The Preservation of Trivia


I recently swapped some old BMA’s (bicycle motor attachments) with a friend in France. What a pleasure he took in demonstrating to me some of the obscure features of one of them, a Monet Goyon Motorox. When you unscrew the bicycle bell you find inside it a compartment to house spare bulbs for the front light. And when you turn the pedals to make the front light work you realize there’s a black-out above the bulb. The cycle was built in the war era when black-outs were compulsory on both sides of the channel, but I’d not seen one before that was set up inside the light unit.

Ask any collector to show you something from a collection and you’ll soon know fascinating obscure details about every item. I wonder if it’s actually the trivia that we collectors are preserving?


Is there a ‘collecting’ gene inside all or some of us? When I grew up, ‘collecting’ was called a ‘hobby’ and encouraged. I only had small collections, stamps and dinky toys. I remember going with my Dad to the weekly town market and experimenting to see if I could summon up superhuman powers to will Dad into buying me a dinky toy from one of the stalls.

When we’re young, we look up at the dinky toys on market stalls. Now I’m a grown-up I look down on them. NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) examines how all of our senses respond in given situations, and analyses the attraction of objects relative to distance and the angle of view. It’s interesting to note at what point our senses kick in and tell us ‘I have to have that.’ You can easily try this out at home with anything you’re even slightly addicted to (eg food items, beer, etc).

One of my favourite observations is my partner as she passes charity shops or shoe shops. Or doesn’t pass them, more to the point. Though I never complain, as we have a wonderful degree of co-dependency because of my own collecting addictions.

Ebay is another interesting field of observation. After decades scouring autojumbles, secondhand shops and classified ads for obscure junk, these days I don’t even have to leave the house. And the categories used by ebay and the key words used by ebay sellers have even defined new areas of collectability.
I collected vintage photos some years ago, particularly from the USA when the pound first increased in value against the dollar. I bought old photos taken by ordinary people, but with vehicles in them. While looking at all the transport photos, I discovered a category of vintage photos I’d not even considered before – gay photos. I don’t know if photos showing gays in everyday situations had actively been collected before, but ebay certainly increased their popularity, and seems to have created this as a genre.

I’m very much in favour of ebay. I feel it has empowered people all over the world to start up small businesses of their own and work with low overheads from home. Trade helps the world go round. And in my 5 years as an ebay seller, I’ve made some wonderful friends both in the UK and abroad.

And ebay is also the largest and most accessible vintage vehicle museum.


For a collector in any specialized field, ebay is like a pumping heart, allowing us to buy, sell, exchange, and find spare parts in a way that has never been possible before. It caters for an amazing amount of different genres. And it has popularized them so that many hobbies will now survive rather than slowly fizzle out as their enthusiasts grow old.

That’s what these websites are for …the preservation of our hobby: is for vintage 3-wheelers is for vintage scooters is for vintage motorcycles, cyclemotors and mopeds.

Traditionally, nostalgia relates to things we remember from our childhood. Younger folks don’t have much first-hand knowledge about old vintage vehicles: ‘vintage’ to them is from the 1980s. Luckily, an increasing number of older enthusiasts are now learning modern technology, many initially attracted by ebay and spares suppliers’ online stores.

Bit by bit, online vintage magazines, club websites, ebay listings, and sites set up by individual enthusiasts are providing a cyber-database that is now the primary archive for our hobby – it will still be there even after we give up driving. Because information uploaded preserves our hobby for posterity, I encourage all enthusiasts to master that killer combination of digi-camera/ scanner/ computer, and get your trivia online.

‘History’ only records major events. Isn’t the true beauty and fascination in history’s trivial details?



You could also click on: ‘BEYOND HELP’



Published on June 12, 2007 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

%d bloggers like this: