Garner Novelty got 98% of its business from an ad in Boys Life Magazine. Randy explains, "Ninety percent of what we sold came from Adams, and I used to buy some things bulk from Bud Adams, and package them myself in Self Service packaging (after Adams went mostly to stretch pack) using the old headers that I bought from Adams."
Randy goes on, "I used to make an annual trip to the factory, staying in Ocean Grove, and became good friends with Chris, Bud and Hilda [Adams]. I accumulated a lot of my collection by rummaging around in the warehouse on my visits in the 90s, and on ebay since."
But that's not all, Randy has also curated a tremendous collection of early soda advertising, 1960s store merchandise, Soakies, Pez dispensers, Kool-Aid displays, Funny Face, Fizzies, Merry toy sets, vintage candy packaging, Topps Gum Card displays, and more!..
Thanks Randy for treating us with your treasures!