By LISA KLOK
Randy Scott needed something new to collect.
He had collected and restored gas pumps for a number of years, but eventually quit because they were too hard to find.
He then restored a Honda racing motorcycle, which led to an entirely new collection. A man who considered purchasing the bike referred Randy to dealers from the Netherlands who bought mostly Japanese motorcycles and sold them on the European market. Randy then began collecting motorcycles and selling them to the Dutch dealers.
“There used to be really good money in it,” said Randy.
But when the Netherlands’ economy took a hit, Randy decided it was time to get out of the business.
“I wanted to sell my collection, but I wanted to collect something,” Randy said.
That “something” became an extensive military collection five years in the making.
Flags, photographs, swords, canteens, boots, bullet shells and helmets are just a few of the many items occupying a bedroom at Scott’s home in Fayette, but the room doesn’t hold the entire collection.
“I’ve got stuff scattered all over the place,” Randy admitted. “If I die, I don’t know what my family will do. They’ll probably find stuff for years.”
Randy’s collection comes from a number of sources, such as military shows, garage sales and flea markets. Even his job provides him with the opportunity to scavenge for collectibles.
He works for a company that receives large shipments of miscellaneous brass items they recycle by melting the pieces in furnaces. Randy has uncovered a number of military shell casings in these shipments, including one about a foot tall from the Spanish American War.
Randy also places ads in several local newspapers advertising his interest in military items.
“People will call and say they’re throwing something or other away,” Randy said, adding that it’s amazing what people throw out.
He has also recovered rare finds put out for the trash, like the Civil War era boots he found at a shoe shop that intended to throw the boots out with the garbage.
When a particular collectible is extremely rare or expensive, Randy finds or makes replicas for his collection, such as an impressive bearjaw-handled knife he copied from an original, and a 1940s flight jacket a man from Toledo made for him.
And Randy Scott doesn’t just keep his collection on shelves and hooks. He owns a Willys Jeep that he drives to military shows while dressed in uniform.
“When I drive my jeep I want to look the part, so I always wear the stuff to go with it,” Randy said.- Jan. 21, 2004
Randy likes the unusual
Money can’t buy love and it can’t necessarily buy interesting collectibles, either. In addition to his more traditional pieces, Randy Scott has an appreciation for unique military collectibles that aren’t necessarily valuable.
“I like unusual things you don’t see every day,” Randy said.
Perhaps most fascinating is Randy’s collection of trench art—an art form that began during World War I in periods of inactivity. Soldiers would create art from found objects such as shells and bullets.
Randy explained that although the objects are called trench art, the pieces weren’t necessarily created in the trenches.
“It could’ve been a mechanic or somebody else who was bored,” he said.
According to Randy, vases and ashtrays were very typical pieces of trench art, and he has examples of both, along with other items, including a matchbox and belt buckle. Most impressive in Randy’s collection is an ashtray that features a P-38 airplane made from 30 and 45 caliber bullets suspended over the tray.
Randy also has matchbooks that add a humorous element to the unusual items in his collection. The matches are from World War II and were given to soldiers when they received their liberty card to leave the base. Their purpose was to remind soldiers of the danger of venereal disease.
One of the matchbooks reads, “Even Snafu knows...V.D. can be prevented.”
Randy mentioned he originally had several matchbooks, but took them to a military show where they sold rapidly.
Randy also has silverware from World War II, but they’re not your average utensils. At the base of the fork and knife is a swastika with the initials “A.H.” for Adolf Hitler. Randy told how American troops found the Nazi silverware at Hitler’s residence and divvied up the utensils amongst themselves.
“I like when there’s a history behind an item,” he said.
And sometimes the history of Randy’s unique pieces hits very close to home.
For example, Randy has the reunion ribbons from a Civil War veteran from Wauseon and a Civil War era bible originally from Fayette.
Regardless of whether the items are of local interest or not, Randy keeps records of the origins and histories of his pieces.
“If you don’t have the history,” he said, “it’s just another piece.”