A Guy’s Guide to Cool Stuff

Five Reasons You’re Into Mantiques

WWII British memorabilia shrapnel mask

This rare British WWI anti-shrapnel tanker’s mask looks like it came from the back of Hannibal Lecter’s closet. Photo courtesy Heritage Auctions, HA.com

1) Mantiques are funky, unique, and bitchin’ – and rarely match

Bikes. Toys. Tools. Weapons. Fossils. Cars. Jukeboxes. Motorcycles. Taxidermy bullfrogs playing poker. Mantiques are collectibles pursued by a new generation of men eager to fill their homes with items that defy collecting traditions and challenge the imagination.

A mantiques collector isn’t fooled by the words “limited edition,” “collector’s edition,” or “collect the whole set.” No way. Mantiques have substance. They are testaments to a man’s individuality, his sense of design, and his innate talent at getting his buddies to shout, “Now THAT is cool! Where did you get it? It looks great in here!”

Some collectors set a course to acquire an entire series of one object. They work to corner a market by owning every available example of something in the best condition possible. A mantiques collector takes a more casual route.

2) Mantiques collectors like to go on adventures

To them, the pursuit defines the collection, rather than the collection defining the pursuit. Maybe Ralph Waldo Emerson should have said, “Mantiques are a journey, not a destination.” Mantiques give you a reason to meet people. Mantiques gets you out of your house and out of your comfort zone. Sign out of Facebook. Turn off your phone. The people you meet along the way make the journey worth the effort.

3) People who collect mantiques are good company

Here’s a secret: Most major league collectors chase mantiques. Tom Hanks (who doesn’t want to have a beer with Tom Hanks?!) collects vintage typewriters. Dan Aykroyd collects police badges. Frank Sinatra collected model trains. Phil Collins collects stuff relating to The Alamo. Even Leonardo DiCaprio collected vintage action figures.

You meet people who are like you—or better yet—people who are nothing at all like you. You share drinks, swap stories about your finds, and learn facts about stuff you like.

German lead soldiers

Vintage lead soldiers are a hot collectible for war buffs and toy collectors. Those from hard to find sets retaining original paint are the most valuable.

4) People who deal in mantiques are as strange and as unique as the objects they sell

When Robert Owen and Compton Creel opened their new shop in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood in 2011, they knew what they wanted to call it: M’Antiques and Neat Stuff. They also knew how to set it apart from other antiques stores in the city: free beer. “The first thing I do after thanking a customer for coming in is ask him if he wants a beer. There’s no law that says you can’t look at cool stuff while holding a cold beer,” Compton says. The front of his store has a counter, a cash register, and a kegerator built into a ’50s fridge with plenty of iced suds on tap. What’s the specialty in the shop? “Anything and everything a man wants to own that’s not in my wife’s collection. We’ve got rusty traps, nude paintings, and turtle shells and neat stuff. We love it all.” This leads us to the final point.

5) Mantiques make you smart

Mantiques collectors also collect stories to go along with their cool stuff. Do you know why collectors like $10 gold coins issued in the 1850s by Moffit & Co.? When the U.S. Treasury ignored Californians’ pleas to issue coins worth less than $50, the ballsy officers at Moffat uttered a hearty “WTF?!” and issued its own $10 gold pieces. The coins were so trusted by businesses and citizens that the company churned out more denominations. Eventually the company evolved into the official United States Mint in San Francisco, which is still in operation today. That fact alone should get you a free drink in any bar in America.

Mantiques: Art and collectibles for guys.

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