Collecting Focus: Cars

The Turkey Trax Auto Show is this weekend in downtown Forney. That makes this a good time to talk to Don Harris, owner of an extensive collection of classic cars (among other things). Mr. Harris came to Forney when he bought the Farmers National Bank in 1987. He stayed in town after he sold it and now devotes his time to his assorted collections. I asked him a few questions this week.


Q. How did you start collecting cars?

The first - a 1963 Ford Thunderbird

The first – a 1963 Ford Thunderbird

A. I just like them. I like history, and I feel like these cars are history and represent a certain time in history.

Q. Do you have a favorite in your collection?

A. My favorite is whichever I’m driving at the time. The first car I bought to keep was a 1963 Thunderbird. After that I just kept going.

Q. Is there a certain type of car, year or model, that you concentrate on?

A. No. I never know what I want until I see it. But I tend to like rare or unusual cars. I don’t want people to be able to say they saw something like that at such-and-such a place. I want it to be unique, something they wouldn’t see anywhere else.

Q. You have a lot of classic cars. Do you buy them already restored or do the restoration work yourself?

A. I prefer to buy them already restored. Restoration work is more of a labor of love than anything else. You have to put more money and time into it than you would ever get back out. I like driving a car more than I like working on it.

Q. How many cars do you have?

A. I think I’m down to 21. I used to have 30 but have sold some.

Q. How do you keep them in such pristine condition?

A. They don’t get driven very often. Usually just around town. My housekeeper cleans the cars 2-3 times per week to keep them in shape. I like everything neat and tidy.

Q. You collect other items, too, like model cars, Coca-Cola memorabilia, and country music memorabilia. You have guitars and clothing from the likes of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. How did you get into collecting those, too?

A. I just collect what I like. Everything I collect is for my own personal enjoyment. Most of the country music items were given to me by friends. I didn’t buy them at an auction or anything. My grandson is a country singer and has his own collection of guitars now.

Q. Are you currently collecting anything else?

A. No. I have some newer-model cars, but that’s it.  If I collect much more I’ll have to get a bigger place.

2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray

A few more classic Fords

A few more classic Fords


Mr. Harris will have some cars in this Sunday’s show. The Forney Historic Preservation League will be there, too, to award a trophy to our favorite car. For more information about Turkey Trax, visit Forney’s Economic Development Corporation website or see below.


TTrax ad 2014 bigger

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Collecting Focus: Coins

In the last post I mentioned we received some coins, including Indian Head pennies, as part of a larger donation. To learn more about these coins and coin collecting in general I spoke with Rodney, the go-to coin expert at South Park Coins here in Forney.

Indian Head Pennies

Q. When were these pennies used, and when did they get replaced?

A. Indian head cents started in 1859. They were thicker than they are now and were called “copper-nickels” because of their composition. They changed to bronze and copper in 1864 which resulted in two varieties of 1864 cents, one in copper-nickel and one in bronze. Indian cents were replaced in 1909 with the Lincoln cent which we still see to this day. The U.S. mint made 1909 Indian cents and 1909 Lincoln cents at the same time.

Q. Are they popular with collectors?

A. Yes! Collectors love Indian cents! There is a mystique about coins that you never see in everyday life, and most people are enamored by the design of coins from our past. An Indian cent that is bright red and looks as though it was made yesterday is a wonder to behold! What a beautiful coin! (Even one that is worn out is a treasure to keep!)

Coin Collecting

Q. Are you a collector yourself? How did you start?

A. Yes, I am a collector at heart. Coin collecting is a passion that never goes away! I got started when my Grandpa gave me a silver dollar from the 1800s. I was fascinated with it and started reading as many books about coins as I could find. I still have that particular coin!

2014 American Silver Eagle

2014 Silver Eagle

Q. What’s “hot” right now in the coin collecting world?

A. Silver dollars and the new American Silver Eagles are as hot as firecrackers!

Q. Do you have any advice for people thinking about starting a collection?

A. Always buy the book before the coin. Knowledge is the key to successful coin collecting! Buy the best quality that your budget can afford.

South Park Coins

Q. How long has South Park Coins been in business?

A. We have been in business for almost 30 years.

Q. How did you get involved in coin collecting/brokerage?

A. I have been interested in collector coins most of my life, but when the opportunity to get involved full time arose I jumped in with both feet. I never realized this could be a career until the owner of South Park Coins talked me into coming to work for him.

Q. Who are your main clients? (long-time clients, online buyers, etc.)

A. Of course, South Park started before the online craze started so we have customers that don’t even have a computer and don’t like anything automated, and we also have lots of Ebay and online customers that are repeat customers. We have the best of both worlds!

Q. Describe your business generally. Do you keep an inventory, or do you buy for specific clients?  Do you sell entire series in bulk or “special” and rare individual coins (or both)?

A. Yes, Yes, and Yes! We cover every collector from a single coin purchase to whatever their needs may be. We also buy any collection the same way, from a single coin to a massive collection, it doesn’t matter – we will pay the highest possible price in order to make any deal work for both the seller and South Park Coins.

South Park Coins


Many thanks to Rodney and South Park Coins! Check out their website and their ebay store.




How Does a Collection Begin?

Recently the museum received a collection of coins as part of a larger donation. There are foreign coins from the 1940s and dozens of Indian Head pennies from 1890-1910. They aren’t arranged as a collection necessarily (categorized by mint mark, year, or condition), but as I did an inventory I started thinking about how collections begin.

Indian Head Penny

Indian Head Penny stock photo – ours aren’t this shiny and pretty

For a  museum it can be a simple question to answer – we want to preserve items relating to the history of Forney. That’s a fairly broad collecting scope including tools, textiles, cookware, photographs, and other materials dating  roughly from the 1870s onward, but they all tie back to our mission of telling the story of Forney.

Why do individuals begin collections? Is it a family hobby that lasts through generations? Does it begin as an investment? Do the items remind people of a specific event or a specific person?

Disney's Dumbo - inspiration for collecting

Inspirations for collecting can come from anywhere

I knew someone whose favorite movie as a child was Dumbo so she collected elephant items. It became her “thing”, and nearly every birthday or Christmas present she received eventually fit into the elephant theme. It’s as if her friends and family became conditioned to see an elephant and think “Oh, T might like that.”


A receipt in the FHPL archives

A receipt in the FHPL archives

Many people assume that I am a collecting person by nature because I work in a museum. I understand that even things which may seem relatively inconsequential at the time of use (like a 1904 receipt for bales of cotton) can be valuable or at least interesting in later years.

But I don’t collect anything. I usually pick up a small souvenir when I go on a trip, but I generally live clutter-free (despite what my office  looks like at present). I don’t collect coins or stamps, patterns of china or silver, comic books or movie memorabilia, first editions of novels, or figurines of a favorite animal. Maybe because I spend time inventorying and organizing things at work I don’t want to do it at home, too. But mostly I never felt the draw or connection to a certain object to begin collecting in the first place.

I also wonder what happens to collections over time, like when the collector tires of the pursuit, runs out of space, or eventually takes ill. Say I collected dolls all my adult life and even have some considered rare or valuable. What if my children or relatives have no interest in taking them? Where do they go? Antiques dealer? Garage sale? Salvation Army? There might be a place I could donate them (a local museum, hint hint),  but what if I collect bottle caps? Would any museum want those?*

Who wouldn't want to inherit this?

Who wouldn’t want to inherit this?

I wouldn’t want my collection to be a burden to my heirs, but I’d be hesitant to part with something which I had devoted so much time and effort to, and which presumably brought me joy. Could I just let it go? Might it even be a relief finally to be done with it? Should I do whatever I want and let them sort it out after I’m gone?

I suppose I’ll have to start a collection to find out. Any suggestions?




Do you collect anything? Leave a comment on our facebook page.


*The answer is yes.

Check out the Bottle-Cap Museum:

Talk to the Bottle Cap Man:

Or join the Crowncap Collectors Society International: