I attended the 2010 National Automatic Pistol Collectors Association convention yesterday with my friend staghounds.
It's a pretty esoteric little corner of the gun-collecting hobby. Also, it tends to self-select for age, and in multiple ways. For one thing, one apparently needs to have the means to participate. Oh, it's not like machinegun collecting in that one needs to actually be wealthy, but a table full of Lugers or M1911s or High Powers can add up to the price of a nice four bedroom split-level ranch pretty quickly and the number of people under 40 who can blow that kind of dough on a hobby is small. As a result, staghounds and I, both comfortably into adulthood, were probably among the five or ten youngest people in the room.
Given the demographic, then, it was not surprising to see the registry table at the entrance, with the member's nametags all lined up and pre-made and a little basket full of blank floral-bordered "Hello! My Name Is..." stickers sporting a bow on the handle and a sign reading "Girls Name Tags" affixed thereto.
"Which one of us wants to be the girl today?" I wisecracked.
"I'm feeling pretty," said staghounds, reaching for a sticker.
It was hard not to laugh loud enough to disturb the guest speaker, who had a circle of devoted listeners hanging on his every word as he explained esoteric rollmark variations in early prewar PPKs or some such topic.
The hotel conference room was full of a gun show in the classic sense, in that maybe only half the participants were there to sell anything, while the others were just displaying their collections to their fellow aficionados. These ranged from a guy who had a complete selection of literally dozens of .25 and .32 Mauser pocket pistols neatly displayed in wooden egg-crate trays to a gentleman with at least thirty Polish Radoms, each on its own individual wooden stand, ranging from a prewar "Polish Eagle" to the crudest of late-war slave-labor examples. There were oddities that ran the gamut from a .25ACP Webley pocket auto to one of the rare Walther Model 6's, maybe only the second one I've seen in the wild.
It was enjoyable, even if I didn't see anything that made me want to bolt to the nearest ATM and fill my sweaty little hands with cash to set alight. And since staghounds volunteered to wear the sticky nametag, I'll be getting a year's worth of NAPCA newsletters, which are full of the kind of articles that could come in handy for someone attempting to, say, write a book about old pocket pistols...