Swizzle Sticks

COLLECTOR: RAY P. HOARE, 55000 ITEMS

I collect advertizing swizzle sticks. I started collecting as a kid after seeing how our neighbour, a truck driver, had his entire dashboard lined with swizzle sticks. I expressed an interest to my parents, who used to go out once a month. I was left home to look after the house and my reward for doing so was bunches of swizzle sticks. I left my collection with my parents, then in 1975 my wife and I rediscovered them. It renewed our interest in collecting, so we visited as many places as we could to amass as many as we could in the shortest time possible. We saw other people who collected swizzle sticks in a collectibles magazine so we started trading via mail.

My collection contains swizzle sticks that you couldn’t even begin to imagine. They can be so pretty and so detailed. Nothing is impossible to create.
Ray P. Hoare, 73, Vancouver, Canada

Swizzle sticks are miniature billboards and a very reasonable way to advertize, as 95% of swizzle sticks are taken home. They’re not as much in vogue as they used to be but they’re making a big comeback. Swizzle sticks are a very reasonably priced and easily acquired collectible. My own collection is in excess of 55,000 and is always growing. They can’t possibly be put on display but they’re all mounted on 11 x 14 inch cards (28 x 36.5 cm), and are not only in alphabetical order, but also indexed by color. The actual value of any collectible, including swizzle sticks, is what one is willing to pay. I couldn’t even attempt to put a price on my collection, nor do I want to. I’m extremely proud of what I have and what I have achieved.

I’d say I spend at least seven hours a day working on swizzle sticks. In 1985 the International Swizzle Stick Collectors Association (ISSCA) was born. Our first biennial convention was held in 1987 in Las Vegas. To date, we have had 12 such events. Our conventions bring together 30 or 40 members from ISSCA for three days of swizzle stick business including presentations, guest speakers and our huge swap fests. I publish our “Swizzle Stick News” newsletter and my wife arranges the convention planning.

People wonder what more can be done with swizzle sticks. Well, it’s called dedication: wanting to gain more knowledge, grow my own collection and understand the needs and wants of other collectors.