Every May the faithful trek to La Crosse, Kan., for the annual Barbed Wire Festival. There are wire-splicing contests, an awards banquet and exhibits at the 5,400-square-foot Kansas Barbed Wire Collectors Association Museum. Collectors haggle over various types of wire, with the rarest going for $300 for an 18-inch piece. Before the fun is over, many of these collectors also plunk down $100 for a pamphlet identifying 622 kinds of wire.
Two other barbed wire museums exist in the United States. Then there is the International Club for Collectors of Hatpins and Hatpin Holders, not to mention the Association for Gravestone Studies. There are so many hobby organizations that Frederick appraiser David J. Maloney Jr. has published a 370-page "Collector's Information Clearinghouse: Antiques and Collectibles Resource Directory."
Even in this recessionary economy, people keep spending money to see and acquire things that are really dear to them. Quilting workshops in Paducah, Ky., home of the Museum of the American Quilters' Society, are booked to capacity, as are the river town's hotels and motels. Beads also have become big business, as a peek into the two Baltimore shops specializing in them confirms.