Story by Sheila Sarhangi
Photo by Rae Huo
It’s a hot Saturday morning in October, and I’m in the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu staring at the gray, V-shaped tooth of a sixty-foot megalodon shark. A collector named Keith Krueger is holding the fossil—and it’s the size of his palm. “They ate whales for a living,” he says dryly. Krueger is here along with eighty other collectors, selling goods at the Wiki Wiki One Day Vintage Collectibles and Hawaiiana Show. The October event is a smaller version of the largest antique show in the state, the Hawai‘i All-Collectors Show, which takes place every July.
As Krueger’s collection suggests, items here range from the quirky (a Snoopy piggy bank, a bobsled) to the quintessential (hula doll lamps, aloha shirts). This hodgepodge is what makes the shows so popular. No matter what you’re into—sailboat flags? Annie memorabilia?—chances are good that one of the collectors has a liking for it, too.
Two tables down from Krueger is Al Frenzel’s display of Hawai‘i print memorabilia. He’s got Hawaiian Punch commercials, original posters for Blue Hawaii, a black-and-white postcard featuring Duke Kahanamoku dressed as an Indian chief for his role in the 1925 movie The Pony Express. Only, Duke’s last name is spelled wrong: “Kahanomaka.” Frenzel is selling it for $465.
At the far end of the room, two tables flaunt dozens of Ni‘ihau shell lei. One necklace, sixty-four inches long and made of three strands of caramel-colored shells, has a price tag of $15,000. At another table, books carry Hawai‘i coinage—pennies, dimes, quarters and dollars—made in the mid- to late 1800s. Brian Medcalf, who operates a stamp and coin store in downtown Honolulu, explains their rarity: “When Hawai‘i became a territory, the government began transferring to US currency, and most Hawaiian coins were melted down.”
This year the All-Collectors Show, happening July 30 and 31, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Ilene Wong, who created the event with partner Wayne Maeda, says, “It’s like a big tailgate party. The collectors don’t see each other for a year, so when we get together, it’s like, ‘Oooooooh. What do you have in your collection now?’”