Musings By Joschik
Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 38 years ago.
Recently I came across a website that had an extensive list of good Matchbox resources, and as we are currently working on adding a bunch of Matchbox information to the database, I checked the links and was shocked to realize that 30 of the 32 links on the page were dead!
It made me ponder about how the internet made preserving the history for what I refer to as “mankind’s lesser achievements” – not the politicians and big historical events but the smaller things such as a 1920s made Teddy Bear or an 1870s Cork Screw – much more difficult.
For contrast here is the first book project I was involved in, a catalog of Siku models –
My brother wrote this Modellauto Katalog Siku in 1987 and I provided some help. While I would not claim it is very good by today’s standard there were lots sold at the time and you can, therefore, find this book every now and then on various online sites (side note: if you add it to your Wishlist on hobbyDB you’ll get a notification when it comes up for sale).
However, in the last ten years, the internet has replaced collector magazines and price guide books (I saw earlier today that Krause Publications with its about 4,000 collectible book titles entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month). And while the internet has enhanced the hobby in many ways, it also made information created and curated by collectors much more unstable! You will always be able to buy a book that is out of print but I personally have frequently visited more than 100 sites that no longer exist!
Scalemodelinstructions.info, for example, was a great site to find the work of a Martyn Rigby who had painstakingly scanned instructions for Model Kits and I was initially afraid that all of that work was probably lost. There was nothing, not even on the laudable Wacky Internet Archive! Luckily I heard from Martyn after publishing this post – he now has a new website, you can find all the instructions again on plasticandplasters.com (so at least one happy end here!).
The hobbyDB team has made it its mission to preserve this information, as it often cannot be recreated anymore. We are actively reaching out to current and past “site authors” (we prefer site author to site owner). Here some examples –
Hugada was built by two Individuals over a period of over 20 years and included information on more than 60,000 video games. Without the support of a community and a strong platform to run on, there was a danger it was all going to disappear on some back-up drive. They provided us with the raw data and now that information is coming back on hobbyDB for the world to enjoy.
Gary Hirst had one of the best collections on fringe subjects such as Brazilian made Corgi Juniors. When he tragically died way too early, his fiance worked with us to preserve all the data from garyscars.co.uk, the website he worked on for more than 10 years (with all items that were added showing Gary as the creator of each of these catalog entry).
As part of our mission to document every collectible ever made and being a natural extension to Wikipedia (they have one page on the Hard Rock Cafe, we have more than 85,000 pages on Hard Rock Cafe glasses, magnets, pins and other merchandise) we have vowed to always keep access to the data for free (our Manifesto). And to secure the future of the catalog, we run a marketplace that allows us to earn income in order to pay for maintaining and building hobbyDB.
We have so far preserved the data of 26 websites and uploaded information of 12 of these so that enthusiasts worldwide can benefit again from this information. And since we have done so many of these we got good at this as we now have various tools to import data – we uploaded 80,000 Hard Rock Cafe pins in under 3 weeks.
If you know a site that is in danger of vanishing forever let us know!