H.C.I. Est'sh MIM                            Estb'sh MIM


     H. C. I. History

It started at Atlantic city, September 1992. I was hunting for harmonicas at the "Atlantique City" antique show. I picked up and bought a harmonica and while waiting for my change, the seller mentioned another customer had been by earlier and almost bought it. Since I had always thought I was the only harmonica collector, it was gratifying to hear of another. It turns out that the other collector had left a card, so I wrote down his address and phone number. Later, I called Alan Bates, and became fast friends. Even though Alan was from Delaware and I was from Missouri, We corresponded frequently, via phone and mail, swapping information and trading duplicates. We spent the next several years trying to expand our collector contacts, without much success. Then In 1995, I met Harland Crain, an avid beginning collector, who lives less than 10 minutes from me. Because I had been collecting for 20 years , I could sell some duplicates to Harland and he could grow his collection at a swift pace.  The three of us would meet at antique shows and visit each others houses to comb through examples we had not seen before and try to learn more about harmonicas.

We decided that we might enjoy meeting and learning from other collectors, so we sent out an announcement  that we were going to recruit another long time collector, Richard Smith from Ohio, and create a collector's club. Our first newsletter (The Trumpet Call) was published June 1998, and editor Harland Crain has been doing a great job with the help of contributing members. A significant number of collectors, including HCI officers, acquire  harmonicas through auctions, primarily eBay.  HCI officers take note of enthusiastic on-line collectors, contact  them via email to invite them to join HCI.  HCI members bid hard against each other, but they also offer guidance and alert each other to misrepresented, fraudulent, or overpriced items.  Most members freely exchange photos and other information about their collections either directly or through the club’s information archives.  It is a principal goal of HCI to foster such individual relationships among collectors that transcends any competitive angst that otherwise develops among “bidders”.

HCI has been represented at the annual SPAH convention for many years, with both Richard Smith and Harland Crain displaying old and unusual harmonicas. In addition to the displays, Harland and I have given several seminars on "Vintage Harmonica Collecting" which culminated in 2004, when SPAH had their convention in Saint Louis, and 11 HCI members met , and talked harmonicas. Tours of Harland's collections, as well as mine, were a hit with the collectors, and other members brought some real gems to share with all.

Join our club, get involved, and have a blast collecting Harmonicas!!